Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

gottathink

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
If anyone else has been struggling to find the Bedwyn a saga book 6.5, the novella duo—Once Upon a Dream, (the two authors teamed up to write these).
It contained two books:
1) Another Dream by Mary Balogh
2) Duke of My Dreams by Grave Burrows.

They are no longer available as the duo.
But you can get Duke of My Dreams here

And Another Dream is found in this series:
 

flashgordonv

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
If anyone else has been struggling to find the Bedwyn a saga book 6.5, the novella duo—Once Upon a Dream, (the two authors teamed up to write these).
It contained two books:
1) Another Dream by Mary Balogh
2) Duke of My Dreams by Grave Burrows.

They are no longer available as the duo.
But you can get Duke of My Dreams here

And Another Dream is found in this series:

So cool. Many thanks
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
After finishing the dark romance series, I finished left over McKenzie series. I was happy to be back to Mary Balogh books.

First I read her single book "Tangled" which is long and slow book. It's a
Triangular love story in which every body wants other person's well being , but doesn't network to hash it the differences out for fear of stepping on others toes(hurting) forcing each person to figure out what happened and to come to a conclusion
Had steeped back again to Balogh in her Westcott Someone to... series. The first book, within the first chapter's, reveals a colossal family collective fit of vapors, wherein families worlds and realities are turned upside down upon the drop of a legal pin. The orphanage is a theme. And without saying much, this is also the first book read of a couple of dozen where Chinese martial arts is introduced as a subject.

In the second Someone to... book (and the first), there is role reversal, and much pain and readjustment. Identities are lost and identities are gained, along with recognition of programed family/societal false personalities, and the drive to uncover their authentic selves. The reader, just as the characters, are lead a merry dance of making judgement (an overall theme in all the books), and Balogh and others are good at creating these conditions.

There is one brief Balogh quote that seemed in alignment to the work:
After that, I started Westcott series. I liked "Someone to Love". First part of the book looked like
a slow motion Mindfulness ( like in Movie "matrix") until the shocking revelation and subsequent meltdown thus exposing the characters behavior. When I was reading the buildup to the solicitor's meeting, I thought what will be there for this buildup. Well, she did made the revelation pretty shocking enough create a firm foundation for the series where characters can be redeemed. I liked realistic reactions of characters to the shock according their own temperaments. I liked Anna's independence ( for "dignity") and bored Avery attempting to set things right. Balogh's wisdom of life is fantastic in the scope of the character's situation.

I enjoyed "Someone to Hold" too. Camille's attempt to do something to make sense of her new reality and Joel's change of fortune is tune with "happy ending" if not "Happy ever after". MB was good at setting expectation that there is no "Happy ever after" in character's narration is very realistic.

"Someone to Wed" is interesting in the sense
Alexander decides to nudge Wren out of instinct rather than benefits to him alone. Some of discussions of benefits looked awkward, but bold. Wren's switching at the end very realistic ( as in "Myth of Sanity") and Alexander doing his part to close the chapter is very healing.
I've finished reading the Merridew series and now onto the second book of Mary Balogh's Westcott series, Someone to Hold. I was a little lost at first with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, half-sisters and brothers and so on but Anna Snow was a bit lost when she met them too so I figured it didn't matter and kept reading.
I too was confused about the characters at first. Each book has the family tree for that book. I went to last book's family tree and wrote which character's are main in which book.
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Had recently also read this anthology (less Another Dream as it was already read in a different collection). These stories were very short, and imo they were each lovely simple stories.

Form here:
Another Dream
Eleanor Thompson, spinster owner and headmistress of a girls' school in Bath, finds herself somewhat lonely and not as happy with her chosen way of life as she had expected. Then, on her way to help celebrate the birthday of the Duke of Bewcastle, her brother-in-law, she is stranded by a storm at a country inn, where she indulges in a brief, sweet flirtation with a gentleman who is also stranded there with his two young children. Neither adult realizes that they are bound for the same house party.

The Treasure Hunt
Constance Manning is eagerly looking forward to her twentieth birthday, when her secret engagement to the man who has been her dearest friend all her life is finally to be revealed to her family and friends. He is having second thoughts, however, and persuades his brother to go in his stead and make his excuses—the brother who has long loved Constance without her knowledge.

The Forbidden Daffodils
For five years Kate Buchanan has been living in exile with her aunts in a remote part of Wales. She has come to love them and the place and has convinced herself that she is happy with her quiet life. But her hard-won peace is put to the test when the Marquess of Ashendon takes up residence nearby—the very man who caused her banishment.

The Betrothal Ball
The Earl of Dearborne had returned to his country home to host a house party and pay court to the beautiful daughter of one of his guests. Laura Melfort, his ward’s governess, is everything he most abhors in a woman. She is intelligent and well-read as well as being plainly dressed and unalluring. Yet it is the governess to whose company he finds himself repeatedly drawn. And it is the governess with whom he chooses to waltz at his own betrothal ball.

Had also read Mary's A Certain Magic:

Alice Penhallow and Piers Westhaven had always considered themselves to be best friends--that was until Piers called upon Alice's help and advice in his decision to marry a much younger woman. By the time they realize that it is love that is between them, it might just be too late.

The story formula here comes up with other authors (e.g. young girls has an inner attraction for an older boy, and years later, said boy marries someone else, who suddenly dies). In this case, both had lost a husband and wife respectively (in both cases their child had also died). What becomes revealed, not only from their past marriages, bears from between their later confused-selves backdropped against their deeper feelings from back from their younger-selves.

Noted from the stories above, was Mary's romantic grace to leave sex and its explicitness out of the stories and focus on the inner feelings that were trapped and then revealed. She does a nice job of it.

Julies Quinn's Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever has a similar, all be it different story (and much different writing style). Similar, because the young girl (like Alice above) has the same affection for the older boy, this creates difficulties later. The older boy (Turner) had eventually married, and she too had died. However in this case, and it is no secret from the opening pages, his wife had been a deceptive person, and he does not morn her loss.

At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her—until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.

But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is as intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on that memorable day—while he is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier—and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers...

In each of the books there is a separation of ages, and there is tragedy in their old lives.
 

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I´ve finished M. Balogh's "Heartless".

Wow... This was a tense book...

First, the language of the novel was hard to get used to.
Not the Balogh I know, but as the story went further, it was easier.
Lots of old fancy words that the dictionary cannot recognize (and old-fashioned clothes :-) ).

But the story was extremely engaging, as always with Balogh, so I continued of course...

Lucas inherited dukedom from his late older brother who died from cholera.
He was banished 10 years ago, not in fact clear why at the beginning, I suspected he was in love with Henrietta and she married his brother and there was something around it.
He turned heartless in Paris, reinvented himself, also gained money and reputation on his own.

Anne first lost her mother, then her father started drinking and gambling and he died too.
She was left to take care of the family.
Also wasn’t that clear why she was waiting for this guy that went of to Amerika; first I thought that she slept with him, but then didn’t look like it…
Anyway, she wished herself a bit of joy and happiness in the Season with her sister, a season that was sponsored by her godmother.

Her godmother wanted her married, so she made a scheme with her lover, who is in fact uncle from Lucas, to get Luke and Anna together since Lucas´ uncle also wanted that Lucas gets married too.

So he is heartless and she just wants a bit of fun before she goes back to her life.
No one wants to get married. Or so it seems...

As the story developed, dark things came up.
I could and again couldn’t understand why she simply didn’t tell Lucas everything.
I had the most ominous feeling in my chest reading Anna‘s encounter with Sir Blaydon.

Both Sir Blaydon and Henrietta were pieces of work.
Geez, I wonder how clever Balogh wrote about them, does she do research in personality disorders and psychopathy so she could make up such villans.
I believe, these two were the best villains I’ve read so far in these romances.
These mind games they did were diabolical.
Poor Anna.

Henrietta was a typical self-centered narcissist (borderline psycho as well? I mean, for someone not to blink an eye and to involve babies in one´s schemes, one must lack emotions whatsoever....) and Sir Blaydon was a diabolically sick psycho.

How disturbed one has to be to do that kind of thing to the person he declares to love and later to play so twisted mind games?
I felt like I was in the middle of it all and until the end of the book, I had such a heavy feeling in my chest and a lump in my dry throat. Such tension, that I don´t recall any other book caused…

With other books, while reading, I had deep feelings of sadness or anger until the situation was solved.
But this time, it was some ominous tension and heaviness...

Such sad revelations: about Lucas' brother, about this sick Sir Blaydon and what he did to Anna, this crazy Henrietta trying to manipulate all and everyone.

I knew it´s a romance novel, and it has to have a happy ending - but I forgot! I´ve gotten so involved in the story that I completely forgot that there will be a happy ending. I was with them every step of the way. How brilliantly Balogh writes...

It was an emotionally very hard book for me.

Excellent story. Deep characters. All that we expect from Balogh.

Next to "Silent Melody"
 

Voyageur

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Ambassador
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Moved past this story to the second book of the Bevelstoke series titled What Happens in London, and low and behold the two central characters, unbeknown to each other, must attend yet another year of the Smythe-Smith Quartet (featured in a whole different series by that name), only to again "murder their ears."

I had to laugh, the Smythe-Smith quartet setting was completely unexpected again, so perhaps there are other series of Quinn's in which one is to read (don't know them all), that might somehow reengage the Smythe-Smith quartet into the story, like this one did :violin:🎹.

Olivia took a deep breath, mentally preparing for her third encounter with the Smythe-Smith string quartet. She'd perfected her technique the year before; it involved breathing deeply {EE}, finding a spot on the wall behind the girls from which she must not avert her eyes, and pondering various traveling opportunities, no matter how plebeian or routine:

Places I Would Rather Be, Edition 1821 By Lady Olivia Bevelstoke

[...]

Julies comment: ABOUT THE SMYTHE-SMITH QUARTET
The Smythe-Smiths (and their notorious musicale) made their first appearance in my third novel, Minx.
Had not known or read this book.
My hero and heroine were attending an amateur musical performance, and I thought, “Bad music is so much funnier than good music,” so (perhaps in honor of the Veterans Park Elementary School band concerts my parents were forced to sit through) I created the annual Smythe-Smith musicale. Every year there seemed to be enough cousins to put together a string quartet, and every year they sent Mozart spinning in his grave.
A number of years later, I wanted to put my hero and heroine at a social gathering that didn’t have dancing, and it occurred to me—there was no reason these characters shouldn’t have to suffer through a Smythe-Smith performance, as well. After a while, it began to be an inside joke between my readers and me. And I think we all started to wonder about those poor girls who were forced to pick up their instruments year after year.
So with Just Like Heaven, A Night Like This, The Sum of All Kisses, and The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, I finally placed the Smythe-Smiths on center stage.
 

gottathink

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I´ve finished M. Balogh's "Heartless".
...
It was an emotionally very hard book for me.

Excellent story. Deep characters. All that we expect from Balogh.

Next to "Silent Melody"
I agree it was an intense read, I kept wanting to tell Anna, just tell him for goodness sake.
What strikes me in the female characters is how incredibly strong they are in the presence of over-the-top alpha males. They seem to know how to handle them.
In other words they know their own mind, sometimes mixed up or misguided but most certainly their actions are self determined. Although not against the villains, they always require a team effort to counter.
Anyway I loved Silent Melody, the love is so very deep between these two. Enjoy!
 

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I’ve finished Silent Melody from M.Balogh as well.

What a beautiful story!!! I cried at the end of the book. Which is a progress for me, as I explained in one of my prevous posts….

Emily is one of my favorite characters now.

She is so strong and giving and caring and brave person. She didn’t become a victim of her handicap but she developed it to be more in touch with the world.

I loved her spirit; maybe because I have soft spot for „witches“ 😉

But her spirit and her connection and her awareness of the world was so beautiful and pure that I wonder really where Balogh gets her inspiration from.



Ashley was also free and kind spirit. Such a victim to a horrible selfish people.

He was also brave to open up and to admit his need for help and to actually work on it.

His feelings of quilt and shame I could feel very deeply.

He did jump to conclusions but he also was brave enough to be willing to listen.



I noticed I very much admire and respect all characters that refuse marriage with their loved ones because they feel it’s not the right time or that the other person doesn’t love them enough. It takes great currage, strength and respect for oneself to do that.

People just kling to what they want and don’t think further.

These books are really an example not only in real love between two people, but also s great example in how to also love oneself even if it means to suffer. But also to know that you have deep respect for yourself and to other not to involve in relationships where all will be hurt.



Beautiful book!!!! ❤️
 
I just finished reading The Proposal by Mary Balogh and found it to be so refreshing. I loved the character of Hugo. He seemed to have such a strong foundation and possessed so much common sense in spite of his past experiences. It made me so happy that Gwen could see past his dour military facade and get to know him and learn to appreciate who he was underneath all of that. I also loved that he like to garden and had such good relationships with those that lived on his land and surrounding areas. Seems like a fairy tale ending to me. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of The Survivors Club series.
 
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