Temporary Mistress by Cecily French
Publisher: Ellora's Cave Legend
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (98 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Aster
Brokenhearted after the death of his wife and infant son, Phillip Graves—Viscount Danbury—lives only for pleasure, changing his mistress every few months. After his mistress-to-be is indisposed, he acquires a temporary replacement who, to his surprise, offers him something he never thought to find—a second chance at love.
After being forced on the streets by her late father, Franny Talbot is desperate to escape the whoring life. The chance to be under an aristocrat’s temporary protection gives her more than a path to freedom, though. Philip’s skilled lessons in sensuality show Franny all the delicious and titillating ways a man can possess a woman. And she unexpectedly finds herself falling in love with a man who can never truly be hers.
It's been a while since I read a story that hooked me from the first line, but Temporary Mistress definitely fits that category.
I fell in love with this heroine from the start. She was feisty, intelligent, and made absolutely no excuses, despite her stature and position in life. Where others may cower in fear, Franny held her head high and did whatever had to be done to move ahead, never apologizing nor feeling sorry for herself, although she had every right.
I enjoyed the hero of the story just as much. Phillip's heart was closed to all around him, which could have led him to become cold-hearted and cruel, but instead he was fair and straight-forward. He had his reputation with the ladies, but was always certain when their time ended (and even during their time together), the women were well taken care of.
Ms. French's writing is wonderful. Her descriptions were vivid and her dialogue was appropriate and helped keep the reader in the time period the story was set it. I do wish she had taken a little time to explain what the ton was. It's a term I had not heard of prior, and had to look it up. But once I did, all the pieces fell into place and her use of names and terms was spot on. I loved the way she would switch from one point of view to the other, skipping a line so it was easy to follow, but allowed me, as a reader, to know what each main character was feeling as the story progressed.
The villains in the story, though a minor element, were very well formed and the anxiety of whether they would find Franny had me cheering for her all the more. I was hoping Phillip would become the champion for his love and I was not disappointed. Even better, Franny was no wilting flower. She fought for herself. No damsel in distress in this story!
There were a couple of weaknesses, however. There were a few places where I felt the story was either rushed or stopped abruptly and shifted scenes. The first was during the scene where the couple made love for the first time. The scene was wonderfully described, and flowed easily, but it seemingly stopped as soon as they "finished," and we were on to the next chapter. It was a bit jarring and took me out of the story temporarily.
The second weakness, and in my opinion the most important, was during a key break through. Just as Franny was able to crack through Phillips hard exterior, and he finally opened up to her about the loss of his family, we skipped ahead several days. The author simply made mention that they talked more about it as the days progressed. To me, it was a key time that the two could have been connecting at a deeper level - falling in love - but instead was skipped over, much to my dismay.
There were other missing elements, the biggest of which is the two never admitting their love for each other. The first "I love you," is one of my favorite parts of romance stories, and although the feeling was most certainly there, it was never said, and I missed that.
Negatives aside, the story was definitely enjoyable. I loved feisty Franny, and the obvious admiration Phillip had for her. Their interaction, his teaching her the ways of love while she taught him an appreciation for life, was a joy to witness and I enjoyed it very much. I would love to revisit this couple, and see how their lives have progressed (or even how they plan for a wedding). If you like a story that allows you to travel to a different time and witness two strong characters falling in love, Temporary Mistress is one I would recommend!