Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Escape by Mary Balogh

Image linked from Goodreads
If you have enjoyed the rest of the Survivor's Club (or, really, any of Balogh's books), you will quite enjoy this book as well. Do you need to have read the first two books in the series? Not at all. 
Major Sir Benedict Harper nearly lost both his legs as well as his life after the Napoleonic wars. After struggling for six years to get healthy enough to live his own life, he is stymied by the fact that his younger brother already runs his estate and the brother's family is quite entrenched there. Benedict really has nothing to do and is at loose ends. Until he visits his sister who is convalescing after an illness. He nearly tramples a haughty widow and her dog when he leaps over a hedge on his horse.
Samantha McKay is escaping her house. Her husband convalesced for a long time after being injured in the war. Since his death, his sister has been keeping Samantha under a tight rein, telling her that she has to behave as befits a lady. See, Samantha has gypsy blood in her veins and her husband's family has always looked down on her as being "not quite." 
But the end comes when Samantha's father-in-law wants to throw her out of the house where she's been living for so long and sends men to take her back to London. She knows that she'll be stifled there for the rest of her life and she just can't do it. So she enlists Benedict to help her get to Wales where she's been left a small cottage. The journey, of course, is a time for them to get to know one another. And when they get to Wales, there's a whole lot of Samantha's history that she is ready to discover.
This is all told in such a gentle voice. It's like floating down a slow-moving stream. You don't really need to think, just look around and enjoy the scenery. Told in alternating points-of-view, each side overlaps the other, picking up just before the last ended. After reading so many hard and fast contemporaries, this is a wonderful read and delightful palate cleanser. Can't wait for the rest of the books in the series (especially the Duke, though I assume he is being saved for last. Le sigh.)
Imagine my delight when I got to the end of the book and there were still dozens of pages left and it turned out to be the story of Julian and Phillipa, the erstwhile fiancee of Vincent from "The Arrangement." Normally, I don't like short stories but this was a sweet one of two young lovers who were star-crossed but who have worked hard for two years to find their HEAs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

Image linked from Goodreads
I quite enjoy Susan Mallery books, especially when she doesn't try to shoehorn in every other couple that she ever wrote about in the Fool's Gold series. Now, she's even starting to introduce new people. That meant that Sam and Dellina's story, while very good, was a little bit more on the novella side than a full story. But a surprisingly well-developed one.
We learned how Sam and Dellina met in "When We Met". He went over to her house on Valentine's Day eve, had some super hot sex, and then accidentally wandered into her spare bedroom which not only housed her friend's wedding dresses while the store was being redone, but also has a wipey board with "10 Ways to Make Him Propose" written on it. Sam ran in fear. See, his track record with women isn't very good. His past includes, among others, a stalker who slashed his tires, a woman who slept with his two best friends (and then suggested a foursome), and an ex-wife who wrote a book about how to marry a sports star. Sam just wants a quiet life. But he's been put in charge of planning a retreat for his companies clients and the only event planner in town? Dellina. Now it's crunch time and these two will have to work together to make sure that the event goes off without a hitch.
We also see quite a bit of one of Dellina's sisters, Fayrene. In her story, she had told sweetie Ryan that she didn't want to get married for three more years. Now, she's changed her mind but doesn't want to tell him because she wants him to realize that she wants to get married now and magically propose. Every single character in the book tells her not to be stupid and to just tell him (yay every other character!) And while this is a nice side story, it really just feels like a forced way to bring in Pia and Raoul, Simon and Montana, and any number of other characters so that we can see updates in their lives
Five stars for Sam and Dellina's story, three stars overall.