Author: Mary Balogh
Provided Synopsis: Ralph Stockwood prides himself on being a leader, but when he convinced his friends to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, he never envisioned being the sole survivor. Racked with guilt over their deaths, Ralph must move on . . . and find a wife to secure an heir to his family’s title and fortune.
Since her Seasons in London ended in disaster, Chloe Muirhead is resigned to spinsterhood. Driven by the need to escape her family, she takes refuge at the home of her mother’s godmother, where she meets Ralph. He needs a wife. She wants a husband. So Chloe makes the outrageous suggestion to strike a bargain and get married. One condition: Ralph has to promise that he will never take her back to London. But circumstances change. And to Ralph, it was only a promise.
Review: One of my favorite Mary Balogh books in recent memory. And if I could impart any wisdom on those interested in reading this book, then it would be to not pay attention to the synopsis. I did not read the back of this book to learn what it would be about; all I needed to know is that it was the latest in the Survivor’s Club series. Due to this decision, I did not know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by the paths the story took. The changes the characters must face are swift, and in this way the development was constantly pushed forward. The twists seemed to defy the usual conventions of the genre. I will say nothing about what happened in this book because I want you to experience it the way I did.
As for the romance? I think it is one of the best I have encountered in a long time. Ralph and Chloe must come to gradual terms with one another. It was done over time, in a way that made it feel authentic and that came across to me, the reader, so that I could feel with them. Another noteworthy aspect of the story is how the repercussions of war are dealt with. There is much talk about war and the effect it has on those on the battlefield, those who choose to remain home, those left at home, and those who return home. To read each of the characters’ thoughts on this subject was a surprise to me, for I was actually moved by some of the things that were said. All in all, this was just an incredibly well done book, and I recommend it.