Wanted: Mail-Order Mistress is the third and final book in the “Gentlemen of Fortune” series that Deborah Hale brought us. Its based on three men who travelled to Asia to find their fortunes and now look to find their futures.
Talk about a plan gone wrong from the very beginning! Both Simon and Bethan have plans that are doomed from the start. Simon asks his friend in England to hire a mistress for him and send her to Singapore. Bethan needs to get to Singapore to look for her missing brother. Since her first language is Welsh, when she see's the ad for “mistress” she thinks it means “mistress of his house” which to her means “wife.” Can you see the problems inherent in both of their plans?
From the very beginning Simon and Bethan refuse to have honest conversations with each other. They're definitely attracted to each other, and they spend quite a bit of their time talking, but not truly sharing. The language barrier posed only a slight problem because Bethan had become well-versed in English but some of the semantics became lost between the two of them. Then, because Simon spouted off one day about some of his ideals, Bethan refused to trust him with the knowledge of her brother. It was very frustrating, I spent the first half of the book wanting them to actually listen to each other's words then the second half wanting to tell them to talk to each other.
I was quite happy with the setting of Singapore as the backdrop for the book. Very rarely do I read a book based in Regency time but set in Asia, and Singapore's burgeoning port was an interesting one to learn about. Hale's first book in the series had a tendency to verge into the overdramatic, the second it still enjoyed the overdramatic but didnt stay in it as much. This third book didnt spend any time at all being dramatic and instead just used the characters' personality to continue the storyline. That made it much more enjoyable for me. While Hale's characters and storylines have been solid throughout the series, the tendency to use over-the-top reactions makes me lose something with every story. It was nice to be able to enjoy Ms. Hale's writing without having to wince.
For the most part, this was an enjoyable series, and Wanted: Mail-Order Mistress was definitely my favorite. They were all fast and easy reads, with enough grit to keep me hooked.