A reluctant war hero, Hugo comes from a wealthy middle class family becoming a Lord by virtue of heroic acts in the Napoleonic Wars. He has a chip on his shoulder the size of a mountain, particularly towards the upper class members of society – excluding his best friends of course. They call themselves the Survivors Club and look forward to their reunion once a year where they can reflect and renew friendships.
Lady Gwendoline Muir lost her husband to a freak accident and has a permanent limp from a riding accident. She has had no desire to remarry, being content with her life and her extended family. While visiting an acquaintance, circumstances conspire to have her at the house where Hugo and his friends are staying.
What a fantastic book, this is historical romance at its very best in my opinion.
Hugo is a scowling hero, he rarely smiles in the book but when he did it made my heart go a-flutter – it probably wouldn’t have happened if he scowled less and smiled more and the author describes him so well I could see it very clearly. I really enjoyed the fact that Hugo came from a different background to the usual in these books and I so wanted to give him a big hug and make it all better. I do feel at times he could have been a bit more masterful and less ‘woe is me’ and there was one instance when I wanted him to turn round and hit someone. At the end of the day though it did all fit in with his uneasiness at not being being part of the ton by birth and his survivor’s guilt.
As a widow in her 30’s Gwendoline knows her own mind and has been around the ton long enough to be able to steer Hugo and his sister as appropriate. It was interesting to see the heroine being a sponsor at a ton ball instead of the one being swept off her feet. It makes a change for the female to be the self assured one and not the male.
This book is very romantic, but at no point did the story become boring or too mushy. The descriptions were excellent and it was good to see how the other half live in the regency period, not just the ton. The love affair was not all plain sailing of course – it never is, but the difficulties and problems seemed very real and true to the period in history. Unlike a lot of similar books the relationship was a slow burn rather than from hello to sex in no time at all! At the end of the book I had that satisfying warm fuzzy feeling I so love.
The prose, description and sheer romance of this book are fantastic and I look forward to more books about the ‘Survivors Club’.
This is only the second book by this author I have read but I am definitely looking forward to more and I think I have a large back catalogue to catch up on!
I’m a relative newcomer to historical or regency romance, having been persuaded to try it by Tracey. I’ve loved the authors I’ve tried so far and this is the first book by Mary Balogh I’ve read. It had a bit more of a formal tone to the writing than I expected but it’s not a bad thing, just different from some of the other authors. It did take me a little while to get into it but once I’d warmed to the characters, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.
Like Tracey, I loved seeing two sides of the regency period, both upper and middle class, and how they stay separate and view each other and then what happens when they mix. The catalyst for the successful blend is definitely Gwen who is a wonderful character and as wounded in her heart as the members of the Survivors Club. I love that it didn’t make her bitter and resentful, instead she was sweet and generous with a brilliant touch of humour.
Hugo, poor man has been to hell and back and again, I can only agree with Tracey on his rare smiles. They were used to brilliant effect by Mary Balogh and had a lot of impact when they appeared.
I liked the build up of the romance, that first passionate encounter was really well timed and the following ‘will they, won’t they’ added a lot of tension but wasn’t frustrating in the least.
This is definitely not a book filled with clever plot twists and turns and in all honesty, it would have ruined it, had it been. It is simply pure passionate and wonderful romance at its best.
- Author: Mary Balogh