Thursday, May 27, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Dark Angel/Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh


Dell Reissue Edition February 2010
(both books originally published in 1994)

624 pages by Mary Balogh

BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:

DARK ANGEL

Jennifer Winwood has been engaged for five years to a man she hardly knows but believes to be honorable and good: Lord Lionel Kersey. Suddenly, she becomes the quarry of London’s most notorious womanizer, Gabriel Fisher, the Earl of Thornhill. Jennifer has no idea that she is just a pawn in the long-simmering feud between these two headstrong, irresistible men—or that she will become a prize more valuable than revenge.

LORD CAREW’S BRIDE

Jennifer’s cousin Samantha Newman is smarting after she too is toyed with by Lord Kersey. In the midst of her heartbreak, she seeks solace from her new friend, the disabled gardener Hartley Wade. If only she knew that Hartley is secretly Lord Carew, and that he hides more than extraordinary wealth: a passionate secret held deep in his heart that only her love can reveal.
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First, I think this is great that Dell is reissuing these stories in a two-pack, connected books. I hadn't read either of these stories before. Mary Balogh is one of my absolute favorites, she is really one of my first historical romance reads a few years ago, I haven't looked back as far as romance is concerned!

Mary's books are what all Regencies should aspire to be, the authenticity of the speech and emotions are astounding. And her heroes are beyond compare.

The thread that hold these books together are the two heroines, cousins, Jennifer and Samantha. And the villain, a Golden God called Lord Kersey.


DARK ANGEL:

Jennifer Winwood is off to London, for 5 years she has dreamed of Lionel, Lord Kersey, and her betrothed of whom she barely knows. Enter Gabriel Fisher, The Earl of Thornhill, your standard rake, with the tall, dark brooding looks, the exact opposite of the Golden God of perfection, Lord Kersey. We find out fairly quickly that Lord Kersey is not what he seems, and is behind a very public scandal invoking Gabe's family and Gabe himself. Gabriel is out for revenge, and when he sees the tall, voluptuous Jennifer on Lionel's arm, he begins to plot his revenge. Gabriel refers to Jennifer to his friend as 'eminently bed-worthy.'

Jennifer and her cousin Samantha jokingly refer to Kersey and Thornhill as 'the angel Gabriel and the devil, Lucifer' Imagine Jennifer's surprise when she finds out Thornhill's given name is Gabriel. And he does turn out to be a 'Dark Angel', while the perfect Kersey is really Lucifer underneath, things are not what they seem, as Jennifer eventually learns. Gabriel charmed me to no end, he is honorable, sensuous, and emotional, not above shedding a tear. I was deeply moved by him.

Some found the rituals of the London Season a bit tedious, but I think it added to the authenticity, and by the time Gabe and Jennifer get to their HEA, I was highly entertained.

3 and 1/2 stars out of 4

LORD CAREW'S BRIDE:

Samantha, the cousin from the first book, had her affections dallied with by the narcissistic villain Lord Kersey, she was so hurt she has vowed never to marry.
It is six years later, her London seasons are behind her, she is visiting the now happily married Jennifer and Gabriel. While out walking, she meets a gardener on the next estate, Hartley Wade.

I did not really take to Samantha much, she is much too idealistic. I know, I guess I am not much for heroines in romance novels.

Hartley Wade, it turns out, is really the Marquess of Carew, but he keeps this from Samantha. How refreshing to read of a man of normal looks, average stature, and he is crippled. He is kind, patient, and VERY rich. No doubt the reason for keeping his status from Sam. Plus, he enjoys their growing friendship, revealing he is the Marquess would change everything between them.

He proposes marriage, a friendly companionship type of marriage. Samantha accepts. Imagine her shock to find out who Hartley really is, also to add to this mess, Lord Kersey arrives from exile, to gum up the works, and stir feelings in Samantha she thought long buried.

Lord Carew was a wonderful hero. I was rooting for him all the way. And Samantha ultimately makes the correct choice, as Hartley is sweet, loving, affectionate and surprisingly sensuous. I fell for him myself. Looks are not everything, and Mary Balogh punches that point home with this story. While I love tall, handsome heroes, I loved reading of this rather ordinary looking man with his physical impediments, but with a heart capable of such depth of feeling and emotion, it took my breath away. My feelings toward the heroine are the only reason I did not give this 4 stars. She did not appeal to me much with her blond, baby doll looks and at times, dreamy manner. But she did make the right choice, I will give her that. You will LOVE Lord Carew.

3 and 3/4 Stars out of 4

7 comments:

Deb said...

Great reviews, Karyn. I just discovered Mary Balogh about 2 months ago and I enjoyed the book I read, One Perfect Rose. I will look for this reissue.

Karyn Gerrard said...

Thanks Deb, I realized I posted this without reading it through, fixed my spelling mistakes!

I haven't read One Perfect Rose! I also recommend her 'Simply' books, Simply Love is my fav, Sydnam Butler is 'severely maimed' as a result of torture when he was spying against the French. I mean...severely. This story made me cry. Real tears.

Deb said...

Karyn, I picked this book up a week ago and started it tonight. Thanks for the rec! I'm only on page 20 or so; Jennifer is a little hard to warm up to, but know I'm in for a good story.

Karyn Gerrard said...

Oh wow Deb, be sure and come back and tell me what you think, I found both heroines hard to warm up to, but I am like that with most heroines anyway~ For me, as it is with most romances I read, it's the hero all the way, and I LOVED both heroes in this book~

Deb said...

I finished the stories this a.m., Karyn. I enjoyed both, but LCB the most. I liked him right away. I do think Balogh could have given him just a tad more depth, but I really liked him. I also liked how he knew from the beginning that he wasn't just in love with Sam, but lover her. I liked Samantha, but we really didn't get to know her in-depth either. She was kind of a twit until the end of the story and then she redeemed herself when she kneed Lionel in his privates. You go, girl!

Gabe redeemed himself, too. I had a hard time realizing he was play-acting at first with Jenny, but I like how he admitted after he married her that his reasons weren't really so much to "save" her, but because he cared for her. I didn't like Jenny. She wasn't just naive, I thought she was brainless and a ding-dong. I liked her a lot in Sam's story, but not much in her own.

I can tell this was one of Balogh's first books because the writing was a little different from one of the newer ones I read. They were really good stories, but seemed a little too Barbara Cartland-ish. Well, the heroines weren't insipid ninnies like a BC heroine. I will probably keep the book for the LCB story. :)

Deb said...

oops. loved, not lover. Him refers to Hartley.

Karyn Gerrard said...

Deb, I am so tickled you came back to tell me what you thought of this book!
I think the fact these were written back in the early 90's might account for the Cartland-ish tone. Mary herself has changed her writing style slightly as tastes changed the last 20 years.
Of course, since I am new to romance (only the last few years, if you can imagine!)I can only guess about this, never read Cartland, though I have heard of her and her style of writing.
Agree totally about the heroines.
And also agree LCB is the better of the two, Hartley was sweet and endearing.

Cheers Deb! Glad you liked this! And the more recent writings of Balogh are also quite good. She really gives you a feel for the Regency Era!