MORE THAN A MISTRESS by Mary Balogh
Delacort Press, September 2000
Jane Ingleby (aka Lady Sara Illingsworth) is accused of murder and theft by her cousin and guardian and must flee her home. In Regency London, she interrupts a duel with the result that Jocelyn, Duke of Tresham, is injured. Jocelyn decides the only fit punishment is that Jane become his nurse but, during his weeks of convalescence, he finds a growing attraction toward this mystery woman.
Their idyllic time together is tempered with bickering. Jocelyn is used to getting his own way, but Jane never lets him have the last word. Attraction leads to kisses and lovemaking, but Jocelyn remains deeply damaged by his upbringing and the attitudes of Regency England. When he learns Jane's secret, he feels betrayed--he entrusted her with his darkest secrets and she withheld everything from him.
Mary Balogh (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of Mary Balogh romance novels) is a leading author of Regency-era romance and MORE THAN A MISTRESS is a prime example. Her historical detail is totally convincing and both Jane and Jocelyn are fully rendered. Jane, in particular, has a sharp wit that will keep the reader smiling. Jocelyn is the classic injured and dark hero. Even minor characters, especially Jocelyn's sister and brother, are wonderfully and distinctively presented. Balogh offers a mix of British drawing room scenes, male fisticuffs, witty dialogue, mystery and a comedy of manners--a wonderful melange of a story.
I was not convinced, however, by Jane's decision (or rather lack of decision) to be honest with Jocelyn about her past. During the weeks they spent together, she should have been able to see that he would help her and admire her for what she had done. Her refusal to open to him seemed more for the convenience of plot and conflict rather than something flowing from the characters.
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