Saturday, December 1, 2007

Susan Wiggs: The Mistress

The Mistress: C-

Beautiful Kathleen O'Leary works as a maid at an exclusive girls school where she has been befriended by three rich students. One evening, the high-spirited girls convince Kathleen to dress in borrowed diamonds and silk and accompany them to a masquerade at the Hotel Royale in Chicago. Here, Kathleen catches the eye of the city's most eligible bachelor, Dylan Francis Kennedy, and the two are instantly attracted to each other. Fate intervenes when the two are caught in the midst of the great Chicago Fire of 1871 and, convinced they're about to die, they impulsively marry. Amazingly they survive, and Kathleen is faced with the difficult task of confessing her real identity to her new husband. To her shock, she learns that Dylan is also a fraud. Far from being a rich gentleman, he's a con artist, intent on marrying an heiress and taking her money. (

Taking place in 1871, Chicago, The Mistress is a tale that had a lot of potential that failed to satisfy.

I really liked the premise of the story – a maid pretending to be an heiress attracting the eye of a very handsome and wealthy man, who turns out to be a con-artist. When a blaze sets Chicago on fire, Kathleen O’Leary and Dylan Francis Kennedy are sure that they will not survive and decide to marry.

Miraculously, they survive. And they spend four (five?) nights together in “wedded bliss.” Kathleen is convinced she is in love with Dylan and because she was raised with high morals, is tremendously guilty of the situation she is now in. And all the while, Dylan is silently congratulating himself for marrying such a wealthy woman. Lo behold the shock they both receive when they find out the truth!

The story sounds great, however, the read is a bore. There was a lot of emphasis on the fire, something that I wasn’t expecting and wasn’t particularly interested in since it wasn’t able to draw me in, and the fact that Kathleen found herself to be in love with Dylan seemed foolish to me. Even after the truth came out and they agreed to stay together until they figured out how to raise money, Kathleen still believed she was in love while Dylan gave no hint to having more than a lustful attraction towards her. (Talk about a turn-off).

After the truth comes out, the rest of the story is highly anti-climatic and their plot to make money fell plenty short of being exciting.

To be read only if you’re in dire need of reading material (as in you’ve read all the labels to your canned goods and your hair care products and still have plenty of time on your hands).

No comments: