Saturday, November 1, 2014

Maggie B. Reviews Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh

Only Enchanting
By Mary Balogh
A Survivor’s Club Novel, Book 4

Publisher:  Signet
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 394 Pages
ISBN:  978-0451469663

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Guest Reviewer:  Maggie B

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About the book:  

The Survivors' Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, in the fourth novel of the Survivors' Club series, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, has left this refuge to find his own salvation—in the love of a most unsuspecting woman.…

Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancée’s desertion after his return home.  Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.

Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.

When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.

Fans of Regency romance are very familiar with the name Mary Balogh. Her books have set the standard for quality Historical Romance for the last several decades. In Only Enchanting Balogh provides her fans with a heartfelt romance sure to delight even the pickiest reader. This is the fourth novel in her Survivor's Club series and centers on Flavian Arnott, Viscount Ponsonby. 

When the annual Survivor's Club meeting is moved from Penderris Hall to Middlebury Park Flavian feels a touch of concern. What if the change in location hampers the free conversation and important confidences that are the hallmark of their gatherings? The six men and one woman who make up their "club" are fortunate survivors of the Napoleonic wars. Whatever normality they have achieved, has been hard won. Most of them still bear many scars. 

Flavian had been shot in the head, fallen on that same head when he toppled from his horse and was then ridden over by a fellow combatant. He spent years convalescing, considered by many - including his family - to be a lost cause. It was the Survivor's Club that helped him achieve healing, even if there is a vestige of his injury left in his speech - and in the gaping holes that make his memory very spotty. He is delighted that the change in venue does not change the nature of their camaraderie. He is delighted, also, that his return to this home allows him to renew his acquaintance with one of the locals.

Several months before this particular gathering at Middlebury Park there was a ball at the house to honor the wedding of its owner. It was during that event that Flavian first met Agnes Keeping, a young widow with whom he danced twice. He declares her enchanting at the end of their waltz and she finds herself "foolishly, deeply, head over heels, gloriously in love." She knows that the Viscount is an accomplished flirt, a devastatingly handsome man whose wealth and title place him firmly out of her reach but she is simply happy to enjoy her first genuine taste of romance. Now, five months later he is back and they run into each other once more. 

Flavian is surprised by his intense desire to pursue Mrs. Keeping. A desire which leads to an impetuous - and rather awkward- proposal. He is also surprised by his sheer determination to have her accept. Even as she demurs, he encourages, and the two wed by special license with all of the Survivor's Club as their witnesses. 

The course of true love runs smoothly only for a week. A week in which they head to London and encounter Flavian's family and his ex-fiancé. When Agnes becomes convinced that Flavian married her only to spite the latter, she becomes incensed and ready to leave. Then she discovers her backbone and realizes that she is not willing to give up the man she loves without a fight. .  . .

I adored Flavian and Agnes' love story. His smoldering sensuality communicates itself clearly from the page; you can picture his handsome face, heavy lidded green eyes and lithe form as he prowls from scene to scene. Agnes is a delight because she is honest, forthright, and strong willed without ever crossing the line into stubborn or silly. Her independent nature is firmly established - she never fears being overwhelmed by Flavian's wealth or position. She is confident of who she is and what she wants and goes about getting that without ever stepping out of the bounds set by polite society.

I also loved how Flavian's problems, and Agnes' hang-ups from her childhood, flow naturally into the story. They aren't just convenient devices thrown in when the author needs a deus ex machina but important plot points which are used for both character development and relationship growth. 

I absolutely loved this story. It is my favorite of the Survivor's Club novels so far and has completely whet my appetite for the next novel which comes out in May of 2015. If you enjoy historical romance at all, I strongly recommend picking up this book. I think you will be as enchanted by it as I was.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Crowns

FTC Disclosure:  A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of review.  No additional payment was provided to the review site or guest reviewer for their opinion of the material provided.  

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