Delacorte, Mar 2008, $22.00
Claudia Martin, owner and headmistress of Miss Martin’s School for Girls, has had a rough day starting with one of her teacher’s unable to provide French and music lessons due to a headache. Things got worse after the auspicious start and now the ultimate has arrived, in the person of a Marquess. Joseph says that close friend and teacher Susanna Osbourne, married last year to Viscount Whitleaf, sends her best regards (see SIMPLY MAGIC).
Joseph offers his carriage to take Claudia to London when she leaves in two days. She finds no excuse to say no, but does not trust his title or his friendly demeanor; deep down she writes off her attraction as inane as she is too old for such nonsense. After visiting his parents while his father recovers from an illness, the thirtyish Joseph knows he needs a wife and an heir. He had been leaning towards Lady Portia Hunt although her airs could freeze the Thames in summer, but now finds he is falling in love with the intelligent caring spinster.
The apropos title says it all as Mary Balogh provides another superb Regency romance. The lead couple is complex as each comes into the relationship with preconceptions that prove false when it comes to their beloved. The return of characters from previous novels like Susanna strengthen the plot as sub-genre fans will enjoy knowing what has happened to them since their tale was told. This is simply another great novel in an outstanding series (see SIMPLY LOVE, SIMPLY UNFORGETTABLE and SIMPLY DANGEROUS).