Pick of the Week: July 9, 2014

The EscapeThe latest installment of Mary Balogh’s marvelous Survivors’ Club series is called The Escape.  Ben Harper is a wounded veteran.  His injuries are such that he will struggle with pain and need to use crutches for the rest of his life.  He is, however, determined to live life to the fullest and his goals even include dancing again.  Samantha McKay is a widow.  Her deceased husband returned from war wounded and ill.  She nursed him for many long years before he passed away.  Her mourning period has just begun, but after many years spent in a sick room, she desperately wants to feel alive and free.  The restrictions associated with ‘proper’ mourning placed on her by her in-laws are ridiculously severe and keep Samantha in near-seclusion.  The situation is untenable and Samantha feels the need to escape.  When Ben and Samantha meet they become friends and later they become lovers.  Neither is ready for a serious commitment, so when they fall in love, it is frightening and not particularly welcome.  They decide to part ways in order to individually make peace with the past and with their own futures before they will consider moving forward together.  Yet neither forgets the other and both continue to dream of dancing.  Mary Balogh writes deeply romantic love stories.  Her characters are finely wrought and on complex journeys.  I highly recommend this novel and feel certain you will enjoy it.

Pick of the Week: September 11, 2013

The ArrangementI always enjoy Mary Balogh’s writing and the latest installment of her Survivors’ Club series did not disappoint.  The Arrangement is emotional and romantic.  Vincent Hunt was blinded in battle and desperately wants to lead a more independent life than the one he has led since becoming handicapped.  His loving family means well, but they suffocate him with their concern.  On the other end of the spectrum, Sophia Fry has almost no family – and the relatives she has are hardly loving.  When Sophia does Vincent a favor she is punished for it: she is turned out of her relatives’ house and finds herself homeless.  When Vincent learns of Sophia’s situation he proposes marriage in order to solve her problem.  He suggests they come to an agreement, insisting that their marriage will solve problems for both of them.  Then he proposes that after certain goals are met, they lead separate lives. Their bargain loses its appeal as Vincent and Sophia fall in love, but neither knows the other feels the same way.  I found The Arrangement moving and sweet.  The story moves at a good pace, has a satisfying ending, and is a definite recommendation of mine.

Pick of the Week: July 18, 2012

Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors and I found her novel The Proposal very satisfying.  Gwen and Hugo fall in love despite the fact that neither thinks they have a future together.  They each have ideas about what they are looking for and neither thinks the other qualifies.  There are straight forward surface reasons, such as the fact that they are from different social classes.  There are also murkier reasons – Gwen, for example, thinks she must sacrifice passion for peace, and after a tortured first marriage she highly values the idea of tranquility.  But all Gwen’s and Hugo’s intellectual reasoning cannot seem to squelch their feelings for each other.  I love romance novels in which the conflict is within the romance (as opposed to some external battle with a third-party villain) and Mary Balogh has yet again delivered exactly that.  The emotional journeys each Gwen and Hugo travel are believable, interesting and moving.  As always, I will really look forward to Ms. Balogh’s next book!

Pick of the Week: September 7, 2011

Mary Balogh is so good at what she does.  I just finished her latest novel, The Secret Mistress, with a totally satisfied sigh of contentment.  Ms. Balogh writes ROMANCE, and I know I’ve made this point before, but it isn’t as easy to do as one might think and it can be difficult to find a romance novel that is actually romantic.  But The Secret Mistress is just that and I loved it.  Angeline Dudley falls head over heels in love with Edward Ailsbury when he saves her from the unwelcome advances of a rake.  Edward – responsible, serious, honorable and kind – is seen by many to be a very dull fellow.  But to Angeline he is a rock of strength and she finds the qualities others find dull to be extremely attractive.