Author: Mary Balogh
Provided Synopsis: The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, in the fourth novel of the Survivors’ Club series, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, has left this refuge to find his own salvation—in the love of a most unsuspecting woman…
Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancée’s desertion after his return home. Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.
Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.
When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.
Review: After two dances at a country ball hosted by their mutual friends, Agnes inwardly claims to be in love with Flavian. The realization of her feelings is momentous, since she is a widow that only experienced contentment in her previous marriage. Six months later, Flavian returns to the country home of his friends for a house party, and the mere acquaintance between the two is deepened. At this point, I was not a fan of this story at all. For one, I do not care for being told numerous times that a character is in love with another; I want to be able to feel the love, and I did not feel any emotion extended from Agnes to Flavian, or vice versa. Then, the setting of the house party created repetition within the storyline as the two danced around each other and took steps that — to me – were hastily done without concrete reason.
Once the storyline moved to London, however, it was as if I had begun to read another book; a much better book, in fact. Flavian is a survivor of the Napoleonic Wars; he was wounded from a gunshot to the head followed by a fall from his horse onto his head, which left him with muddled memories and the inability to speak. Healed to the point that he now speaks with a stammer, he had a lot of bridges to cross in terms of remembering exactly what happened with a broken engagement, the death of his elder brother, and his inheritance of a title. His journey brought twists I had not envisioned, in terms of where I thought the story of the past was going to go. I was intrigued with this.
Also, the emotion in the relationship between Agnes and Flavian becomes more apparent once they are in London. Agnes, too, has a past she must come to terms with, and Flavian is there for her so both of them might learn of the hidden memories within themselves so their relationship can be strong and flourish. I leave this book very happy with these two as a pairing and pleased the story was able to make a turnaround to give them a conclusion I believe to be deserved.