Sunday, August 20, 2006

Book Review: Simply Love

I've always thought that Mary Balogh was a fantastic Regency romance writer, but after reading Simply Love I'm prepared to say that she is the best Regency writer I've read.

Simply Love itself is a rather simple, uncomplicated story. Balogh's books don't deal with mysteries or murders or other aspects that other writers throw in, but there is nothing lacking in the simplicity. In this book, Balogh tells the story of two characters that have both previously appeared in some of her earlier works. Anne Jewell appeared in Slightly Scandalous as a young former governess who was assulted by her employer's son and ended up pregnant as a result. Sydnam Bulter appeared in A Summer to Remember as the brother of the hero who had lost an eye and an arm in the Napoleonic wars and also suffered facial distortment on one side. Both characters were earlier given respectable careers, but Simply Love is the first book where the two ever meet.

What I liked about this book is that Balogh resisted, as she always does, the temptation to fall into romance novels cliches. The hero in this book was sensitive and cognizant of a number of emotions and feelings that the heroine had before a blow-out fight was required or before someone else had to clue him in. And the heroine was open and honest and didn't keep any secrets that were revealed and miraculously overcome at the end. All of the transactions that occured between the characters felt like they could have been from real life and not something that was created by an author to fit into a specific genre. For instance, the first time she saw Syd's deformed self, Anne turned around and bolted. And the affection that developed between the characters was spread out over enough time that it was believable. There was no love at first sight like you read in a lot of books.

Maybe I'm becoming jaded with romance novels if I think this one was so refreshing because it lacked what so many other books contain. But really, when you think about it, the people who read romance novels read them because we like love stories. And Simply Love was a touching little love story. Nothing more, nothing less. It was beautifully written and pleasantly constructed.

Lindsey's Grade: A

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