Like The Last Bachelor, its spin-off, THE PERFECT MISTRESS, is destined to make you smile.

Gabrielle LaCoeur has been educated to become a courtesan like her mother. But independent-minded Gabrielle wants to be free to choose her lifestyle and she chooses respectability and marriage over being the perfect mistress.

A chance meeting with Prime Minister Gladstone and roguish Pierce St. James, Earl of Sandbourne, presents Gabrielle with the opportunity to set her husband-finding plans in motion. All Pierce has to do is pretend he wishes Gabrielle to be his mistress and all she needs to do is feign being in love.

This unusual courtship (it begins when Gabrielle's mother locks them in her bedroom) and a growing passion turns the charade into true love and another twist of fate forces them to wed.

Gabrielle quickly learns that a wife left in the country is no different than a mistress in a gilded cage. With the help of her mother, her mother-in-law and three retired courtesans, Gabrielle sets out to seduce her husband.

THE PERFECT MISTRESS is a shining jewel of a romance. Betina Krahn's delightful sense of humor and her passion for creating clever, unique plotlines and utterly charming characters comes to the fore once more. You'll want this "keeper" around to read time and again. SENSUAL (Oct., 400 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin