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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Mary Balogh's The Secret Mistress.
On a splendid August afternoon Susanna Osbourne is introduced to the most handsome man she has ever seen . . . and instantly feels the icy chill of recognition. Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitleaf, is utterly charming—and seemingly unaware that they have met before. With his knowing smile and seductive gaze, Peter acts the rake; but he stirs something in Susanna she has never felt before, a yearning that both frightens and dazzles her. Instantly she knows: this brash nobleman poses a threat to her heart . . . and to the secrets she guards so desperately.
From the moment they meet, Peter is drawn to Susanna’s independence, dazzled by her sharp wit—he simply must have her. But the more he pursues, the more Susanna withdraws . . . until a sensual game of thrust-and-parry culminates in a glorious afternoon of passion. Now more determined than ever to keep her by his side, Peter begins to suspect that a tragic history still haunts Susanna. And as he moves closer to the truth, Peter is certain of one thing: he will defy the mysteries of her past for a future with this exquisite creature—all Susanna must do is trust him with the most precious secret of all. . . .
The third in Balogh's Simply series of Regency romances, centered on a group of friends who teach at a private girls' school in Bath, is absorbing and appealing. Susanna Osbourne is one of the teachers at Miss Martin's School for Girls, a gentleman's daughter who has been alone in the world since she lost her father and her home at age 12, leaving her with depth, complexity and a cautious nature. At 23, Susanna's satisfaction with her life and career doesn't waver, even when she meets Viscount Whitleaf, Peter Edgeworth, 26, while visiting a friend's estate for the summer. Peter's good looks, charm and easy flirtation strike Susanna as frivolous, and his connection to her childhood home and early trauma frighten her. But despite Susanna being "gauche as a girl just stepping out of a schoolroom for the first time," they are drawn to each other, a friendship develops, and it looks to lead someplace both of them are afraid to go. The conflicts are mostly to do with the way Susanna and Peter resolve to accept the social realities of their time, and how in failing, they bring out the best in each other. This is an unusually subtle approach in a romance, and it works to great effect.