Even brilliance can falter. Usually Mary Balogh writes spirited stories edged in a romantic flare. However, here the pen was too harsh for that sensual burn.
Again, Balogh illustrates the wide line dividing English society during the Regency era. Ancestral descent is the key to unlocking the upper ranks of society, not the possession of money. Edgar Downes has wealth and middle class roots. Having achieved great success in business, this dynamic man focuses on London. His aim: to add a blue blood bride to his lifetime schedule. The widow, Lady Helena Stapleton, is a very perplexing woman. She is indifferent, aloof, and hate is her favorite word. The reader soon learns the lady’s reserve stems from the inability to forgive herself for a past indiscretion.
Upon their meeting, we step into passion, a passion fueled with the seduction of romance. Just kidding! We step into passion, but Lady Stapleton has fueled this intensity with HATE, scorn and conflict. The Stapleton Hate Draft Involving Mr. Downes. I hated you, when I seduced you, I hated you, when you apologized, I hated you, when I carried your child, I hated you, when we married, I hated you, when we had sex, I hated your kindness, I hated your understanding. Guess what? This lady hates our hero.
Balogh’s point, The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Good grief! Mary Balogh by the end of your story, I didn’t care who doth the protesting. Your heroine and her “H” word are just too unpleasant.
And then this little trinket to ponder -- top of page 118: “Edgar had admitted to himself that he was in love with his bride. He would not go as far as believing that he loved her.” Whoa -- run that one by me again! Dispatch to my grade twelve English teacher: “Is that an example of oxymoron, sir?”!
Nevertheless, don’t despair. We do have a happy ending. How? It is the Christmas season and the star of absolution shines bright in the cold December sky. The writer unveils the lady’s miserable sin and the mentally wounded forgive all. Ooook!
If I could, I would beg Mary Balogh to dispose of the poison pen wielded while sketching our heroine, Lady Helena Stapleton.
- Rating: C minus (?).
- Sensuality: Barren.