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The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh

secrat-mistress-cover-lgIt’s been a while since I devoured a new read from Mary Balogh, so I was definitely excited… I mean… It’s Mary Balogh! Do I need to sing her praises? Of course, I don’t… It’s Mary Balogh! Ok, I’m excited, what can I say?

Up to this point, my favorites from her have been what is probably her most well-known series, The Bedwyn Saga. Wulfric’s story is my absolute favorite, who doesn’t love a stoic duke that can freeze you to icicles with his cold grey eyes right? So when I read the stories More than a Mistress and No Man’s Mistress I definitely enjoyed them as I do all of Mary Balogh’s books. I liked Tresham and Ferdie as heroes, but me being me, I tend to go more for romantic humor, it’s my hook.

It was always Angeline and Edward, The Earl of Heyward that had me laughing and loving every minute of their interaction in those books. I loved Angeline’s fretting over her brothers and her horrid sense of style that is so totally Angeline. When I read that there would be a book telling their story I was ecstatic! I knew it was going to be right up my alley.

The Characters…

Edward Ailsbury is a very serious man and doesn’t hold with any nonsense of any kind whatsoever. Recently having acquired the title, Earl of Heyward, he’s thrust into a world of responsibility and just one of those responsibilities is to marry and produce an heir. Edward, being the dutiful man that he is, sets his sights on his longtime friend and daughter of his old university professor, Eunice Goddard. If only it was that easy. His family has their hearts set on him courting Angeline Dudley, a loud, babbling and garish girl he heartily disapproves of.

To Angeline Dudley, everything is absolutely wonderful! She’s finally going to be making her debut into London society, after years of being cooped up at the family estate with only her governess to mind her. When she meets the Earl by chance on her way to London, she falls in love at first sight. He’s exactly the kind of steady and serious man she wants to marry, but how will she convince him of that? Angeline has a few ideas.

The Story…

The story starts out with Angeline waiting at an inn for her brother, the Duke of Tresham. Edward walks in and sees her there, leaning upon a window sill completely oblivious to his presence and with no chaperone or maid in sight. He is immediately scandalized, not to mention bombarded with lust for her, much to his own disgust. He can tell she’s a Lady, despite Angeline’s colorful attire and completely inappropriate behavior of being unchaperoned. But the Earl is a bit of a stick in the mud you see, despite his young age of four and twenty he just can’t abide such improprieties.

Her irresponsible behavior comes to a head when a gentleman propositions her, and Edward comes to her rescue by turning the man off. Angeline is instantly taken with the quiet and stoic Earl and knows this is the man she want’s to marry. Too bad Edward isn’t the slightest bit interested in her unless it’s to get as far away as he possibly can!

This sets off an awkward association between Angeline and Edward when they, of course, see each other during the London season. Even more awkwardness ensues when you see that Edward’s relatives have their hearts set on Angeline as his Countess and set up every opportunity for them to be together. What’s a dutiful Earl to do? Why abide by his Mama and Grandmama’s wishes of course. (Women are always right Edward. Learn it, live it, love it.)

My Thoughts…

The book continues in a typical Mary Balogh fashion, full of misunderstandings, confusion, and mayhem that causes the main pairing to angst over each other until the very last possible moment where everything is resolved with one well-placed conversation. I was surprised, however, to see it was missing some nefarious plot twist. Most of her books have some element of an evil doer in there somewhere. This book is completely devoid of that and can be taken as a light, romantic and funny read as we get to skip mystery plots altogether. A worthy one to pick up for any Mary Balogh fan, or any historical romance fan who loves to laugh. 

The book is not without its serious elements, though, both main characters are plagued with their own insecurities. She being overshadowed by her Mother and he by his late older brother, which causes them both to wear masks to protect themselves. They learn in time to shed their shields and be themselves, if only in front of each other.

So, we have a babbling and bright heroine and an old stuffy sobersides hero. I loved it! It was definitely my favorite of the Dudley series since I just loved Edward to pieces. You can tell if not for Angeline, he would never have any fun at all, but we know Angeline won’t let that happen. ;P

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