The Proposal by Mary Balogh is a historical romance, in which two unsuspecting individuals are thrown together in what could be called fate.
Lady Gwendoline Muir is staying in Cornwall to support her friend after the passing of her husband, despite the fact that her friend is not the easiest woman to get along with. An argument between the two forces Gwen to take a walk along the beach near Penderris Hall, a place she has been advised to steer clear of. Her walk is not the safest as she slips and sprains her ankle, made worse by the fact she suffered a riding accident years previously that left her with a limp.
She is rescued by Lord Hugo Trentham, who is out for a walk on the beach seeking a wife. He is staying at Penderris Hall as part of an annual meeting of the Survivor’s Club, seven individuals who all sustained injuries during the Peninsula Wars, whether emotional or physical. They all helped each other to heal, and reconvene every year as a reminder of what they have overcome.
Hugo led a Forlorn Hope in the army, a courageous feat that won victory but at the expense of hundreds of his men. He was given the title of ‘lord’ for his troubles, but remains true to his middle class routes, not wishing to join the social elite of the ton. It has been a year since the death of his father and he is wishing to take a wife, purely to provide an heir for the family business.
Stumbling across Lady Gwen appears to be the perfect coincidence in his search for a wife, but there is a great disparity between their social classes. Hugo is determined to find a wife from his own middle class, and stubborn Gwen does not fit his criteria despite his attraction to her.
However, it soon becomes clear that the two are attracted to each other and begin to open up about all their darkest secrets. Both are aware that their social status means they cannot marry, but is marriage really as impossible as it first seems?
Despite the stereotypical nature of this book it was quite enjoyable, especially as the two main characters are so well-developed. Both have their past traumas to overcome, and it is only once they have faced their demons that their relationship can truly grow. I didn’t particularly enjoy the lack of surprising plot twists, as it was fairly easy to guess what was coming, but the book still kept me interested enough to keep reading.
I liked Gwen’s character, as she was a widow whose marriage wasn’t as happy as it appeared on the surface so there was a lot of potential for development. Hugo’s past war trauma made them a good match for each other as there was a certain level of understanding that drew them together, like two lost souls finding each other. Their characters were a great contrast to each other, as both are stubborn and yet somehow form compromises to get what they want.
Overall this novel was great if you just want a typical historical romance, as there are very few shocks that can’t be predicted. The characters are great and their romance is well-developed without being instantaneous, although I felt some of the supporting characters could have had a larger role. There was a very brief introduction to the other members of the Survivors’ Club, so it will be interesting to see what happens to these characters in the following books.
A typical historical romance in which a surly gentleman attempts to seduce a lady of worth, but this book was made interesting by the fact that both characters need to overcome their pasts before they could be together. This book had a very stereotypical plotline, so if you’re looking for something different then this particular historical romance isn’t for you.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- The Proposal
- The Arrangement
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