by Mary Balogh
Page Count: 394
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
How got: BookMooch
First attention getter: the author
In this poignant novel of longing and salvation, a hopeful widow and a resilient war hero discover the promise of love’s magic and new beginnings.
After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.
Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.
Star Rating - 4
This is my first book read in this series by Balogh. I was intrigued with the idea of a series that is dedicated to leads that are damaged in some way or dealing with issues heavier than your usual romantic fluff. This introduction was pulled off fairly well, enough that I’m already dedicated to tracking down other volumes and bulldozing through them.
The leads shined in this introduction (to this reader at least). I loved that Ben dealt with more than just his physical limitations, though they were the cause of his emotional ones as well. There was a lesser feeling of self-worth and what he saw as his offerings to a relationship that kept me intrigued.
I also liked Samantha. She determined that she wouldn’t be happy in the opportunities presented to her by her in-laws so chose a dream in “wild” Wales with a man who could really only be counted as an acquaintance in the beginning. That takes balls to go into the unknown like that. I did feel that the emphasis placed on her “darker” looks and Gypsy blood was bit much, to the point of being clichéd (why can’t her darker complexion be from somewhere more abnormal like the Middle East or Native American blood?). But overall, I liked her strong inner core and dream of a comfortable, independent life.
The emotional pull of this book was off the charts. Part of that was from the author, I know, as Balogh just knows how to do emotions. Yet, I think a part of it was the circumstances of our leads and their intense yearning for family, love, and peace. Ben’s handicaps and Samantha’s family situations are intense. As they start to grow closer together and develop this deep love, there’s also a powerful sense that they may not have a future and that any relationship they have is only transitory.
At times, this was stressed to the extreme of being melodramatic, though. There were times where I really couldn’t see why these two couldn’t just hitch a ride to the nearest church and say their “I dos”. Maybe it’s a period thing, a Regency thing, that wasn’t coming across clearly for me. But that all made for dramatic reading!
Speaking of the Regency thing, Balogh really gets this time period and brings her readers into it. Maybe it’s the intense role the Napoleonic wars play in the story and lives of the characters; that certainly comes through. Yet, she also gives us a unique and thorough look at the social mores, relationship models, and the daily lives people lived back then. The Regency period is written to death in historical romance, but in Balogh’s hands, it gets a more in-depth look and becomes more than just background fluff.
This was a fantastic introduction to the Survivor’s series. I loved the characters, their emotional pulls, and the setting we see them in. At times, the story crosses into the melodramatic and the character’s backgrounds slide into cliché territory. Yet, that in no way makes this a horrible read. I look forward to continuing on this series; I’ve already made some significant headway.