by Mary Balogh
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count: 321
Release Date: May 1, 2012
How got: personal library; bought from Amazon
First attention getter: series and author
Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. 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 never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous—if beautiful—aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier 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. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?
The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.
Star Rating - 3
I’m glad I didn’t start the series with this volume; it’s by far my least favorite. The most clichéd of the series, I found myself disconnecting with the story more often than not. There’s still a good emotional pull, and I liked the characters enough to still care for their fates. But definitely not my favorite…
I did like how three-dimensional the characters are. Both Hugh and Gwen have their vices and preconceived notions about class and propriety. Yet, they both still feel deeply enough to try and overcome the obstacles in their way multiple times. I mean, it’s gotta take some serious courage to propose/court multiple times, on Hugh’s part.
The romance was sweet and dramatic. I liked that Hugh was in love enough with Gwen that he was willing to face the embarrassment of initial denial and keep on courting. In his own fashion, Gwen’s willingness to experience his very different world and learn her possible place in it showed her dedication to this possible match. I liked that both were willing to meet the other in middle ground to make a solid relationship.
Where this book suffered big time was its heavy dependence on clichés for dramatic tension and a storyline that has been done to death in this genre. Hugh’s constant stressing that he “isn’t good enough” and that all aristocracy are uppity was tiring. I felt like screaming as all he’d have to do would be to talk to Gwen and learn how she really felt. The constant parade of balls, social gatherings, and the endless Regency rules were used to excess, too. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been leveled out by other methods of dramatic storytelling.
From the other books in this series, I’ve witnessed the use of the Napoleonic wars, their aftermath, and their effect on these particular people to wonderful effect. Yet, for some reason, Balogh decided not to utilize it that much for Hugh’s story. There’s mention of his time in a straitjacket and such; yet that’s it! There’s no fallout or any other utilization of his status of a man not fully in his faculties. I think that would have impacted his image himself and his place in society more than it did. It just seemed like a missed opportunity for more exploration of war and its impact on those effected. That could have some much needed heaviness to this book.
Not a bad historical romance of the Regency era, but I felt like I’d read it all before. The same social interactions and the same uses of clichés for dramatic tension were used again and again. I liked the characters and relationship, but they weren’t enough to save this book from mediocrity. I missed the special blend of angst and dramatic tension from being a member of the Survivor’s Club that could have been used here. So don’t start the series with this one; I’d actually recommend you start with book 5. It’s be the best of the bunch so far and provided a better introduction, I think.