Elizabeth Rossiter is forever finished with love – after a disastrous episode that left her with a broken heart and a reputation that would be ruined should her scandalous secret be revealed. She sought safety by fleeing her proper station in society to take a position as companion to the daughter of a wealthy family, far from London, where Elizabeth’s beauty and wit had once shone so brightly.
But now her hope of a safe haven is shattered. To her horror, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again has appeared in this rural retreat.
Robert Denning, the handsome, faithless Marquis of Hetherington, made a mockery of her dreams once before – and now he is working his old magic and mischief in her life once more.
Written by: Mary Balogh
First published: 1985 (re-issued September 2016)
We first meet Miss Elizabeth Rossiter as she and her employers discuss the upcoming arrival of the young, handsome and rich master of the manor. He’s not been to the manor before and there is much speculation about his marital status.
Elizabeth is portrayed as calm, accepting of her fate (she is a gentlewoman working as a lady’s companion) and with a mysterious past.
Robert, the Marquis of Hetherington doesn’t enter our view until Chapter 2 when he arrives at Elizabeth’s home as part of the lord of the manor’s visiting party.
What did I like about the book?
Like all other Mary Balogh books, I loved the style of writing.
I also liked how Elizabeth’s employer and her daughter treated Elizabeth with respect and love. The daughter was youthful but not a brat or spoilt. So nice to see women treating each other with respect, rather than having the usual mean women trope. Though of course there was one of them to act as the foil to Elizabeth’s path to true love!
What did I dislike about the book?
Sadly, I disliked more than I liked. There’s the whole strange reason why the two protagonists couldn’t be together. I won’t say much here because spoilers, but it takes a long time for the reason to be articulated (well over half way into the book) and it is (in my not so humble opinion) quite silly. And it could have all been resolved simply by a good discussion.
Then there’s how quickly Elizabeth’s hatred of Robert turned to love “Now she loved him as a woman, with knowledge of all his faults”. There were no actions by Robert that could have possibly caused that change. In fact he was unfailingly cruel, dismissive and rude to her, assaulting her both verbally and physically.
How did I feel at the end?
That’s really the important thing isn’t it? Did I feel the HEA was right? Was I left with a warm and fuzzy feeling or wishing I could get my money back?
Sadly, this is at least one Mary Balogh that I can’t recommend. I didn’t feel the HEA worked for these two, and was left wondering what she saw in him.
If you’re a die hard Mary Balogh fan then you’ll probably not mind the flaws too much – it is after all one of her very early books – but if you’re new to her work then I recommend giving this one a miss for a while.