Tag Archives: Mary Balogh

The Survivors’ Club: The Arrangement and The Escape by Mary Balogh

My theory that there are more soldiers in Regency romances with PTSD than served in the Napoleonic Wars continues to hold water.

Mary Balogh has been publishing romances since the year I was eligible to vote. Not surprisingly, she is a consistent writer of good quality. I have only read about six of her books, but I believe that the final book of her Slightly Series, Slightly Dangerous, is a classic. She likely has at least one more and as I wait for new books from my favourite authors, I should probably try to find out what they are.

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) – meh
Only Beloved – sweet

The Arrangement

From Amazon: Desperate to escape his mother’s matchmaking, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, flees to a remote country village. But even there, another marital trap is sprung. So when Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, Vincent is compelled to act. He may have been blinded in battle, but he can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.

A book about kind, broken people falling in love, Vincent and especially Sophia are lovely people dealing with the blows that life has seen fit to give them. He, blinded in battle, is trying not so much to rebuild his life, but to rediscover his freedom and she, belittled and unwanted, the liberty to be herself and  make a life on her own terms. The gentle, but deep, mutual devotion they come to share made this a sweet story

The Escape

From Amazon: 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.

I remember swimming and that the heroine’s mother-in-law is a b*tch of the first water. Those two aquatic-themed tidbits are unrelated. The Escape may not have been my most closely read book of the year, but it’s not the least. Other than the swimming and the bitchiness, I’m a little fuzzy on the whole thing. It’s one of those novels where a couple is thrown together, go on a road trip, and decide on a brief affair that gets a permanent extension. He’s wounded in body and soul, she’s a mentally abused shut-in from a kingdom far, far away. Things work out and this process involves canoodling.

The Arrangement and The Escape were both library books and I am likely to seek out more books from The Survivors’ Club, but not to pay for them. Mary Balogh’s publisher is not savvy when it comes to e-book pricing. If copies were $3.99 or less, I would stock up, but they leave their prices high, even for her back catalogue, so it’s the library for me.

Captious Aside: Does anyone else question whether it should be “Survivor’s Club” or Survivors’ Club”? It should be the latter, right? It’s not even consistent when I look it up online.

Also by Mary Balogh:

A Handful of Gold – Meh, but I did have fun reviewing it.
Slightly Dangerous – CLASSIC

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

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 …

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The Slightly Series: Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh is a reliable and consistent romance genre author. She’s been putting out books for years and years, and with the advent of e-books will be reissuing her back catalogue for quite some time to come. I do not begrudge any author the chance to cash in, except maybe that 50 Shades of Twilight woman. I generally read Balogh when nothing else is handy, but I would go so far as to say this particular book is a classic of the genre.

In my (scathing and bitchy) review of Jennifer Ashley’s Mackenzie series , I wrote that the common series structure has the last book be about “the most forbidding of the men; the one you can’t imagine rooting for, or whose arrogance and aloofness is nigh on insurmountable”. This is that book, but instead of digging deeper to find sexually-twisted tyrants all the way down a la Ashley, Mary Balogh shows us a deeply caring man, motivated only by love and duty. Wulfric (I know) Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle, is the eldest of six children and each have already had their story told;  I gave Slightly Married a try, but when I skipped ahead to page 200 to check on the [cough] action I met the sentence, “He gave her his seed,” and I was out.  I did read all of Slightly Scandalous, but, despite a wonderful rake, the heroine was off-putting.

As the family protector and a Duke, Wulfric is a very serious man weighed down by duty and propriety in a way that is everything repugnant about the antiquated notion of aristocracy; fortunately, he falls for a woman who punctures that and makes him human.  Christine is a free-spirited widow living in genteel poverty who encounters the Duke at a house party (because it’s the Regency and that’s how they do).  She is both drawn to and leery of the Duke and her objections to his character, as she perceives it, and the role of his Duchess are the basis of the book’s tension. He’s fighting it for all he is worth, too, but in the end, she deigns to rescue him and it is lovely.

An Amazon review described the book as “Notting Hill meets Pride and Prejudice” and I can’t do any better than that.  The story is not as funny as some, and is virtually chaste, but the two main characters are so well drawn and fight against their attraction so valiantly that it carries the story along wonderfully. To use romance genre lingo, this book goes on the “keeper shelf”.

Also by Mary Balogh –
A Handful of Gold  for which I created a romance review template.

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.