Queue My Review

August 21, 2008

Review: The Mistress Diaries by Julianne MacLean

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , — jjmachshev @ 9:15 am
The Mistress Diaries by Julianne MacLean

Women’s rights! Whether you are a homemaker or a ‘career’ woman (And what the heck do people think? Being a homemaker is the hardest-working, least-paying ‘career’ there is!), I think I can safely say that we all agree on the premise of women having power in their lives. What we don’t often take the time to consider is the medical invention that’s done more to give power to women than just about anything else: safe, reliable, and affordable contraceptive devices. As little as 50 years ago, every time a woman had sex she was risking pregnancy. And there’s nothing that will change a young woman’s, or any woman’s, life like an unplanned pregnancy.

I don’t want to get into a discussion on abortion/adoption/religion or any of the other ‘hot’ issues. But I do think it would be an eye-opener for every woman to take a minute and think about how different her life would be or could have been if there were no safe, reliable, and affordable contraceptives. Kinda scary, isn’t it? But to truly understand “The Mistress Diaries” by Julianne MacLean, I think one needs to consider what life was like before contraceptives were so easily and cheaply available. Especially considering the moral, societal, and religious mores of the Victorian Era. Ms. MacLean has done a bang-up job of showing just what that ‘one moment’ could cost a woman. Of course as it is a romance, our heroine turns out fine but what a spine of steel she would need to face the consequences. How lucky we are today!

Cassandra is a respectable widow, just out of mourning and already being offered up on the re-marriage mart by her brother. Her marriage was not happy. Her husband kept a mistress he loved and she had no alternative but to share him as her love for him died and her inability to bear a child was just the icing on the cake. All she ever really wanted was to have a family and be loved. On her first night out of mourning, she meets the scandalous Lord Vincent at a ball and is swept away by him. She decides to have ‘one night’ to be happy before her brother forces her into another loveless marriage. It’s a glorious night and in the morning he’s gone. Shortly afterward she discovers she’s pregnant. She’s disowned, disgraced, and supporting herself and her child on the pittance she earns as a seamstress’ helper and now she’s diagnosed as dying. With nowhere to turn, she travels to the family home of Lord Vincent to beg him to support their daughter.

Lord Vincent… Ah, what a scoundrel! He loved a girl once until she broke his heart and his trust in his brother. Now he’s determined to never give his heart again. There’s been so many women he can’t remember their faces except for Cassandra. That night scared Vincent into running. Now, with his father demanding he marry to save his inheritance, Vincent has agreed to wed the woman his father has chosen. She’s pretty, vain, and grasping. Oh well, he’ll just keep mistresses like the rest of the ton. Then, after arriving at the ancestral home with his fiancé, he’s informed that his baby has been delivered to their back door by a very sick woman. His wicked ways have apparently caught up to him and he knows before he steps into the room where Cassandra waits exactly who he will see.

I really liked this book! The title “The Mistress Diaries” comes from the diary entries used as headings for each chapter in this story. The fictional entries are from a diary supposedly kept by the heroine of the story and gives additional insight to her feelings as her story progresses. Several authors have done this, but Julianne MacLean’s effort is the best I’ve seen. I could ‘feel’ Cassandra’s determination to care for her child and resist Vincent. I could also ‘feel’ Vincent’s confusion and growing desire to be the man Cassandra could admire. It was a long and rocky road for these two, but their efforts to cement a friendship for their daughter helped them create a rock-solid base for a love that built from lust. Each of them had to learn about themselves and what ‘honor’ meant to them and how to live with their decisions and where they led. A very moving story of loss and redemption. A ‘bad boy’ to reform and the woman to show him the way. Isn’t that the very essence of romance?

If you haven’t read Julianne MacLean, you’re missing out on a very talented historical romance author. Even though this book is part of a series, it stands by itself. Of course, once you read “The Mistress Diaries,” you’ll likely end up back at the bookstore to pick up the first novel in the series. Then you can join me as we wait another six months for book three, “When a Stranger Loves Me,” to be released in February of 2009.

Until next time…

Julie

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