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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Show to Watch!

Downton Abbey

Being such huge fans of historical romance which most of you are, I thought I would let you know about a great new series that just recently started airing on itv1, in case you hadn’t heard.

Downton Abbey is a magnificent drama focusing on the lives of a upper class family and their servants, during 1912 in England.The heir of Downton Abbey has died, leaving the estate to a distant cousin (who is nothing like his glamorous relatives) who soon comes to live at the home, sparking all kinds of delicious drama 😛

The characters are well acted, the sets are grand, the costumes are gorgeous, the plot is thrilling-This is a first class period drama and no worries to the romantics out there-There are definitely some major romantic plotlines in this one 😉

I’m three episodes in and am well and truly hooked. The characters are all interesting and there isn’t a dull moment as you watch the servants scuttle to and fro doing their jobs, while the aristocrats are busy with dramas of their own. I find it intriguing, focusing on how the servants keep the house running. It seems behind all that lounging around on sofas and that languorous luxury is a lot of hard work and pairs of hands! And so many of them! Butler, lady’s maid, cook, upper housemaid, footman, butler, valet, lower housemaid, scullery maid to name some of the more prominent ones.

Everyone’s got their secrets and some of them are downright scandalous! I say that anyone with a taste for historical detail and slowly building tension/romance is sure to find this drama brilliant. I know I do 🙂

The Trailer-

Interested? Tons of information, including cast interviews and a gallery of pictures, are available at this site-

http://enchantedserenityperiodfilms.blogspot.com/2010/02/downton-abbey.html

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