ONLY A KISS
Survivor’s Club #8
by Mary Balogh
Mass Marketpaperback & E-Book formats: 400 pages
September 1, 2015
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, injured in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendships forged in steel and loyalty. But for one, her trials are not over….
Since witnessing the death of her husband during the wars, Imogen, Lady Barclay, has secluded herself in the confines of Hardford Hall, their home in Cornwall. The new owner has failed to take up his inheritance, and Imogen desperately hopes he will never come to disturb her fragile peace.
Percival Hayes, Earl of Hardford, has no interest in the wilds of Cornwall, but when he impulsively decides to pay a visit to his estate there, he is shocked to discover that it is not the ruined heap he had expected. He is equally shocked to find the beautiful widow of his predecessor’s son living there.
Soon Imogen awakens in Percy a passion he has never thought himself capable of feeling. But can he save her from her misery and reawaken her soul? And what will it mean for him if he succeeds?
This was, hands-down, the best historical romance I have read this year. It is definitely not the first book in this series you should read because there is a lot of back story. But it is my favorite in the Survivor’s Club series!
Throughout the series, Imogen has always been a bit undeveloped; it really wouldn’t have been easy to incorporate a female friend into the individual love stories. But then each hero has been made whole in their individual stories with their friends showing up to talk some sense into them or help them see the way.
I really “got” how unusual Imogen’s story was. We hear about the men who went to the peninsular wars, but, we often forget that back then officers often traveled with their wives and the experiences were, probably, horrific. Balogh uses great skill to explore Imogen’s particular horrors.
I really liked how the Earl, realizing he is bored, decides to do something with his life, as long as it doesn’t touch him too deeply; as long as it doesn’t make him face the awareness of mortality his 30th birthday would bring about. But then, he finds the his inherited estate, and some of the people therein grow on him. He goes from seemingly shallow to sincere.
Imogen has a different path to follow, surviving her life, but not really living it. Unlike many women of the period, she has a place to live and a decent amount of money, she had a loving and comfortable marriage and as a widow enjoys freedoms Regency and Georgian women generally only experienced as widows. But, until she can face her past, and her loss, she’ll never do more than survive.
I also enjoyed how Percy’s family gathers around him and gives him support; how they both attract Imogen and at the same time the experience pushes her away from him. She thinks her darkness with consume his light.
The prose is excellent — stunningly deep and evocative. I have been reading a lot of books on the Cornwall coast this year, and I have seen BBC dramas filmed there. Her prose matches the beauty of that rugged, Cornish, coast.
Their passionate encounters are really fiery, and their chats before, after and between are lovely.
This is a winner! If you read Regency Romance this one is a must read!
Author’s Book Page and lengthy synopsis: http://www.marybalogh.com/onlykiss.html