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Monday, May 31, 2010

First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh



GENRE: REGENCY ROMANCE

First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh is the first book in a new series which focuses on the four Huxtable siblings... Margaret, Vanessa, Katherine and Stephen. Orphaned after the death of their vicar father, they have been living a quiet life in a small village. Their lives change significantly when Elliott Wallace, Viscount Lyngate, arrives to give the Huxtable Family shocking news. Due to the recent death of a distant family member, the teenage Stephen has become the next Earl of Merton. Loath to allow their brother to be taken off to a new home and educated in society without them, all three sisters agree to go with him.

Elliott is not happy about this development since he is already the guardian of the underage Stephen and responsible for teaching him how to manage his properties and educating him as a gentleman. Now he will have to introduce Stephen's sisters into society as well. None of Elliott's female relatives are available to help the sisters so the ideal solution is for Elliott to marry and have his wife perform that duty. And if his wife happens to be one of the sisters, all the better. That only leaves two left to marry off. It's not like he has any romantic notions about marriage, he knows he needs to marry and produce an heir. Elliott decides to offer for the eldest sister, Margaret, since she is beautiful and has been taking care of her younger siblings since the death of her father. The second eldest sister, Vanessa, has a different plan, however. Vanessa knows that Margaret is in love with someone else, but duty to her family would compel her to accept Elliott's proposal anyway. Although considered plain, Vanessa has a vivacious personality and is a widow. She also doesn't have any romantic notions about her future prospects so she persuades Elliott to marry her instead. Somewhere along the way, their marriage of convenience becomes an enduring romance, something neither one of the them could have anticipated.

The great thing about Ms. Balogh's books is that they all tend to be related. There are clear series dealing with specific families, but the series are frequently tied together by guest appearances from characters in other books. In essence, all of her books are part of one large series... and there are alot of books in that series. The other thing I like about this author is her ability to take a simple relationship story and make it interesting. There isn't alot of action or intrigue in her books, and yet every one of hers that I have read is a total page turner. I have no idea how she does it, I just enjoy the ride.

BEST FEATURE: The plain girl gets the gorgeous guy. The idea that a girl can use her personality to overcome an imperfect appearance has always been a popular concept with me. Fans of this type of story should also check out the Lifetime TV series, Drop Dead Diva.

WORST FEATURE: The behind the scenes development of the male lead. This book tells the story from both Vanessa's and Elliott's perspectives, but I felt that only Vanessa's emotional development was shown in its entirety. Elliott got to the same place in the end, but I don't feel that how he got there was fully explored.

PARENTAL WARNING: no violence and sexual content that isn't overly explicit.

MY RATING: 4 - Mary Balogh is one of the best Regency Romance authors out there and this book is just more proof of that... not that she needed it.

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