A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh

Christmas Bride and Beau

Setting: Regency

Summary:

A CHRISTMAS BRIDE

The very wealthy Edgar Downes has promised his aging father to finally take a bride—specifically, to wed a titled lady by Christmas. London is full of pretty, proper, and eligible misses, but it’s the widow Helena, Lady Stapleton, in a shocking red dress, who captures Edgar’s attention. Helena is intrigued by the seductive stranger—but he’s simply not in her class. Marriage, of course, would never do. But in a season of miracles, something wondrous is about to happen. 

CHRISTMAS BEAU
Not even the warm, forgiving Christmas spirit can stop the Marquess of Denbigh from settling his score with Judith Easton: The beautiful young widow injured Denbigh’s pride years ago by jilting him for another man. Now that Judith is free from a nightmare marriage, the handsome marquess has her in his sights—and wants her in his arms. But to trust the tender words on his lips, Judith must not only see past the hardness of his heart, but learn once again to trust her own heart’s desire.

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Review:

Yet another great 2 in 1 collection by Mary Balogh. These two classic Christmas romances will warm your heart-in any season!

To be honest, I wasn’t that fussed about reading romances set in Christmas time and I didn’t think there would be anything special that the Christmas setting could bring. But wow, did Mary Balogh change my mind! She makes the reader believe in the magic and spirit of Christmas and both stories need Christmas to end how they did.

The first story is about two people who seem completely wrong for each other but can’t seem to keep away from each other nevertheless! Meet Edgar and Helena who meet one night and share a magical connection but their class difference keeps them apart… until they meet at a Christmas house party and slowly their walls come down. It was great and touching to read this story as the heroine has a big secret that made her seem quite flawed but more human. I loved Edgar as a strong hero, who is determined to make Helena his! 😉

The second story was my favorite; a jilted hero seeks revenge on the long ago fiance who jilted him! The hero is a Darcy-type: dark, brooding, aloof which the heroine mistakes for being cold and cruel, hence why she ran away from him. Of course, things are more than they appear and I loved how the hero is the one who was heartbroken by the broken engagement-this made it very unique in that sense. I loved the chemistry as well and how our heroine realizes her stupidity in choosing a rake over a strong, stable character. The addiction of the kids in the story made it that much more emotional as well.

This is a fabulous set of books! I read it all within 3 days, it was too addictive. This is perfect for any season and a great pick me up. If you love Christmas, second chance romances and romances with kids, this book is for you! Those readers who loved her old classics can now enjoy them once more in a great set while those new readers can see what made Balogh such a star in the romance world.

Sensuality Rating: Warm (2/5)

Verdict: Highly recommended!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh

Setting: Regency

Summary:

In two classic tales of Regency-era romance from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh, the vagaries of love have a way of challenging the most convenient arrangements.
 
THE TEMPORARY WIFE
Miss Charity Duncan has no illusions about Lord Anthony Earheart’s proposal. The arrogant aristocrat has made it painfully clear what he wants: a wife who will enrage the father he despises and then disappear from his life. In exchange, Charity’s family will receive the money they desperately need. But after Charity agrees to this mockery of matrimony, she soon discovers a startling fact: She has fallen for Anthony, and breaking their marriage vows may also break her heart.
 
A PROMISE OF SPRING
Grace Howard has every reason to be devoted to Sir Peregrine Lampman. After all, the gallant gentleman rescued her from poverty by making her his bride. Even more nobly, he did not withdraw his affection after she confessed to a youthful folly that had compromised her virtue. But Grace did not tell the whole truth about the handsome lord who betrayed her—and now the one thing she’s kept from Perry threatens to destroy her last chance at true love.

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Review:

Two tales of people overcoming the trails of the past are brought together and are beautifully told by one of the romance genre’s most talented writers. You won’t be disappointed in this collection with its warmth, unique-ness and poignancy.

The first story we have is about a woman who is forced to marry a man in order to feed her family. This is a very typical set-up as the hero is out for vengeance against his family and marries the heroine in order to fulfill it. But even the most common stories shine in the hands of Mary Balogh and though things may appear done before, you will be surprised and pleased by how this story turns out. Both hero and heroine are more than they appear. I give it a 4 stars out of 5.

The second story was less typical and was a great change from the usual romance storyline. We have a woman who has a past lover who comes back to challenge her current marriage. This one had a more mature, deeper, meaningful feeling to it and some readers may find to hard to like as it is not romantic and contains no great declarations of love or grand gestures. This is about a more gradual type of love. The heroine was admirable and I loved how patient and undemanding the hero was. But watching as the heroine overcomes her past is worth reading this story. A definite 4 out of 5 stars!

Mary Balogh is more than just a romance writer. She is an observer of human nature. And just like her famous predecessor Jane Austen, her stories are always full of real, layered people that aren’t perfect and great insights into the human heart. This book is no exception. You will be deeply touched by both stories. Don’t expect lots of sex and eroticism though sexual tension is always there in a Balogh novel, simmering just beneath the surface.

Again, if you’re looking for some heart warming, touching, more traditional romance with great sexual tension, than pick this one up. You’ll love both stories and want more!

Sensuality rating-Minimal-Very traditional style Regency romance

Verdict: Another great read for those of you who like more traditional romances and can’t get enough of Mary Balogh!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Romances Coming in July 2012!

It’s July! 😀

This has to be one of the biggest book release months of the year!

There’s loads of great romances for every type of reader! 😀

1) Out July 3 *RE-ISSUE* (Malloren Family Book 2)

Summary:

Portia St. Claire’s brother has gambled and lost once too often, thrusting her into the hands of ruthless men. To keep his life he must give up his sister’s virtue, to be auctioned off in London’s most notorious brothel. To retrieve an incriminating letter, Bryght Malloren once broke into a house where he was greeted at pistol point by a resolute woman …a woman he could swear stands before him, masked and trembling, on a madam’s auction block…

Unable to leave Portia to such a cruel fate, Bryght turns the private wager into a very public game of seduction, one that confirms his reputation as a shameless rake and keeps all of London society breathless with anticipation.

But on a night shimmering with destiny, truth, and passion, those who tempt fortune risk losing everything …including their hearts.

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2) Out July 3 *Book 2 in Fitzhugh Trilogy*

Summary:

Millicent understands the terms of her arranged marriage all too well. She gets to be a Countess by marrying an impoverished Earl. And in return, the Earl Fitzhugh receives the benefit of her vast wealth, saving his family from bankruptcy. Because of her youth, they have agreed to wait eight years before consummating the marriage–and then, only to beget an heir. After which, they will lead separate lives.

It is a most sensible arrangement. Except for one little thing. Somehow Millie has fallen head over heels in love with her husband. Her husband, who has become her very best friend, but nothing more…Her husband, who plans to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful and newly widowed Isabella, as soon as he has honored the pact with his wife…

As the hour they truly become husband-and-wife draws near, both Millie and Fitzhugh must face the truth in their hearts. Has their pact bred only a great friendship–or has it, without either of them quite noticing, given rise to a great love?

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3) Out July 3 *Book 2 in Regency Barristers series*

Summary:

A bastard by birth, James Devlin lives on his own terms – until a twist of fate reveals that he is the true Duke of Blackwood. Though the brooding bachelor swears to hold on to his freedom, he does intend to take back his childhood home. But once at Wyndmoor Manor, he discovers an arresting adversary in Bella Sinclair. Her hot-blooded claim to his home is amusing …and arousing. Which is why he isn’t leaving until he takes possession of everything – starting with the bewitching Bella.

Bella is furious when the Duke barges into her home, declaring it rightfully his! The wilful widow is not about to give up her haven without a fight, no matter how determined the Duke is – or how sensual the battlefield.

But once she’s sharing a house with the beguiling barrister, she is in danger of losing everything – one deep, slow kiss at a time.

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4) Out July 3 *Book 2 in Killdaren series* (RE-ISSUE)

Summary:

When you ride with the devil, the shadow of death isn’t the only danger…

Killdaren, Book 2

Years of shielding herself amid historical artifacts has lulled Andromeda into thinking her mind-reading ability is merely a nuisance. Until her sister Cassie’s marriage brings her out among people again. The renewed contact is excruciating…and so are her wildly improper thoughts about her brother-in-law’s emerald-eyed twin, Lord Alexander Killdaren, Viscount Blackmoor.

Andrie has resolved to live as a hermit, but not before she sees to Cassie’s happiness by clearing the suspicion hanging over the Killdaren name. In her soul she knows the brothers are innocent of murder. To prove it, she must get inside Alex’s castle.

When she presents herself to begin cataloging his vast collection of artifacts, she realizes she is in over her head. His mind is closed to her gift, save for a single, breathlessly erotic image. His heated touch is like a dragon’s fire against her skin; his emerald gaze strips her soul bare.

Even as she loses her heart to his dark passion, she uncovers secrets that expose a brutal killer and threatens everything she holds dear. Her life, her sisters…and her sanity.

Warning: Contains a dark hero with eclectic tastes, toe-curling sensuality and a spine-chilling murder mystery.

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5) Out July 24 *Book 2 in Rumor series*

Summary:

Bernadette Marie Burton may be the richest widow in England, but like her dreams of finding true passion, her reputation is deteriorating.  Cruel gossip, loneliness and hoards of opportunistic suitors have her believing Society couldn’t be more vile….or dangerous.  So when an attacker threatens her life, she finds safety in the most unseemly of places: the arms of a mysterious, Irish-American gang leader.

His fortune stolen, young Matthew Joseph Milton is done playing the respectable gentleman.  In the slums of New York, only ruffians thrive.  But from the moment he arrives in London and encounters the volumptious Lady Bernadette, he  can’t help but wonder about the finer pleasures he’s missing.  Or just how much he’s willing to risk — not only to bed her, but  to prove his worth…

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6) Out July 24 *Book 3 in Blackwater Brides series*

Summary:

Long ago, young Viscount Bradley’s prudish family forbade him to marry his beloved. Now, the aging lord has plotted a subtle revenge. His three nephews can split his fortune, but only if each marries a fallen woman. Two have found brides who meet the terms . . . and all depends on the youngest, Peregrine Sullivan. New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather’s Georgian trilogy concludes with a sexy tale sure to delight. Only desperation would drive a lady to disguise herself in hopes of employment, but the twenty thousand pounds that their father promised beautiful Alexandra Douglas and her invalid younger sister has vanished into the hands of the greedy cousin who inherited the estate. Alexandra, in search of justice, embarks on an elaborate charade to infiltrate Combe Abbey, her ancestral home, and secretly take the money back.

Peregrine, visiting the Abbey, is intrigued by a woman whose mind matches his on every level. Who is this middle-aged spinster with a young woman’s eyes and a youthful step that even a limp cannot disguise? Sensing some scandalous secret, Perry assumes the lady would delight in being rescued. But his efforts are rebuffed; Alexandra will take care of herself and her sister, thank you very much. Can Perry court the daring and independent young woman, win her heart, and be the last brother to wed?

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7) Out July 24

Summary:

Since Leo Fitzmanning returned to London, he’s kept his seat at the card table warm, his pockets full of winnings and his mind off a certain raven-haired heiress.

Until whispers at the gaming hell reveal that Miss Mariel Covendale is being forced into marriage with an unscrupulous fortune hunter!

Leo must re-enter the society he detests to help her, before returning to his clandestine existence. But he hasn’t counted on Mariel having grown even more achingly beautiful than he remembers. Soon Leo realizes that there’s nothing respectable about his reasons for stopping Mariel’s marriage!

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8 ) Out July 24

Summary:

Just who is Lady Deborah?I am the Dowager Countess of Kinsail, and I have enough secrets to scandalize you for life.

I will never reveal the truth of my soul-destroying marriage—some things are too dark to be told. But at least no one can guess that I, a famously icy-hearted widow, am also the authoress of the shamelessly voluptuous romances currently shocking the ton!

Only now I have a new secret identity, one that I will risk my life to keep—accomplice to Elliot Marchmont, gentleman, ex-soldier and notorious London thief. This adventurer’s expert touch ignites in me a passion so intoxicating that surviving our blistering affair unscathed will be near impossible….

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9) Out July 30 *Book 3 in Merry Widows series* (E-BOOK)

Summary:

From the moment Daphne, Lady Pomeroy, meets the mysterious Marquess of Hartwell at a masquerade ball, she’s determined to seduce him. The handsome, charming man cannot possibly be the cold, calculating lord who Society calls “Black Hart.” Risking everything, the lonely widow invites the elusive Hartwell to her dinner party . . . for two.

Hartwell’s arrogant reputation is built on a lie. For he has a shameful secret that keeps him in the shadows: a stutter—his downfall since childhood. He’d rather keep his mouth shut than look the fool. But he’s shocked to discover that in Daphne’s company—and in her bed—his stutter vanishes.

After one wanton evening together, Daphne is hurt when the lord lives up to his Black Hart name. Yet his reasons for leaving surprise even him. Now he must confess everything or risk losing Daphne forever…

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10) Out July 31 *Book 3 in Donovan Sisters series*

Summary:

DANGEROUS DESIRE
Captain William Langley knows the ocean well, but nothing could prepare him for what he discovers adrift on the cold Irish Sea. The tiny boat carries two passengers: a child–and Meg Donovan, Will’s long-lost love. Meg’s disappearance at sea eight years ago was a devastating blow. Now she’s back, as beautiful as ever, and with secrets as deep as Will’s own . . .

After years held captive by a cold-blooded pirate, Meg has finally escaped with little Jake, the boy she’s come to love as if he were her own. But the pirate wants his revenge–and Meg must do whatever it takes to shield Jake from the madman. Determined not to lose Meg again, Will vows to protect them both, yet Meg can’t risk putting the only man she’s ever loved in danger.

With the threat to her safety growing, and her passion for Will burning brighter every day, surrendering herself to Will might be a pleasure too tempting to resist . . .

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11) Out July 31 *Book 2 in Ugly Ducklings series*

Summary:

You can lead a wallflower to the ball, but you can’t make her bloom–unless one daring young bachelor turns up the heat…

What’s a nice girl like Miss Juliet Shelby doing at a place like Lord Deveril’s ballroom? With her shy demeanor, she’s a total stranger to the dance floor and a source of mockery for the ton. So imagine her surprise when Deveril gallantly comes to her defense–and offers to teach her to dance! Juliet can hardly believe the most handsome bachelor in London would notice her, until he takes her in his arms and sets her heart ablaze…

Lord Alec Deveril has never felt such a spark of attraction for an unmarried lady before. Unlike the “fashionable” ladies he’s accustomed to, Juliet possesses a generous spirit, a fiery intelligence–and an explosive secret. Deep in the London underworld, a dear friend has vanished, and Juliet fears the worst. Deveril insists on helping, escorting her through the darkest alleys in town. But he too is hiding a shocking secret–and the only way he can defeat the devil in his past is to seduce the angel in his arms…

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12) Out July 31 *Book 3 in Touch of Seduction series*

Summary:

Griffin Nash, Earl of Devonwood, wants to believe that he’s seducing Miss Emmaline Farnsworth out of protectiveness for his young brother. After all, if his brother is convinced that the tantalizing professor’s daughter is unworthy of his trust, perhaps Teddy will lose all interest in such an inappropriate choice for his station.

But in truth, something else motivates Devonwood: a scintillating vision he’s had of a future tryst with the lovely Emmaline. A vision too realistic to be doubted–and too scaldingly passionate to be denied.

Yet Emmaline is not as easily tempted as Devonwood might have hoped–nor is she actually in pursuit of a wealthy husband. No, the real reason for her visit to the manor is something much more shocking… though being enticed by a dashing earl may prove to be a most welcome by-product of her schemes…

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13) Out July 31 *Book 3 in Fraternitas Aurea Crucis series*

Summary:

Beneath the elegant facade of Victorian high society, the mysterious men of the St. James Society play only by rules of danger and desire.

Rance Welham, the Earl of Lazonby, has survived scandal and disgrace, even evading the Queen’s justice at the end of a hangman’s rope. Now he’s about to gamble everything on something far more dangerous—desire.

An exotic and elegant beauty, Lady Anisha Stafford fled her native India to seek refuge within London’s secretive St. James Society. But accepting protection from someone called a cold-hearted killer is a double-edged sword . . . especially when he’s the most intriguing man Anisha has ever laid eyes upon.

In a world where treachery abounds, no one can be trusted—and no true passion can be denied. Together, these two tempestuous souls will risk their lives for a love that could redeem them . . . or destroy everything they hold dear.

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14) Out July 31 *Book 5 in Lords of Vice series*

Summary:

Simon Jefferes, the Marquess of Sainthill, has done the unthinkable—he’s fallen in love. The so-called “Saint” has spent his life gambling, dallying with women, and satisfying his every whim. And he fully intended to continue his wicked ways, until he met the mysterious, exotic, and irresistible Madame Venna—the one woman he can’t have…and the only one he’s ever wanted for more than an evening.

The proprietress of the Golden Pearl, one of London’s most exclusive brothels, Madame Venna takes pride in the lush, decadent club she’s created. With a half-mask to conceal her identity, she’s careful to safeguard something even more valuable—her heart. But Saint is determined to tear down the walls she’s built around herself, and to finally expose the truth—that Madame Venna is a woman very much in love…with him.

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15) Out July 31 *Book 2 in Forgotten Princesses series*

Summary:

A life can change in an instant . . .

No one knows this better than Miss Cleopatra Hadley, who went from poverty to plenty when she discovered one of England’s richest men was her true father who wanted her to share his wealth . . . if she married into the upper echelons of Society. A high price to pay for someone whose mother taught her just how dangerous a marriage could be.

An imposing yet impoverished Scots nobleman, Lord Logan McKinney knows he must wed some vapid title-hunter with a substantial dowry in order to restore his once-thriving estate. Having the vibrant Cleo nearby, however, makes his task even more unpalatable—for she tempts him like no other woman . . . just as he’s precisely the sort of man she most fears: exciting, unpredictable, fiercely passionate. But when attraction proves too powerful, they succumb to a kiss that quickly leads to lessons too scandalous for even the darkest nights . . .

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16) Out July 31 *Book 1 in Brides of Redemption series* (NEW SERIES!)

Summary:

Her marriage of convenience seems far too convenient . . .

Desperation drove Cecilia Mallory to seek a union with a stranger—one who would wed her sight unseen and grant her full access to her inheritance with no expectations whatsoever. She anticipated, perhaps, an older, undesirable, equally desperate husband—never the young, vibrant, and devastatingly attractive man who answered her call. What could such a man really be after?

Unknown to Cecilia, Viscount Michael Blackthorne, a soldier and gentleman, owes a debt of honor to Lady Cecilia’s father, and granting her unusual request to wed seemed a worthy way to repay it. But an unseen threat perilously close at hand is convincing Michael that his true responsibility is to protect the beautiful, warm-hearted lady he has married . . . the woman he is unexpectedly coming to love.

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17) Out July 31 *DEBUT AUTHOR* (Book 1 in Wylder Sisters series*)

Summary:

In a sparkling new series filled with irresistible charm and sizzling romance, award-winning author Isabella Bradford introduces us to the eldest of three Wylder sisters—unruly country girls whose passion for life leaves their London suitors breathless.

Raised in the Dorset countryside, Lady Charlotte Wylder doesn’t care one bit about well-bred decorum. The dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty would rather ride a horse than attend a stuffy ball. So when Charlotte learns that she is to leave immediately for London to wed the Duke of Marchbourne, a perfect model of aristocratic propriety, she is less than enchanted with her arranged marriage.

But to her delight, their first encounters are brazenly flirtatious, and their wedding night burns with passion. March’s broad shoulders and dark countenance make Charlotte want to rip every button off his waistcoast. She may even be falling in love with her new husband. Yet whenever their desire boils over, March reluctantly pushes Charlotte away. Will past secrets and present misunderstandings mire their marriage in scandal, or serve to strengthen a bond that is destined to last a lifetime?

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18) Out July 31 *Book 1 in Reckless Brides Trilogy*

Summary:

Bold, brazen, and beautiful, the Reckless Brides refuse to play by society’s rules of courtship. But—come hell or high water—they  always get their man…

For generations, the Kents have served proudly with the British Royal Navy. So when her younger brother refuses to report for duty, Sally Kent slips into a uniform and takes his place—at least until he comes to his senses. Boldly climbing aboard the Audacious, Sally is as able-bodied as any sailor there. But one man is making her feel tantalizingly aware of the full-bodied woman beneath her navy blues…

Dedicated to his ship, sworn to his duty—and distractingly gorgeous—Lieutenant David Colyear sees through Sally’s charade, and he’s furious. But he must admit she’s the best midshipman on board—and a woman who tempts him like no other. With his own secrets to hide and his career at stake, Col agrees to keep her on. But can the passion they hide survive the perils of a battle at sea? Soon, their love and devotion will be put to the test…

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19) Out July 31 *Book 2 in The Spymasters Men series*

Summary:

Amelia Greystone was deeply in love when the Earl of St. Just abruptly ended his courtship and left Cornwall ten years earlier. So she is stunned when Simon returns, recently widowed. Now she must forget the past they shared and his betrayal and console him as any neighbor would. Simon has changed—he is dark and haunted now—but he can still make her reel with a single look. When he offers her the position of housekeeper, Amelia knows she must refuse. But for the sake of his children, she throws all caution to the wind….

A British spy, Simon Grenville is now playing both sides in a time of war, his goal to keep his sons safe. Yet when he is brought face-to-face with the woman he once loved, he realizes nothing about his feelings for Amelia has changed—if anything, they are even stronger. Still, Simon knows he must stay away from Amelia; his life is too dangerous now. But sometimes passion is too strong to be denied….

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20) Out July 31

Summary:

Haunted by horrors of his childhood, Dugan MacMillan has sworn to protect his clan at any cost . . . even if he must search for a rumored treasure and kidnap a beautiful thief to do it.

The MacMillan laird has never crossed paths with anyone quite like Lady Maura Duncanson. After he saved her from certain death, the comely vixen had the audacity to disappear with his treasure map, his only key to restoring his clan. Dugan has no qualms about taking Maura hostage, especially when he learns she is to wed a wealthy old baron who will pay him a fortune in ransom . . . a fortune his people desperately need.

But, of course, Maura has no intention of returning to her despicable fiancÉ. And the longer Dugan spends in the bewitching hellion’s presence, the less willing he is to surrender her to any man . . . at any price.

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21) Out July 31 *Mass Market Paperback Release*

Summary:

While Lady Angeline Dudley’s pedigree dictates that she must land a titled gentleman, the irrepressible beauty longs for a simple, ordinary suitor. So when Edward Ailsbury, the new Earl of Heyward, defends her honor with unmatched civility, Angeline thinks that she has found true love. Persuading the earl is another matter entirely.

From her unconventional fashion sense to her hoydenish antics, Angeline is the last woman on earth for Edward. And yet a stolen kiss awakens something primal within him. Naturally, being a gentleman, he does the right thing after compromising a lady: He offers marriage.

The proposal is born of duty, but will Angeline cause Edward to forget about decorum behind closed doors, where sensuality and seduction play wicked games? For a proper wife by day can become a husband’s secret mistress by night, when delicious desire rules.

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HAPPY MONTH OF READING! 😀

The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet by Mary Balogh

Setting: Regency

Summary:

Beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh spins two classic stories of Regency England—splendid novels of mistaken identity and unmistakable passion, where marriage is only the beginning of true love.
 

THE FAMOUS HEROINE
Cora Downes has beauty, spirit, and money, but no breeding. Yet when she gains renown for a daring rescue, she finds herself thrust into high society. Innocent and adrift in a world of beautiful banquets, bejeweled gowns, and snobbish standards, Cora is quickly compromised into a marriage—to a frivolous lord whose interests seem to lie elsewhere. But could piercingly blue-eyed and well-mannered Francis Kneller turn out to be the most unexpected love of her life?

 
THE PLUMED BONNET
Alistair Munro, the Duke of Bridgwater, is looking for love outside the bounds of polite society. And that’s what he expects to receive when he rescues a seemingly disreputable girl in a colorful bonnet off the side of the road. Yet Stephanie Gray, a former governess, has recently come into money and is eager for a proper match with a well-born man. Sure that he’s sullied her name, Alistair offers marriage to make amends. And in this unlikely union, Stephanie and Alistair make a welcome discovery—that sometimes it’s possible to marry first, then fall in love.

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Review:

As a huge fan of Mary Balogh, I love getting my hands on anything and everything she writes. Very rarely does she turn out a bad book so when I heard a new book featuring two re-issued classic novels of hers was coming out, I had to read it! The book is well worth the money and what’s better than getting two great stories for the price of one? 😀

Both stories in this collection are part of a broader linked series that began with Dark Angel/Lord Carew’s Bride. The hero of the first book (The Famous Heroine) was the rejected suitor in Lord Carew’s Bride so I was looking forward to reading his happy ending. Both stories dealt with major misunderstandings and were both marriage of convenience tales. In both stories the hero and heroine make certain assumptions of each other before ending up in marriages that began badly but naturally turn out well.

My favorite story was The Famous Heroine which I found funny and lighthearted. It’s always great to see a beloved character getting his/her well-deserved happy ever after. The heroine mistakes the hero for being gay which I found hilarious and original. The heroine was very likable and was a great match for the hero. I loved their chemistry and how they gradually came to love and respect each other after a bad beginning. It was sweet, honest story.

The second story (The Plumed Bonnet) took some time to get into and I found it harder to enjoy mainly because the chemistry was lacking. The hero meets the heroine on the road, thinking her a prostitute and ends up ruining her by accident and then having to marry her to make up for it. She feels majorly obliged to him and does not dare to be herself and he won’t open up to her. They spend most of the book in awkward conversations as neither is comfortable with the other. Over the course of a month, they try to make their marriage work despite the big misunderstandings and it’s not till very near the end do things finally start looking up for them. It didn’t feel natural and seemed like they forced themselves to fall in love, rather than falling in love naturally. It wasn’t very romantic, though it held my attention as it definitely was a different take on a typical romance trope.

Overall, both stories were very well-written and were both engaging despite the lack of an exciting plot. If you like your romances focused more on the characters and their emotions rather than the plot, Mary Balogh is for you. This was a pretty good read!

Sensuality rating-Minimal-Very traditional style Regency romance

Verdict: A great read if you like more traditional romances with emotional depth.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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