Friday, January 22, 2010

His Lady Mistress, via Kindle

His Lady Mistress
By Elizabeth Rolls

This is a Harlequin Historical first published in 2005; I found it in the Kindle store for free two weeks ago. The price tag, or lack thereof, combined with the premise, made me download it even though the author was unfamiliar. The story has a few intriguing elements: the heroine, Verity Scott, is the daughter of an army officer who returned from the Battle of Waterloo with one arm amputated. He arrives home to find that his wife has died in childbirth along with an infant son, and both were buried the day before. He has nothing to help with his physical pain and grief but laudanum, and after two years commits suicide, leaving Verity to face the consequences. She is aided in her desire to give her father a decent burial by a man named Max, clearly a gentleman, who appears shortly after her father's death. He once served under Verity's father, who was injured saving him in battle. Once he hears that Verity's uncle will be arriving to take her in, he watches over her for the night, gets her some food, and then he is on his way. Verity ends up with her relatives, the Faringdons, who treat her like a servant but for some unknown reason refuse to let her leave them and force her to change her name. Five years later, Max's conscience gets the better of him, and he arrives at the Faringdons' to check on Verity, only to be led to beleive that she has taken her own life. Though he feels guilty, he manages to console himself with a housemaid who has caught his eye, one Selina, who is none other than --- Verity!! One thing leads to another and she agrees to become his mistress; as soon as he finds out who she is he feels obligated to marry her. The two must then work out their mutual distrust in order to find a happily ever after.
I have to admit that both Verity and Max had me rolling my eyes more than once. Their complete lack of communication, the leaping to conclusions (Max), the noble suffering (Verity), the unnecessary guilt which leads to misunderstanding followed by more noble suffering (both of them) -- all these things really bogged down a story and characters with lots of potential. I loved the historical details, the Cinderella story elements of the plot, the secondary characters, and the setting. Unfortunately, Max and Verity jsut didn't live up to their potential.
Overall, I still liked the book enough to try other titles by this author, and for a free book it was a great distraction and certainly qualifies as "good enough." I also have to admit that some of my frustration may have been due to the format. When I am getting impatient with a plot or character, I tend to flip ahead and see how many pages until the next chapter, or I'll skim for a bit to see if things pick up. With the Kindle I couldn't just flip around in the book, which was a little irritating. I still love using it, but this is really the one big drawback that I have found.

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