His Lordship's Mistress
Grade : A

His Lordship's Mistress is a marvelous book. I had a copy several years ago and lent it my sister Anne, who true to her title as The Pickiest Reader In The World did not like it. Then she lent it to someone else who lost it. Thank goodness it has been reprinted. I read it for this review and it was just as good as I remember. Anne will not get her hands on this copy.

Jessica O'Neill is in a terrible bind. Her mother's second husband ran through almost all the assets in the family. Upon his death, Jess was left with two young brothers to raise and a mountain of debts. The only asset she has is the family estate but in order to pay off the debts, she has to mortgage the property. Her kind neighbor agrees to help her. He takes on the mortgage and they work out a schedule of payment. In order to make some money, Jessica who has a way with horses, plans to establish a stud at the estate. All is going well, until her kind neighbor dies unexpectedly and his nephew and heir calls in the note. Of course if Jessica will marry him - he will totally forgive the debt.

This is unacceptable - Jess knows that if she does marry, the man will go through all the rest of her property and leave her in the same situation as her mother - a total dependent. Jess has several months grace period and one great asset. She is beautiful and has a rich speaking voice; she plans to go to London, become an actress and snag a rich protector whose money she will use to pay off the mortgage.

Jess does become an actress and a star - she quickly becomes the toast of London. She also attracts a rich protector - Philip Earl of Linton. Both of them go into the relationship for their own reasons - he to flaunt the current star actress and she to get money, but they soon find themselves shaken to the core by the deep love that develops between them.

His Lordship's Mistress is a textbook example of how sometimes less is more when it comes to love scenes. There is little description of actual sexual activities; Wolf instead masterfully describes all the emotions Jess and Philip experience - the awe, surprise, tenderness and unexpected deep, deep love that develops between them.

Jess is very modern in her wish for independence, but she is not a 21st century woman in muslin. The entire atmosphere of London in this period is deftly sketched without resorting to regency cliches.

My shelf of Regency Romance keepers is fairly small, but this book is high on the list. I highly recommend it. His Lordship's Mistress was originally published in 1982. Joan Wolf has since gone on to write full length historicals set in the regency period which I have enjoyed very much.

Reviewed by Ellen Micheletti
Grade : A

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : January 11, 2001

Publication Date: 2000

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