4 of 5 stars to ‘More than a mistress’ by Mary Balogh

More than a mistress

Jane Austen quality

Duelling is a gentleman’s business. Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham is furious when his attention is distracted in the middle of his latest duel, resulting in a non-fatal, but serious gunshot wound to his person. He employs the woman responsible for his injury as his nurse and vows to make her sorry she was every born. But Miss Jane Ingleby is no insipid maid. She has a mind of her own and is not afraid to speak it – even to the infamous rake of Tresham. The Duke is intrigued with Jane and soon finds himself in deeper than he ever imagined. But Jane has secrets of her own…

I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong era. There is something incredibly romantic about ball gowns, duels and rakes. Mary Balogh has captured the aristocratic hauteur and superficiality of polite society quite beautifully in this novel. The language in particular, is striking in it’s grandeur and the characters, including and perhaps specifically, some of the satellite characters are wonderfully three dimensional and shallow, as would be expected of ladies who spend their days embroidering and attending tea parties.

I’ve read quite a few historical romance novels but this one reminds me the most of Jane Austen’s work, of which I am a great fan. The focus is not on describing the immaculate cravats and exquisite ballgowns of the elite, but rather on the relationships between the characters and the influences of society on the lives of those characters.

The novel would have been ‘perfect’ in my estimation, were it not for a certain scene I felt that was ‘missing’ at the end of the novel. The final scene is more of an epilogue, in my opinion, and I felt in many ways deprived of what I would have considered to be the climactic resolution of the story.

That said, the character development was clear and touching, the story arc was well paced, and the era-appropriate vocabulary was superb. ‘More than a mistress’ is a light-hearted, entertaining historical romance I would happily recommend to lovers of the genre.

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