The historical romances of this author are always populated by people caught in intolerable situations who need to be rescued or redeemed by someone who accepts them for who they truly are. Both of these beautiful stories address loss and the contrast between reality and what society ‘sees’ and bases its judgement on. The first novella is a poignant tale that reminds one that children are severely impacted on their family circumstances no matter what steps are taken to make them feel valued even as it explores the cost of forgiveness or lack thereof. One of the relationships is explored in more depth than the other so its resolution was a little less satisfying but the story was still very enjoyable. The question of forgiveness is also explored in the second novella which demonstrates the author’s dexterity of morphing one’s opinion about worthiness of particular characters by exploring the motivations which underlie their behavior. It is difficult to disregard some of the harshness of that hero’s behavior even as one understands how he has arrived at this point but it was a relief to discover more about his situation. I thought that both tales could have benefited from a little more depth in the secondary characters since I felt that some of them were a bit two-dimensional but this was still a nice duo of historical romances which it would be nice to have expanded into longer novels.
“A Counterfeit Betrothal and The Notorious Rake” by Mary Balogh is a volume containing two related novellas that feature unconventional historical romance tales. “A Counterfeit Betrothal” centers around the extensive lengths that young Lady Sophia Bryant is willing to go through in order to reconcile her parents who have been estranged for fourteen years, ever since her father badly betrayed his vows. Childhood friend Lord Francis Sutton seems reluctantly willing to enter into a fake betrothal and events seem to rapidly spiral beyond their control. Sophia’s mom must decide what she is willing to accept but one of the many obstacles that she must overcome is the presence of Lady Mornington (Mary Gregg) in her estranged husband’s life. Lady Mornington herself is featured in the second novella, “The Notorious Rake”, which explores the widowed woman who has built a life for herself after the death of her beloved husband. The radical solution enacted by the rake Edmond Waite to deal with Mary’s hysterical terror of thunderstorms sweeps them into a very unconventional relationship, pursued by Edmond and rejected by Mary herself. A gradual revelation of the events that led to Lord Edmond’s hedonistic life adds to the conflicts that Mary must resolve as she decides whether she wants to pursue the course she has set for her life.
New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh presents two of her classic Regency-era romances—seductive tales of ladies who are running away from love . . . and rogues who enjoy the chase.
A COUNTERFEIT BETROTHAL
Lady Sophia Bryant has no intention of marrying anytime soon. Her one desire is to reunite her parents, who have been estranged for fourteen years. Surely, if she happens to announce her betrothal—even a false one—they will be forced to see each other. Devilishly handsome Lord Francis Sutton seems perfect for such deceit, always agreeable to games of passion in which he has nothing to lose. The trap is set—if only Lady Sophia can keep her foolish heart from falling prey to her brilliant snares.
THE NOTORIOUS RAKE
Lord Edmund Waite is everything that Lady Mary Gregg despises: lewd, lascivious, mocking—the most incorrigible and successful rogue around. A bluestocking like her would never tempt a man whose taste runs to pretty playthings—so Mary is startled to find herself the object of Lord Edmund’s desires. Even more surprising is her reaction to his shocking advances. She may be a lady, but this man knows so well how to make her feel like a woman.