On a splendid August afternoon Susanna Osbourne is introduced to the most handsome man she has ever seen . . . and instantly feels the icy chill of recognition. Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitleaf, is utterly charming--and seemingly unaware that they have met before. With his knowing smile and seductive gaze, Peter acts the rake; but he stirs something in Susanna she has never felt before, a yearning that both frightens and dazzles her. Instantly she knows: this brash nobleman poses a threat to her heart . . . and to the secrets she guards so desperately.
From the moment they meet, Peter is drawn to Susanna's independence, dazzled by her sharp wit--he simply must have her. But the more he pursues, the more Susanna withdraws . . . until a sensual game of thrust-and-parry culminates in a glorious afternoon of passion. Now more determined than ever to keep her by his side, Peter begins to suspect that a tragic history still haunts Susanna. And as he moves closer to the truth, Peter is certain of one thing: he will defy the mysteries of her past for a future with this exquisite creature--all Susanna must do is trust him with the most precious secret of all. . . .
The third in Balogh's Simply series of Regency romances, centered on a group of friends who teach at a private girls' school in Bath, is absorbing and appealing. Susanna Osbourne is one of the teachers at Miss Martin's School for Girls, a gentleman's daughter who has been alone in the world since she lost her father and her home at age 12, leaving her with depth, complexity and a cautious nature. At 23, Susanna's satisfaction with her life and career doesn't waver, even when she meets Viscount Whitleaf, Peter Edgeworth, 26, while visiting a friend's estate for the summer. Peter's good looks, charm and easy flirtation strike Susanna as frivolous, and his connection to her childhood home and early trauma frighten her. But despite Susanna being "gauche as a girl just stepping out of a schoolroom for the first time," they are drawn to each other, a friendship develops, and it looks to lead someplace both of them are afraid to go. The conflicts are mostly to do with the way Susanna and Peter resolve to accept the social realities of their time, and how in failing, they bring out the best in each other. This is an unusually subtle approach in a romance, and it works to great effect. (Mar.) Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 26, 2007
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Excerpt from Simply Magic by Mary Balogh
"Hmm." Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitleaf, frowned at the letter he had been reading as he folded it and set it down beside his breakfast plate.
John Raycroft, seated at the opposite end of the table, lowered the morning paper from in front of his face and raised his eyebrows.
Peter sighed audibly.
"I have been really looking forward to going home," he said, "despite the fact that I have enjoyed the last couple of weeks here with you and your family and hate to drag myself away when the whole neighborhood has been so hospitable. I have been actually eager to go at last, dash it all. But I made the mistake of letting my mother know my intention, and she has planned a grand welcome home. She has invited a houseful of guests to stay for a few weeks, including a Miss Rose Larchwell, whoever the devil she may be. I have never heard of her. Have you? I tell you, Raycroft, this is no laughing matter."
But his protest came too late. John Raycroft was already chuckling as he set down the paper and gave his full attention to his friend. They had the room to themselves, the rest of the family having breakfasted earlier while the two of them were still out riding.
"Clearly your mother is eager to marry you off," John said. "It is hardly surprising, Whitleaf, when you are her only son and in the wrong half of your twenties."
"I am only twenty-six," Peter protested, frowning again.
"And five years older than you were the last time your mother tried something similar-and failed," Raycroft reminded him, still grinning. "Doubtless she thinks it is high time she tried again. But you can always say no-as you did last time."
"Hmm," Peter said again, not sharing his friend's amusement. That was an episode in his life that had been far from funny. He had outraged the ton, which collectively believed that he had come far too close to betrothing himself to Bertha Grantham to withdraw honorably, even though no formal announcement had yet been made. And he had delighted the younger male members of the beau monde, who had thought him one devil of a fine fellow for thumbing his nose at the polite world by crying off from a leg shackle at the last possible moment.
Dash it, it had not been funny at all. He had been at the tender age of twenty-one, innocent as a babe in arms, and cheerfully proceeding along the path through life his family and guardians had mapped out for him. Good God, he had even fallen dutifully in love with Bertha because it was expected of him. He had not even realized he possessed such a thing as a backbone until shock had caused him to flex it and put an end to that almost-engagement in a damnably gauche and public manner. It had been a very raw and painful backbone for a long time after that, though he had flexed it again only an hour or so later by sending his uncles-and former guardians-packing with the declaration that since he had reached his majority he did not need them any longer, thank you very much. Though he was not at all sure he had thanked them.
"The thing is," he said, "that the girl's hopes have possibly been raised, or her mama's anyway-not to mention her father's and her sisters' and brothers' and grandparents' and cousins'. Lord!"
"Perhaps," John Raycroft said, "you will like her, Whitleaf. Perhaps she will live up to her name."
Peter grimaced. "I probably will," he agreed. "I like women in general. But that is not the point, is it? I don't intend marrying her-or anyone else not of my own choosing-even if she is as lovely as a thousand roses combined. And so I will be in the impossible situation of having to be courteous and amiable to her without giving the impression that I am courting her. And yet everyone else at this infernal house party will know very well why she has been invited-my mother will see to that.