title: A Precious Jewel
author: Mary Balogh
genre: Historical/Regency Romance
rated: 4 out of 5
New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh weaves a sensuous spell of romance that brings together the unlikeliest pair of lovers in the unlikeliest place of all– an infamous London house of pleasure.
She was unlike any woman he’d ever met in the ton or the demimonde. But Sir Gerald Stapleton frequented Mrs. Blyth’s euphemistically dubbed “finishing school” for pure, uncomplicated pleasure–and nothing else. So why was this confirmed bachelor so thoroughly captivated by one woman in particular? Why did he find himself wondering how such a rare jewel of grace, beauty, and refinement as Priss had ended up a courtesan? And when she needed protection, why did Gerald, who’d sworn he’d never get entangled in affairs of the heart, hasten to set her up as his own pampered mistress to ensure her safety–and have her all to himself?
For Priscilla Wentworth, the path leading to Sir Gerald’s bed had been as filled with misfortune as it suddenly seemed charmed. But Priss couldn’t allow herself to believe she’d ever be more to a man like Sir Gerald than a well-cared-for object of pleasure. Now, despite Gerald’s deep distrust of marriage, neither scandal nor society’s censure can keep them apart–only the fear of trusting their hearts.
After having read A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh last December I knew this was an author I wanted to read again. I had a few qualms with A Christmas Promise, mainly because the hero was a jerk but the heart that the author gave her characters and the way the story-line just flowed left me wanting to try her again. I am glad I read A Precious Jewel. There was so much from the Balogh catalogue to choose from since she has been writing for a few decades and what made me choose A Precious Jewel was that in the blurb the two main characters are described as an “unlikeliest pair of lovers”. I am a sucker for unconventional love stories. I love it when the couples have to work for their love, it makes it worthwhile, just like in this particular story.
Priscilla Wentworth comes from a nice family and is a refined lady but she finds herself alone after her father and then her brother pass away from illness. Her mother died when she was young. Her brother did not leave a will so she contacts her former governess Mrs. Blyth and asks if she can stay with her at her finishing school until she turns 30 and is awarded her mother’s inheritance. Mrs. Blyth takes Priscilla in but confesses to her that her ‘finishing school’ is actually a house of prostitution. Priscilla finds herself in a horrible situation but decides to start working there as a courtesan. She knows it is not what she wants for herself but she also knows how much worse it could be since Mrs. Blyth thinks of her as a daughter and treats her well. She figures she will work a few years and save what she can until she gets her mother’s inheritance.