I got this novel from the library when MagdalenB recommended it for a hero who bumbles his first declaration of love/marriage proposal:
Balogh's A Precious Jewel. Gerald tries to explain why marriage is good idea; forgets to mention "love." Twice!
Read it in a day because it was so different than any courtesan romance I have read to date. While reading it I simply couldn’t put it down and I liked it a lot. Writing the review pointed out to me all the things I didn’t like about the novel so you’ll have to excuse the overly negative approach. This novel was not without flaws, but if you’re like me you’ll enjoy it anyway.
Priscilla Wentworth lost her father and brother within a very short span of time and became a ward of her uncle. Her uncle is a lecherous creep and to avoid his advances she runs away to London to meet up with her former governess. She had planned to get a job at her finishing school. In actuality it was a high end whorehouse. Prissy tried for two months to get a job as a maid, a servant, or a governess and could not because she had zero references. Too prideful to take a made up position by her old governess she chose instead to become an honest whore. No virgin prostitute novel here.
After two months working, Sir Gerald Stapleton, becomes her client. One night he comes to her and finds her beaten by her previous costumer and decides to set her up as his mistress. Gerald has very simple tastes in bed – he likes his partner to be unmoving and receptive. He has never made love to a woman, just used them. The love scenes are very detached because of this, even when he comes to Prissy and tries to learn.
Gerald is not really romance hero material. He has zero redeeming traits. He is not bright, or adventurous, or particularly good at anything. He is not handsome. He is not good in bed. He makes no grand gestures (except screwing up his marriage proposal twice) and his idea of romance is buying her pieces of jewelry (something most men did for their mistresses anyway). He tells Prissy she’s a “good girl” and “you have pleased me” more often than he should. In bed he takes and does not give. He doesn’t know how or care really to learn. He believes (and it’s true) that he’s inadequate.
However, he cannot help but love Prissy. She’s the backbone of the novel. Her warmth, unfailing kindness, and presence in his life draw him in and won’t let him go. Gerald must overcome his anger at the betrayals by his mother and stepmother in order to truly acknowledge his need for Prissy. Until then he treats her like a mistress and like their time together is strictly business.