The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh

There’s something incredibly relaxing about a Mary Balogh book.

First and foremost, I get to trust the book. I know I won’t end up rolling my eyes or loathing a character. As a matter of fact, they generally have fantastic interesting characters (with charming idiosyncrasies) who flourish as the story progresses.

Second, there’s a rhythm to her stories that I find soothing. I’m never on the edge of my seat. But I smile. A lot. I get a sense of deep satisfaction.

This story was a lot of fun. Essentially it explains how a pair of ancillary characters from 2 other books got together. Edward and Angeline are in More Than a Mistress (which I read and enjoyed) and No Man’s Mistress (which I’m reading next). Angeline’s brothers are the heroes in those books. But Angeline (chatty and sparkly ) and Edward (very staid) deserved their story too.

When I read contemporaries I find myself bombarded by similar images and writing patterns. Sex. Angst. Strong emotions or quirky characters. Frequently I put myself in the character’s place and get frustrated. Things are bright. Quick. Flashy. Like reading hummingbirds.

Reading historicals is a break from the hustle and bustle. MB’s books and characters unfurl slowly – like flowers. The sex is limited. The stories let me breathe. And the characters are so human. She is my respite from the contemporary prison I sometimes build myself.

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