Top critical review
Disappointingly average fare, with only the first story satisfying
on 29 May 2015
Firstly, for those that don't know, these stories are books 3 and 4 in a series of related stories. I was able to read through the first story in this book thanks to the appeal of the lead characters and the occasional touching moment, but I felt it was not of the same quality as Lord Carew's Bride, book 2 in the series.
Although, I actually think Ms Balogh does a good job of portraying the progressive romance between Francis and Cora and I do not feel Francis is forever thinking of his lost love as some reviews comment. In fact, his actions prove Cora has clearly helped him move on from his infatuation, without him at first realising it.
Also, I note a few readers have complained that the book contradicts itself with regard to at first describing Cora as attractive and then as big footed , unattractive and unfeminine. I understand why they say this, but read in context these negative views about her appearance are her own misconceptions about how she looks.The main criticism Francis levels at her looks is that her facial features are too striking and bold for her to be considered pretty, but from their first meeting he is attracted to her. In other words she is a handsome woman.
I enjoyed the story overall, the bedroom scenes were brief and easily skipped and there were only occasional Americanisms.
The second story in this book is a much greater disappointment. I found the Duke of Bridgwater increasingly annoying through the course of the previous stories, his cruel suggestion in 'The Famous Heroine', that Francis offers Cora carte blanche is a betrayal of his mother's trust and of Cora's family placing her under his protection. I could have happily slapped his snobbish, arrogant unchivalrous face.
He is the hero of the next tale and doesn't really improve on acquaintance. I still want to slap him and the heroine in his story is totally unbelievable, no one could be as dim as she is and manage to work as a governess for several years. Her moral compass swings from minute to minute and she is silly simply when it suits the author's agenda. In other words, she is not a real character, but a plot device. I hope I never come across a h&H as irritating again. The Duke is a selfish cad and the heroine a witless morally feeble hypocrit.