Monday, 15 June 2015

Review: Only a Promise by Mary Balogh

Only a Promise (The Survivors Club #5) by Mary Balogh
Publisher: Signet
Publication date: June 9th 2015
My rating:  4.5 stars 
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Ralph Stockwood prides himself on being a leader, but when he convinced his friends to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, he never envisioned being the sole survivor. Racked with guilt over their deaths, Ralph must move on . . . and find a wife to secure an heir to his family's title and fortune.

Since her Seasons in London ended in disaster, Chloe Muirhead is resigned to spinsterhood. Driven by the need to escape her family, she takes refuge at the home of her mother's godmother, where she meets Ralph. He needs a wife. She wants a husband. So Chloe makes the outrageous suggestion to strike a bargain and get married. One condition: Ralph has to promise that he will never take her back to London. But circumstances change. And to Ralph, it was only a promise.

My Thoughts:
Chloe Muirhead chances at love have been dashed.  Disgraced through a family scandal she’s basically ineligible for marriage, and at the age of twenty-seven she’s well on her way to becoming a spinster. Staying with her mother’s godmother, the Duchess of Worthingham has provided a escape of sorts, out of sight and mind from London society.

Ralph Stockwood only wishes he was ineligible, because he has no desire to fall in love or form any emotional attachment.  His emotional scars from fighting in the Napoleonic War weighed him down with guilt, and for a time he didn’t even want to live, not feeling worthy.  Marrying and letting someone in doesn’t sound appealing at all, but as the heir to the Duke of Worthingham Ralph must provide an heir for the title.  With the current Duke, his grandfather, aging and ailing, he must find a wife soon. 

When Chloe hears of Ralph’s predicament, she makes an offer of marriage with no expectations of emotional ties or love from him.  She provides an heir, takes care of the house and Ralph can go on about with his life without much changing.  Oh, how naïve we can be, right? 

I adored Chloe! I admired her strength and courage, her determination to rely on herself to take what happiness she could from life and not to expect others to give it to her. She wasn’t bitter when Ralph was distant or pulled away after opening up to her, because she never expected him to in the first place. She counted every amount of tenderness he offered her as a happy surprise, but didn’t want to put too much stock in it and have her heart crushed by relying on it.

Ralph for his part was surprised when he found himself yearning for his wife and the affection and comfort she provided. Also, that he desired her; it didn’t really register how beautiful she was until right after they married. These feelings scared him:

And his very longing for the night, for her body, for her, had almost kept him away. For frankly he was a bit bewildered and more than a bit alarmed by his eagerness.

Ralph was happily surprised that Chloe enjoyed sex just as much as he did. It would be impossible not to form some emotional bond, not to fall in love when you allow someone in enough to enjoy sex on a regular basis, especially if you sleep with them, and grow attached to their presence in your bed every night.  Chloe and Ralph were sincerely good people and therefore saw the good in each other, and that admiration along with physical attraction inevitably turned into love, much as neither wanted to admit it.  Chloe and Ralph, with all their intentions of keeping at arm’s length emotionally, provided each other the support and motivation to face their fears and confront their individual baggage from the past.

For a beautiful historical romance that will tug at your heart, and fill you with joy, Mary Balogh’s Survivors’ Club series cannot be missed.  Only a Promise was a gradual build toward love, full of small steps forward and some occasional steps back.  Both the progress and the digression pulled at my emotions!  While the story is part of the Survivors’ Club series, it’s not necessary to read the other books to enjoy Only a Promise.  I did read Only Enchanting, the book previous, and completely loved it, though.


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  1. I'm always on the lookout for new historical romance reads and when it comes to romance, I trust your opinion explicitly, Rachel. I can't wait to pick these up because I adore a slow-burn romance and have definitely been in the mood to try out a new author. Gorgeous review, as always, dear!

  2. Oh this sounds beautiful, Rachel. It's hard to find HR books that I love because I keep comparing them to my favorites, but I think this is going to be perfect for me. I love the sound of the romance and the characters being good people.
    Lovely review!

  3. Chloe's strength and courage sounds great in this one

  4. A beautiful review, Rachel :) It sounds as if I would enjoy reading about these two myself.

  5. This sounds lovely. I am so glad you reviewed and recommended this one. Whoo hoo, Third Grave!

  6. I love Mary Balogh. I have not read this series, but will have to. It is always good to know that book five is still a win. Thank you for your review.

  7. Oh, man, this sounds so endearing already. I love the sound of this and how they eventually desired each other even thought they both promised a "no-strings-attached" marriage. My heart is already melting O_O Added it to my TBR!!

    Faye at The Social Potato

  8. Wonderful review, Rachel! Glad to hear you enjoyed this book so much. Since Historical Romance is not a genre I often venture in, I’m not sure I’ll pick it up. Though arranged marriage is one of my favorite tropes.

  9. Oh my. It's been such a long time since I've read a historical romance. Everything that starts off with a no-strings relationship hardly ever work. Seriously, when will people learn? Lol. But I love them. Can't resist them. Lovely review, Rachel.


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