By Mary Balogh
Survivors’ Club #7
Category: Historical Romance | Regency Romance
Penguin Random House/Signet: Mass Market Paperback and E-Book: May 3, 2016
Penguin Random House/Thorndike Press Large Print: May 4, 2016
Hardcover Large Print: 499 pages
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
About Only Beloved
From the legendary New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss and Only a Promise comes the final book in the rapturous Survivor’s Club series—as the future of one man lies within the heart of a lost but never-forgotten love…
For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again.
Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.
For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?
This is Book 7 and the final book of the Survivors’ Club series—following The Proposal (Hugo’s story), The Arrangement (Vincent’s), The Escape (Ben’s), Only Enchanting (Flavian’s), Only a Promise (Ralph’s), and Only a Kiss (Imogen’s). This is George, Duke of Stanbrook’s story and Dora Debbins’s. Dora was first introduced in Only Enchanting, as Agnes’s sister. She met George when she dined at Vincent’s house and gave a harp and pianoforte recital. Many readers have written to me in the hope that she would be his heroine, something I intended all along!
Dora has had a hard life. When she was seventeen and looking forward to her come-out Season in London, her mother suddenly ran away with a younger lover and the family was soon embroiled in the horrible scandal of divorce. Dora lost her Season and gave up any chance of finding a husband and personal happiness by remaining at home to bring up her much younger sister. Then, just when Agnes was grown up, their father remarried and his new wife made Dora uncomfortable in her own home. She moved to a village in a different part of the country to live in a cottage and make a living giving private music lessons. Agnes married and was later widowed and went to live with Dora. But then, as told in only Only Enchanting she married again and moved away. Dora was left with her quiet dignity and memories of the golden days when Agnes was being courted and she met the Duke of Stanbrook.
George has always been the quiet, sad one of the Survivors, the one who made his home available for the treatment of severely wounded officers from the Napoleonic Wars. He gave unstintingly of himself to those men and one woman, but no one really knew him—except for the fact that his young son had been killed in the wars and his wife had committed suicide a short while later. Now George, reflecting on the fact that his young friends have all recovered from their wounds and found happiness in marriage, feels that his own life is slipping away in a loneliness he can no longer deny. He considers marrying again and is surprised to realize that only one woman will do. He met Dora only a few times when he was staying with Vincent. He scarcely knows her. Yet it is to her he finds himself proposing a marriage of quiet companionship and comfort for them both. Neither of them is young. They cannot expect a strong romantic attraction or passion… http://www.marybalogh.com/onlybelove.html
I am always so impressed with the ground Balogh covers; it is never a simple romance. Balogh writes emotional landscapes that demonstrate how characters arrive at love. In this series a benevolent Duke turned his home into a hospital for soldiers (and one officer’s wife) who were injured physically or emotionally. His family, while a screwed up situation, was torn apart by the war and it was something he felt he needed to do. Several of the patients become lifelong friends: The Survivors.
After watching most of “The Survivors” get marry, George feels what sounds like empty nest syndrome and he thinks about another woman whose past was a landscape of disappointing dreams with the occasional nice rest stop. But, George is harboring secrets of his family life that prevent his full commitment to his new wife. He is closed off and scary about this one thing. And, that secret and his past could be dangerous.
Eventually he has to open up.
Trite? After all, all romance books have secrets and revelations, obstacles and love. But Mary Balogh certainly does it differently, more deeply, with more sensitivity and brings these British Regency nobles to life. These people feel real to me, their pathos is tangible and leaves me thinking.
I missed a couple of the earlier books. I saw Vincent’s story, THE ARRANGEMENT, on sale and bought that one immediately. I also enjoyed that one; all of them in fact. I highly recommend this series and this book. It’s high on the quality scale.
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE:http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/319093/only-beloved-by-mary-balogh/