A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh (with Bonus Romance Review Template)

I decided to fashion a fill-in-the-blank romance novel review to make these posts easier to write:

Part A. The Summary: (Title) is a romance of the (“you are everything I never knew I always wanted”/opposites attract/love story balanced with a strong subplot/teach me how to love/I know I am unworthy, but I love you so) variety: Boy meets girl. (Specify relationship obstruction). (Oblique hint at resolution). Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

Part B. The Introduction: A (historical/contemporary/paranormal) romance set in (location and time period) and written by (author’s first and last name), (title) is my (first/second, etc.) book by this author. (If this is an author you have read before, please complete the following:) I generally find her work (pleasant/a good time filler/spectacular/reliable/fun/vile, but the book was free). (Comment on previous work and link to other reviews where possible). I found (title) (suggested descriptors that can be supplemented as needed: enjoyable/lacklustre/misogynistic/soporific/,and/or romantic). I (will continue to/will not) seek out (author’s last name)’s other novels because this one (was nothing special/showed promise/was really good/passed the time pleasantly enough), (and/but/although) I (would/would not) recommend this particular effort.

Part C. The Plot: The main plot of (title) focuses on (the reformation of a rake/the awakening of a wallflower/a revenge plot/a road trip/an intrigue or mystery/their marriage of convenience/and/or the healing of a tortured hero and/or heroine). (Hero’s name and title, as appropriate) is (that rake/a protector). He is (insert three adjectives). (Comment on his general appeal or lack thereof, specify traits leading to this conclusion.) The heroine, (name and title, as appropriate), is a (wallflower/victim of circumstance). She is (choose three adjectives with special focus on her relatability). (Insert MacGuffin.) (Hero and heroine’s names) (are/are not) instantly attracted to each other. Over time, they come to discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.

Part D. The Subplot: (Continue to Section E, if there is no significant subplot, or if it is uninteresting.)

The subplot in (title) revolves around (the reformation of a rake/the awakening of a wallflower/a revenge plot/a road trip/an intrigue or mystery/their marriage of convenience/and/or the healing of a tortured hero and/or heroine) It was (an excellent addition well-executed/cumbersome and got in the way of the main story).

Part E. Conclusion: (Reword opinions stated in Part B. The Introduction.) (Make general comments on the quality of the writing either positive or taking pleasure in being cleverly derisive). (If the book is not recommended, provide a suggestion for a romance with a similar theme more successfully presented.)

Part F. Closing: (Insert link to annotated list of available reviews for readers’ edification.)

© 2013 Mrs. Julien Presents

Let’s give the format a go with the Christmas novella A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh …

A Handful of Gold is a romance of the “you are everything I never knew I always wanted variety”: Boy meets girl. He is a confirmed bachelor looking for a little debauchery over Christmas. She is snowed in at his residence. Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

A historical romance set in Regency England and written by Mary Balogh, A Handful of Gold is my umpteenth book by this author. I generally find her work a reliable time filler. Her novel, Slightly Dangerous, is a classic of the genre. I found A Handful of Gold a bit dated, twee, and too escapist, if such a thing is possible. I will continue to seek out Balogh’s other novels because this one passed the time pleasantly enough, although I would not recommend this particular effort.

The main plot of A Handful of Gold focuses on the reformation of a rake. Julian Dare, Viscount Folingsby is that rake. He is bored, rich, and surprisingly accommodating. He showed remarkable forbearance in the presence of unexpected house guests, including a newborn baby. The heroine, Verity Ewing, is a victim of circumstance. She is sweet, bright, and in dire straights, as are we all at times. Verity has agreed to become Julian’s Christmas mistress because she desperately needs money. Julian and Verity are instantly attracted to each other. Over time, they come to discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.

This was far from Balogh’s best work. I found the novella trite and heavy-handed, and the casually put upon servants an unintentionally unsympathetic element in relation to the main characters. Balogh is an adept, consistent, and reliable writer; however, A Handful of Gold wasn’t a Kindleful of Delight. If you are looking for a Christmas novella, I can recommend two from Courtney Milan:This Wicked Gift which came in the same collection as A Handful of Gold and was the reason for my purchase, or A Kiss for Midwinter which is a classic of the genre and happens to be one of the best romances I have ever read.

Also by Mary Balogh – The Survivors’ Club Series:
The Proposal  (Hugo/Gwen) – pleasant
The Arrangement  (Vincent/Sophia) – very sweet, understated
The Escape (Benedict/Samantha) – meh
Only Enchanting (Flavian/Agnes) – Wonderful, read this one. Read it twice.
Only a Promise  (Ralph/Chloe) – very good
Only a Kiss (Percy/Imogen) – see below
Only Beloved – May 2016

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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