Review · Romance

Slightly Married by Mary Balogh

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More regency romance! I just borrowed a colleague’s proof of this because I was curious as to whether Mary Balogh is any good. I guess I’ve been used to reading Julia Quinn by now, because my first impression was that this is different. In a way it is more authentic, or more correct than Julia Quinn’s regency world. It’s also not as funny, and even a bit more gloomy. If reading Julia Quinn made me want to try Jane Austen again (I’ve never actually finished anything by Austen) then Mary Balogh made me want to re-read Bronte’s Jane Eyre, even if parts of it does have that Pride and Prejudice vibe about it.

The heroine, Eve, was a bit too good for my taste. The thing that saves her from being stuck in my “NG Heroines” list was her stubbornness and her being slightly annoying for being too headstrong (rather than being annoying for being sickly sweet). Aidan was also not what I am used to see/read as a romance hero. I don’t recall him being described as attractive at all. In fact, I distinctively recall him as “tall, broody, scary…” etc, etc. And I’m not sure that all parts of his character is entirely believable.

The story is a bit more interesting because I like the fact that they’re from completely different classes, Eve being the daughter of a (wealthy) coal miner. From what I’ve read in book synopses, this happens a lot in Balogh’s novels, so I might check them out. Perhaps that’s where I start to appreciate Eve’s goody-goodiness (yes, no such word, I know). While most of the females in Julia Quinn’s novels’ lives are about social events and gossip and such, Balogh’s heroine is setting up a farm where disfigured soldiers could earn themselves a living. Definitely someone I’d respect more in real life, I suppose.

Being the first book in a series, my wanting to read more of Balogh of course depends on how much I like the Bedwyn family. And weirdly enough, I do. Again, they’re nothing like Quinn’s Bridgertons. The Bedwyns seem dull and gloomy in comparison, and probably more stifled by their life than the Bridgertons. I really like Freyja’s character, though, and I can’t wait to see Wulfric fall (hopefully to a commoner, him being such a snob and all). The writing, while not as upbeat as Quinn’s, is still easily readable, unlike other regency romance writers like Stephanie Laurens or Samantha James whose books I can’t even finish. In the end I’ll have to say that while it is nothing like Quinn’s regency books, there is still some quality in Balogh’s novel that makes me want more.

[This Piatkus version of the book will be published in March 2007]

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