Series: Gentlemen of Disrepute (Book 5)
She may grace his bed, but she will never wear his ring
They whisper her name in the ballroom's shadows -- the marquis's
mistress! It will take all of Alice Sweetly's renowned acting skills to
play this part: smile until it no longer hurts, until they believe your
lie, until you believe. Pretend he means nothing.
If the Marquis of Razeby thinks he can let his mistress go easily, he is
so very wrong. Each night she appears before a rapturous Covent Garden
audience, taunting him with her beauty. But Razeby must marry, and while
Alice could grace his bed she can never grace his arm.
This is a different kind of story. Alice is an Irish girl who has made it big on the stage. Currently she is Razeby's mistress also. They are dealing very well together and Alice sees it continuing for quite awhile. Suddenly Razeby breaks off their arrangement stating a need to marry. Alice is devastated but doesn't let on.
I liked Alice. She knew what she was signing up for when she became Razeby's mistress. She has come to care for him and feels that she knows him pretty well. She can tell that something has been bothering him and finally asks. When he tells her that he must marry and therefore won't be seeing her any longer she is devastated but doesn't let it show. She has a great deal of pride and puts a brave face on it. The biggest issue is that they can't really avoid seeing each other so she constantly has to look like she doesn't care. She also admits to herself that she doesn't mind showing him what he's missing since she can see that he isn't happy. When they do meet it is obvious that there is still something there. At one point Razeby offers her everything she could want, but as she feels it's at too high a cost to him she drives him away. It takes a major change in attitudes for them both to make this turn out well for both of them.
I liked Razeby also. He was a typical bachelor of the time and having a mistress was not unusual. He was different in the way that it was obvious that he cared for Alice. He knew that he would be required to marry and have an heir and that his own personal deadline was fast approaching. Unlike many others he refused to keep a mistress while married and regretfully ended things with Alice. He did not handle it as well as he could have, as he had put it off for as long as he could. His reminder to her that it was a business arrangement was his way of rationalizing things to himself, trying to convince himself that there were no emotions involved. I loved seeing him make the rounds of the Marriage Mart, trying to convince himself to pick one of the girls, but not being able to pick one. He had a terrible time keeping Alice out of his mind. It wasn't until their final confrontation that he just picked one and set a date. His unhappiness was obvious and it took a frank discussion with one of his friends for him to see what had to be done.
I especially liked the storyline. The mistress relationship in most novels is usually a negative one, but this one showed that sometimes there is real caring. I also enjoyed the realistic portrayal of what that life was like and how they were treated. I loved the ending and thoroughly enjoyed the ballroom scene that delivered Alice to Razeby.
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