Saturday, September 10, 2016

Review: No Mistress of Mine by Laura Lee Guhrke


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The final book in Laura Lee Guhrke's An American Heiress in London series features Denys, fun, theater-loving Viscount Somerton: heir to an earldom -- who, six years ago, used all of his money, and mortgaged his estate to fund a theater production that headlined his mistress, Lola Valentine. It was a gamble that failed miserably, both critically and financially -- and, to add salt to the wound, Lola eventually left him, after rejecting his offer of marriage. Denys has since picked up the pieces of his near-bankrupt life, and has regained the trust of his family. He's getting ready to court his childhood friend, Lady Georgiana -- and life seems to be going smoothly for him.

Until he receives news that his partner in the Imperial Theater has died, and has left his half of the theater to his former mistress. Old resentments, and old pain become new again as our former lovers try to redefine their business partnership. The power struggle is inevitable, but I felt Denys was really caught off guard by Lola's return to his life -- Lola plans to revive her theater career, and prove to the London theater community that she is an actress, and also plans to be an active partner in running the Imperial.

Lola's presence threatens to destroy the fragile trust that Denys and his father Earl Conyers have built up, and also threatens to destroy the budding relationship he has with Lady Georgiana. So much was at stake for Denys, and I didn't see what Lola had to lose -- she really could just pack up and leave any time she wanted: with or without her, the theater would continue to operate, and she would continue to receive her share of the profits -- that, and the money she inherited from Henry Latham, could allow her to live comfortably the rest of her days.

So why return to London? Why risk an established career and reputation in New York? Why risk a confrontation with a spurned former lover? There are a lot of unexamined motivations that drive Lola forward, and I kept waiting for her to realize them.

Denys, on the other hand, stood to lose everything he had worked for up to that point -- and, if I were him, I would have taken the option to sell their half of the theater (as he and his father discussed). but, there was still a part of him that really longed to be with Lola, and that's the reason he stays and works with her. Denys's motivation is simple: it's love -- it has always been love. During their first relationship, Denys was prepared to sacrifice everything and marry Lola, and it's still that fundamental desire that propels him to make the decision to trust Lola again.

There's a lot of tension in Denys and Lola's encounters -- so many truths unsaid, so many emotions kept hidden -- especially on Lola's part. She was worried that Denys would see her differently if he knew everything about her past, and, perhaps there was a part of Lola that doubted Denys's love, and she kept trying to test it. As I read further, I felt that Lola's doubts were unfounded -- yes, Denys was young when he first proposed to her, and, yes, Denys didn't know the full extent of her scandalous career before they met -- but Denys gave me the impression that he knew what he was doing, and he knew what he felt.

But, perhaps, Denys wasn't completely aware of the class difference between him and Lola, or that he chooses to ignore it. I understand that Lola worried about how her affiliation with Denys could affect his standing in society as Viscount Somerton. Lola knows she cannot be selfish, and separate Denys from everything that he has grown up with. She made the painful decision of walking away all those years ago -- it was a selfless, but painful sacrifice that hurt both of them.

I did love the idea of history repeating itself: Denys is in the same situation he was in all those years ago. They're getting a second chance at their relationship, and we wonder whether our hero and heroine have learned from the past, or will the outcome be the same?

Finally, I would like to see Lady Georgiana get her happy ending. While Denys explains that he made no overt statement about his intentions towards her, it was very obvious where their relationship was headed -- but it was all interrupted by Lola's reappearance. I really thought she and Denys had a very good relationship.

No Mistress of Mine is Book 4 in Laura Lee Guhrke's An American Heiress in London series. To find out more about Laura Lee Guhrke and her books, click below:
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