Wednesday, January 7, 2015

REVIEW: "The Proposal" by Mary Balogh


The Proposal (The Survivors' Club #1)
The Proposal by Mary Balogh
For Ages 18+ (Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

Delacorte Press -- Published in May 2012
Ebook, 321 pages
Read in December 2014
Borrowed from Library

THEMES
Beta Hero

SUMMARY
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.



FIRST LINE
"The weather could have been better."

MY THOUGHTS
When I first discovered historical romance, I spent many hours making my way through Mary Balogh's extensive backlist.  I came to rely on her laidback style that always guaranteed likable characters and a sweet love story.  That being said, I have not been as impressed with some of her more recent releases especially the Huxtable Quartet.  But, I have heard good things about the Survivors' Club so I had to check it out for myself.

The thing that really grabbed my attention when starting The Proposal was the fact that we finally (!) got the see Gwen, Lady Muir, get her own happily ever after.  I really liked her in the all the other Balogh historicals and wanted her to be happy.  This book allowed readers to really get to know her and her backstory since all I ever knew was that she lost her husband young and suffered from a limp after a badly set broken leg.  I am glad to say that her personality remained as likable as the first few times she popped in the Balogh universe with a bit more fire to her which I appreciated.  She has had to spend many years alone and has learned to live as independently as possible.

Hugo, Lord Trentham, is a merchant's son who was injured in the war and earned a title for his bravery despite his general dislike of the aristocracy.  His time in the war left scars (physically and emotionally) so he spent considerable time healing at the estate of the Duke of Stanbrook along with other soldiers...thus the Survivors' Club was born.  I did like Hugo and appreciated Balogh's development of his character from not trusting the upper class at all to understanding that one cannot paint an entire group of people with the same brush.  But, I will say that I thought his opinions changed a little too fast for my taste once he got to London.  I just wanted more evidence of why years of distrust could change just by going to a few parties.

The Proposal is not a historical romance that will change the genre or possibly even recruit new fans to the genre.  But, it is a sweet love story that I did find enjoyable and easy to follow.  Mary Balogh's style is very distinct and she shows that she still has it even if the book isn't a classic like Slightly Dangerous or A Summer To Remember.  I am definitely interested in the continuing the series and learning more about the guys and lady of the Survivors' Club.

4 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Glow -- Implied or subtle descriptions of lovemaking.

FAVORITE QUOTE
"When one had once suffered a great hurt, there was always a weakness afterward, a vulnerability where there had been wholeness and strength before - and innocence." 

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Proposal
1.5. The Suitor
2. The Arrangement
3. The Escape
4. Only Enchanting
5. Only a Promise

5 comments:

  1. You know, I've never read any of Mary Balogh's books, which is totally crazy. When I first got into historical romance, I kept seeing her books, and thinking that I need to give them a try, but never did. I'm glad you liked this, even though it wasn't perfect. If I were to read a Balogh book, where should I start?

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    1. Like Lark below, I definitely would suggest A Summer to Remember. Simply Love is also amazing or any of the Slightly books. While I enjoyed Slightly Scandalous (mentioned by Lark), my favorite is Slightly Dangerous. I know you like stoic heroes and Wulf is one of the best, imo. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. A Summer to Remember is one of my favorite Balogh book. I was actually slightly disappointed in this one when I first read it, but liked it better the second time around. That said, I enjoyed the second Survivor's Club, The Arrangement, even more. I agree that the Huxtables didn't quite live up to the Slightly and Simply books, except the last two books (I really did love Con's story!), but Balogh, even at less than her best, is always enjoyable.

    Quinn, I would start with either A Summer to Remember or Slightly Married (although Slightly Scandalous is probably my favorite of the Slightly series.) The book that comes before A Summer to Remember, , is also very good, as is Simply Love. Everyone will have their own favorites, of course, so take these suggestions as merely that!

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    1. Oh, bother, I meant to add: very good review! (But I got sidetracked with the suggestions.)

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    2. Thanks for the help with the suggestions! I love introducing people to the wonders that are Mary Balogh's books and its nice to have back-up. :) Regarding this series, I have heard that many readers liked The Arrangement more than this one. Darleigh really intrigued and I'm excited to read about him soon. Thanks again!

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