‘Someone to Love’ by Mary Balogh

stl-mbSTORY: Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had…

Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

REVIEW: The Earl of Riverdale has died without a will. His son, Harry Westcott, has not quite reached his majority which necessitates that Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, become his guardian until he reaches age 21. Harry is a handsome young man and now he will be extremely wealthy. He appears to understand his responsibilities and is prepared to follow through with them.

It is soon discovered that the late Earl had an illegitimate daughter who he has always supported. The Earl’s widow feels that the girl should be contacted and told her father has passed away and be given a final settlement. The woman is doing this not because she cares for the girl but because she does not want her children to know about their father’s by-blow.

Anna Snow has lived at an orphanage since she was 4-years-old. She is now 25. She is still at the orphanage were she works as a housemother, helps the matron, Miss Ford, and also teaches. While she has had a few proposals, Anna has turned them down. After her mother died, she went to live with her grandparents for a few years before he father came and took her away.

When Anna receives a letter asking her to go to London to meet with a solicitor, she is quite nervous. It turns out that her mother was still married to the late Earl when she died which makes her his heir and his other children are illegitimate. She is now a very rich woman.

As the news settles in, she is not surprised at the reaction from her brother and sisters to her. She is so happy to find that she has siblings and she wants them to stay in the home with her. However, their pride will not allow it and they refuse.

One of her new-found aunts is determined to help get her properly attired and to teach her to interact with the ton.

Avery is a small man and very handsome. He dresses impeccably and his mannerisms are cool and very proper. As a Duke, he is quite sought after by the young ladies but has not found the woman he cares to marry.

As Anna and Avery get to know one another, he is taken with her genuineness and lack of guile. When Anna learns that he father had lied to her grandparents and they thought she had died, she is sad. However, to find that they are still alive makes her so happy. Se wants to see them. By then, Anna and Avery have decided to marry and travel together to visit her grandparents.

There is so much more to this story. We find what a good soul Anna is and Avery is a lot deeper than anyone knows. His own secrets that he finally shares with Anna end up making them the perfect couple.

This is another perfectly written novel by Mary Balogh. She is an author who will go down in history for her incredible writing. I highly recommend this book. It is the first novel of a series and I look forward to the next book.

Connie for b2b

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‘Only a Kiss’ by Mary Balogh

oak mbSTORY: The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, injured in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendships forged in steel and loyalty. But for one, her trials are not over….

Since witnessing the death of her husband during the wars, Imogen, Lady Barclay, has secluded herself in the confines of Hardford Hall, their home in Cornwall. The new owner has failed to take up his inheritance, and Imogen desperately hopes he will never come to disturb her fragile peace.

Percival Hayes, Earl of Hardford, has no interest in the wilds of Cornwall, but when he impulsively decides to pay a visit to his estate there, he is shocked to discover that it is not the ruined heap he had expected. He is equally shocked to find the beautiful widow of his predecessor’s son living there.

Soon Imogen awakens in Percy a passion he has never thought himself capable of feeling. But can he save her from her misery and reawaken her soul? And what will it mean for him if he succeeds?

REVIEW: This is the sixth book in The Survivors Club series, and right now my favorite, but ever since this series started, I was very much intrigued by the secondary character in each book, that of George, who is the Duke of Stanbrooke. His story will finally come to light in the seventh book, ‘Only Beloved’. And that will end this series which I truly loved. I can see me rereading these while waiting for Ms. Balogh to give another series.

As all the stories in this series, this one too was intriguing and entertaining, fast paced and heart wrenching.

Imogen is the only woman of the Survivors’ Club, a group of mentally and physically damaged individuals, all suffering from the ravages of the Napoleonic Wars. Their close developed bonds while recovering at a remote estate of the Duke of Stanbrooke, who has lost his son in the war and his loving wife to a suicide after the news they received of his death.

I have to say that I had doubts about this hero being the right man for my Imogen. She had shown in all the previous books and I became very protective of her so this guy, on the first glimpse wasn’t anyone I envisioned her with. Well, color me green with envy when I got to know the hero a lot better. He was so perfect for her, I wanted to adopt him and his dog!

The blurb summarizes the book really well, so I’ll skip on that but I’ll tell you this. The story has many entertaining, fun, intriguing and heartwarming moments. It moves at a steady pace and it made me chuckle and cry. Highly recommending it!

Melanie for b2b

 

‘Longing’ by Mary Balogh

l mbSTORY: Governess and mistress—he wanted her as both.…

The illegitimate daughter of an English lord, Sian Jones abandoned her heritage to live in a stalwart coal mining community in South Wales. Empowered by their cause, she’s engaged to be married to the leader of a revolutionary movement that is bracing itself against the tyranny of English mine owners. But Sian’s principles are unexpectedly shaken when she accepts a job as governess under Alexander Hyatt, the mysterious Marquess of Craille, the oppressive symbol of everything she has come to resist.

She never expected Alexander to upend all her expectations. He is sympathetic to her cause. He is a loving father. A man of wealth and position, he is fatally attractive. And he is offering his heart to the independent woman who has illuminated his life. Now, caught between two worlds, and between the promises and desires of two men, Sian must make a choice that will define her future—one that can only be made in the name of love.…

REVIEW: Sian Jones is a young widow who lives with her grandparents in a coal mining town in Wales.  Her husband died in a mine accident and she herself works underground at a very exhausting job.  Her mother had been the mistress of a wealthy English Lord who is also Sian’s biological father.  Being illegitimate, he never claimed her as his daughter.  However, as she was growing up, she had access to a very good education.

Alexander (Alex) Hyatt, Marquess of Craille, is a widower with a young daughter named Verity.  As the owner of the town’s coal mine, he feels that it is time for him to come to Wales and learn more about the mine and in running it.

Almost all of the citizens of the town work in the mine for wages that barely support them, but find their joy in their church and in singing.  So, when Alex is forced to vote with other mine owners to reduce the wages of the workers ten percent to make up for losses in the market, the hardship suffered by the workers is heavy and resentment against the owners continues to grow.

Alex needs a governess for his daughter and having met Sian out on the hills walking, he offers her the job.  After much hesitancy, she accepts and proves to be a wonderful teacher and Verity loves her so much.  Alex’s attraction to Sian grows and he wants nothing more than for her to stay at the castle and be his mistress and mother to Verity.

Sian loves Alex too but cannot accept his offer.  Even though Sian is the daughter of a Lord, she is still illegitimate and will not accept being a mistress as her mother had been.  In addition, the citizens of the town do not like Sian working for Alex.

This novel gives an in-depth history of Wales, the people and their deep love for their home and for each other.  We see what happens when the workers call for a strike against working in the mine and how they are pressured by a group of unknown men called the Scotch Cattle that pressured people via beatings to join the Chartists to push the government to give into some of their demands.

I enjoyed the story but I felt at times that it was a little long.  However, as the beloved author, Mary Balogh, was born in Wales, I think this book was written as a tribute to her roots and congratulate her on this magnificent saga.

Connie for b2b

‘Only Enchanting’ by Mary Balogh

oe mbSTORY: Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancée’s desertion after his return home. Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.

Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.

When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.

REVIEW: Mary Balogh continues her Survivor’s Club series with a fourth installment and in it another survivor, Flavian, gets his own happily ever after. And what a story it is. After I was done reading his story, I wondered which one I loved [notice I didn’t say “like” and that’s because you just don’t “like” this authors stories. You either LOVE them or the opposite of that. I’m one of millions of her fans that loves everything she writes] the most so far. Guess what? I couldn’t choose. Out of the four she wrote up to date, I just love them all because each is unique in itself despite the same tread that binds them all, the war that affected each in a different way. I am looking forward to three more stories in this series and can’t wait to find out the background of those characters.

My heart broke into thousand pieces as I was reading about Flavian’s injuries after his return from the Peninsula. His rage at not being able to speak and understand people around him was heartbreaking. If George, the Duke of Stanbrook hadn’t intervened and whisked him off to his estate, I have no doubt that his family would have committed him to bedlam.  It took three years of loving care and plenty of patience George and the other club members gladly offered in order for Flavian to come out of his nightmare.

Agnes Keeping is a young widow who after her older husband’s death is now living with her sister Dora. When Agnes married at eighteen, she was accepting of and content with, her life. I don’t think she felt that she was missing much not being in society on a regular basis during her marriage, but she did regret not having children. Dora’s friendship with Sophia who married Viscount Darley [another survivor club member] gave her the opportunity to meet Flavian and the rest as they say, is history.

The pace of this story is perfect and the slow progression of their acquaintance and subsequent love is enchanting. Both characters are loving, decent and endearing people.  

There are many moments in this book where I just smiled from ear to ear and then some where I had tears in my eyes. But then, Ms. Balogh does this to me in every book I’ve read so far!

Highly recommending it to all my bookworms.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Escape’ by Mary Balogh

mb teSTORY: After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.

Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

REVIEW: At its annual meeting of the Survivors’ Club, the seven members have gathered together to revive their friendships and encourage one another toward full recovery and/or acceptance of the wounds and disabilities they received in the Napoleonic wars. One of their members, Sir Benedict Harper, works very hard to walk with the use of two crutches. His injuries have left him with devastating injuries to his legs. While it is a painful and slow process, his determination has helped him to succeed to this point.

Samantha McKay is the widow of Captain Matthew McKay and living at her home, Bramble Hall in County Durham. Only a short time married, her husband was sent to war only to return with disastrous injuries that left him bed-ridden and in pain for five years before he mercifully passed away. During those years, Samantha faithfully nursed him. Now, her prudish sister-in-law, Matilda, is living with her to reinforce her father-in-law’s strict rules of how a widow should live. But Samantha wants fresh air and some light much to the anger of Matilda.

When Benedict arrives in County Durham to take the air, he meets up with Samantha when he nearly runs her over while jumping a shrub with his horse. As they get to know one another, he has tea with her and she sees him at church all to the chagrin of Matilda. As Samantha has experience gained from nursing her deceased husband, she understands many of the difficulties that Benedict faces. They meet up at the beach and swim together which helps him by taking pressure off his legs and giving his body buoyancy while in the water. As they get to know one another better, they realize a physical attraction that neither of them has known for some time.

Will Samantha be brave enough to defy her in-laws and live her life as she wants and not by their puritanical dictates? What about Benedict? Although a wealthy man in his own right, what path will he choose to provide a satisfying life for himself and perhaps Samantha as well.

This is the third novel in the Survivors trilogy [The Proposal and The Arrangement] and I am looking forward to the rest of the stories with eagerness . These stories are so touching and have that magic touch that only Mary Balogh can do. I hope that readers will make it a point to read them. A good thing is that I don’t think it’s necessary they be read in succession.

FYI: this is from Mary’s website:

Book 4, “Only Enchanting, is due out on October 28, 2014. It is Flavian Arnott, Viscount Ponsonby’s story. Flavian sustained bad head wounds during a cavalry battle and suffered long-lasting brain damage. His abilty to think rationally and to speak coherently was greatly impaired, and he has huge memory gaps of which he is unaware. Frustration has made him prone to violent rages.

Book 5, Only a Promise, is due out in May, 2014. It is Ralph Stockwood, Earl of Berwick’s story. Ralph was very severely wounded in battle, but worse than the physical wounds was the fact that he watched his three best friends from school days blown to bits before his eyes–and he blames himself for the fact that they were there. Note that Books 4 and 5 (and probably 6 and 7) will have very different cover concepts than the other three and differently conceived titles too as I move to my new publisher,

Book 6, “Only a Kiss’ (working title–it may change), on which I am currently working, is Imogen Hayes, Lady Barclay’s story. Imogen followed the drum and went to the Peninsula with her husband, a reconnaissance officer and a spy. They were captured together and he was tortured before being killed in her presence. She still suffers from the trauma of those events. And that leaves George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrook, who brought the other Survivors together when he opened his home as a hospital for severely wounded officers. George was not in the military himself, but his young son was and was killed. His wife committed suicide a month or so later. He is as wounded as the others and must find his own way of surviving and triumphing. His story will be told last in Book 7, which will probably be called Only Beloved.’

Connie for b2b

Complementary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Arrangement’ by Mary Balogh

mb taSTORY: Desperate to escape his mother’s matchmaking, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, flees to a remote country village. But even there, another marital trap is sprung. So when Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, Vincent is compelled to act. He may have been blinded in battle, but he can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.

At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent’s proposal. But when such a gloriously handsome man persuades her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Her alternative is too dreadful to contemplate. But how can an all-consuming fire burn from such a cold arrangement? As friendship and camaraderie lead to sweet seduction and erotic pleasure, dare they believe a bargain born of desperation might lead them both to a love destined to be?

REVIEW: This is the second book in Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series and it is as good as the first one, The ‘Proposal’.

Both leads are written as Beta and I think that’s exactly why this story worked for me. We had Sophia, orphaned at fifteen, bounced around from one family household to the next,and whatever self-esteem she had, it was stifled. Yet she still persevered through her sense of humor and strong character.

Vincent was one of those heroes that were dead gorgeous, but he’s blinded in the war and his family [which consists of all women] is choking him with their ‘love and care’. He loves them all but once they try to ‘arrange’ a marriage for him, he decides to ‘cut and run’ from them for a little while and sort his feelings and life before he puts a stop to their meddling.

He decides to visit a home in the village where he spent his childhood. While there he meets Sophia as she lends him a hand when he finds himself manipulated by her Aunt and a cousin.

The story may not be original but it is solid, gripping and emotional with characters that feel real. Their romance is compelling and passionate. 

Ms. Balogh is a master when it comes to writing strong characters with depth and complexity. Another winner and a keeper.

Melanie for b2b

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‘The Proposal’ by Mary Balogh

mb tpSTORY: Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo is a gentleman in name only: a war hero whose bravery earned him a title, a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. Hugo doesn’t wish to court Gwen, yet he cannot resist her guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face. He wants her, but will she have him?

The dour ex-military officer who so gallantly carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, Hugo captivates her more—with his desire, with his love, and with the promise of forever.

REVIEW: ‘The Proposal’ is an excellent example of two people who have been deeply saddened by loss come together to help one another heal. Both Hugo and Gwendoline have wealth, yet Hugo is a simple man at heart. Together, they find trust, friendship and love.

The humor that Ms. Balogh has added to this novel is essential to the journey to help the couple heal from their pain. I certainly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Connie for b2b

MEL’s THOUGHTS: I’m 100% in agreement with Connie. This was a classic Mary Balogh. It was perfection. I honestly don’t know how she does it. She is consistent and I have yet to find anything wrong with her writing. Not that I’m looking.

I eagerly await every book she writes because I know I’m in for a treat and assault on all my senses. I welcome it. I want you to be assaulted, to be enveloped in her prose and her clever plotting.

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