On a splendid August afternoon Susanna Osbourne is introduced to the most handsome man she has ever seen . . . and instantly feels the icy chill of recognition. Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitleaf, is utterly charming—and seemingly unaware that they have met before. With his knowing smile and seductive gaze, Peter acts the rake; but he stirs something in Susanna she has never felt before, a yearning that both frightens and dazzles her. Instantly she knows: this brash nobleman poses a threat to her heart . . . and to the secrets she guards so desperately. From the moment they meet, Peter is drawn to Susanna's independence, dazzled by her sharp wit—he simply must have her. But the more he pursues, the more Susanna withdraws . . . until a sensual game of thrust-and-parry culminates in a glorious afternoon of passion. Now more
determined than ever to keep her by his side, Peter begins to suspect that a
tragic history still haunts Susanna. And as he moves closer to the truth, Peter
is certain of one thing: he will defy the mysteries of her past for a future
with this exquisite creature—all Susanna must do is trust him with the most
precious secret of all. . . .
Book nº 3 in the Simply Quartet this one tells the story of Susanna Osbourne, another teacher at Miss Martin’s School for Girls in Bath.
While visiting Frances, a former teacher and the heroine of the first book in this series Susanna meets Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitcleaf. It’s immediately obvious that there is some kind of secret in Susanna’s past as she recognizes him and is decided to avoid him. The problem is that Peter feels himself strangely drawn to her and looks for her company. He is a true gentleman of leisure, doesn’t seem to have any purpose in life besides visiting friends and family and harmelessly flirting with every female available.
During two weeks they end up spending time with each other and striking a friendship. Susanna is a striking young woman and when the vacation ends they go for a walk and giving in to the attraction between them. I think Balogh is very good in setting the period, the atmosphere of the period and between them, while there was no words of love exchanged it doesn’t feel odd to see them give free run to their emotions. But when Peter offers her the job of his mistress Susanna knows it’s time to go back to the school and her everyday life.
Naturally they do meet again in Bath at the wedding breakfast of Anne Jewel, another teacher. Once again the Bedwyns make an appearance. We discover that Peter is connected to Susanna’s past and that her bad memories are of her father who committed suicide and that Peter has always been protected by his mother who is still trying to run his life.
I thought the resolution of Susanna’s past and her acceptance of Peter and the way his family was connected to her father’s death was the weaker part of the story. There’s nothing really objectionable but it also wasn’t necessary to have that particular twist. I have already mentioned how good she is with the atmosphere and I think she is also very good in what concerns creating multi dimensional characters. My complaint is that with her earlier books we really felt the emotions, good and bad, whereas these more recent books are all very tamed and politically correct.