The Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Theryn Fleming


Janet Mullany was one of our original forum hosts at Toasted Cheese, and the winner of the first annual Dead of Winter writing contest. In the decade since she left TC, Janet has published more than a dozen books in a variety of romance sub-genres.

The Rules of Gentility (William Morrow, 2007) is a gentle parody of Regency (Jane Austen era) romances. Philomena “Philly” Wellesley-Clegg, age 19, is a girl obsessed with bonnets (buying them, beribboning them…). Since she is very nearly an old maid, she is preoccupied with making lists of potential husbands (à la Bridget Jones), all of which she finds unsuitable for various reasons. Her love of bonnets exceeds that for any suitor. That is, until Inigo Linsley, youngest brother of her best friend’s husband, kisses her. After “The Kiss,” Philly loses all interest in bonnets. Hilarity—in the form of increasinging improbable situations—ensues when she enters into a fake engagement with Inigo to save herself from another suitor.

Janet’s writing always showed her sense of humor and that was readily apparent here. The Rules of Gentility is a light, funny story that mashes up modern chick-lit elements with Regency mainstays. She pokes fun at the conventions of the genre, but in a way that shows her genuine fondness for it. The humor makes this a story with appeal to an audience beyond those who regularly read Regency romances, though fans of the genre will likely appreciate the many insider references more than the casual reader.

An interview with Janet is forthcoming at Absolute Blank. In the meantime, you can get a taste of her fiction by delving into the archives, where you’ll find three stories: “Snow, the Seven, and the Moon,” “The Companions are Chosen,” and “A Perfect Evening.” Janet also wrote “Enter At Your Own Risk: The Strange, Twilight World of Writing Competitions” for Absolute Blank.

In addition to her website, you can find Janet on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, and at The Risky Regencies, a collaborative blog.

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Email: beaver[at]toasted-cheese.com

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