Friday, June 4, 2010

Review: Dark Angel/Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh

These two novels have been re-published in this formate at the insistence of Ms Balogh's fans who have long desired to read some of her early work that is no longer in print. So two of her most popular, now out-of-print novels have been re-released and but together in a single volume.

Dark Angel: Jennifer Winwood has been engaged for five years to a man she hardly knows but berlieves to be honorable and good, Lord Lionel Kersey. Suddenly, she become the quarry of London's most notorious womanizer, Gabriel Fish, the Earl of Thornhill. Jennifer has no idea that she is just a pawn in the long-simmering feud between thes two headstrong, irrisistible men--or that she will become a prize more valuable than revenge.

Jennifer is the daughter of a viscount who is a long-time friend of the Earl of Rushmore, father to Lord Kersey. When Jennifer was 15 and Lionel was 20, the two families entered into an informal betrothal between these two. Jennifer has been waiting five years for her engagement to be announced and the wedding to proceed. Now she is 20, coming to London for her first Season, and hoping to be married in two months. But the path to true love is never smooth, and Jennifer doesn't realize that she has some really rocky paths to tread before she finds the man who will capture her heart for the rest of her life. This is a true Regency romance and testifies to the skill and expertise that has long been the earmark of Balogh's writing style. This is a tension-filled story and it keeps the attention of the readers on the edge until the very end of the story. I have to say: I loved Gabriel. He is a rake and a man who has been placed at the bottom of society's ladder of esteem. But there is honor in this man and a deep desire to be a good person. I think you will like him well before you reach the end of the story. Jennifer proves to be a young miss who has far more depth as a person than anyone realizes. You can see her growing through the difficulties and becoming truly a mature and beautiful woman, not only in body but in spirit. Remember, this is Regency England, so the treatment of women is dreadful. But it is heartening to see young women who are caught in the throes of situations beyond their control find creative ways to come to terms with the conflicts and repression in the world they must inhabit.

Lord Carew's Bride:

Jennifer's cousin, Samantha Newman is smarting after she too is toyed with by Lord Kersey. In the midst of her heartbreak, she seeks solace from her new friend, the disabled landscape gardener Hartley Wade. If only she knew that Hartley is secretly Lord Carew, and that he hides more than extraordinary wealth: a passionate secret held deep in his heart that only her love can reveal.

This novel takes place six years after the previous story and features Jennifer's cousin who has been scalded and disillusioned by Lionel's heartless and self-centered manipulation. She has come to believe that love is a thorn patch from which no one emerges unscathed. She happens upon a gentleman, one who sounds like an aristocrat but dresses like a commoner, and who is the first person to listen to her and treat her like an equal and not a child. As a woman of 24 she is in her last London Season, and she seeks no mate. She wants peace and safety. Hartley Wade seems to be a person whose genuine esteem and caring gentleness fits the bill.

This is a lovely story. It is a favorite and often requested novel from Balogh's early writing days, and after reading it, I can understand why. It is a beautiful tale that gives insight into the stresses of living as an aristocrat in Regency England, in spite of class or wealth. It is a look-see into the long-term effects of thoughtless and selfish actions, into the life-long harm that can and was done to innocent people in the name of power and ambition. It is also the picture of a man I think was truly a sociopath. Balogh fans will continue to love this story and if you are new to it, I think you will come to like it so very much. It is beautifully written and is a literary delight. I give this novel a 4.75 our of 5 rating.


Tracy said...

Oh I just loved this one. I think I liked the first story better than the second but they were different enough that I didn't really compare them - which was nice.

Great review!

Kaetrin said...

I love Mary Balogh's books. I especially love her earlier traditional regencies and these 2 are no exception. It's so good to have them coming into print again. I spent so much money on eBay getting these 2! There are still 1 or 2 I don't have so hopefully they will be reprinted one of these days.

Dr J said...

Tracy: I know you and I talk about books alot, but there is something about these older historicals that are just great -- kind of set the format and stage for all the books being written now. Thanks for your comment.

Dr J said...

Kaetrin: First of all, thanks for stopping by . . . I, too, am delighted when older historicals once again make their appearance. It is too bad that so many books are being relegated to the "old book" shelf rather than being enjoyed for years to come. Now, if this current format continues, we can get the two by two.