What could be more anathema in a Regency romance than a husband with a mistress? Is it even worth asking “can this marriage be saved?” Boiling in oil is probably too good for these dastardly spouses. But yet, in the hands of immensely talented writers like Mary Balogh and Edith Layton, these couples can be nuanced and redeemed, eventually reaching the promised land of a believable happily ever after. In order to take a good look at these miscreants and their mistresses and wives, naturally, there will be spoilers galore, so be warned.
A Masked Deception, Balogh’s first book, introduces us to Richard Adair’s serene wife Margaret, who seduces her husband, the befuddled Earl of Brampton, wearing a sexy French coquette costume (and he is none the wiser). Richard doesn’t do much except grouse and grizzle (which does not take away from the fact I LOVE all these books!). Admittedly, he’s torn to pieces between his love for his saucy will o’ the wisp French mistress and his gentle wife. He breaks it off with his French angel and retreats to his country estate.
He had arrived at the Brampton Court desperate with unhappiness over the loss of his angel and almost cursing his fate that had held her from him until it was it was too late for them to let their love grow openly. He had found it difficult to accept his wife’s quiet, uncomplaining presence in his life. He had kept his distance from her, in an effort not to inflict his own unhappiness and ill-humor on her...Only in his saner moments did he admit that what had happened was inevitable. There was no other alternative.
But when his mother strings him a line about his Margaret being off *cough cough* with his friend, it finally wakes him up to how he feels.