Friday, March 19, 2010

Time to Leave the Old West Behind --

Time to move on, as lovely and readable Beth Williamson's books are, the series has come to an end and it is time to move on to some of my other favorites. Below you will find my review of one of Tracy Anne Warren's books, The Accidental Mistress. It is a part of a series of "mistresses" stories that she is publishing and all are set in the early 19th century. They are readable and fun, lots of good writing and enjoyable characters. This particular book will delight historical romance fans so here goes . . . The Accidental Mistress.

To escape an arranged marriage, spirited Lily Bainbridge has staged her own death and, disguised as a boy, fled to London and a life of freedom. Yet her plans to masquerade as an independent widow are thwarted by an encounter with a powerful and dangerously attractive marquis who wants to make her his mistress. Lily is afraid that if she gives him her innocence, he'll steal her heart.

Having agreed to a marriage of convenience to honor his family duty, Ethan Anderton, the Marquis of Vessey, has no intention of abandoning his rakish ways. Then fate intervenes in the guise of an impetuous young lady==a woman bold enough to scheme her way to London, who tempts him with her mystery and sensuality. Kiss after kiss, caress after tender caress, Ethan vows to discover all of Lily's hidden secrets. For beneath the layers of her clever ruse lies a burning passion that will ignite a tempestuous love neither of them can deny.

Written a a part of a series, Tracy Anne Warren has once again delighted historical romance fans with a lively tale that is sure to keep any reader's interest. Full of fun, the usual antics of the haut ton, the faint but persistent suspense surrounding Lily's death -- does she pull it off or is she found out? -- and the rather laid back personality and lifestyle of the Marquis all combine to carry the story on and make it almost impossible to lay down. Of course there are those who are fine and upstanding citizens and who populate the various social "doings" of the London Season. There are the handsome gentlemen and the bunglers who are hoping for a sporting chance to secure a manageable and beautiful bride. As a "widow" Lily is not required to have a chaperone at any of the balls, soirees, or evenings at the Opera, but she is required to have a male escort to any of the social gatherings. The ins and outs of 19th century London society never fail to puzzle those of us who are the offspring of democracy, and the rules of male/female interaction, while seemingly ironclad and inviolable, are set aside regularly by those who find a way. Quiet trips to a darkened garden, women in a unbelievable state of undress, and the suspicions of the inveterate gossips make for a comedy all of its own.
I find Warrens characters to be truly interesting people. She has a way of building a story around characters that have the ring of authenticity about them, people who could be our next door neighbors if it weren't for their wealth or snobbery. Yet they are warm and caring about those for whom they are responsible. They take their social life seriously for it is, indeed, a way of life. But they are clearly bred and taught to care for those who have a stake in their properties and whose very livelihood depend on the self-discipline of kind overlords. It is not a way of life we truly understand and it is well that it has faded away, but it is sure fun to explore in such a setting as this novel.
I like Lily a lot!! She is a woman ahead of her times who has determined that she must make her own way. She is willing to take the risk of loving, but she is not willing to sacrifice her own independence to do so. She has learned the hard way that those who misuse and abuse women are not going to be a part of her life if she can help it. He grandfather's legacy makes such a life possible for her.
I like the Marquis -- he is typical of the aristocrats of his time, but having the title foisted on him by the deaths of his two older brothers, has taken the time and energy to learn his responsibilities and to take on the care of his tenants as serious business. I am always drawn to men who are not threatened by their gentler urges, who care deeply for those who are defenceless and who strive to be caring and helpful even when it is inconvenient. Ethan is such a man and his meeting with Lily initially begins a phase of his life that will change the course of his life's journey. Not all is sugar and roses here. There is conflict as there must be in any good story, but it is never allowed to stop the flow of the story or prevent the sequence of events form moving forward. Only the best storytellers manage that well. Warren is one of those.
I hope you will read this book. It is a tale well-told, full of color as well as the ebb and flow of the British aristocracy. If you are a historical romance fan, you will really like this book. I give this novel a 5 out of 5 rating.


Tracy said...

I really liked this entire series. Glad you're enjoying it as well!

The Romance Girl said...

A friend recommended this to me a while ago- it sounds fantastic!