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The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 February 2012
A Temporary Wife is my favourite Balogh ever (5+ stars). It was one of the best of her old Signet Regencies and brilliant news for Balogh fans that it's now been republished. Mary Balogh is my next favourite Regency author after Georgette Heyer. Whilst I love all her books I find her earliest stories (many of which have been out of print) amongst her best and this is one of my favourite ones.

The Marquess of Staunton advertises for a governess intending, in fact, to find himself an unsuitable wife. He wants the plainest, dullest and mousiest candidate to take home to his meet his estranged family with the intention of flaunting her in front of, and annoying, his autocratic father. Charity Duncan is desperate for work and answers his advertisement for the position of governess in order to help provide for a large but destitute family of several younger brothers and sisters. She is persuaded by the cold and disagreeable Marquess into a temporary marriage in return for a comfortable settlement for the rest of her life. Once she arrives at the ancestral home she can't help but become interested and involved and gradually unravels the reasons behind the long estrangement between the Marquess and his father. In the process she and the Marquess find out much more about each other than was ever the intention and inevitably and reluctantly they fall in love. Its a lovely story, very subtle and very moving. The character development, as in most Mary Balogh books, is brilliantly and believably done.

4 stars. A Promise of Spring is slightly linked to the "Web" books - many of the characters from those books have minor appearances in this one. It's another classic Balogh - an original story, unpredictable and ultimately moving, where she takes two very unlikely characters who turn out to be perfect for each other. There's a big age difference between Grace and Perry (she's older - unusually). Sir Peregrine Lapman's best friend (Grace's brother) dies in a tragic accident. Grace is seemingly left destitute without him so Perry proposes and this is the story of the difficult beginnings of their marriage. A sweet and gentle tale and extremely poignant and moving.
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on 7 January 2015
I discovered Mary several years ago when I read her Slightly series which is excellent. I am now reading the republished books of Mary as they come out and have been amused to see Wulfric appear in the guise of a different character in many of her earlier works. In fact, many of the stories appear to be re-writes of her earlier works with a bit more of a twist and more interesting character development. I really hope I don’t find a re-working of A Promise of Spring, unless it has undergone a massive improvement.

I have always loved Mary Balogh’s books. I have read them over and over, pre-ordered, even written to her as I love her books so much. How pleased I am I didn’t read The Promise of Spring first.

I bought this book as part of a two book compilation. I really liked the characters, Grace and Perry and kept reading hoping something was going to happen. I had wondered at the start when they married within the first several pages what the ‘fly in the ointment’ was going to be and already had a sinking feeling. I trudged through the first few chapters which is so unusual for me with a Mary Balogh book but it was simply boring, page after page describing what the characters had felt over the past several weeks and how they now felt. I thought it had to get better so pushed on, having to re-read paragraphs over again when my thoughts had strayed into what I was going to cook for dinner. Surely it had to improve, it was a Balogh book for goodness sake and they never disappoint.

Mary’s books usually deal with problems between the couple which they sort out prior to getting wed, usually after the lady has refused the gentleman at least once before he persuades her. When you read Mary’s books you know this will happen – always does – he always changes her mind and it doesn’t matter. That’s part of Mary’s style. Mary must have been developing her style with this novel.

The thing is, historical romance of this kind always end happily. It’s why we read them. For drama we may watch current affairs which don’t always have happy endings. It’s good to read something which may be relied upon to end happily. Therefore, you know Grace and Perry will have a happy ending. So, when Gareth put in an appearance my heart sank. You see I really don’t like romance stories which use ‘the other man/woman’ as the only thing to create a storyline and drama. The end of the book is already known. You know who the hero/heroine is going to stay with and to be honest I find ‘the other man’ stories frustrating and contrived. Gareth was already shown to be a cad and completely unprincipled and Grace was intelligent enough to work this out in a heartbeat. She already loved Perry and despite her past with Gareth, which he used to try and manipulate her, we know she will ultimately tell him to ‘take a hike’.

The ‘other man’ was used by Mary in another of her works, can’t remember what the name was but the hero was a Marquis with a limp. It worked then because the heroine and hero were still finding their way with one another and although you knew how it would end it was an interesting walk through their lives building up to the hero giving the anti-hero his comeuppance. You knew it was going to happen but weren’t quite certain how the hero would achieve his goal and it was good to see the cad of storyline beaten to a pulp.

I almost gave up when I realised this was the plot line in A Promise of Spring as I felt Perry loved Grace too much to hold on to her if she wanted to leave. I flipped through the pages and speed read until the last couple of chapters. They way Grace eventually came to her senses was in the ‘blink of an eye’ and I found it difficult to believe such a change happened overnight. Surely she should have come to her realisation more quickly and there would have been hints of it before. But no, it seems the pages had to be padded out and dragged on or it would not have been novel but a pamphlet. In the end it was great to see Grace pregnant with her husband’s child although to be perfect she should have produced a son. I believe Perry would be a terrific dad anyway.

If this is the first Mary book you ever read, don’t give up on her. She has written some terrific books. If it is part of the compilation then her works more readily follow the path of the first of the two books – only better.

If you want gratuitous sex scenes there are countless authors out there to ease your frustration but you won’t find that with Mary who has to put the sex in these days but handles it tastefully; although she has had to bend to modern standards and drag it out a bit more than she used to. Waste of pages to me but it seems to be what publishers think we all want and perhaps they are right about the majority. However, if that is the case, why are Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer still so popular.

Sorry folks, going off on a tangent.

To sum up, not one to keep but her others most definitely are.
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on 23 June 2012
First of all I think Mary Balogh is a great writer. She seems very good at creating believable likable characters that you see gradually fall in love. For me she excels at doing a great love story with just the right amounts of humour, yearning, angst and love. That said sometimes I think that authors like her are judged on a different level. If I don't absolutely love one of her stories then I am genuinely surprised and disappointed, and then have to force myself to think objectively about how I should rate it.

In this book, there are 2 stories:

The first is "The Temporary Wife":

I think this is pretty classic Mary Balogh and I would rate it 5 stars. It's 245 pages long, there are a few sex scenes but I don't think it's especially steamy.
The basic plot line is that Lord Anthony Earheart decides to advertise for a governess, but he really wants a wife, basically to annoy his father. He plans after taking her home to embarrass his father, to give her a generous pension and basically never see her again. He chooses Miss Charity Duncan on the faulty assumption that she is very meek and colourless - his "little brown mouse".
Both characters are very different but both very likable, Charity comes across as very warm, sweet but with a strong back bone. Lord Earheart is arrogant and cold but not intentionally unkind and you see him gradually unthawing with Charity.
It was a very enjoyable read and if you like Mary Balogh, chances are you'll like this.

The second story is "A promise of Spring":

This story is harder to rate, but I think probably about 3.5 stars. It's about 250 pages. Although there are references to love scenes again it's not especially steamy.
The basic plot line (note a few spoilers) is that Grace Howard is a thirty five year old lady whose brother is the rector. When he dies she is left apparently destitute and is proposed to by her brothers twenty five year old friend Sir Peregine Lampman. She says no and explains that she had previously had an illegitimate child, who died. The father -(Gareth) had been a childhood friend that subsequently went off to war and died. Peregine says that he doesn't mind this. It later turns out that Gareth is actually alive, Grace knew but felt that he had died to her as he had married someone else and left her to fend for herself, he is now widowed and wants her back despite the fact she is married.

The things that are right with the book are that both the main characters are likable,, especially Peregine who is a departure from the normal alpha male. He is very likable and charming, sunny natured, and he has a quiet dignity and strength to him. You do feel there is a genuine love that develops between them. I very much enjoyed both the beginning and the end of the book.
The things that I didn't like were firstly, I'm sorry but the older woman trope doesn't particularly do it for me, but it was handled quite well.
However the thing I really didn't like was when Gareth (the ex lover) came back into the picture. It made me feel quite uncomfortable and I pretty much skipped about 50 pages of the book, to try and hurry up till we could get rid of him. Although there's no infidelity it seemed to get very close. I know Grace had a lot of personal issues with him and forgiving herself, but she is a grown woman of 35 and she's supposed to love her husband at this point. She should have told Gareth to get lost much earlier. I also just wanted the h&h to talk and be honest with each other, we're talking of a two year time period here where neither of them can admit they love each other and want to stay with each other.
Although the second story is one of my least favourite Mary Balogh books, its still well written and is far better than a lot of other regency romances that you come across.

All in all definitely worth it!
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on 29 January 2013
I have not yet read any book by Mary Baloch which I have been almost unable to put down, she has to be my favourite Author after Georgette Heyer.
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on 14 February 2015
One of my favourite authors. When a new book comes onto he market, I must have it. Pure escapism, wonderful in these days of doom and gloom
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This writer never fails to please. Wicked and delightful. Love any novel she writes and look out for her new novels
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on 9 March 2014
She writes my kind of books about the regency period and I try to read them all. Keep up the good work
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on 4 May 2015
Lovely book thank you very much enjoyed reading it
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on 8 August 2015
Once again very good didn't want to put it down
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on 4 June 2015
excellent two stories
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