His virgin mistress!
Major Tom Bartlett is shocked to discover the angel who nursed his battle wounds is darling of the ton Lady Sarah Latymor. One taste of her threatens both her impeccable reputation and his career!
An honorable man would ask for her hand, but Bartlett is considered an unrepentant rake by polite society; sweet Sarah would be spurned as his mistress and even as his wife. He demands she leave, but Sarah is just as determined to stay by his side—and in his bed!
Source: ARC from Mills and Boon Historical via NetGalley
It’s been a while since I last read a M&B/HQN historical and I’d forgotten how good they could be. There are few historical imprints out there that I can trust to pay such close attention to detail and overall accuracy, and this book definitely fits the bill. The opening scene of Sarah’s ride across the battlefield was vivid and powerful without being gratuitous or over the top. Waterloo has fascinated me ever since I read Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army, so it was good to see evidence of the true price of such a bloody battle.
As I’ve not read the previous book in the series, I came to this one without any prior knowledge of Sarah or Tom. Partly I think this is a good thing, since it sounds like Sarah didn’t exactly cover herself in glory in the first book, but it’s also a bad thing. We meet Sarah after she’s ridden alone from Antwerp to Brussels, rescued a terrified dog, spent the night in the stables to protect her horse and then rides out onto the bloody fields of Waterloo in search of her twin brother – and her older brother too.
Judging by her actions she seems like a plucky, intrepid kind of girl. However, her own opinion of herself (and that of those who know her) is quite different. I found it a little hard to match up the Sarah I was reading about with the Sarah who’s a mindless wigeon and gets other people into trouble. It just seemed so unlikely. But as the book progressed I learnt more about who she was before and why she might have changed so much in such a short time.
I actually quite liked her. The way she rides out in search of Gideon may have been mostly driven by grief, but was also brave, and I liked her uncertainty when Tom was thrust into her care. She’s never nursed anyone before, no one she knows would ever believe she could, but there’s no one else so she throws herself into the whole thing with gusto. I loved how it gave her confidence in herself and how Tom really grew to understand her, her fears and uncertainties and the person she’d been hiding inside all those years.
I liked Tom too. He’s a typical womanising rogue (not a rake, as Sarah points out, since her father was definitely one of those and a whole lot worse) that is at heart terribly misunderstood and not half as bad as he’s painted. He doesn’t think much of himself, but he thinks the world of Sarah and I loved how their relationship developed and deepened with mutual respect and trust and belief in each other.
Despite the opening, there’s not a lot of action in this book, since it mostly takes place in one room, but I liked the intimate setting. It really gave the main characters a chance to get to know each other, far from the disapproval of society and family. However, the I-am-not-worthy and I-don’t-want-to-marry-anyone back and forth did get a little tedious towards the end, and all the characters connected to the other books seem awful. I’m sure if I’d read Mary’s story first I wouldn’t like Sarah, but I didn’t, so I find myself not liking Mary or Justin – and as for Flint… let’s say I wasn’t left too eager to find out his story.
Enjoyable, easy to read, with a lovely romance and a couple of less-than-perfect characters in need of mutual redemption. It’s sweet, it’s romantic and the historical details were beautifully done.
A Mistress for Major Bartlett is out June 1st!
Visit Annie Burrows for more details.