Sunday, September 13, 2015

REVIEW: Only A Kiss by Mary Balogh

Only A Kiss
by Mary Balogh

Publisher: Signet
Page Count: 400
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2015
Format: Mass Market Paperback

How got: personal library; bought from Amazon

First attention getter: the series, my most anticipated title from this series yet

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, injured in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendships forged in steel and loyalty. But for one, her trials are not over....

Since witnessing the death of her husband during the wars, Imogen, Lady Barclay, has secluded herself in the confines of Hardford Hall, their home in Cornwall. The new owner has failed to take up his inheritance, and Imogen desperately hopes he will never come to disturb her fragile peace.

Percival Hayes, Earl of Hardford, has no interest in the wilds of Cornwall, but when he impulsively decides to pay a visit to his estate there, he is shocked to discover that it is not the ruined heap he had expected. He is equally shocked to find the beautiful widow of his predecessor’s son living there.

Soon Imogen awakens in Percy a passion he has never thought himself capable of feeling. But can he save her from her misery and reawaken her soul? And what will it mean for him if he succeeds?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4.5

Only one small disappointment dinged this book for me, but overall we have another great one from Balogh. I love the leads and their emotional journey. When all is said and done for historical romance, those are the most important things.

I really liked Imogen. She’s strong and vulnerable in all the places she needs to be. I liked how her traumatic past showed itself in her rigid self-control and semi-aloofness. Her hesitation to get close to anyone else besides her fellow Survivor Club members is a realistic and painful reaction to seeing what she has seen. I loved seeing her transformation, her journey towards loving again as she gets closer to Percy.

And oh Percy! What a fantastic hero! He starts out as your typical Regency era flaky playboy: gambling, drinking, no goals in life, and sleeping around. His transformation into a mature man who cares for his tenants and employees, who finds the courage to stand against smugglers (who few others seem to care about), and help to heal such a damaged individual as Imogen was awe-inspiring. I fell in love with him right along with Imogen.

I haven’t come across a couple in historical romance as well suited for each other as these two in a while. They dove tail so well together, having personalities, outlooks on life, and such that are different enough to balance the other out and similar enough to give common ground. I really feel that Percy is the best choice for Imogen, not only does he love her but he also heals, makes her laugh, and gives her a shoulder to help balance the burden of her past. I love them together.

My one area of disappointment will probably not be an area of problem for another reader. Towards the end of the book, more about Imogen’s past and her war trauma is gone over and explained. Her past also shapes her personality and how she approaches Percy, too.

Yet, I felt liked there was a missed opportunity here. The idea of the woman being the war-weary, injured party in a historical romance relationship is so unique. There seemed to be an opening to explore or examine how women contributed or were affected by the Peninsular war when physically present. Maybe I was just wishing for more exploration of Imogen’s role/experiences in the war and how it impacted her life than was actually present. It’s what really made me anticipate this entry into the Survivor Club series.

A pretty great historical romance, this book shines when it comes to characters and their romance. Extremely vibrant and emotional, I loved both leads and their romance was to die for. The only hitch for me was a personal one. I wished for more exploration of how the war trauma affected Imogen and her life, even though it does in very subtle ways in the book. So at least there’s something there. I’d still highly recommend this book to lovers of Regency era romances and Mary Balogh. It’s a great romance.

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