BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Mary Balogh's The Secret Mistress.
New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh returns to the seductive world she knows so well–Regency England–in a new novel filled with her trademark wit, sensuality, and breathtaking storytelling. With this, the first in a dazzling new quartet of novels, Balogh invites us into a special world–a select academy for young ladies– a world of innocence and temptation. Drawing us into the lives of four women, teachers at Miss Martin’s School for Girls, Balogh introduces this novel’s marvelous heroine: music teacher Frances Allard–and the man who seduces her with a passion no woman could possibly forget.…
They meet in a ferocious snowstorm. She is a young teacher with a secret past. He is the cool, black-caped stranger who unexpectedly comes to her rescue. Between these two unlikely strangers, desire is instantaneous…and utterly impossible to resist. Stranded together in a rustic country inn, Lucius Marshall, who is the Viscount Sinclair, and Frances Allard share a night of glorious, unforgettable passion. But Frances knows her place–and it is far from the privileged world of the sensual aristocrat. Due to begin her teaching position at Miss Martin’s School in Bath, Frances must try to forget that one extraordinary night–and the man who touched her with such exquisite tenderness and abandon.
But Frances cannot hide forever. And when fate once again throws them together, Lucius refuses to take no for an answer. If Frances will not be his wife, he will make her his mistress. So begins an odyssey fraught with intrigue, one that defies propriety and shocks the straitlaced ton. For Lucius’s passionate, single-minded pursuit is about to force Frances to give up all her secrets–except one–to win the heart of the man she already loves.
Once again this incomparable storyteller captures a time and a place like no other. And in Lucius and Frances, Mary Balogh gives us her most unlikely lovers yet–a nobleman in search of the perfect wife and an unconventional woman willing to risk everything for an unforgettable love.
What happens when a haughty, rakish aristocrat and a prim, beautiful schoolteacher are stranded in a deserted country inn together during a snowstorm? They fall in love, of course. But as all this takes place in fewer than 100 pages and as this is a fairly conventional Regency-era romance the story doesn't end so quickly or easily. Instead, Frances Allard denies her feelings, pushes Lucius Marshall away by refusing his offer to join him in London and, when they're coincidentally thrown together again in Bath, attempts to ignore him all of which makes Lucius try even harder to get her attention. A devastating secret from Frances's past keeps her from giving in, even when Lucius proposes marriage, but this secret turns out to be so unsurprising and so easily surmountable that Lucius's 200 pages of pursuit hardly seems worthwhile. Readers will feel some satisfaction when this well-matched duo eventually come together, and as usual Balogh peppers her tale with vibrant, amiable secondary characters, including a handful of Frances's colorful schoolteacher friends and Lucius's merry sisters. However, this romance, which launches a new series focusing on the young ladies' academy where Frances works, is far more forgettable than Balogh's popular Bedwyn family Regencies.