Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club, #7) – Mary Balogh

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Source: Goodreads

George, Duke of Stanbrook and the figurehead of the self-styled Survivors’ Club, is feeling lonely. All of his compatriots have found love and are building their lives back up. He worries that they won’t need him anymore and he’ll live alone at Penderris Hall for eternity. Then he lights upon an idea that could change everything.

Dora Debbins is perfectly happy being a small town music teacher. An established spinster, she finds joy in teaching the young of Inglebrook as well as Lord and Lady Darleigh the fine art of music. She gardens, and when her sister lived with her, would enjoy chatting and drinking tea on a rainy afternoon. Now that her sister has married, Dora feels lonely, and her mind keeps wandering back to the gentleman she met around the same time her sister met her now husband. It could never be, but a little daydreaming never hurt anyone. That is until her daydreams suddenly become reality and Dora is thrust into a marriage she never expected and a world she never imagined.

George and Dora! I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been wishing and hoping they would get together ever since book four when we met her. Dora is just too sweet for words, and I am simply elated that George is going to try and be happy again.

Bullheadedness aside, George got super complex in this book. Like woah. And there are so many plot twists. No one saw those coming. No. One. This book actually becomes quite dark in places. Much darker than the previous books. Dora’s lightness of personality becomes a metaphorical guiding light to George, who is stuck in this dark place of misery. It all feels terribly serious while you’re reading it. Tissues probably needed.

I’m incredibly sad that this series is ending, but also extremely excited for whatever Mary Balogh writes next. This book not only serves as George’s story, but it also wraps up the previous six stories. THERE’S EVEN AN EPILOGUE. I CRIED. HAPPY. TEARS. It’s beautiful. This is how a good book series should end.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #6 – Only A Kiss

Only a Kiss (The Survivors' Club, #6) – Mary Balogh

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via Goodreads

Imogen, Lady Barclay, is adjusting slowly to living alone with her elderly female family members and their horde of stray animals. She is hoping to move into the dowager house as soon as the roof gets fixed, and is looking forward to starting a garden.

Percival Hayes, the Earl of Hardford and the new Lord Barclay, realizes that he will have to visit his estate in Cornwall eventually, but he never expects to find so many people and animals living there. Setting up an estate takes a lot more work than Percy realized, and before he can begin to decide what to do, things begin happening. Mysterious things that nobody will explain to him, and it is soon up to Percy and Imogen to solve the mystery of what or who is trying to run them off the estate.

I recently checked this out of my library so I could refresh my memory before writing this review, and also because my mom hadn’t read it yet. Wouldn’t you know it, but she lost the book. We haven’t lost a library book since I was maybe 6 or 8, so this is really quite frustrating. Not to mention that I hadn’t gotten around to writing this review yet, so now I have to go by memory.

This book has a lot of elements. Multiple houses and family members, not to mention an entire town full of people. This book easily wins the award for ‘biggest cast’ of the series. Also, there are a million stray animals and PIRATES. This book is not just a romance, but also a full-on mystery novel. It was very cool.The chemistry between Imogen and Percy was quite good. I tend to think of Imogen as a young and slightly more roughed up but less strict Professor McGonagall (from

The chemistry between Imogen and Percy was quite good. I tend to think of Imogen as a young and slightly more roughed up yet less strict Professor McGonagall (from Harry Potter). She’s delightful in a serious kind of way that just really makes her endearing and spunky at the same time.

Percy, for a character we are just meeting, is extremely well developed, and there were times when I felt we almost knew him better than Imogen. Not to mention that Percy is the only male lead who is not a member of the Survivors’ Club, which, thankfully, doesn’t seem to phase him that much.

Overall, I would recommend it, especially if you’ve been loving the series so far! As with all of Balogh’s books, this series just gets better and better.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #7 – Only Beloved

Only a Promise (The Survivors' Club, #5) – Mary Balogh

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Source: Goodreads

Ralph Stockwood escaped the Napoleonic Wars with only the scars on his body. He lived. But he can never forgive himself for the friends who didn’t. Being a member of the Survivors’ Club has helped Ralph keep his head up, but even they can’t help him find his way forward in a world so full of the change that he detests.

After a few London seasons and a scandal that she won’t soon forget, Chloe Muirhead never wants to see the city again. She keeps telling herself that she is perfectly happy being a companion to her grandmother’s best friend, the Duchess of Worthingham, who lives a quiet life in the country. But deep down she knows that’s not true, and when an opportunity comes knocking, Chloe finds that she cannot say no. She only asks that Ralph makes her one promise: that he will never make her return to London.

This fifth novel in Mary Balogh’s best selling Survivor’s Club series is tied with the fourth, Only Enchanting, for being my favorite. Phoebe is possibly my favorite of the heroines. She is spirited and witty, and that’s always nice in a historical fiction. While this story focuses more on the secrets people keep than forgiveness, both are essential to the plot of the series as a whole. Phoebe never wants to return to town, and while Ralph doesn’t particularly care, he is a man of duty, and this causes numerous problems.

Near the end of the book, there is a large party and the much of the ton is in attendance. It may be the only real ton party we see in the series actually, I forget, but at this party we get little cameos from not one, not two, but three of the Bedwyns! The Bedwyn family makes up the central characters of Balogh’s Slightly series, which is one of my absolute all-time romance favorites. I think I actually shrieked when I saw their names on the page. It’s crazy that after reading the Slightly series nearly 5 years ago I would still recognize their names, but I did! I might have actually shed a single tear of happiness as well, just because I was so excited. The Bedwyns and their dry humor are just fantastic and never fail to make me smile.

The romance, miscommunication, secrecy, and mistrust are simply so well done in this book, and the character development is superb. Highly, highly recommend.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #6 – Only A Kiss
Book #7 – Only Beloved

Only Enchanting (The Survivors' Club, #4) – Mary Balogh

Source: Goodreads

Flavian is one of the seven members of the self-styled Survivors’ Club. Though he escaped the war physically unscathed, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, still has a stammer and suspects he suffered brain damage from battle. Due to a number of marriages amongst their group in the past year and the birth of the first child to one of their number, The Survivors’ Club has agreed to host their annual reunion at Middlebury Park, the home of Lord Vincent and Lady Sophia Darleigh, rather than Penderris Hall, the immense and distant home of the Duke of Stanbrook.

This, of course, means being within proximity to the town of Inglebrook, where Agnes, a widowed artist, is just as happy to be living with her sister, as she is to be away from her step-mother and her over-bearing vicar brother. She has no intention of looking for a second marriage. But is there anything she can do to combat love once it has found her? Agnes and Flavian’s pasts collide in this story of trust, remembrance, and forgiveness.

This fourth book in Balogh’s Survivors’ Club series is tied with the next one, Only A Promise, for being my favorite. After the first three novels happened nearly simultaneously, it was refreshing for this story to pick up just afterward. It did a good job of developing the new characters – Flavian, Agnes, Dora – while updating us on the lives of the three couples we’ve already come to know and continuing to enlighten us about the rest of the survivors. While a quick wedding is a big trope in historical fiction, I’m not usually a fan of it. Most times, it’s a marriage of convenience. Balogh managed to take this idea and spin it, not on its head, but some way that is even better, where the characters themselves have differing ideas of what is going on and the miscommunication is at an all-time high.It’s a masterful work of art, and Balogh really outdoes herself. I’m pretty sure I read this one almost cover-to-cover in one sitting. This book is the one that made me wish this series

It’s a masterful work of art, and Balogh really outdoes herself. I’m pretty sure I read this one almost cover-to-cover in one sitting. This book is the one that made me wish this series could be made into a miniseries or something of the kind; because the characters are just so fantastic and real to me. 100% would recommend.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #6 – Only A Kiss
Book #7 – Only Beloved

The Escape (The Survivors' Club, #3) – Mary Balogh

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Source: Goodreads

Sir Benedict Harper was a second son who dreamed of one day becoming a general. He never imagined he’d end up crippled before his 30th birthday, or that he’d inherit the family title after a freak accident killed his elder brother, but that’s exactly what happened. Still reeling 3 years after the accident that nearly cost him his life, Ben finally begins to realize he won’t be going back into the army, and must find a new future for himself.

Samantha McKay has been in mourning for the  four long months since her husband finally lost his fight against his war wounds. Five years of constantly nursing him meant that she never got to know anyone in the neighborhood in which they live, and now her sister-in-law demands the longest and strictest form of mourning known to humankind.

When Samantha’s learns she’s inherited a house in Wales from a great aunt she never knew existed, she quickly decides to flee there and start a new life. Soon, Ben becomes tangled in her plan and agrees to ride as her escort. Will their tenuous friendship survive the adventure?

This third book in Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series is actually my least favorite of the seven total stories. It’s not bad or even unlikeable by any means, but the characters just aren’t as developed as in the other books. The fact that much of the story takes place in Wales facilitates the lack of the other survivors appearing right up until the very end. The book, in general, tends to give you more background on all the secondary characters than it really does on Ben and Samantha, which, admittedly, was frustrating. I just felt like they could have been anyone. Throughout the series, we tend to learn about the other survivors even in the books where they are not the main character, but Ben is the exception. Even in his own story, he tends to stay rather mysterious and unknown.

Lastly, can we take a moment to talk about the cover? They re-did the covers for the first book, and books 4-7, yet books two and three still have the half-dressed people on the front. It makes it really hard to read these books in public and not be judged for it. How are the random people I see on the train supposed to know I’m reading it for the plot and not just the steamy scenes? Yes, I know, it’s a problem all romance readers deal with on a daily basis and has no solution in the foreseeable future, but it’s still a bummer.

Overall, I adore this series, and I even liked this book, just not to the extent that I loved the first two. The scenery was beautifully described, but the character development was a bit lacking. The plot itself was genius, and I was second guessing every thought I had about every character throughout. So, if you don’t mind the slightly less-than-stellar character development of Ben and Samantha, you will simply love this book.

HHC Rating: 3.5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #6 – Only A Kiss
Book #7 – Only Beloved

The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club, #2) – Mary Balogh

Source: Goodreads

Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, is blind, but you’d never know it by looking at him. With his uncanny ability to seemingly look right at you when he’s speaking, it’s no wonder people are confused. Nevertheless, he can’t see. And to his family, this makes him helpless. Helpless to live alone, helpless to run the estate, and above all, helpless to choose a suitable bride. It’s that last part that ends up causing Vincent to quite literally run for the hills.

Sophia Fry hardly ever goes by that name. Usually, she is ‘the mouse’ if any name is used at all. She’s content, if not exactly happy, to hide quietly in the corner and observe people while her cousin Henrietta commands the attention of everyone in the room.

When Vincent arrives at his old family home next door, Henrietta quickly decides to marry him. Sophia’s interruption of those plans can only cause trouble, but is it worth it to save Vincent from a horrible marriage? The consequences are even more dangerous than Sophia knows, and Vincent will soon realize he is the only person who can help her. The clock is ticking on their futures, but will they figure out the truth in time?

This second book in the Survivors’ Club series really got to me. Learning about Sophia’s past as she comes out her shell is a shining example of character building as it should be, and Vincent’s fight for independence is wonderfully and interestingly written. The way the characters are all interwoven between the books in the series is pretty fantastic. Mary Balogh should really be renamed Romance’s Fairy Godmother because of how her stories are woven together. The series she writes always flow so perfectly from one book to another, and it’s always sad when they end (or when you have to wait for the next book to come out!). No second book slump here! Just a good old fashioned romance with a dash of steamy. Highly recommended if you like romances full of intelligent, likable, complex characters.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #6 – Only A Kiss
Book #7 – Only Beloved

The Proposal (The Survivors' Club, #1) – Mary Balogh

Source: Goodreads

Gwendolyn, Lady Muir, has been through a lot. Her husband is dead, her old friend’s husband has just died, and she has discovered halfway through her visit that her friend is the reigning queen of whining. Yet it is a simple walk that proves to be her worst decision. A sprained ankle and a handsome stranger later, she finds herself a guest at Penderris Hall in the midst of what seems to be a reunion that she is clearly intruding upon.

Hugo, Lord Trentham, is one of seven members of The Survivors’ Club: a group of six men and one woman who have seen and experienced the worst a war can offer and have only found comfort in each other. Each year, the seven members meet to relax and catch up on each others’ lives and recoveries. Hugo is hoping to have a few weeks of quiet at Penderris before he starts searching for a wife, but after Gwen intrudes on his solitude and he is forced to her rescue, he begins to see things differently. His only problem now is convincing Gwen they want the same thing before she leaves forever.

I have been a fan of Mary Balogh’s work ever since I discovered the Simply and the Slightly series in 2011, and the Survivor’s Club is no different. Brilliant characters and twisting storylines keep the reader’s attention until the very last page, and in some cases long after. The Proposal is the first book in the Survivor’s Club Series, four of which I hope to be reviewing this month. The seventh and final book comes out in May 2016, so I will probably review the last three sometime next year.

I really enjoyed Hugo and Gwen’s story. Mary Balogh’s characters are always quite complex, and the reader often learns their pasts as they reveal them to others throughout the story. This book had me hooked from the first chapter, and there was never a dull moment. As with most romances, there are steamy scenes, but they are not overpowering to the storyline nor the characters, and indeed they are handled quite well. I would recommend this book (and the series) to anyone who enjoys a good storyline and well-built characters in their romances. I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who enjoys Balogh’s other works.

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #6 – Only A Kiss
Book #7 – Only Beloved