Mary Balogh is an admirable talent -though she is a prolific writer, she repeatedly creates an original every time. No Man's Mistress is an exceptional story that is heartwarming and sweet with plenty of surprises - a trademark Mary Balogh narrative.
Kindhearted and pretty Viola Thornhill is the owner of Pinewood Manor (or so she thinks!) until charming and handsome Lord Ferdinand Dudley arrives to claim ownership, having won the deed to the estate in a card game. Viola is furious and more than a little scared. The late Earl of Bamber, the previous owner, promised the property to her and although she does not have the deed to legally claim it, she had believed the late Earl when he said that he had changed his will accordingly. And thus begins the battle of the wills; Viola refuses to be cowed by Ferdinand into leaving her home and he is determined to stake his claim to the property. While waiting for a copy of the will to arrive to determine rightful ownership of Pinewood Manor, Viola and Ferdinand live under the same roof.
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Without much preamble, No Man's Mistress is good - anything that is read in one sitting has to be! Ms. Balogh is excellent at describing a picture of bucolic life and how desirable it must be for someone of Viola's background. Without giving away too much, at first it was a bit disappointing to learn of Viola's past; however, Ms. Balogh is convincing in portraying two different Violas with her true nature being that of a compassionate and capable lady of the manor. The plot is brilliant, with several clever surprises that keeps a reader eager for more. The only unbelievable part was the redemption of Viola with the ton in London, hence the half star. Nevertheless, it didn't dim the enjoyment of the book as a whole and am putting No Man's Mistress on my highly recommended romance reading list.