Print Length: 254 pages
Publisher:  Golden Angel (August 09, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: Married once to a Baron who needed a young bride to bear him an heir, Cordelia Astley found herself in an untenable situation after his death until Philip Stanley, the Marquess of Dunbury, asked her to be his bride. She knows he didn't marry her for love, but he was her white knight and, once they're married, she finds herself falling in love with him. It would be a fairy tale ending if it wasn't for her stepdaughter Gabrielle.

Having observed his cousins Hugh and Eleanor find happiness in their respective marriages, Philip doesn't see why his marriage should be any different. Especially since he managed to find a giving, submissive, delightful woman that drew him like no woman had ever done before. Everything would be perfect, except that she allows her stepdaughter to denigrate her and manipulate her. His method of correction for both Cordelia and Gabrielle isn't what either lady expected, but Cordelia finds confidence in his support and care of her... if only she would put him first instead of Gabrielle, Philip's life would be everything he'd hoped.

                                                         *******************


My Rating: 1 star out of 5

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Except maybe by saying that this was NOT BDSM. This was straight-up abuse. There was no consent, and there was no safe word. There was just a husband who got off on "punishing" his wife whether she actually deserved it or not. Also, before I really get started, let me point out that because this was also supposed to be a historical romance, I found it very hard to believe that absolutely EVERY character was into spanking/disciplining. And I do mean EVERY CHARACTER, even the ones who are only supporting characters, are not only into it, but enjoy and encourages it. Which, you know, might have been okay had this story actually been done well.

Okay, now that I've gotten that off of my chest, let me get into the deeper reasons as to why this one just didn't work for me (aside from the no consent/safe word issue that I already raised). 

One of the first times Philip threatens to spank Cordelia is when she wants to wear her chemise to eat dinner with him in their private chambers. Yes, they had been together, but she was still a gently bred woman, and she still had her modesty, or at least she should have been allowed to keep it. But instead of letting her be comfortable while they ate, he demanded she does so naked, then threatened to spank her if she didn't do as he said. 

Sadly, he eventually had that poor woman so brainwashed that she started to feel as though she deserved whatever physical pain he wanted to inflict upon her because she (I quote) " caused Philip an emotional hurt." I'm sorry that he was so butthurt over her being her own person that he felt she had disobeyed him. In this particular instance, she felt overwhelmed about her (admittedly problematic) stepdaughter's "come-out ball" and didn't ask him for help. Speaking of Gabrielle (the step-daughter), considering she was nineteen years old, and no relation to him, yet he had no qualms about making her bend over a chair so he could spank her as well (although she was allowed to keep her drawers on which somehow was supposed to make it better), I wouldn't have come to him with issues either. Every time he took it upon himself to punish Gabrielle, I felt dirty as it was not his place to put his hands (or other objects from his desk drawer) on her in such a manner. 

I also had an issue with the fact that Philip often got upset that his wife put Gabrielle's wants and desires over his own. Considering Gabrielle was a spoiled chit, I would have been able to overlook that, except his need for his wife to put him above all else didn't seem as though it was limited to just Gabrielle, which made me worry for Cordelia if she should ever have children with Philip. How would he react to her putting their children before him? If anyone in this novel was selfish (aside from Gabrielle), it would have to be Philip. 

As the story went on, I found myself skipping the sex scenes as there was never anything new or interesting to be found; just two people enjoying the marital bed, which I find nothing wrong with, I just didn't find that it moved the story along other than to serve as a supposed reason why Cordelia was enamored with her husband. However, I noticed one thing in particular; Cordelia did NOT like her ummmmm "other hole" being touched. AT ALL. So, of course, her husband noted this because (and again, I'm quoting the book) obviously, it would "make it all the more effective as a deterrent for the future." 

A future that came all too quickly because GABRIELLE messed up. For clarification, Gabrielle had been on the marriage mart for some time and felt (deservedly so) that Philip and his friends were so intimidating that they were scaring off potential suitors. So that was the excuse she gave Cordelia for writing to a man to let him know which events she would be attending (which, if I remember correctly, still wasn't allowed during the Regency period, but whatever). Anyway; the scene went like this - Cordelia demanded to see the letter. And after reading it, saw nothing wrong with the contents. Gabrielle is then later caught with said gentleman. SOMEHOW this equates to punishment for both of them because Cordelia should have demanded to see the final letter, and should have told Philip about the gentleman in question (even though Gabrielle asked Cordelia not to tell him, and she had never asked Cordellia for a thing prior to that, and well, Philip was being an overbearing chaperone). But of course, Philip is once again butt-hurt, going so far as to accuse Cordelia of undermining his authority when it came to Gabrielle and giving her "implicit permission to do as she wished" even though that was not the case. 

What absolutely killed this for me was what happened after. While using a BIRCH rod on his wife, Philip even admits to himself that he could understand WHY his wife did what she did, but thinks to himself that "it wouldn't make him go easier on her, but it certainly made him feel better about their relationship." So despite knowing that his wife had valid reasons for doing as she did, he still beat her, and yet HE felt better about the relationship? Immediately after her beating, he took her anal virginity, telling her that her punishment was "almost over." Even when she cried OW repeatedly and tried to escape the intrusion, he didn't stop. But of course, once again, he had her so brainwashed that she accepted it and somehow enjoyed it. 

There are obviously more books in this series to be read, but I will not be reading them. I hope that one day this author can write a book that is actually BDSM and not just abuse, as they do have a decent writing style when developing a story. 

                                                         *******************
                                               
                                                Philip's Rules is available on Amazon.com