Review

Breaking the Rules

by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor Bradford is celebrating the 30th anniversary of
her record-breaking debut novel, A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE, with her
25th bestseller, BREAKING THE RULES. It’s hard to believe
that it’s been 25 years since I first read about Emma Harte,
the beloved matriarch who ignited Bradford’s career.

“Substance” is a befitting word to describe
Bradford’s style of writing. She opens BREAKING THE RULES
with this description of M: “tall, slender, lithe, she moved
with grace and had an inbred elegance…She carried a battered
old black Hermès Kelly bag…” A simple introduction
with notable substance keeps readers turning the pages to learn
more about this mysterious 23-year-old, whose breeding, desire and
determination give her the courage to flee a rape in London and
embark on the journey to make it on her own as a model in
Manhattan. M’s background remains a mystery throughout part
one of this epic novel; we coast along as she navigates the sea of
hopeful actors, artists and models in New York, visiting the
modeling agencies where she is registered and waiting for her big
break. When that comes via an introduction to a photographer, M
breaks the rules and rises to the top of the industry, immediately
becoming the international face of French designer Jean-Louis
Tremont’s couture collections.

Adding to the glamour of her allure, M is the recipient of one
of life’s little surprises --- she meets the man of her
dreams at a Park Avenue party: “He walked toward
her…Their eyes were locked on each other…And I know who
you are…You’re the elusive woman I’ve been
searching for all of my life.” This opening line from
legendary British actor Laurence Vaughan begins their grand
romance.

Thankfully, Bradford’s style of writing does not include
steamy bedroom scenes or salacious interludes. She writes with
a regal grandeur that alludes to the former and leaves the
particulars to the reader’s imagination. Few authors use this
style with much commercial success, yet Bradford pulls it off with
the proper etiquette befitting a recipient of the Order of the
British Empire bestowed upon her by Queen Elizabeth in 2007 for
literary achievements.

Readers are swept away by their instant attraction and seeming
destiny. Destiny is certainly made more real when the man of your
dreams --- who happens to be theatrical royalty --- makes a beeline
for you across a crowded room and says very softly,
“You’re the woman…the woman I want to run away
with…Let’s do that, shall we?” Thus begins the
romantic prelude to a “Burmese sapphire, flawless,
cushion-cut and mounted in platinum, with two diamond baguettes on
each side.” Fantasy is such sweet destiny.

However, even grand romances include their share of baggage, and
Larry’s former addiction to prescription drugs and M’s
family skeletons and enemies interfere with the couple’s
bliss. M must reveal her true identity to Larry --- she is the
great-granddaughter of Emma Harte, the founder of the most famous
department store in the world. Parts two and three of BREAKING THE
RULES take place in Paris, London, Hong Kong and Istanbul. M and
Larry, newly married and “head over heels in love,”
find themselves dodging the Hartes’ enemies, multiple threats
and mysterious accidents.

The Vaughan and Harte family dynasties are vast and full of
theatrical and classy characters the reader will embrace. The Harte
ladies --- M, Paula, Linnet and Tessa --- are truly women of
substance, possessing endless breeding, wisdom, family loyalty, and
an eternal love and respect for the traditions begun by Emma Harte
at the family home, Pennistone Royal: tea at four in the upstairs
parlor. The modern-day Hartes have added a tradition that permeates
the novel most pleasantly: pink champagne to celebrate life’s
surprises, accomplishments and grand romances.

Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on December 23, 2010

Breaking the Rules
by Barbara Taylor Bradford

  • Publication Date: October 13, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312578067
  • ISBN-13: 9780312578060