Rules of Engagement

Written by Mary J. Carter
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Jane Austen satire is transplanted to the wilds of New Hampshire in this frothy family romp. The year is 1825. The village of Liberty Fair, joined by visiting handsome playwright heartthrob Alonzo Hewes, prepares to present a pageant honoring the last surviving general of the American Revolution, Lafayette who is stopping by on his famous American Grand Tour. The Jenney sisters: Selena, Charlotte, Louisa Jane, Eliza, daughters of widowed Martin, join the project. Next door lives the haughty and wealthy Ellsworth family determined to best one and all.

Twenty-one-year-old Selena Jenney fears she’s nearing the end of her marriageable shelf life. The tender bond with her best friend Meg is in jeopardy as they compete for the gracious but fickle Alonzo’s affections.  Local Garrett Pomroy hovers in the background, hoping to be a stabilizing force to the mad females as he pursues Selena on the sly.

Multigenerational and delightful, with enough eccentrics—woman editor of the local newspaper in trousers, fuming cook, blaspheming parrot, ultra practical counterweight sister (“I only like his hat”)—keep proceedings lively. Rules of Engagement moves from satire to sentiment without missing a beat. It is a humorous, fast-paced and easy-breezy reading experience sure to delight.