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Book Review of "The Rules of Engagement"

 by Catherine Bush

All’s fair in love and war – but what if the war is over love?  Catherine Bush explores this concept in The Rules of Engagement, a novel about a Toronto woman who flees to London, England when her two lovers fight a duel in her honour.


Arcadia Hearne has found small success living alone in a garden apartment in London’s Primrose Hill area, working as a researcher at the Centre for Contemporary War Studies.  After an unexpected visit from her sister Lux, Arcadia finds herself delivering supplies to a refugee from Mogadishu and consequently beginning a love affair with a man whose involvement with refugees and immigrants is more complex than it seems.


Ten years prior, two men pointed pistols at each other that contained one bullet each, all in the name of Arcadia’s love.  One man was hit, and Arcadia almost immediately put an ocean between herself and the dangerous engagement in Toronto.  Now Arcadia is finally ready to find out what happened in the aftermath, and she returns to Toronto in search of the men she once loved.


Expecting bad news but delivered good, the reader is then wrenched through a series of events that are almost more heartbreaking than the duel itself.  When Arcadia finally returns to her life in London with a changed outlook, we are left breathless with hope and wonder for her future.


The Rules of Engagement demonstrates the greatest thing about love: its elasticity.  It can stretch and bend to fit all the different things it must envelop or flow around in order to survive.  Sometimes it breaks and bends, becoming an entirely new entity that can change the rules completely.



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