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    NO MAN'S MISTRESS by Mary Balogh

    Delacorte Press, August 2001

    Life seems just about perfect for Viola Thornhill. She owns a profitable English estate, makes enough from the rents to support her family, and is respected in the community. When Lord Ferdinand Dudley arrives and announces that he has won her estate in a card game, she reacts with disbelief, then increasing horor. If she doesn't really own Pinewood Manor, then her future is in danger--and she may have to return to the horrors of the past.

    As a younger son, Ferdinand sees property, even a minor estate, as something special. He is surprised to find a woman living in his estate, but firm that the title lawfully rests with him. He is an English gentleman and that means that he'll make sure that Viola finds some suitable situation, but his leniency goes only so far. The undeniable attraction Viola holds for him--an attraction he's never felt for another woman--is something to be denied. One thing Ferdinand knows--marriage and love are myths, not reality. When Viola refuses to move out, he moves in--giving them time to know each other and to learn each other's secrets.

    Talented author Mary Balogh (see more reviews of Mary Balogh romance novels) continues where she left off in MORE THAN A MISTRESS (see our review). Using the backdrop of Regency England, where reputation matters more than reality, Balogh spins a fine story of love and doubt.

    One aspect of NO MAN'S MISTRESS weakened the otherwise compelling novel, however. Even when Ferdinand knew the worst about her, Viola never explained her motivations and her danger to him. While this device may have enhanced the conflict between them, the conflict seemed contrived.

    Balogh's strong conclusion delivered a strong and satisfying emotional impact.

    Three Stars

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