The widow Cassandra has a big problem-she is responsible not only for herself, but also her companion and her all around housekeeper, and the housekeeper’s illegitimate child and she is practically destitute. With no family to turn to, a stepson who has made it impossible to get her due after her husband’s death, things do not look promising for her. Oh, and there’s the pesky rumor that she killed her husband with an axe. What’s a woman to do? Become a mistress, clearly. You know, I write that rather flippantly, but the truth is, and it is quite clear, that in that day and age, in that society with all of its rules and regulations, Cassandra truly had no other choice. What work could a lady do? How could she get any money? What rights did she have? Cassandra chooses as her target the angelically handsome Stephen, the unexpected Earl of Merton (he did not know he was in line for the title and was surprised to become earl at age 17.) Unfortunately (?) for her the earl is not only principled, but also quite attracted to Cassandra. And then there are many pages of what is oh so common in a Regency novel-the two people love each other but pretend not to because “it can never be!” but everyone knows it really can be. There is a lot of winning in romances “I’m going to win her over” “I’m going to win our fight”
This wasn’t my favorite Balogh, but I did enjoy it and have really been enjoying my return to the Regencies.
I was so excited that there was a new Mary Balogh out that I went to the new store and bought this. Then I looked at the copyright and saw that these are two stories that have been previously published and are being repackaged. No matter, I had not read them, so new to me!
In Dark Angel cousins Jennifer and Samantha (I wondered the whole time at Jennifer being a name used in the 1800s. Really? I am certain Ms. Balogh is always historically accurate, so I have to believe it, but I was surprised) arrive in London for the Season. Jennifer is slightly old to be making her debut at age 20, but she her future is already arranged. At age 15 her father made an agreement with another to affiance Jennifer and Lord Kersey. Once Jennifer has made her debut they will be officially betrothed and then married. Jennifer is so excited to finally get to know Lord Kersey and begin her future with him. She has only met him a few times, but he the picture of manly perfection-all blond haired and blue eyed. Enter Gabriel, who appears to be the opposite-darkly sinister, but sexily bewitching, with a scandalous reputation to match. Unfortunately for Jennifer, she become a pawn in a game between the two men. Her head and society tell her that Gabriel is the bad one, and Kersey the good one, but her heart says otherwise. This was a positively delightful romance. I just loved it. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I am a bit tired of all these manly men gently and thoroughly loving these women who’ve never been touched by a man. They always come across in a slightly condescending protective way, and the women are always enraptured and completely sexually open and it’s all angels singing and the most perfect climax in the world—and it’s their first time!!
Lord Carew’s Bride takes place six years later and this time the focus is on Samantha, who at age 24 is about to go to her seventh Season and despite her beauty and a cadre of admirers, remains unmarried by choice. It turns out that her part in the scandal of Jennifer and Kersey left her deeply afraid of love and passion. She and Jennifer and Gabriel are all very close and whilst visiting them at their estate she one day wanders onto the adjoining estate, owned by a Marquess, Lord Carew. While walking she meets a man she believes to be the landscape architect and feels immediately at ease with him, even though or perhaps because of, he is somewhat crippled. She secretly meets him for four wonderful afternoons and have never known such a connection to someone before-she counts him a close friend and is sad to leave him when she must return to London. What she doesn’t know is that the man was actually the Marquess. For his part it was love at first sight and he decides to go to London so that he might see her again. Back in London the Season begins with the drama of Kersey’s return. He really is a dreadfully sleazy character and does his best to destroy any love that might be between Lord Carew and Samantha.
Another wonderful Balogh romance and I liked the packaging of the two stories together and how reading the second story was like a great epilogue to the first one.
I read this way back before Christmas, struggled at the time with what to say about it, and ended up putting this aside. However, this blog is meant to keep an accurate record of what I’ve read, so I’d better get this up here, even with this brief and lame description:
A very short novel (for Balogh), but it has all the hallmarks of a Mary Balogh regency romance: wonderfully written, wonderfully romantic. A must read for regency fans.
I’m a sucker for Christmas themed historical romances, so a few weeks ago while Christmas shopping at the bookstore I treated myself to this. I love everything Mary Balogh writes, so that’s really what I was buying it for. And indeed, her story was great. A woman of genteely impoverished circumstances decides that she must prostitute herself to save her family. She agrees to go away for a week (during Christmas) with a duke who is looking for a last fling before settling down. This was delightfully predictable-falling in love, showing she’s a lady, there is loads of Christmas joy and goodwill and it’s all very heartwarming.
The second story I didn’t care for as much. As much as I love historical romances I’m a bit tired of all these characters who are “afraid to love” at the expense of refusing to acknowledge their obvious love for someone. It’s all just too absurd.
The third story must be saved until next Christmas (that’s right, Christmas was six days ago, so now I won’t read/watch Christmas things!).
It’s been a while since I read a nice historical romance and I almost forgot how much I like them. I’ll have to get some more to read!