Another one of Balogh's traditional regencies. No matter how much I enjoy her european historicals I approach these little books with an even greater expectation. This one was no different.
When the Earl of Rutherford tries to seduce Jessica Moore in her employer's library one night, she is blamed and loses her job. Rutherford offers her a position as his mistress, but instead Jessica enlists the aid of his own grandmother and sets out to teach him a lesson.
Jessica Moore, a young ladies governess, is dismissed after having been caught, barefoot and in her nightgown, with the Earl of Rutherford in the library, even if she has just refused his advances.
When he meets her on the road feels partially responsible for her predicament but at the same time sees it as the perfect opportunity for her to become his lover. Although at first she agrees Jess finds she cannot go through with it and Rutherford ends up sending her to his grandmother so she can find her a new position.
It is with evident surprise that he sees how his grandmother introduces her to society as a dear friend's granddaughter. At first he believes it to be a lie and still wants her to be his mistress and after knowing better to be his wife.
What I liked in this one was that it had a real feel. For instance Jessice first accepts to be Rutherford's mistress because she knows the situation she will face in London will be even darker. And when she cannot go through with it there's still some basic goodness in him to send her to his grandmother instead of just abandoning her. This is another story where a compromised young lady refuses to marry because there's no love involved, however and on the contrary of many other stories that does work here (no one else knows...). Jessica feels Rutherford would only use her and so they are constantly at odds. Their love is never expressed because they are always too busy fighting. The tension between the two grows and as the book reaches it's climax without them ever having confessed their feelings to each other there's material for a big misunderstanding to occur, fortunately it's not overly done.
What leads to this is that Rutherford changes his atitude throughout the book but never mentions it and Jessica is a bit too inflexible not allowing such confidences and that was what stopped me from grading it higher.
I also enjoyed the secondary characters. The grandmother was indeed a great lady and Hope and Godfrey were nicely done. I'm glad they had their happy ending even if Hope seemed a bit too naive.