having read the first two books in this series My Fair Mistress: A Novel and The Accidental Mistress: A Novel, i was hopeful the final book would snap this trilogy out of its dwelling in 'blah-land'. not that the stories are awful. they just fail to leave me full of awe.
the story begins quite dramatically with a confrontation between hero and heroine. the heroine, gabriella st. john, is a penniless illegitimate daughter of an actress initially bent on killing the man who murdered her father. the hero, tony black, is a duke bent on remaining a bachelor. a case of mistaken identity puts them an intense situation right off the bat. warren weaves the sexual tension through the moments of their initial meeting quite well. after the misunderstanding is settled, gabriella finds herself thrusted into the rarified air of the ton, a beneficiary of a benevolent relative.
gabriella is one of those 'vivacious and wickedly good at men-sports' type of heroines, which is the kind of heroine i like. she is also sure early on that she wants to be with the hero. luckily for her, she's constantly in his company, as he's one of the best friends of said benevolent relative, so she gets to use her feminine wile to woo him into marriage.
tony is urbane, witty, and sexually assured. the build up from feverish fondling to consummation is well rendered and there is chemistry between hero and heroine.
however, i think this story ultimately suffers due to a few things:
1. tony is her relative's best friend, but after an initial bout of guilt (that lasted all of a few pages), he's petting gabriella all over the place. i understand he's supposed to be a rake, but he's also supposed to be extremely loyal to his friend according to the story. considering the fact he has no intention of marrying, he knows he is debauching a virgin. he always stops before things go too far but the danger for ruin is there and he comes across as selfish for putting his desires ahead of his friend's trust and the heroine's possible ruination. this wouldn't be a big deal, but the author illustrates tony as extremely loyal to his friend, so this is in conflict with that illustration.
2. the author has a very annoying habit of skipping over large bits of time and depicting moments important to the development of the relationship in flashback. this didn't just happen once or twice. this happens throughout the entire story, over and over again. in fact, almost every chapter or passage begins with something to the equivalent of "a few days/weeks later". perhaps this is done in order to assist in believability of the progress of the relationship. however, it backfires and gives the relationship a glazed over feel. as the reader i never get a good handle on gabriella or tony or their relationship because everything is being depicted almost in fast-forward mode with only a pause here or there to view a few scenes.
this is unacceptable to me, especially when there is no mystery or killer in the shadows to take away time from scenes between hero and heroine.
on the plus side, warren is definitely talented in depicting intimate scenes and creating sexual tension. she surprises me a few times within the story.
ultimately, this story proves to be just as 'blah' as the previous two. perhaps it's because the heroes and heroines in all three stories are very much alike. it's especially notable in this story when everybody makes a more than cameo appearance here, which dosn't help in making this particular story memorable at all.
i recommend this book for those who don't mind a story with a surface depiction of character and relationship development along with the sensual tension and well done intimate moments.