by Mary Balogh
Page Count: 432
How got: Personal library
First attention getter: I'll admit it, the pretty cover.
From New York Times bestselling legend and author of the Survivors' Club series comes a cherished novel about the risks and the compromises that come with falling in love.…
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.…
Star Rating - 5 Stars
My first experience with this author met with an unfortunate dead-end, the book being abandoned due to irritating sniping and relationship interactions that drove me up a wall. So it was with a smidge of hesitation that I embarked on another work by Balogh. Yet, the pretty cover (yes, I’m a cover slut!), the intriguing story premise surrounding the romance, and the author’s reputation made me decide to give another go here. Paid off in spades!
First off, I tip my hat to Balogh in her efforts to give us a fascinating historical background to go with her romance and plot. She excels in both atmospheric details and incorporating actual history into the tale. I could viscerally picture the settings in my head: the Gothic type castle architecture of Alex’s home, the smoke rising over the Welsh hills from the ironworks and mines, and the wild beauty of those same majestic peaks. Then there are the details of the Chartist movement incorporated into the story, with actual people, meetings, and marches woven throughout to give historical weight.
I really enjoyed our leads in this one. Their personalities felt balanced with both good and bad qualities, giving them a 3D feel not often felt in historical romances. I liked Sian’s stubbornness, strength of will, and soft, caring inner core. She was comfortable in her own skin and wasn’t afraid to break her own trail in life by the end. She wanted to fit into her mother’s community but wouldn’t squeeze into a preconceived mold to do so; I admired her for that.
Alex’s sweet and sensitive nature was a nice departure from your usual romantic hero. Now don’t think that makes him a soft touch and a wimp; by the end, he got macho when he needed to and showed people what’s what. Yet, I liked that his first inclination wasn’t to huff and puff to show his masculinity; his preference for compromise and working with people to meet a mutual goal was an incredible show of maturity and again, being comfortable in his own skin.
I loved their interactions and romance. With the right balance of sexual tension and heightened emotion, it kept me flipping page by page till the very end. I really liked that the author stayed away from the interaction model she used in the previous book I read by her. There wasn’t a constant exchange of sniping remarks and bantering; this relationship had more depth and sweetness that I enjoyed. I found myself more emotionally engaged by this book than I usually get, enough that I finished in a marathon session lasting till 1AM.
I also appreciate the role that sex played in this book. The scenes were utilized as something that moves the story or character development forward. Nothing was used as fluff or fan service; every encounter had a reason for occurring or had a lovely sense of spontaneity that drew me further into the relationship rather than disengaging from excessive porn. I liked that weightiness.
This book redeemed Balogh for me. I enjoyed every aspect: the different historical factors in the book, the characters, the main relationship, and the utilization of sex in the narrative. I had to finish the book in one last rush read-a-thon since I just couldn’t tear myself away from the story. I highly recommend this book to fellow historical romance lovers; it’ll be a tale that you’ll want to put real life on the back burner for.