Lord Ferdinand Dudley is accustomed to getting what he wants - that is, until he appears at the door of Pinewood Manor, attempting to claim his rightful estate, and is met by the bewitching fury of Lady Viola Thornhill. She refuses to relinquish the home she calls her own. He refuses to leave and so the contest begins.
Each day under the same roof brings immense frustration - and temptation. But Viola knows it is a battle she cannot afford to lose. Marriage is out of the question, and she will be no man's mistress even as Dudley's unnerving presence threatens to melt her resolve. Against his better judgement, Dudley is beguiled. This maddening beauty has stirred him as no woman had before. And now he is bound and determined to make her his own.
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.