This story is an excellent completion to Mary Balogh's 'Simply' series, which follows the lives of four schoolteachers from Miss Martin's School for Girls in Bath. Simply Perfect takes as its heroine Miss Claudia Martin herself, an on-the-shelf spinster whose life is bound up in the school and whose antipathy towards dukes and other members of the aristocracy is well known. At the start of this story, Claudia finds herself showing the Marquess of Attingsborough around the school before travelling with him to London in order to drop off two pupils at their new positions and to visit her man of business.
Claudia soon finds that there's more to the Marquess of Attingsoborough than she first assumed. Initially appearing to be rather a wastrel aristocrat who just lives for parties and entertainments, she soon realizes that
a surprise lies behind his handsome and charming exterior - an unexpected female in his life, one he has to keep away from society.
Claudia and the Marquess, Joseph, find themselves thrown together a great deal. This story also includes a roll-call of almost every character Mary Balogh has included in her last dozen or so novels, including all the Bedwyns, the women and their husbands from the other books in the Simply series, Neville and Lily from One Night for Love and Lauren and Viscount Ravensberg from A Summer to Remember. For those who haven't read any of Balogh's other books, these extra characters might feel rather overwhelming.
Another character from Simply Unforgettable also appears: Portia Hunt, the jilted potential fiancée of Lucius Marshall. In this story, she is the Marquess of Attingsborough's intended, and she is really the only unbelievable character in this book, being a rather nasty and shallow woman who shows these attributes most of the time and yet is able - almost - to snare our hero. There is a new character as well, a person from Claudia's history who might put a spanner in the works.
Most of the action, though, is between Joseph the Marquess and Claudia the schoolmistress. We see both of them gradually revealing their natures and desires and wishes to each other, we see how they treat each other differently than those around them, seeing past the outward ideas of rank and physical beauty and understanding instead how minds can meet. Claudia and Joseph's dealings with a particularly special character are wonderfully and touchingly written. Overall, this story is warm-hearted, engaging and also sometimes moving, a definite return to form by Mary Balogh, some of whose more recent novels have been a little disappointing.