This was my very first Mary Balogh novel and I LOVED it! I literally could not put it down. Clean house? Do laundry? Cook dinner? Naaaaaa :-)
One thing I very much enjoyed about this book was the LACK of over-the-top explicit steamy love scenes which I usually end up skipping through in other romance novels. This book did include a couple of love scenes, but they were not pages and pages long, nor were they embarrasingly unrealistic and over-the-top. I am NOT a prude, but a romance novel should be about ROMANCE, not sex, something many authors today seem to forget.
If you read this novel and do not fall in love with the Marquess of Attingsborough...I fear there is no hope for you. :-) Read it, you'll love it.
I am now off to find more novels by Mrs. Balogh...
This is one of my favorite Mary Balogh books; I seem to most love the quality Regency romances in which the hero is not a rake but a man of real integrity and devotion. Simply Perfect and Simply Love are two of Mary Balogh's best novels in this regard -- very heartfelt, and difficult to put down. Two other favorites by Balogh - One Night for Love, and Irresistible.
This book was a perfect example of why I don't like the last book in a series. The first 100 pages at least were a continuous whirl of former characters. This is not a big deal if you've only got a couple of books worth of characters but this one featured all the characters from the Slightly books as well as the Simply books and a few stand alones. I couldn't keep everyone straight even though I'd read all the previous books. This got in the way of the plot and soured the way I felt about the book. When it finally got down to the story it was enjoyable and had a different twist as Balogh often does. I will read more Balogh but this was definitely the one I enjoyed the least.
This was hard to review. First of all Claudia wasn't my favorite character in the series but in this book I developed a certain fondness for her. Joseph, who I liked in the other books, turned out to be the biggest idiot in this book and I ended up hating him. He kept forcing himself to marry some girl dad picked for him when everything single sign tells him they are completely wrong for each other. While, he adores Claudia but messes with her feelings. He technically never picks Claudia and I can't help feeling that she deserves so much better than a wimp. I felt bad for her.
Read these books in order; I read the last one first and didn't understand some of the relationships and comments between characters.
The author must have been running out of plot devices because she made some mistakes that I thought were obvious. Joseph, Marquess of Attingsborough, was planning on marrying Portia, someone his family encouraged. In spite of his pending betrothal, he continues to seek out Claudia Martin, owner and headmistress of a private school. Claudia does nothing to encourage Joseph, but he pursues her.
Portia, a stickler for protocol and the ton's rules, commits a faux pas of gigantic proportions near the end of the book.
Joseph and Claudia were very aware of their behavior and how it was viewed by the ton. While Joseph was probably still engaged, the couple entered into a relationship. I thought they would be more circumspect and proper.
The errors were so glaring that they interfered with my belief in the story.
As headmistress of Miss Martin's School for Girls in Bath, Claudia Martin long ago resigned herself to a life without love. Until Joseph, Marquess of Attingsborough, arrives unannounced and tempts her to toss away a lifetime of propriety for an affair that can only lead to ruin, embarking on a plan of seduction that leaves them both yearning for more. But Claudia knows she has no place in Joseph's aristocratic world. And now that world is about to be rocked by scandal...An arranged marriage, a secret that will shock the ton, and a man from Claudia's past conspire to drive the lovers apart. But Joseph is determined to make Claudia his at any cost-even if that means breaking every rule for a love that is everything he has ever wanted...