Book 1 in the The Simply Quartet series
by Mary Balogh
Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Published by Tantor Media
Publication date Jun 7, 2016
Running time 11 hrs 24 min
Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
They meet in a ferocious snowstorm. She is a young teacher with a secret past. He is the cool, black-caped stranger who unexpectedly comes to her rescue. Between these two unlikely strangers, desire is instantaneous . . . and utterly impossible to resist. Stranded together in a rustic country inn, Lucius Marshall, who is the Viscount Sinclair, and Frances Allard share a night of glorious, unforgettable passion. But Frances knows her place, and it is far from the privileged world of the sensual aristocrat. Due to begin her teaching position at Miss Martin’s School in Bath, Frances must try to forget that one extraordinary night—and the man who touched her with such exquisite tenderness and abandon.
But Frances cannot hide forever. And when fate once again throws them together, Lucius refuses to take no for an answer. If Frances will not be his wife, he will make her his mistress. So begins an odyssey fraught with intrigue, one that defies propriety and shocks the straitlaced ton. For Lucius’s passionate, single-minded pursuit is about to force Frances to give up all her secrets—except one—to win the heart of the man she already loves.
From the Author:
Frances Allard’s Story
This first of a quartet of books about four teachers at Miss Martin’s School for Girls in Bath is the story of Frances Allard, the music and French teacher. When Frances took up her post at the school a few years before the start of the story, she was fleeing a distressing past in London. All she wants of life now is to be left in peace to do her job–something she does consummately well. But while returning to the school after a Christmas spent with her great-aunts in the country, she encounters Lucius Marshall, Viscount Sinclair, and is actually stranded with him for a couple of days when they are both overtaken by an unexpectedly harsh snowstorm. It is a traumatic encounter, but Frances declines the less than honorable offer Lord Sinclair makes her at the end of it and persuades herself that she will be quite content never to see him again.
Lucius has just promised his dying grandfather and the rest of his family that he will marry before the end of summer, and the perfect bride has already been picked out for him. For a brief interlude he is distracted by his encounter with Frances, but on the whole he considers himself fortunate when she rejects his offer. He will be–or so he tells himself–quite happy never to see her again.
Fortune, however, has other plans in store for Frances and Lucius, who are fated to meet again at a soiree in Bath. And after that neither can be sure that they will never meet again. Indeed, one of them sets out actively to make sure that they will–in London, where Lucius’s potential bride awaits his offer of marriage as a certainty and Frances’s past waits just as eagerly to catch up with her. http://www.marybalogh.com/s-unforget4.html
Nobody does it better: 19th century romantic fiction, that is. Mary Balogh has meshed the perfect balance of respect, history, romance and heat in each of her stories.
This particular book is first in a series, originally published in 2006, centering around four teachers in a newish idea of the time: a school for girls. I believe this recording of the series is new. Each of the teachers, including the headmistress, has some kind of secret. Frances’ secret is more complicated than we are initially lead to believe and keeping it secret is an important part of her life.
Mary’s heroines always feel a little ahead of their time to me. I think that has two major reasons:
It helps readers relate to characters who are not too different in mind-set than we are; and,
Maybe people really haven’t changed all that much. We might have an idea that women didn’t bristle against the strictures of Regency life or that they were meek. But, I don’t think it is the case; I believe women found ways to get around things when they had to. Think of Abigail Adams admonishing John Adams to “remember the ladies” as he helped write the Constitution.
Frances, though, appears particularly “modern” and even likes having a career as a way of being independent.
Lucius is a spoiled and arrogant aristocrat who has been living the expected dissolute life of an heir until his Grandfather’s health begins to fail. Then he antes up and promises to marry. I liked how Lucius was introspective and open to change, yet at the same time he is impulsive.
Ugh, the woman his family wants him to marry is a block of ice; exceeding his arrogance level, prim, proper and prudish. Her arch remarks are always cloaked in a societal veneer of advice but, they are really poisoned barbs.
Lucius does reflect on her being appropriate, well-bred and thinks she will probably be about as passionate in bed as a pillow is.
On the other hand, not expecting marriage, and not anticipating any offers coming her way, Frances doesns’t really feel a compunction to hold on to her virtue. She approaches sex with passion, the same passion with which she defends her career, and decisions.
The story builds and builds with a little heat at the start and the a little more. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Balogh often brings us snippets from Austen as a nod to Pride and Prejudices similar relationships.
It is interesting that the women in Austen’s books are also not meek, but as a product of the Georgian and Regency eras, Austen had to write for that time and a woman of today can never hope to truly emulate Austen’s style because she is not immersed in the period.
I really enjoyed the book and marvels throughout at how well constructed it was and how much I was enjoying it. Many of the characters are really engaging, especially Lucius’ Grandfather and his littlest sister, Amy.
I highly recommend this story and cannot wait to read another book in the series!