More Than a Mistress

More Than a Mistress

4.4 29
by Mary Balogh

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In this captivating novel, Mary Balogh, the premier writer of Regency romance, invites you into a world of scandal and seduction, of glittering high society and intrigue, as an arrogant duke does the unthinkable—he falls in love with his mistress.
She races onto the green, desperate to stop a duel. In the melée, Jocelyn Dudley, Duke


In this captivating novel, Mary Balogh, the premier writer of Regency romance, invites you into a world of scandal and seduction, of glittering high society and intrigue, as an arrogant duke does the unthinkable—he falls in love with his mistress.
She races onto the green, desperate to stop a duel. In the melée, Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham, is shot. To his astonishment, Tresham finds himself hiring the servant as his nurse. Jane Ingleby is far too bold for her own good. Her blue eyes are the sort a man could drown in—were it not for her impudence. She questions his every move, breaches his secrets, touches his soul. When he offers to set her up in his London town house, love is the last thing on his mind.

Jane tries to pretend it’s strictly business, an arrangement she’s been forced to accept in order to conceal a dangerous secret. Surely there is nothing more perilous than being the lover of such a man. Yet as she gets past his devilish façade and sees the noble heart within, she knows the greatest jeopardy of all, a passion that drives her to risk everything on one perfect month with the improper gentleman who thinks that love is for fools.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A stunningly good work of romantic fiction. Mary Balogh reaches deep and touches the heart.”—Joan Johnston, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered

Kathe Robin
Mary Balogh continues to reaffirm her place as an extraordinary star of the Regency genre. Her intelligent characters, who manage to cleverly find their way out of danger, gain our respect. Then she adds intrigue, romance and a fast pace to give us a book we won’t we able to put down.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her assured hardcover debut, Balogh (One Night for Love) serves up two Regency-era characters determined not to fall in love with each other, despite their shared aesthetic sensibilities, uncontrollable physical attraction and increasingly intimate friendship. The predictability of their predicament--they come from different social classes--is compensated for by an authentic London high society setting and the smart, sexy dialogue between Jocelyn Dudley, duke of Tresham, and Jane Ingleby, the two attractive, headstrong protagonists. Jocelyn is an avowed bachelor, rake and accomplished duelist. While preparing to fire his pistol during a duel, he is interrupted by a woman's scream urging him to stop. Jocelyn hesitates and is shot in the leg. Furious, he confronts the disruptive woman, milliner's assistant Jane, who is impudent beyond her station in accusing him of foolishly risking his life. As punishment, he insists she be his nurse for the three weeks he is recuperating. Jane is proud and feisty because, actually, she's not really a common serving girl. She's the orphan Lady Sara Illingsworth, who mistakenly believes she killed a man who was attempting to rape her. She fled her home in Cornwall for London, but without money or protection, her future seems bleak. When Tresham recovers his health, Jane agrees to stay on as his mistress, partly in order to remain hidden, but also because she is falling in love with him. Although some intrigue surfaces when Tresham's previous romantic entanglements make him the target of a husband's vengeance, the real story is the dynamic love-hate relationship between Jane and Tresham, their many obstacles to happiness parried with fiery wit and spirit. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
When Jane Ingleby tries to stop a duel, Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham, is wounded. So it's surprising that she ends up employed as his nurse--and ultimately his mistress as well. But as their relationship blossoms, Jocelyn commits the unpardonable sin of falling in love. In this refreshingly unconventional romance, which boasts an outspoken, memorable heroine, the author again pushes the edges of the genre. Her fans will be waiting. Balogh (One Night for Love) is a well-respected writer of historical romance who lives in Canada. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
The dashing Duke of Tresham wonders why he's so attracted to Jane Ingleby, the serving wench who nurses him back to health after a duel-until he figures out that her ladylike manner and accomplishments are the first clue to her real identity.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Mary Balogh's Mistress Trilogy Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.06(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The two gentlemen who were in their shirt sleeves despite the brisk chill of a spring morning were about to blow each other's brains out. Or attempt to do so, at least. They were standing on a secluded stretch of dew-wet lawn in London's Hyde Park, facing in different directions, each ignoring the other's existence until the moment should come to take aim at each other and shoot to kill.

They were not alone, however, this being a duel of honor in which due process had been followed. A gauntlet had been thrown down, even if not literally, and challenger and challenged had progressed toward this morning's meeting through the medium of their seconds. Both seconds were now present, as were a surgeon and a gathering of interested spectators, all male, who had risen early from their beds — or had not yet gone to them after the revels of the night before — for the sheer exhilaration of watching two of their peers attempt to put a period to each other's existence.

One of the duelists, the challenger, the shorter and stockier of the two, was stamping his booted feet, flexing his fingers, and licking his dry lips with a drier tongue. He was almost as pale as his shirt.

"Yes, you may ask him," he told his second through teeth that he tried in vain to keep from chattering. "Not that he will do it, mind, but one must be decent about such matters."

His second strode off smartly to confer with his counterpart, who in his turn approached the other duelist. That tall, elegant gentleman showed to advantage without his coat. His white shirt did nothing to hide the powerful muscles of his arms, shoulders, and chest, as his breeches and top boots only accentuated those of his long legs. He was nonchalantly engaged in smoothing the lace of his cuffs over the backs of his long-fingered, well-manicured hands and holding a desultory conversation with his friends.

"Oliver is shaking like a leaf in a strong breeze," Baron Pottier observed, his quizzing glass to his eye. "He could not hit the broad side of a cathedral from thirty paces, Tresham."

"His teeth are clacking like trotting hooves too," Viscount Kimble added.

"Are you intending to kill him, Tresham?" young Mr. Maddox asked, drawing to himself a cool, arrogant stare from the duelist.

"It is the nature of duels, is it not?" he answered.

"Breakfast at White's afterward, Tresh?" Viscount Kimble suggested. "And Tattersall's after that? I have my eye on a new matched pair of grays for my curricle."

"As soon as this little matter has been taken care of." But the duelist was distracted both from straightening his cuffs and from his conversation by the approach of his second. "Well, Conan?" he asked, a touch of impatience in his voice. "Is there good reason for this delay? I must confess myself eager for my breakfast."

Sir Conan Brougham was accustomed to the man's cool nerve. He had served as his second during three previous duels, after all of which his friend had consumed a hearty breakfast, unharmed and perfectly composed, as if he had been engaged for the morning in nothing more lethal than a brisk ride in the park.

"Lord Oliver is prepared to accept a properly worded apology," he said.

There were jeering noises from their acquaintances.

Eyes of such a dark brown that many people mistook their color for black looked back into Sir Conan's without blinking. The narrow, arrogant, handsome face to which they belonged was expressionless except for one slightly elevated eyebrow.

"He has challenged me for cuckolding him but is willing to settle for a simple apology?" he said. "Do I need to spell out my answer, Conan? Did you need to consult me?"

"It might be worth considering," his friend advised. "I would not be doing my job conscientiously if I did not thus advise you, Tresham. Oliver is a pretty decent shot."

"Then let him prove it by killing me," the duelist said carelessly. "And let that be within minutes rather than hours, my dear fellow. The spectators are displaying distinct signs of boredom."

Sir Conan shook his head, shrugged, and strode away to inform Viscount Russell, Lord Oliver's second, that his grace, the Duke of Tresham, did not acknowledge the necessity of any apology to Lord Oliver.

There was nothing for it then but to proceed to business. Viscount Russell in particular was anxious to have the meeting over with. Hyde Park, even this secluded corner of it, was a rashly public place in which to hold a duel, illegal as such meetings were. Wimbledon Common, the more usual venue for affairs of honor, would have been safer. But his friend had insisted on the park.

The pistols had been loaded and carefully inspected by both seconds. While an expectant hush fell over the spectators, the protagonists each picked up a weapon without looking at the other. They took up their positions back to back and at the agreed-upon signal paced out the regulation number of steps before turning. They took careful aim, each standing sideways in order to offer as narrow a target as possible to the other. They waited for Viscount Russell to drop the white handkerchief he held aloft, the signal to fire.

The hush became an almost tangible thing.

And then two things happened simultaneously.

The handkerchief was released.

And someone shrieked.

"Stop!" the voice cried. "Stop!"

It was a female voice, and it came from the direction of a grove of trees some distance away. An indignant buzz arose from the spectators, who had held themselves properly silent and motionless so that the protagonists would have no distraction.

The Duke of Tresham, startled and furious, lowered his right arm and turned in order to glare in the direction of the person who had dared interrupt such a meeting at such a moment.

Lord Oliver, who had also wavered for a moment, recovered fast, corrected his aim, and fired his pistol.

The female screamed.

His grace did not go down. Indeed at first it did not appear that he had even been hit. But a bright red spot appeared on his calf, an inch or two above the top of one perfectly polished leather boot, just as if suddenly painted there by an invisible hand with a long-handled brush.

"Shame!" Baron Pottier called from the sidelines. "For shame, Oliver!"

His voice was joined by others, all censuring the man who had taken unfair advantage of his opponent's distraction.

Sir Conan began to stride toward the duke while the crimson spot increased in diameter and the surgeon bent over his bag. But his grace held up his left hand in a firm staying gesture before raising his right arm again and taking aim with his pistol. It did not waver. Neither did his face show any expression except intense, narrow-eyed concentration on his target, who had no choice now but to stand and await his death.

Lord Oliver, to his credit, stood very still, though the hand that held his pistol to his side was trembling noticeably.

The spectators were silent again. So was the unidentified woman. There was an air of almost unbearable tension.

And then the Duke of Tresham, as he had done at every previous duel in which he had been engaged, bent his arm at the elbow and shot into the air.

The red spot on his breeches spread outward in rapidly expanding concentric circles.

It had taken iron willpower to remain standing when it felt as if a thousand needles had exploded in his leg. But even though incensed with Lord Oliver for firing his pistol when any true gentleman would have waited for the duel to be reorganized, Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham, had never had any intention of killing or even wounding him. Only of making him sweat awhile, of giving him time to watch his life flash before his eyes and wonder if this would be the one occasion when the duke, famed as a deadly shot but also known as a man who contemptuously wasted his bullet on the air during duels, would act untrue to form.

The needle points had taken over his whole person by the time he had finished and tossed the pistol onto the wet grass. He felt like agony personified and remained upright only because he would be damned before giving Oliver the satisfaction of being able to claim that he had been felled.

He was also still angry. An understatement. He was in a white-hot fury that might have been directed against Oliver had there not been a more obvious target.

He turned his head and looked with narrowed gaze to the spot at the edge of the trees where she had been standing a few moments ago, shrieking like a banshee. A serving girl, running an early-morning errand, no doubt, and forgetting one of the primary rules of service — that one minded one's own business and left one's betters to mind theirs. A girl who needed to be taught a lesson she would never forget.

She was still there, staring as if transfixed, both hands pressed to her mouth, though she had stopped her caterwauling. It was a pity she was a woman. It would have given him intense satisfaction to set a horsewhip whistling about her hide before being carted away to have his leg attended to. Deuce take it, but he was engulfed in pain.

Only a few moments had passed since he had fired his pistol and tossed it down. Both Brougham and the surgeon were hurrying toward him. The spectators were buzzing with excitement. He heard one voice distinctly.

"Well done, by Jove, Tresh," Viscount Kimble called. "You would have contaminated your bullet by shooting it into the bastard."

Jocelyn held up his left hand again without looking away from the woman by the trees. With his right hand he beckoned imperiously to her.

If she had been wise, she would have turned and run. He was hardly in a position to go chasing after her, and he doubted that anyone else present would be interested in running to earth on his behalf an unappealing, gray-clad slip of a servant girl.

She was not wise. She took a few tentative steps toward him and then hurried the rest of the way until she was standing almost toe to toe with him.

"You fool!" she cried with angry disregard for her place on the social scale and the consequences of talking thus to a peer of the realm. "What an utterly idiotic thing to do. Have you no more respect for your life than to become embroiled in a stupid duel? And now you have been hurt. I would have to say it serves you right."

His eyes narrowed further as he determinedly ignored the pulsing pain in his leg and the near impossibility of standing any longer on it.

"Silence, wench!" he commanded coldly. "If I had died here this morning, you would as like as not have hanged for murder. Have you no more respect for your life than to interfere in what is no concern of yours?"

Her cheeks had been flushed with anger. They paled at his words, and she stared at him wide-eyed, her lips compressed in a hard line.

"Tresham," Sir Conan said from close by, "we had better get that leg attended to, old chap. You are losing blood. Let me carry you with Kimble here over to the blanket the surgeon has spread out."

"Carry?" Jocelyn laughed derisively. He had not taken his eyes off the serving girl. "You, girl. Give me your shoulder."

"Tresham—" Sir Conan sounded exasperated.

"I am on my way to work," the girl said. "I will be late if I do not hurry."

But Jocelyn had already availed himself of her shoulder. He leaned heavily on it, more heavily than he had intended. Moving at last, shifting the weight off his injured leg, he found that the wave of agony made a mockery of the pain hitherto.

"You are the cause of this, my girl," he said grimly, taking one tentative step toward the surgeon, who suddenly seemed an impossible distance away. "You will, by God, lend me your assistance and keep your impertinent tongue safely housed behind your teeth."

Lord Oliver was pulling his waistcoat and coat back on while Viscount Russell packed away his pistol and came striding past Jocelyn to retrieve the other one.

"You would do better," the girl said, "to swallow your pride and allow your friends to carry you."

Her shoulder did not bow beneath his weight. She was rather tall and slender, but she was no weakling. She was doubtless accustomed to hard manual labor. She was probably equally accustomed to cuffings and beatings for impudence. He had never heard the like from a servant girl.

He was well-nigh swooning by the time he reached the blanket the surgeon had spread on the grass beneath an oak tree.

"Lie down, your grace," he instructed, "and I will see what damage has been done. I do not like the look of the positioning of that wound, I must confess. Or all the blood. I daresay the leg will need to come off."

He spoke as if he were a barber who had discovered a tuft of hair that did not blend well with the rest of the head. He was a retired army sawbones, supplied by Lord Oliver. Bloodletting and amputation were probably his answer to every physical ailment.

Jocelyn swore eloquently.

"You cannot possibly know that from a single glance," the serving girl had the temerity to observe, addressing the surgeon, "or make such a dire prediction."

"Conan," Jocelyn said, his teeth clamping tightly now in a vain attempt to control the pain, "fetch my horse." It was tethered not far away.

There was a chorus of protests from his friends who had gathered around him.

"Fetch his horse? He is as mad as ever."

"I have my carriage here, Tresham. Ride in that. I'll go and have it brought up."

"Stay where you are, Brougham. He is out of his mind."

"That's the fellow, Tresham. You show them what you are made of, old sport."

"Fetch my damned horse!" Jocelyn spoke from between his teeth. He had a death grip on the girl's shoulder.

"I am going to be very late," she scolded. "I will lose my employment for sure."

"And serve you right too," Jocelyn said, throwing her own words back at her, his voice devoid of all sympathy as his friend strode away to bring his horse and the surgeon launched into a protest.

"Silence, sir!" Jocelyn instructed him. "I will have my own physician summoned to Dudley House. He will have more regard for his future than to suggest sawing off my leg. Help me to my horse, girl."

Meet the Author

Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including the acclaimed Slightly and Simply series, the Mistress novels, and the five titles in her Huxtable series: First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction, At Last Comes Love, Seducing an Angel, and A Secret Affair. A former teacher, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.

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More Than a Mistress 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. LORRAINE
TheBookNerd5 More than 1 year ago
** spoiler alert ** Man oh Man!!! I loved this book. It was even better than I hoped for. I loved all the characters in this story. My favorite character would have to be Jocelyn. The author described him so well that I felt I could almost picture what he looked like and how he would act. So I definitely had a little book crush on him. I feel it was well written and everything flowed just right. I will definitely look up this author and other books she has written. 5 stars all around!!! ********Spoiler******** I'm serious its almost here: The only issue I have is at the end when Jocelyn and Jane were talking and he wanted her to move with him and she said "Im with child, im out of options." and then they start fighting. UGH!!!!! That is not the fairytale romance that I wanted. I wanted her to say she wanted the exact same things as him and they would make it work. It seemed all of a sudden they were only getting together because of the child which IS NOT the case at all. But in the end they seemed to work everything out and I assume lived happily ever after :D *Big Grin*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorites
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Good read
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mary Balogh's motto should be "love will always find a way". This book was marvelous as the second installment of the Mistress Series. This book is hard to put down once you start reading.
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LiSaThAoO More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It was really good. I liked everything but the end. I just think that the end was too simple. Almost confusing. I just wished an extra 50 or so pages were added on. It would have made the book even better. The end just didn't satisfy me enough. Other than the ending I adored it. I enjoyed Jane--headstrong. I also enjoyed Tresham. It's really captivating just a little sadden by the rush ending.
curlyloulou More than 1 year ago
I always know what I'm getting when I read a Mary Balogh book. Same with this one. Entertaining enough and kept me interested but nothing to write home about.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Before I have finished a book by Ms. Balogh I am already looking forward to the next release...marvelous writer, one I admire greatly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book....i thought that Jocelyn would be a hard man to like, but good lord i wanted to steal him away from Jane...its a great read...YOU HAVE TO READ IT, and then read No Man's Mistress- about his brother
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my first book of Mary Balogh and definitely not the last. I was hesistant to read this book in the beginning because of the book cover and the way it is titled. Even the back description didn't sound interesting either. I thought this is one of those books that's filled with sex with no substance whatsoever but I am happy to be wrong. Sure, the plot's simple and not very unique, I even find the solution of the original problem a bit too easy but Mary Balogh made it up by weaving humor and emotional rift all through out the book. She also compensated the thin plot by creating and executing smashing characters. Every one of them contributed wonderfully. Jocelyn and Jane's are both a memorable character. Jane, however is who I love the most. She is a Lady through and through. I've read heroine that is witty and even described as intelligent but Jane is the only one so far that has convinced me thoroughly. The way she moves, the way she speaks, the words she uses, even when provoked remained logical. Their love story is overall a touchy and heart warming read. It's intense and romantic. I even enjoyed the moments of their non-sexual relationship - where they get to know each other...learning, giving, accepting, trusting ... oh so full of passion, so full of love. Aside from Jane, Angeline is my second favorite. She is definitely the main humor of this book. She is a chatterbox, full of flaw but lovable nonetheless. The most impressive part of this book is how Ms. Balogh expresses her 'dialogues'. It's witty and very drawing. I've never read a historical romance book that uses words that's perfectly consistent with the time plot. Very ENGLISH, indeed.... Even to the last expression. Well, done, Ms. Balogh. I will read more of her works, especially NO MANS MISTRESS, which is the sequel of MTAM, Ferdinand's story, brother of Jocelyn. I can't wait to read updates of Jane, Jocelyn and Angeline too.