Friday, June 11, 2010

Review: Mistress by Mistake by Maggie Robinson

Scandal Is Only The Beginning...

Charlotte Fallon let her guarded virtue fall once-and she's paid dearly for it ever since. She swore she'd never succumb to men's desires again. But even a village spinster's life miles from temptation can't save her from a sister with no shame whatsoever. Or a heart that longs for more, whatever the cost...

Sir Michael Bayard found more than he expected in his bed when he finally joined his new mistress. He'd fantasized about her dewy skin and luscious curves, assured her understanding that what passed between them was mere dalliance. But he didn't expect the innocence and heat of her response in his arms. Nor her surprisingly sharp tongue once she was out of them...

A few days of abandon cannot undo the hard-learned lessons of a lifetime. Nor can an honest passion burn away the restraints of society's judgments. Unless, of course, one believes in nonsense like true love...

I wasn't certain what to expect with Mistress by Mistake: debut author; trade paperback release (which is always a toss-up with a debut author because what if the book is terrible?)  Once I started reading, however, I wondered what I'd been so worried about.

This historical has it all: humor, hot sex, endearing characters and yes, a little bit of crazy. 

Let's start first with Charlotte "Charlie" Fallon, an on-the-shelf spinster from Little Hyssop who gardens, tats, and feeds feral cats.  When her sister, Deborah, a courtesan, requests her to immediately come to London because the situation is a matter of life-and-death, Charlie does it.  As she soon discovers, the situation is not so serious, and Deborah floats away to Kent, leaving Charlie to explain the truth of what's happened to Sir Michael Xavier Baynard, who is expected to return soon.  Imagine Charlie's surprise when she wakes from the most vivid dream to find Sir Michael's mouth around her breast.

And what is there to say about Bay?  He's not even spoken to Charlie, but he cannot help thinking:

By God, she was making him lose his mind.  The touch and taste of her was inebriating, clouding his judgment.  One didn't keep a mistress for domesticity.  One kept a mistress for sin, the darker the better.  And if he knew anything about Deborah Fallon, she would complain loud and long caring for anything that was not her own luscious self.  A baby?  Preposterous.
What begins as an agreement between he and Charlie -- he cannot trust her completely yet for reasons I won't go into -- soon blooms into something more.  Perhaps Bay is simply looking to change his lifestyle yet again.  The little bit of crazy is Bay's past come back to haunt him and, as a result, Charlie.

Despite that sinister plot thread, there is a lot of humor within Mistress by Mistake, thanks in part to Bay.  He delights in teasing Charlie, in riling her up, and does so by making fun of her spinster caps, calling Little Hyssop a myriad of incorrect names (Little Turnip, Little Muckup), calling her out on her sexual proclivities (which she most often verbally disagrees with).  Though Charlie has her moments too:

He would have made a fine ladies' maid, if he hadn't had such magnificent masculine equipage. 

Two days on Jane Street and she was a confirmed slut.  There must be something in the air. 

Thank you so much, Ms. Robinson, for such wonderfully splendid characters.  I'm looking forward to reading about the other Janes in upcoming books.

(And a very special thank you to Mandi of Smexy Books for loaning her copy to me.)

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