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Mistress of the Night by Charlotte Featherstone

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mistress of the Night

Charlotte Featherstone
Historical Romance/Erotica
Published in 2006

H/h - Blaine, The Earl of Hardcastle/Lady Madeline Brydges
Setting: London, 1814.

Read in June, 2011.
My rating:

                                                                   [spoiler alert]

Can't tell you how amazing this book was or how I loved both Blaine and Madeline aka Maddy! Oh, I'm a new Charlotte Featherstone fan for sure! I love her writing style, it's uncomplicated yet very well-structured, both plot and narrative wise, suffice to say I had not a moment of frustration while reading it.

Madeline or Maddy is the daughter of the Earl of Penrick and a society do-gooder. She has a place called Montgomery house, which provides help for all sorts of women in need, they range from daughters of vicars to prostitutes/courtesans. She's not a missish girl because by helping those women, she'd seen and experienced a lot of things. Now 24, she never lacked suitors but didn't get married. Now, her father has given her the ultimatum, she has to get married by the end of the season or no money for the house! But, for about a year, Maddy has been crazy about the Earl of Hardcastle, Blaine. Blaine is mysterious, not a frequent in the social circle, seems like always preferring to be alone or with his closest friends Brongley, Bathhurst, Reanleigh and Stanfield. The former three are married to Rebecca, Isabella and Chloe respectively. All of them have love matches and stick together, something I adored reading. Maddy is intrigued and trying hard to get his attention since she'd decided it's Blaine she wants and no other. I LOVED her and her determination, which of course, paid off in the end.

Blaine, 33, is lonely because he has a secret, a longtime re-occurring illness that forces him to keep himself apart from the others. I loved this man; his battle with his illness, then with 'to love or not to love' and finally, how love won over, was something dark yet fascinating to read. Blaine has also known Maddy from the ballrooms and crazily attracted to her but can't go ahead and meet since he knows he can't give her a future. People generally know him as a dangerous man who keeps to himself and has a cutting tongue, so they mostly give him a wide berth. But, Blaine has to hide behind this facade to save himself. I was in tears reading about his childhood and later on, his fight with his illness. His father was one awful man and treated him bad, his mother kept herself apart from him. The only person he cares for and who cares for him in return, is his older half-sister Celeste, who is now widowed and has two children. It is in the ball in which Miranda, the daughter had her debut, is where Blaine and Maddy are finally introduced.

From there on, I so enjoyed reading their journey. Maddy was obsessed with Blaine and to figure out what he wants, why he's this way. I loved that she wanted to know him, help him, take care of him but mostly, love him with all her heart. But, their courtship, of course was rocky since Blaine tried pushing her away, yet couldn't seem to do it since she was the light he was craving for all his life. I loved their note exchanges, adored Blaine's recitals of Byron's "The Bride of Abydos", also his sending message through flower arrangements called Floriography, which was very popular in that era. It was on one nightly meeting near the Montgomery house is where Blaine called her his mistress of night. Also, Maddy professed her attraction for him and let him know subtly that she wants him as her husband, something I loved, in this meeting. Blaine's fight with what to do got a little frustrating at times but of course, I understood, seeing how he fought his own frustrations stemming from his troubles. You can't but feel for this man and the unfairness life in general. I speak from personal experience, when I say I understood what he was going through.

I loved the charity house party that was taking place in the Brookehavens (Brongley's grandmother's place), for the fund raising of Montgomery house. Maddy had already made friends with Miranda, Blaine's niece. She's now also fast friends with Rebecca, Isabella and Chloe. Blaine went there with his friends. Reading Maddy, Rebecca, Isabella and Chloe together, I had the wonderful time as I had while reading the Wallflowers by Lisa Kleypas. It was that good! There was a particular scene, where all five of the men were playing football (was it?) and the women were admiring them, hihihi, I loved it! ;) Loved the fortune telling scene with the men, too! :p Then knowing how Maddy feels about Blaine, the other three decide to help her out. The Arabian night theme was also something I enjoyed, which drove all the men, including Blaine, insane (you know something to do with the way they dressed ...) and he knew he can't ignore Maddy anymore. They make love and later, elope. Maddy's father gets angry and severs all ties with her since he was hoping a match for her with Tynemouth, one of his political cronies, about whom Maddy really didn't care much. Have to mention, even though Blaine was trying to avoid Maddy, seeing her with Tynemouth would drive him into a rage. Boy, he was possessive and I LOVED it!

Love scenes oh-damn-hhhottt! Seriously, Blaine is one sexy hunk! I'm a sucker for scenes where the hero likes to describe things he'd like to do or saying it all while in action ... ooh! *fans herself* Blaine wasn't ever a rake but been with demireps/courtesans. His illness even prevented him from keeping a mistress or for regular assignations. But, that didn't matter when he had Maddy since it's only her he wants, been wanting since the moment he first had a glimpse of her a year ago. You can tell that he loves her too but he's so scared of Maddy knowing about his illness, of the fact she might think of him as a freak and leave him. Ah! I felt tears in my eyes every time I found him going through this internal battle with his insecurities. But, of course, Maddy just wanted to help him. Before marrying, Blaine asked Maddy that she never ask for a child but didn't give her a reason to why. It was another thing that caused a rift between them before their marriage and later on, after Maddy seduces him to lose control with her. One of her friends in the House, a former courtesan, gives her some tips and yes, it led to a HOT scene ... *sigh*

Blaine didn't know about it but had some suspicions. He visits this Bedlam (throughout the book), a hospital and always donated for it's maintenance since ... well, you have to read the book to know the reason behind it. I just feel like talking about it all, which of course is impossible. Later on, when he comes back visiting the hospital, Blaine sees Maddy talking to his mother (he can't stand his mother) and learns that she's pregnant. He's in rage and tells her to get rid of the baby. Maddy won't and I was, at this point, gulping the book down. After they marry, Blaine's illness came back but Maddy was kept in the dark about it, while Blaine's valet took care of him. Obviously, it couldn't go on like this. While they were arguing about the baby, the illness hits Blaine again. Witnessing it, Maddy was struck dumb and felt equally helpless. But, she wasn't thinking of leaving him, only to help. An inscure Blaine takes her reaction for repulsion and very rudely asks her to leave. Oh! *sniffs*

To be honest, I loved the book til the end. It had more tear-jerking moments afterwards. Blaine's salvation and understanding that no matter what, he can't live without Maddy was too good to read. Maddy was a magnificent heroine, for her determination to see Blaine through. The epilogue left me with an idiotic grin on my face! :p I loved both of them as I loved the secondary characters. I've already mentioned about Blaine's married friends. I liked them so much that I wanted to know about their story, wish I did. I want to know more about Stanfield too, whose mother, I guess is from Middle East/India (couldn't quite get it). And, yes, Maddy's friends Penelope aka Penny and Harriet aka Harry. Wish I saw more of them later in the book. For a debut novel, Charlotte Featherstone has given me more than I could've wished for.

A super big 4.5 star!


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