From the desk of Mary Balogh —
This is the book of mine that seemed impossible to write but had to be written. Sir Gerald Stapleton was a minor character in The Ideal Wife and was forever lamenting the loss of Priss, his long-term mistress, who had left him to marry someone from her past. I found myself not only fascinated by that relationship — Gerald had taken Priss from a brothel to be his mistress — but also obsessed by it. I couldn't stop thinking about it and weaving a story about it — and dreaming up a reconciliation and happy ending for them.
The problem was obvious. I was writing traditional Regency romances at the time, and it was clearly impossible to use a working prostitute as a heroine. And Gerald himself was a beta male, not the dashing, rakish rogue so beloved of Regency readers.
But the story would not leave me alone. I finally wrote it — it took me two weeks! — and shelved it for a while. No one would ever publish it. It had been written for my own satisfaction. But one day I sent it to my editor anyway, just to see how she would react. She reacted by sending it straight through to copyediting! And when it was published, it became a reader favorite.
Gerald is a quiet, amiable man with little confidence in himself and his talents and abilities. He has friends, but he is an essentially lonely man. He does not want the entanglement of a relationship and so visits brothels and finally — when fate forces him into it—sets up his own mistress. Fate has a great deal more in store for him after that.
Priscilla Wentworth is a lady. However, after the sudden deaths of her father and brother, she is tossed out of her home and is destitute. She goes to London to seek help from her former governess only to find that the "finishing school" Miss Blythe runs is actually a brothel. When Priscilla can find no alternative, she refuses to live on the charity of her old governess and insists upon earning her living as all the other girls in the house do. And so she meets Sir Gerald Stapleton, who becomes one of her regulars and about whom she begins to weave romantic fantasies, even though doing so is strictly against the rules of the house. Then, just when she thinks he is going away and she will not see him again, he offers to take her from the brothel and set her up as his mistress.