Review: Simply Perfect by Mary Balogh

Posted December 19, 2019 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 10 Comments

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Review: Simply Perfect by Mary Balogh
Simply Perfect

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Simply Quartet #4
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Delacorte Press
Released on March 25, 2008
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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The Delight

It came down to the final story of four friends who taught together at a ladies’ academy in Bath. The last and the strongest resister of romance of them all, Miss Claudia Martin, proprietress. I was so curious to see what sort of man would be the hero to break through her titanium steel walls so it was with not just a little anticipation that I picked up Simply Perfect.


As I indicated, Simply Perfect is the final story in the Simply Quartet. It is also the culmination of the Bedwyn Prequels and the Bedwyn Saga that came before this four-book series. So, no, not a good spot to jump in.

Claudia Martin stands poised just where she wants to be. Her school is doing well, she has a good staff of teachers working with her, and she is about to go it alone without the benefit of her anonymous benefactor who has supported the school financially until then. Overcoming a romantic disappointment, leaving her family home when it was entailed away at the death of her parents, struggling through a hateful governess experience with a certain Lady Freya Bedwyn and her arrogant ducal brother, and then the struggles of opening her school are all behind her.

So, why does she feel a bit melancholy to see her friends happily married and starting families of their own? With those hated aristocratic, upper class husbands no less to prove not every aristocrat deserves her bitter censure.

The mood includes the odd tug of hot and cold she feels toward the Marquess of Attingsborough who is generous and kind and undeserving of her rudeness when she employs it in a kneejerk reaction because he is titled and male.

Joseph has been going along evenly and without ripple in his life as the heir to a dukedom who kicked up his heels a bit when he was younger, but has lived responsibly and well since then. He knows it is his duty to marry and produce an heir especially with his father’s weak heart and age. Why can’t he get up any enthusiasm to marry the very eligible Miss Portia Hunt? If she were anything like the plucky, snappy Miss Claudia Martin…

So, Simply Perfect…

I was glad to be back in the author’s story world and encountering familiar faces from all the related series and getting updates on their lives. I was well pleased with the open, kind and generous man that the author made her hero. No, he wasn’t without flaw and struggled between familiar duty and love with love winning out only after a struggle. My heart warmed so much to learn about the secret he kept and how unexpectedly responsible he felt toward one that society wouldn’t have condemned him for shunning and repudiating. Joseph was just a beautiful man that I wanted to find his happiness.

However, the biggest niggle for me was the heroine. I thought I was prepared for how difficult she would be knowing how over the course of all four books and even in one of the Bedwyn books, she scorned and hated the Bedwyns over an incident that happened long ago and then how fiercely independent she was and insisting that she was man’s equal and didn’t need them ever.

Apparently, I was not as prepared as I thought.

Have you ever read a book where there is a certain character that you took gleeful pleasure in seeing them get what was coming to them because they were such a snot?

Yep, probably not how one should feel about the main character, but there it is. She was just such a jerk with her unreasonable grudge against the aristocracy and also men because when she was eighteen a young duke left and never returned breaking her heart or that she got told by her ducal employer to deal with his willful spoilt sister when she was a governess. I get that both were painful events and would remain with a person to a certain extent, but she let it turn her into a rude, ungenerous snob toward anyone of wealth or title. Kind of ironic because the very behavior she accuses them of is what she displays constantly. She sours pleasant gatherings hosted by her friends where others are forced to smooth things over because she can’t even be generally polite. How can she head up a school and teach those girls to comport themselves as ladies and not govern herself in society? She was over the top at times. I think what did it was when she nearly submarined the chances of two of her charity girl graduates ending up in wonderful work situations because she couldn’t get past her hate. That was it and it was only chapter three.

I tried to see things from her side and I get she doesn’t know the Bedwyns like the reader does and yeah, some people act like they’re all that because of wealth and titles, but she had opportunities to see that not all were like that and still others had changed for the better when she was in company with her friends and their families. She’d rather let her festering resentment ferment. She wasn’t a total loss because she was generous and good to her students and her friends, but I needed more when faced with her stubborn pride and crabbiness at good-hearted Joseph.

The romance? Oh, well it came late in the story, too, but I wasn’t that bothered by this fact since I was not sure I wanted Joseph and Claudia together. I could see it a little especially when she worked out her issues and supported him. And, in the end, I cheered them on and laughed when the Bedwyns rose to the occasion during the height of the conflict.

So, I liked it for certain things, but couldn’t love it. Still adore the author’s writing and the way she can develop a story and historical backdrop. It’s possible that others wouldn’t get as worked up over what I did so I have no trouble recommending the book and the series to historical romance fans.

Challenges Met

Mt. TBR #85
Library Love #23
Series That Never Ends #11<
Reading Assignment #11 Professor Author Love
Oldie But Goodie #17


About Mary Balogh

Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling ‘Slightly’ sextet and ‘Simply’ quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

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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.

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Mary Kirkland
1 year ago

I understand why you didn’t love it. At least it wasn’t awful.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

I think that rudeness and unkindness is as big a turn off as some tropes especially when directed at someone who hadn’t done a thing except be pleasant and make her comfortable and was a total stranger when she acted like that.

Thanks, Mary! I wish I had liked it more. 🙂

1 year ago

it’s rare in thisking of books that the romance comes late

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Melliane

Yes, it is. Usually, it comes on too quick in most romances. 🙂

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

Claudia does not sound pleasant, and she’s the one we’re supposed to be rooting for? Hmm… don’t think I’ll be picking this one up.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

That was exactly how I felt about her as a heroine.

1 year ago

Yeh, I’m not sure I would have liked the MC either ):

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Lily

She was just so crabby and stuck up.

Carole Rae
1 year ago

Mmmm I feel like I have read something by this author or have her book on my shelf. I may skip this one though

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

I love this author’s writing and some of my all-time favorite books are on her backlist. But yeah… this isn’t one of them. LOL