Author: Mary Balogh
Genre: Historical Romance
From Publishers Weekly:
Balogh's lovely Regency series centering on Miss Martin's School for Girls closes with the story of founder and headmistress Claudia Martin, an aging spinster past 30 who does not see marriage in her future. Two former teachers have recently made titled matches, however, and one of them sends Joseph, marquess of Attingsborough, to the school, along with his good looks, friendly manner and offer of a carriage to London. His title puts Claudia off; she distrusts his apparent interest in her school; his near-engagement to Lord Balderston's daughter, the icily perfect Portia Hunt, makes him unavailable. For his part, Joseph, at 35, can no longer put off the need for a male heir. He is resigned to the match, but there is a very delicate matter that he needs to resolve beforehand, with Miss Martin's aid required to safeguard his secret and his reputation. Joseph's heart isn't in the subterfuge, however, and as social pressures come to bear, both he and Claudia are forced to reexamine their priorities.Mary Balogh is one of those authors that I just can't quit. I cut my romance teeth on a number of her books years and years ago. Every so often I come back to her, gorging myself on her backlist, before suffering from and overdose that results in long periods of Balogh-lessness. Why do I keep coming back? Her characters. I do so love them. Sure, she recylces certain plot devices (nearly the entire Bedwyn series was comprised of fake engagements!) Her characters are just so damn entertaining.
Ever since I read the first book in the Simply series I knew Claudia Martin would get her own installment. She had to. No author would create such a great character, simply to ignore them. In Simply Perfect we finally get her HEA. It was sweet. Her hero was so utterly devoted and loving (not just to her). I enjoy the love across social classes storyline. It was lovely. Nothing terribly exciting, no murders to solve or people to rescue. It was romance, pure and simple.
If you are looking for sizzling heat, this is not the book to grab. Claudia and Joseph had this restrained passion about them. Something in their relationship reminded me of Elinor and Edward in Sense and Sensibility. All very proper and under control, yet you knew that their feelings ran deep.
I am often annoyed by the "scandalous secret" used in Historicals to amp up the tension. In the case of this book, I felt it added another layer to the story. The secret is not kept hidden from Claudia for long. It takes longer for it to be revealed to society. This secret brings the H&h together rather than causing conflict between them.
The icing on the cake for me was all of the continuity. Balogh has built a world of interlocking stories and characters. In Simply Perfect we get to revisit our heroes and the women they love from both the Simply and Slightly series. There was even a passing mention that made me reread a scene three times. The heroine from my all time favorite Historical category (one Ms. Balogh wrote back when I was but a teen) was one of the musicians performing at the musicale near the beginning of the book. This brief mention made me smile and yearn for my long lost copy (someday I shall find you again, Red Rose!!!)
Huh, guess the review isn't so mini. A good book does that to you. Go read some Balogh. You need to catch up. There is a new series starting next month!