Balogh’s lovely Regency series centering on Miss Martin’s School for Girls closes with the story of founder and headmistress Claudia Martin, an aging spinster past 30 who does not see marriage in her future. Two former teachers have recently made titled matches, however, and one of them sends Joseph, marquess of Attingsborough, to the school, along with his good looks, friendly manner and offer of a carriage to London. His title puts Claudia off; she distrusts his apparent interest in her school; his near-engagement to Lord Balderston’s daughter, the icily perfect Portia Hunt, makes him unavailable. For his part, Joseph, at 35, can no longer put off the need for a male heir. He is resigned to the match, but there is a very delicate matter that he needs to resolve beforehand, with Miss Martin’s aid required to safeguard his secret and his reputation. Joseph’s heart isn’t in the subterfuge, however, and as social pressures come to bear, both he and Claudia are forced to reexamine their priorities. Balogh has a particular gift for infusing the Regency romance with complex and engaging characters in challenging situations that move beyond the obvious.
To be honest, this book didn’t really contain much excitement and heartaches (both good and bad) that normally come with a love story so I was a bit slow in finishing this book than Balogh’s other books. Maybe the characters were not desperate enough or were in love madly enough for my taste. :-) Nevertheless, I enjoyed this quite “tender” love story.
Apparently, this was the sixth or final book in Balogh’s Simply series, which I didn’t know at the time of reading, so I might have to check out the other five books in the series. Thank goodness that they are necessary related and that I don’t have to read them in order! :-)