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.
Comment: Since I've enjoyed the majority of books by this author so far, I also decided to start another series, this time the Simply Quartet, which according to the author's website, comes chronologically, after the Bedwyn saga, which I read last year.
This first book presents us the four teachers of Miss Martin's School for Girls and the heroine in this book is Frances Allard.
Frances is returning from a very quite Christmas with her two older aunts back to school. The carriage and the driver aren't young anymore so they are almost run over by a faster one. However, the roads are snowed in because of a storm that seems to get more dire so after a not so good first impression, Frances and the occupant of the other carriage settle at a inn that, sadly, only has one servant int he house which basically means they are alone most of the time.
Lucius Marshall thinks he's unlucky to be stuck with such a prudish woman but as the hours go by and he sees unexpected traits in her, their connection deepens and when they finally leave, they have feelings for one another. But they cannot be together socially...or can they?
I had hopes for this book because I've come to expect a good story, a good development and and a sweet HEA at the end of the stories by this author.
I must say that, in general, all these things were met, but since the two protagonists weren't originally living in the same city, there had to be a way for them to interact and I can't say I really liked how this was done because I got the impression the hero was very persistent and didn't seem to respect the heroine's wishes. Of course, if he didn't, there wouldn't be a romance but...
This book feels very similar to Slightly Wicked by the same author, when it comes to how the main characters first meet. They are strangers, they meet in a sort of secluded place, they don't think about being together ever again but then of course they do. Although the circumstances are different, this felt very similar and, if one compares, to me the other book was done better than this one. It just seems a little bit more difficult to accept as a possibility.
I confess I don't tend to like these stories a lot, when people do things thinking they'll never see each other again...and they do. But after reading the book, after thinking about it, what made me more suspicious was not how they met but how they behaved. While in Slightly Wicked they were pretending, in this they were not so the idea they would be intimate so soon after meeting one another, after not being very impressed with one ane another, it just seems weird that two people at the time would act so reckless. Yes, it's for plot purposes but...
I'm just glad the rest of the plot followed more credible paths.
Frances is an interesting character, she has hidden depths and I liked knowing a little something about her every time. I liked her dialogues with her co workers and I think we could have gotten more scenes at school or centered around school.
I liked how she wasn't a perfect person but she was living a worthy life, she was contributing to society and she wasn't silly or too smug to do things others wouldn't.
Lucius Marshall, a viscount, also presented and interesting dilemma, because he was in love with Frances but his social situation was awkward since his family and a young woman's have been talking about their marriage for a long time and Lucius feels he should honor that, even more so because his grandfather isn't well.
I liked how each main character dealt with their issues and their feelings and how, despite the not so good moment, they managed to find common ground and grasp happiness.
Once again, one can see the author's talent in this book, I especially liked the dialogues and the situations the characters need to deal with, for the most part the whole set is believable and well done and it's also engaging, I'm always eager to see what happens next.
I'm looking for to read the next book in the quartet next month.
This one isn't my favorite but it was entertaining enough.