A MISTRESS OF MAKE-BELIEVE--IN A MARRIAGE OF LET'S-PRETEND
Miss Perdita Chase had been rescued from the scandalous world of the London theater, where her father reigned as king of actors. The wealthy parents of her well-born mother took her in hand and raised her to be the most proper of young ladies.Little did the lovely Perdita dream that she would have to play a role that would daunt any actress, in a real-life drama surpassing any on the stage.
For when the handsome and gallant Sir Jeremy Dole took Perdita as a bride out of duty rather than desire, she had to pretend to the world that her marriage was as perfect as it seemed. But behind her show of wedded bliss her secret heart cried out for the happy ending that only love could provide. It was clear to Perdita that she had been cast in a play that drastically needed a change of
I have realised this past few weeks that traditional regencies are my comfort reading material. Whenever I feel down this is invariable the genre I turn too. Although there are less stories being published there are still a huge number of authors and stories for me to discover. This was my first read by this author Corinna Cunliffe and while it wasn't a favourite it had some attractive points and I want to read more by her.
Perdita Chase has been raised by her aunt since she was a little girl, her mother died when she was young and her father is an actor and so considered unsuitable to raise her. She has grown up surrounded by her cousin and 2 of the neighborhood boys, Sir Jeremy Dole and his brother. Perdita is secretly in love with Sir Jeremy and always has been but always feels overwhelmed and tongue tied in his presence.
One day, while out walking alone, she is kidnapped by mistake by ruffians who believe her to be a great heiress. Sir Jeremy proceeds to save but they end up having to spend a night at an Inn where a gossipy old Lady sees them and reaches the wrong conclusions. To protect Perdita's reputation Jeremy pretends they have married and the next day proposes to her.
It is clear from the beginning that Perdita and Jeremy do love each other. However they both believe the other loves someone else. Acting on that presumption they are cold and distant with one another and the misunderstanding just grows bigger and bigger till Jeremy, after behaving awfully towards Perdita decides to stay away.
Unable to conquer him Perdita, who has found her father, decides to join the theater company and perform in the play she herself wrote and that reproduces somehow her problems with her husband. It will take the handiwork of friends to bring Jeremy to watch the play and finally realise the truth.
While I always appreciate books full of heart ache and this one certainly has a lot of that going on I never felt immersed in the story and in the characters to the point where I was suffering along with them (which I like!). They felt believable and interesting but somewhat cold to me. There is a secondary love story that develops that I enjoyed too although we see little of it and it also contributes to the problems between Jeremy and Perdita. Their main problem was one of communication and I would certainly have liked more dialogue between them. The only thing that sounded to me a bit unrealistic was that Perdita would take to the stage so well and without fear of creating a possible scandal. Wouldn't that be odd in that period?
But I did enjoy the book as a whole and thought it well written and am now curious to read more (I have another one in the TBR pile). The ending seemed a bit rushed after all that heartache though.