Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

Only Beloved by Mary BaloghOnly Beloved by Mary Balogh

Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Signet on May 3, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-stars      three-flames

Can you both dread and anticipate the same book?  Yes, you can when you’re getting the last book in a favorite series.  Naturally my dread is for the fact that I must say good-bye to a series and cast of characters that I have loved, but the anticipation came from who was the last of the Survivor’s Club to get his story.  Not just a few times, I wondered about the strong, wise, gentle, and patient man who was the backbone of this group, older and with his share of heartbreak and grief.  And, who was to be his heroine?  The story that unfolded was a gentle marriage of convenience that became so much more for which has become something of a stock in trade for this author.

As I’ve just said, this is the final book in The Survivor’s Club series.  While some of the books in the series can be taken out of order or as standalones, this one leans more toward needing to be read behind the others just because it not only gives the latest pair’s romance, but wraps up the series and brings it full circle with a huge cast of characters that would confuse a new reader to the series.

The story opens with George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrook, waving good-bye to the last of his guests after the London wedding of his friends and realizing that all the Survivors are now married, found love, and have families- that is all except him.  But George has been considering what to do about his loneliness and daringly sets his plan into action.

Dora Debbins is firmly on the shelf.  She is content with her cottage and teaching music to people in the village.  If she looks wistfully at her sister’s happy marriage and wonders what would her life be like if their mother hadn’t run off with a man and the scandal resulting in divorce hadn’t ruined her chance to have a season, well that just makes her normal.  But her wistful dreams are interrupted by the man who as starred in her daydreams for over a year with the most outlandish and out of the blue proposal.  Dora wed a duke in a big society wedding?

George and Dora prepare for their nuptials both a bit shy and both secretly happy and worried that something bad will come to mar things.  George holds a secret that even his closest friends doesn’t know and he is convinced that the past must remain firmly left there and that he and his new bride will live in the present and for their future.  Dora isn’t so sure and knows that whatever George is holding back might be spilling into their future because even though George takes care and gives comfort to everyone else, there has been no one to take the dark shadows away from his own life.  But love might find a way if a vengeful man from George’s past doesn’t get to them first.

The story is rather gentle as things go for a marriage of convenience, but it made sense because this pair of lovers are older and have weathered tough times in their past.  They are mature and act like it.  This is not to say that there is no conflict or that it is easy.  Dora brings her unresolved issues over her parents’ past scandalous actions and George’s secret past is rising up to cause them both lots of trouble.  They have the awkward proposal scene, wedding night jitters, and adjustments to being a married pair, but they have lovely companion moments, too.  They were both lonely people with a lot to offer another person and they treasured this in each other.

The bulk of the story is George and Dora’s romance which isn’t devoid of its passionate moments and time of personal healing, but there were several scenes with all the Survivors that made for a satisfying farewell book.  I can easily recommend the book to those who like slightly spicy, heartwarming character-driven historical romance that isn’t afraid to touch on some tough issues that people can face at the time.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #161 HR

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • The covers for this series are just so gorgeous. I’ve read one of the books in this series, but I can’t remember what it is called. It was about the man who was blind. It was a very quiet book. I’m so glad you loved this, even if it means that this series if over now.

    • I agree. These are lovely covers, Quinn.

      Oh yep, you read book two, Vincent’s book. That was a sweet one. Yes, they are all pretty quiet with the focus on character and romance.

      I have several of her older books to read so I’m not at a total loss, but I’ll miss the Survivor’s Club group. ):

  • What a sweet cover 🙂 Different

    • Yes, these are lovely. The first part of the series had the typical male chests and breeches, but then they switched half-way to these that match the tone of the stories better.

  • It’s always bitter sweet saying goodbye to a favorite series, and characters that you adore. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Yes, it is. And of course my buddy Amazon shot me two emails to let me know that there are a couple new books by her to help console me. 😉

  • dholcomb1

    love the cover!

    hard to goodbye to a series!

    denise

    • For sure! Definitely lovely covers, Denise.

  • Debbie Haupt

    I’ve heard of this author but I’ve never read her. Thanks for putting it front and center for me Sophia Rose!

  • This is definitely different. I want!

    • I loved getting a historical that involved an autumn romance.

  • Ah yes, the dread and anticipation of a series ender. Then the bout of depression once it’s over. 😀 Glad the pulled it all together.

    • Exactly, Christy. 🙂 Need to find another one to love.

  • I love the marriage arrangement. I will add this series. I so understand the dread that comes from the final book

    • Oh yes, this is the right series for you if you enjoy that trope. All the book lovers will know the feeling. There are other series, of course, but just for a time I need to miss this one. 🙂

  • Yes I know that feeling of dread and anticipation, especially for last books in a favourite series. You;re excited to read it and sorry to see it end. And I like it when the last book in a series brings all the characters together one last time and wraps it up nicely and gives us a change to say goodbye to all the characters.
    It can be interesting to read a book about an older couple and ti sounds like this book si well written and the characters really feel their age as well. The gentle tone sounds to work for this book. Great review!

    • You understand perfectly, Lola. That is exactly how I felt about this end of the series book.

      It was a nice change to have an older, mature couple for the romance. One doesn’t get that very often.

  • This is in my TBR. Did the heroine’s sister appear in an earlier book? Oh well, in some book there was a piano teacher, a scandal and a sister. This will have to move up in the queue.

    • Yes, Agnes was the heroine of Only Enchanting Book four. You remember the details correct, Stephanie! 😉

  • I totally can relate to the dread/anticipation for a last book of a series-especially if it’s a favorite. Wondering why the people are called Survivors? I do like the premise of this book a lot. Too bad for me that it’s not a standalone. I just don’t read very many historical to read a whole series 🙂

    • Yes, the end of series gets all book lovers for sure.

      Oh, the Survivor’s Club is because all the members fought or saw action in the Napoleonic War and came back injured in some way. Each one’s injury was a little different- blindness, shell shock and guilt, crushed limbs, brain damage/memory loss, mental illness to name most of it. They helped each other heal and became like a family.

  • oh I do adore a mature pair and another plus is marriage of convenience. I really need to pick up this series.

    • Yes, their age was a nice change-up and I liked that the author took it into account for the story.

      This is a good series for marriage of convenience. I think there are at least three out of the seven books with this trope.