The Rules of Employment for The Distinguished Academy of Governesses: Always remember your station; after all, you are higher than the house servants but certainly not a member of the family. Be sure to maintain a disciplined schoolroom and to take your meals on a tray. And Bnever become too familiar with the master of the house... Lady Charlotte Dalrumple is known as England's most proper governess, a woman who has never taken a misstep socially -- or romantically. So, on the surface, she seems perfectly suited to accept the challenge of reforming English-born Lord Wynter Ruskin, sadly uncivilized by his travels abroad.But the ruggedly handsome man has no desire to be taught manners. He has glimpsed an uninhibited beauty hiding beneath her prim exterior, and he'd much rather spend his days -- and nights -- instructing her in the ways of love.And when ardor erupts between them, Charlotte learns the pleasures of desire and Wynter the passions of the heart, but before they can love both must first master the rules of employment.
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October 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Rules of Surrender by Christina Dodd
ADORNA, VISCOUNTESS RUSKIN, LOOKED AT THE ornate lettering on the calling card in her gloved hand, then up at the tall limestone townhouse. In London's overcast March sunlight, the place looked respectable, if slightly shabby, and while this neighborhood had been fashionable in the days of Adorna's youth thirty years before, many of England's best families still lived along this street. That information allowed her hope.
Tucking the calling card into her pocketbook, she mounted the steps and rang the bell. At once the door opened.
A butler stood there, a proper butler of the old school in a powdered wig and knee breeches. He summed her up in a single, comprehensive glance. His summation produced a bow so obsequious his corset creaked, and in an accent that was almost more upper class than young Queen Victoria's, he said, "How may I help you, madam?"
"I am Viscountess Ruskin."
From his expression, she knew he recognized her name, although whether for her wealth, her connections or her notoriety, she didn't know. Nor did she care. Adorna had long ago grown into her role as the most beautiful woman in England.
Taking a step back to allow her entrance, he said, "My lady Ruskin, we at Miss Setterington's Distinguished Academy of Governesses are honored."
As she stepped inside, she smiled at him with the admiration she showed every man, regardless of his rank or age. "And you are?"
A dark flush started beneath his cravat and dyed his cheeks and forehead, but his demeanor never changed. "I am Cusheon, my lady."
"Cusheon. What a lovely name."
The creaky old butler's lips lifted ever so slightly. "Thank you, my lady."
"There's that smile. I knew you had one." Adorna enjoyed coaxing cheer out of the sourest puss. "Cusheon, I've come to speak to the proprietors of this establishment."
He snapped his fingers and a towheaded serving boy ran forward to accept her hat and coat. With her thumb, she rubbed a smudge off his chin. "You look very much like my son at your age," she said. "Right down to the flour."
"I've been helping Cook with the baking," the lad said.
"Wynter used to do that, too," she confirmed, and reluctantly let him go. So many changes had occurred in her life lately. Changes were good, of course. Of course they were.