Critics call her “a veritable treasure, a matchless storyteller” (Romantic Times). Readers have fallen in love with Mary Balogh’s sparkling blend of wit and romance. Now this dazzling writer sweeps us back to Regency England, into a world of dangerous secrets and glittering intrigue, as a dashing lord meets his match in a fiery beauty who vows to be ... No Man’s Mistress.
The dark, devastating stranger rode into the village fair and wagered twenty pounds at the throwing booth — for a chance to win the daisies in Viola Thornhill’s hair. The Gypsy fortune teller had warned: “Beware of a tall, dark, handsome stranger. He can destroy you — if you do not first snare his heart.”
Recklessly Viola flirted, then danced with him around the Maypole. And then came his delicate, delicious kiss. Viola did not regret that she had let down her guard — until the next morning, when he appeared at her door to claim her beloved Pinewood Manor.
Lord Ferdinand Dudley won her home in a game of cards!
Viola hated him for trying to take everything, including her soul. She was mistress of Pinewood Manor. Yet Dudley refused to leave, even as his conscience rebelled at compromising this beautiful innocent whose only proof of ownership was a dead earl’s promise. Dudley held the deed, but at what cost?
Each day under the same roof brought its share of temptation, intimacy, and guilt. But Viola knew it was a battle she could not afford to lose. Marriage was out of the question, and she would be no man’s mistress. Even as Dudley’s unnerving presence, his knowing smile, threatened to melt her resolve.
Against his better judgment, Lord Ferdinand Dudley was beguiled. This maddening beauty had stirred him as no woman had before. And he was bound and determined to make her his own.
At once sensuous, whimsical, and wonderfully romantic, Mary Balogh’s new novel holds us in thrall, bringing to life a love story that sizzles with passion and originality.
Fraught with all the misunderstandings and misadventures typical of a Regency-era romance, this heartwarming sequel to Balogh's debut hardcover, More Than a Mistress, is a fun but familiar tale that fans of the period will savor. When Lord Ferdinand Dudley visits the small village of Trellick to examine Pinewood Manor, a small estate he won in a card game, he is surprised to find that the property hasn't been neglected or abandoned. Viola Thornhill, the "country lass" whom Ferdinand had met during the town's May Day celebration, has settled in Pinewood, and she has no intention of surrendering her home to a gambling London dandy. Viola insists that the late Earl of Bamber left her the estate, and she determines to stay put until Ferdinand produces a copy of the earl's will that proves her wrong. Meanwhile, Viola tries everything possible to make Ferdinand's first country experience unbearable including setting the villagers upon him with complaints and having a cockerel wake him before sunrise. Ferdinand takes everything in stride, however, and he slowly begins to realize that he doesn't want Viola to leave; he's falling in love with her. Viola harbors feelings for Ferdinand as well, but her checkered past keeps her from entertaining hopes of a future with him. Although Ferdinand and Viola seem like mere stereotypes at first, it becomes clear midway through that Ferdinand is not the rake he appears to be and that Viola is no innocent country lass. Balogh's prose is simple and straightforward, and few of the novel's twists and turns are uncharted. Nevertheless, her charismatic characters and swift pacing will keep romance enthusiasts riveted to the page.