Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ARC Review: The Proposal

The Proposal
Mary Balogh
Historical Romance
Survivors' Club/Book 1
Random House/May 1, 2012

In Mary Balogh’s engaging and seductive new novel of drama and romance, a woman comfortable in her solitude allows temptation to free her heart, when a daring war hero shows her how truly extraordinary she is.

Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous—if beautiful—aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?

The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.

A new series from Mary Balogh is always a reason to celebrate.  In the Survivors' Club, Ms. Balogh explores what happens after the war is over and those left behind must find a way to move on.   We also see how someone with no war experience can still suffer survivor's guilt and must learn how to release that guilt and move on.

Hugo, Lord Trentham prefers the quiet life of the country, feeling uncomfortable and confined in the crowded world of the London ton.  He is proper if a bit cold, lacking the formal training other titled lords possess.  Even with his dislike of Gwen, Hugo is pulled in by her grace and kindness.  I really liked seeing Hugo loosen up and become more open with Gwen.  At first he attempts to keep his distance, not easy when he is the one who rescues her and feels responsible for her.  As he warms up to Gwen, Hugo takes a tremendous step by opening up his home, his retreat, to his family.  He does this not only for his sister but for Gwen. 

Gwen is a lady, raised as such and familiar with proper society.  This fact puts her above Hugo, who feels he is only a gentleman in name only.  Gwen doesn't care about how Hugo came into his title, in fact, she's impressed by his courage and his loyalty.  Gwen is an older heroine, thirty-two, who has the experience of not only marriage but great loss, giving her an outlook on life that a younger, more sheltered heroine might have.  I did like how Gwen continues to maintain her proper composure while becoming fascinated by Hugo and his very blunt manner of speaking.  She teasing him about it while enjoying his directness.

Both Hugo and Gwen have family obligations that play into their feelings and actions towards each other.  We see how Hugo's feelings of responsibility towards his half-sister lead him to seek a wife who will help him secure his sister a respectable husband.  He is stubborn when it comes to keeping away from the titled gentry due to his own feelings of inadequacy regarding his title.  Hugo and Gwen both carry a load of guilt which they work through before they can reach for their Happy Ever After. 

Enough information is given about the other members of the survivors club to give the reader a taste of things to come without overtaking the romance of Hugo and Gwen.  I know I'm intrigued to find out more about each unique individual.  I would say that while I enjoyed Hugo and Gwen's romance, it took it's sweet time meandering through the trials and tribulations of love.  There were a few moments when the story lost it's momentum.

The Proposal is a lovely romance with plenty of secondary characters to give the reader a need to come back for more of the Survivors Club.

Rating: B


  1. I am not really sure why, but I haven't read a Mary Balogh book for at least a couple of years. Before that I was doing a pretty good job of working my way through her backlist! I have requested this one from the library so that I can get back to her writing!

  2. It definitely is a celebration when there is a new Balogh book out. :)

    As much as I love Balogh, this one missed the mark for me, though. I agree with your likes here, definitely. :D But, there was something missing from this book (for me)... for some reason Hugo's most emotional moments are "seen" through Gwen's eyes, so the reader is distanced from them, and vice versa. The connection was a bit diluted there. And, I found it lacking in some fine details... abrupt changes between moments, stitlted dialogue at times (particularly between friends and family). I don't know?

    However, there's always great hope for Ms. Balogh's books! I can't wait for the next one and will stalk/read it. *g*

  3. Marg ~ I'm thrilled she's re-releasing her older titles which are so hard to find. Hope you enjoy this one!

    Hils ~ I enjoyed it but not one of my favorites. I just realized I totally forgot to mention in the review Lauren and Lily and their connection! Kit and Lauren are one of my favorite couples.

  4. I finally read this one and I didn't like it as much as you did, Les. I just find some parts were dragging. You kind of wonder what happens in the book ^_^;

    I got pretty tired of the "this is my life and it's not one that you know." And it did annoy me that everyone assume Gwen was superior to Hugh. I understand the setting, but it was grating at times ^_^;