This one was really interesting. Balogh mixes it up a bit here in a very intriguing way.
Felicity, Lady Wren has just cast off her one year of mourning and is going back to visit her parents. She was married off to a much older man who was in his 60s while she was just seventeen. Her family desperately needed the money and Lord Wren was extremely wealthy. At the time, Felicity was desperately in love with Tom, her neighbor, and the two of them had been long planning to marry.
Now six years later, after having endured a somewhat stultifying marriage, Felicity finally feels free. She plans to make a brilliant marriage to a wealthy young
Lord this time and to finally enjoy her life. She knows she is in an enviable position. She is a very rich woman who has her own fate in her hands. She undertakes to sponsor her twin sisters for the season so they can all enjoy themselves.
Surprisingly, she has reconnected with Tom. Not in their old desperately-in-love way, but in a deep and abiding friendship. Tom escorts the three ladies to London and generally accompanies them to parties and acts as a somewhat protector for the twins.
For his part, Tom has his own reasons for staying in Felicity's orbit. He is still in love with her. Felicity has made it clear that he is not what she is looking for. He is young and handsome with a prosperous farm that adjoins her parents' home, but he is not a glittering member of the ton. He is a scholar who prefers the ease and quiet of country life. And even though Tom is made painfully aware that she is no longer in love with him, he is determined that whatever match she makes is good for her and she is happy. Hence he assigns himself the role of her protector as well.
This was not a very long book, but Balogh packs a lot into it. I loved, loved, loved Tom! He is a wonderful hero. So sure of himself so quiet and steady --- not one of Balogh's normal bored aristocrat rakes. He is a nice departure to read in one of her books (he is close in spirit of Gerard from A Precious Jewel). Yeah, sometimes he's a little too perfect and sometimes I think rather than smiling wonderfully at Felicity he ought to just leave her, I can't help but just really like
Felicity, otoh, was working on my last nerves. Balogh did a masterful job in creating a character that really was a contradiction. Felicity was married for many years and traveled to many countries and moved about in sophisticated circles so she should be a little more on the ball that she is. But then, as it is rightly pointed out, she never really had a season. For all that she is and older woman, she really has less experience than a debutante. Her husband kept her very close at hand and was jealous, although not cruel. So sometimes I really wanted to strangle her for being so blind. Even her younger sisters had more sense than Felicity when it came to figuring out their own feelings. But then I couldn't be too
mad because her attitude and demeanor made sense given the context of her history.
All in all this was a lovely little read from Balogh. Her books are different enough from each other that I am not feeling a sense of boredom or sameness in reading them en masse like I am. She is definitely keeping my interest up. I can't wait to see how she mixes it up in the next book I plan to read, A Counterfeit Betrothal