The Marquis of Waltham, Marshall Bedford, has just decided that it is time that he took another mistress. He has the care of his estates, his sister is "coming out" this year, his little sister is precocious and his stepmother, Constance, is still in deep mourning for his father. He has decided that the only thing his life is missing at this point is the companionship of a woman, and he is not yet ready to marry. Since Constance very rarely even leaves her room anymore, it is up to Marshall to escort his sister Winnifred around. He needs to take her to get fitted for the gown that she is wearing to a ball this weekend.
As they enter the shop, he notices one of the shop girls. She is exactly what he has in mind for a mistress. He drops his sister off and promises to return for her in two hours. When he returns to the shop for his sister, he finds a constable arresting the very shop girl that he is interested in! He rushes Winnie into the carriage and finds out that Evelyn Dennsworth is being arrested for supposedly stealing a brooch. He bribes the constable into making sure that Evelyn is not mistreated. After another bribe, he gets Evelyn released into his custody. He takes her to an Inn.
Evelyn is in shock. She has never stolen anything in her life! As a vicar's daughter, she was taught to respect other people's property. She is in terrible condition after being in the police cart and then spending a couple of hours in jail. Marshall sees to her comfort and sleeps in a chair by her side. He has his man of business, Druggs, locate a suitable house for Evelyn. He takes her there the next day. He still hasn't told Evelyn that he wants her to be his mistress. Evelyn has come to this conclusion on her own and will not succumb. Marshall hires a lawyer to represent Evelyn in Court. Evelyn is worried sick about the upcoming trial. She finds herself very attracted to Marshall but is doing all she can not to give in to his passion. Marshall is trying to win Evelyn over by becoming her friend first.
This is a very entertaining Regency tale, but it is not a traditional Regency. When Evelyn finally decides to becomes Marshall's lover, she sets the terms, not Marshall. Evelyn has had to take care of herself ever since her father died and she does not want anyone else in charge of her life. Marshall knows that he wants Evelyn and will do everything he can to win her. It is wonderful watching the two of these very strong characters butt heads constantly. All of the characters in this story are very believable, right down to Constance's mourning her late husband and how Evelyn manages to help her. This Regency has a little bit of everything, from the inequality of the classes to the realities facing a young woman of common birth trying to make her way in the world. There is the added danger of the trial and what might happen if Evelyn is found guilty of the theft of the noblewoman's brooch. This story definitely captures your attention and holds it as you continue reading to find out exactly how the tale will end. This is definitely a book that I recommend to all lovers of historical romance that like a little bit of "spice" added to their Regencies.
Chere Gruver, August 2003
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