Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Precious Jewel (The Ideal Wife #2)” as Want to Read:
A Precious Jewel (The Ideal Wife #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Precious Jewel (Stapleton-Downes #2)

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,655 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Mary Balogh's The Secret Mistress.

New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh weaves a sensuous spell of romance that brings together the unlikeliest pair of lovers in the unlikeliest place of all– an infamous London house of pleasure.

She was unlike any woman he’d ever met in the ton or the demimonde. But Sir Gerald Stapl
ebook, 0 pages
Published November 24th 2009 by Dell (first published 1993)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Precious Jewel, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Precious Jewel

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,768)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I bought the reissue as an ebook, rather than try to find a used copy of the original, and it was well worth it, despite paying a MMPB price for a category length story.

A Precious Jewel is unlike any historical I've read. The heroine is a prostitute working in a brothel, the hero a beta of average intelligence and looks, and, get this, the sex is initially quite uneventful for her.

"What?" you say, "The heroine isn't a virtuous maiden pretending to be a prostitute? Neither is the hero a take-char
Jan 01, 2010 Rane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Sir Gerald Stapleton visits Mrs. Blyth’s house dubbed “the finishing school” for his pleasure and nothing else, never would he have dreamed he would meet the woman whom would change his heart and world forever Priscilla Wentworth. Priscilla must heal Gerald’s wounds of his past and get bast both their mistrusts to have a future together

After reading A Precious Jewel, I can fully understand how Mary Balogh was able to break so many boundaries in romance novels, with two unconventional lea
Jan 13, 2016 Daniella marked it as hr-purgatory  ·  review of another edition
Welcome to my HR Purgatory shelf !

In Roman Catholicism, the purgatory is where the souls of the dead wander in an indefinite state. They stay in such a state unless they "become fit for heaven" at some point. Similarly, this shelf is where books that I am warned about stay—untouched and unread—unless a very compelling reason forces me to read them.


Reason(s) for putting A Precious Jewel in this shelf:
Heroine is a prostitute. Sex play is basically the H treating h like a blow-up doll. H is a
I think we can all agree that Mary Balogh writes romances with at least one flawed individual and a complex storyline. As a writer she manages to get into the heads of her characters and the reader. For good or for bad, she plays on our sympathies. A PRECIOUS JEWEL was a powerhouse of bittersweet emotions; it was a character-driven romance.

Using Mrs. Balogh's website, I started with THE IDEAL WIFE where I first 'met' the self-absorbed Sir Gerald Stapleton. On his own, I wouldn't have continued t
Evie Byrne
I'm going to have to go against popular opinion on this one. I respect Ms. Balogh's work to no end, but this really, really didn't work for me.

In fact, I found it downright disturbing. Still reeling with the shock of it all, I've come to the Internets to find out if other people reacted similarly and instead I've learned that it's a much loved, much praised book.

Okay, so I'm a weirdo. This review is for you other weirdos out there.

First, I love the concept. I love that the heroine is a prostit
Jun 22, 2016 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Where to begin? This was definitely not my favorite Balogh book, and I feel a little cheated for it.

The story is simple enough: insecure lord falls for his gently bred mistress. It's nothing out of the usual, and could have a great deal of potential. However...

Issue #1 - the hero is so terribly insecure, he can't acknowledge the possibility of caring for Priss, even though he clearly does. When he does find himself becoming more emotionally entangled he immediately withdrawals, says a few mean t
Mary C. *Nulla in mundo pax sincera*
Ah, Balogh and her ability to wring tears from me. Such interesting characterization too, as we have a beta hero and a heroine who, despite her choices, is quite content with being simply content. One of the most unusual pairings I've read in this genre, but nicely done? Certainly.
This book is one of those stories where its sooo different from the norm, that you can't be anything but impressed with the plot, the characters, and the writing style. The only reason I can't give this 5 stars is because the hero never felt like a hero to me, and I need that to be satisfied. Let's say that this is a 4.5 star book.

The hero, Gerald, is a typical gentleman. Average in all accounts, intelligence, looks, personality, etc. He has a little bit of a tragic past, so he's a bit self-cent
May 21, 2012 Audrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I'm giving this a 3+ stars ("I liked it") because, even though I think the story itself was unique, well-written, emotionally-gripping, and pretty much perfect for the characters it featured, I personally couldn't get much more excited than "I liked it" throughout the book. That said, two moments made me cry, so apparently I was invested enough in the story to feel that much. However, my overall feeling upon finishing it was "I liked it," but it was too angsty for my tastes. I should really know ...more
Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could have been so much better if the hero wasn't an ignorant hypocrite. Ignorant because he doesn't see what's right in front of him and makes up make-believe scenarios and hypocrite because only he can call her a whore and treat her like shit, but of course no one else can.

I had a lot of respect for this author for writing about a legitimate fallen woman story in historical times. But the hero was too much and so was the heroine for accepting the hero's actions and words lik
May 19, 2010 Crista rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star, regency, series
As I sit at my computer writing this review, I am a mess. I read this book in one sitting and I am a complete emotional wreck....I love it! This feeling is how I feel after I've read something special, something "other", something unique, something unforgettable! This is how I feel after reading A Precious Jewel.

Priscilla Wentworth is precisely what that titles says...she is a precious jewel. Resorting to prostitution after her father/brother leave her penniless, she encounters Sir Gerald Stapl
Nov 16, 2015 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12/1/09: I devoured this book. It's the best hooker with a heart of gold story EVER. (My inner feminist had some issues, but I beat her unconscious with a copy of Edna St. Vincent Millay's collected poems and kept wallowing.)
Jan 27, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book runs parallel to The Ideal Wife, beginning before that book and ending after it completes. I like it more than The Ideal Wife. Mary Balogh says in a prologue to this book that she didn't think she could possibly sell this book because it featured a beta hero and a working prostitute heroine. Her fellow authors agreed with her. But she wrote it anyway (in two weeks - I am so jealous) and sent if off to her publisher. She expected it to be rejected. After waiting quite some time to hear ...more
I don't know how Balogh does it but she can take an impossible topic and turn it into a plausible story. This was strangely addictive and I read it over two days. It had a melancholy tone to it and it was making me feel sad at different times but hopeful too. It's very hard to believe that these two would have a happily ever after. Even though I didn't dislike the hero, Gerald, I definitely liked the heroine, Priss or Priscilla, much more.
So these two had an interesting relationship. Can't expl
Madeline Hunter
Feb 10, 2015 Madeline Hunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved
This is an unusual book for several reasons. First, although published as a traditional "little" regency, it turns almost every trope in that sub-genre on its head. The heroine is not a sweet young miss, but a prostitute. The hero is not a wealthy duke, but a middling sort of gentleman. The author does not romanticize their initial love scenes (they are not lewd or sordid, in my opinion, just matter-of-fact in a way that conveys the realities of the life the heroine leads). Balogh never writes t ...more
Khanh (the Grinch)
This book was a nice, sweet read. There wasn't a lot of overwhelming passion in this book, but Mary Balogh has a talent at building up slow relationships. The action in this book just dragged on a bit for me, the pacing just felt repetitive and very slow at times. All of the characters in the book were likeable, even if one feels like slapping the hero on the head a few times. I liked his friend, the Earl, whose story is intertwined, much better. Gerald is just staid, dull, and stupid in compari ...more
Amarilli Settantatre

Un libro semplicemente MERAVIGLIOSO. La stessa Balogh ammette di averlo scritto quasi in uno stato di grazia, nel giro di soli quindici giorni, e di essere rimasta stupita che fosse pubblicato subito, senza neppure una revisione, incontrando dal 1993 un successo ininterrotto tra i lettori.

La ragione principale, forse, è che non è il solito romance classico, con colpi di scena ed eroi avventurosi , ma la storia normale, e pure piatta se proprio lo vogliamo dire, di
Luckily this was a rather short book with barely more than 300 pages.
Unfortunately there were many repetitions, especially in the lead characters' dialogues, Priss repeating ad nauseam that she just wanted to give Gerald pleasure and him telling her that she was a good girl. I cannot count the number of occurrences, as I read it from a paperback, but I would estimate each between 5 and 10.
Gerald embodied the anti-hero. Quite good-looking but not beautiful. Slow, definitely not intelligent, dim-w
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
One of the most boring romances Ive ever read. The blurb was more interesting.

It would have been better if it had bit grittier and darker in tone.

But no,lets make the heroine a saint instead.

The heroine tries to convince the reader that while she sells her body for money the place where she works is nice and all the other girls in residence are treated with respect and taken care of. Why sometimes she even enjoys the bedding.


Face the truth, its a brothel and youre a prostitute. Simple as th
Feb 11, 2011 MashJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reread this one yesterday when I was off sick. It is a very impressive book- Balogh said that she wrote it in a fortnight and yet she has such a depth of understanding of her characters and develops the plot so beautifully that it feels like she must have spent months honing it. I find that her work can be repetetive sometimes when she finds a motif or issue for a character and then does it to death in the novel. This book represents why I keep reading her though because she is so darn good wh ...more
Jun 30, 2008 Readdiction rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Regency fans who want a change from the usual rake and virgin theme. :)
Recommended to Readdiction by: All About Romance
A lovely, slow-paced and unlikely romance between an almost naive and sweet baron (Gerald) and a gentle former lady-turned prostitute (Prissy). The romance did not feature any complicated plots but that of the skeletons of both the hero and the heroine. Although Gerald was not a typical hero (he was not a very good lover, at least at first - quite selfish in taking his own pleasures - and he was not exceptionally good looking or even very bright), I found myself drawn to him and their story.
Sheila Melo
Dec 17, 2015 Sheila Melo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prostitute Heroine and a Beta Hero

"And if she was a whore, then he was a man who found it necessary to employ whores because he was no good at real relationships."

FINAL DECISION: Complex and nuanced, A PRECIOUS JEWEL takes a difficult situation and goes deep within the relationship in order to build toward a happy ending. The story is slow and detailed, but every moment is necessary to make the progression feel real.

THE STORY: Sir Gerald Stapleton is a confirmed bachelor with a distrust of marri
An Odd1
Jan 07, 2015 An Odd1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
X-rated for explicit couplings, routine in brothel, she lies passive, constantly "as you wish" p 2, p 97 "let me give you pleasure" p 113, "always obeyed him" p 125, douches. Homeless well-educated in "elocution and deportment" p 19 society orphans are brought down by common circumstance "young ladies who entertained gentlemen in order to earn a living" p 9. "Miss Blythe's finishing school .. was no more desirable place in London to work" p 10.

The language is phrased simply, as if from the stud
Lita Bouquard
Dec 24, 2013 Lita Bouquard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like a lot of drama in your regency romances skip this one. It features Gerald Stapleton who appeared in The Ideal Wife. Gerald is a bit dull, average intelligence and just ok in the looks department. I have been waiting for a book where the hero didn't have the lock of hair that always falls down over is eyebrow. Gerald is however a nice gentleman. He meets Prissy a whore (highclass) when his usual is unavailable. Gerald just wants plain sex with no talking, movement or interaction other ...more
Oct 08, 2010 Marisella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing tale of the redemptive power of love. A precious young lady is forced from her home by the incoming heir of her father's estate. She flees to her governess, who has started a school for young ladies in London. This "school" is, sadly, a house of prostition. The young lady does as she must, and joins the workforce at this establishment. A handsome and kindly young lord sets her up as his mistress... and you'll have to read this to discover more! We know that evil wasn't invented in ...more
She was his mistress who committed a cardinal sin. She allowed herself to be with child......but sometimes hope is never quite dead, even for the most downtrodden & despised members of the human race....
Germaine Lefebvre
"Posso paragonarti ad un giorno d'estate?" - lesse - "Tu sei più incantevole e mite".

Un libro dolce e con un sentimento prezioso, come quello maturato lentamente dal protagonista.
Molto bello.
Heroes & Heartbreakers
One of the most serious compacts between the reader and the author is the Happily Ever After (HEA). When I pick up a romance, I know that no matter how tortuous the pathway to true love, that there will be an HEA. But there are a few books, usually seared into your consciousness, that test that theory to the limit; A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh is one.

Ask about A Precious Jewel and you’ll get a lot of feedback. It was first published in 1993 and republished in 2009. Here’s the description from
Lydia Gastrell
There is just something about this one that gets to me every time (I've read it at least three times), and I think it's really about how simple the story is and yet how unique it is.

Gerald is NOT your stereotypical romance hero. He's not as tall, not as attractive, and not as bright. He knows he is average and the belief that he is even less than average destroyed his selfworth a long time ago. He is moody and selfish, as life has taught him that being nice and congenial doesn't get anyone anyw
Sep 24, 2010 Tressa rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book. The female protagonist is unusual and I don't think I've ever come across such a character. I did find the book depressing, but it was sweet in the end. I don't really want to give the entire story away as it is rather unusual and unexpected. I do think it's a worthy book to read as it is so different for the romance genre.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 92 93 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • With This Ring
  • Seven Nights to Forever
  • His Lordship's Mistress
  • The Duke's Wager (Bessacarr, #1)
  • Fallen Angel
  • A Regency Christmas V
  • It Happened One Night
  • The Wild Child (The Bride Trilogy, #1)
  • Secrets of the Night (Malloren, #4)
  • The Romantic (Seducers #5)
  • A Deal With the Devil (Lorimer Family & Clan Cameron #4)
  • Tempt the Devil
Mary Jenkins was born on 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high-school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curl ...more
More about Mary Balogh...

Other Books in the Series

Stapleton-Downes (7 books)
  • The Ideal Wife (Stapleton-Downes, #1)
  • Dark Angel (Stapleton-Downes, #3)
  • Lord Carew's Bride (Stapleton-Downes, #4)
  • The Famous Heroine (Stapleton-Downes, #5)
  • The Plumed Bonnet (Stapleton-Downes, #6)
  • A Christmas Bride (Stapleton-Downes, #7)

Share This Book