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.