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The Mistress Memoirs
by Jillian Hunter
(Signet, $7.99, PG-13) 978-0-45141532-5
**
I wanted to like The Mistress Memoirs, I really did. I love historical romances of all time periods but Victorian England is one of my favorites. I just knew I was going to love this story. Sadly, I was to be proven wrong.

Our story begins as our heroine, governess Kate Walcott sneaks out of the big house after dark to meet the village apothecary's assistant, Stanley, hoping he has brought some medicine for her employer's children. He has, but he also came to warn her of trouble on the way. Kate's boss lady has made a career of being the mistress of wealthy men, and some of the villagers don't feel that someone so low class should be allowed to live near them. Our hero, Colin Bocastle, mistaking Kate for Georgette, his one-time sweetheart, kisses her and then leads the servants to chase off the local troublemakers. And here is where one of my problems with Kate arose. Though sympathetic for her mistress's plight, she often reflects to herself that the woman is immoral. I'm not sure why that bothered me as much as it did, but it did, so there you have it. Kate lost points with me and she just didn't make them up.

Colin has returned to settle a debt of long standing with Georgette's current patron, Mason, over his involvement in Colin's father's early death. As we discover later, Mason was an unwitting pawn, and something of a sympathetic character, not evil incarnate as our hero is dead set on making him appear. Colin's plan is to find proof, though, and I admire him for that.

Colin had hoped to reunite with Georgette, but too much time has passed and her life has been too hard, and he has been partly to blame, because her oldest child is actually his son. Colin is of course attracted to Kate for her spunkiness and good spirits, not to mention her fine curves.

Kate has guarded her heart and her virtue well, no thanks to her employer before Georgette. She hoped to marry Stanley, and is crushed to discover that he would rather marry someone else and set her up as his mistress. She breaks her shoe on his head. I liked her better for that.

Colin is more likeable, if a little one dimensional at times. He is convinced of the identity of the man who killed his father, but it is because of his investigations into the matter. When he is enlightened as to the actual sequence of events, he adjusts his opinions accordingly. He cares deeply for his family.

Colin and Kate do get their happy ending, though there are some predictable snags along the way. I do wish I could recommend this story more highly but it just didn't click for me. I never quite felt like I was in Victorian England, and that really bothered me as well.

I liked Georgette, for all of her flakiness, and she reminded me in a way of Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games. I think I might have liked The Mistress Memoirs better if we had gotten it from her perspective. She made an unconventional choice, and though she is a little opportunistic, can we really blame her?

--Jessica Smith


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