cover image The Secret Mistress

The Secret Mistress

Mary Balogh. Delacorte, $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-34331-2

Regency romance doyenne Balogh (A Secret Affair) pairs a staid young nobleman with a vivacious debutante in this top-notch tale. When the headstrong Lady Angeline Dudley, sister of the wealthy duke of Tresham, is accosted by the rakish Lord Windrow, she immediately falls for the ordinary-looking gentleman who intervenes. Her rescuer, Edward Ailsbury, is the earl of Heyward, whose family%E2%80%94unaware of his affection for his bluestocking confidante, Eunice Goddard%E2%80%94plans to match him with the very eligible Angeline. An unusually accurate portrayal of Regency society, laden with colorful period detail, makes a sparkling backdrop, and the supporting characters are delightful. Youthful Angeline's endearing mixture of breathless enthusiasm and hidden insecurity is given the perfect foil in the responsible and rather nerdy Edward, who is perpetually baffled as his rational approach fails to impress the women in his life. The charming mixture of sensual passion and hilarious confusion makes Balogh's delightful tale a must-read for Regency fans. (Aug.)