Saturday, September 1, 2007
Simply Love - Mary Balogh
Anne Jewel and Sydnam Butler were two of my favourite secondary characters and I was really happy when Balogh decided to pair them up in Simply Love. After reading 2 or 3 average books I decided to pick this one up and see if it cheered me up.
New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh returns to the elegance and sensuality of Regency England as she continues the enthralling story of four remarkable women–friends and teachers at Miss Martin’s School for Girls. At the center of this spellbinding novel is Anne Jewell, a teacher haunted by a scandalous past…until she meets a man who teaches her the most important lesson of all: nothing is simple when it comes to love.…
She spies him in the deepening dusk of a Wales evening–a lone figure of breathtaking strength and masculinity, his handsome face branded by a secret pain. For single mother and teacher Anne Jewell, newly arrived with her son at a sprawling estate in Wales on the invitation of an influential friend, Sydnam Butler is a man whose sorrows–and passions–run deeper than she could have ever imagined.
As steward of a remote seaside manor, Sydnam lives a reclusive existence far from the pity and disdain of others. Yet almost from the moment Anne first appears on the cliffs, he senses in this lovely stranger a kindred soul, and between these two wary hearts, desire stirs. Unable to resist the passion that has rescued them both from loneliness, Anne and Sydnam share an afternoon of exquisite lovemaking. Now the unwed single mother and war-scarred veteran must make a decision that could forever alter their lives. For Sydnam, it is a chance to heal the pain of the past. For Anne, it is the glorious promise of a future with the man who will dare her to reveal her deepest secrets…before she can give him all her heart
Anne is invited to the Duke of Bewcastle welsh estate by Joshua, the marquess of Hallmere who feels strong family ties with David, Anne's son. Since Anne hesitates in letting him go alone Freyja invites her to come along. In Wales Anne meets Sydnam one night when she was strolling outside. Scared by his appearance she runs away and later look for him at dinner to apologize.
They start a friendship recognising themselves as two scarred people by the hand life has dealt them with. They trust each other enough to speak of past dreams and desillusions and soon they became very attracted to one another.
I thought things were going rather well, I like damaged characters and I like that they heal through the power of love. However when Anne and Sydnam admit that attraction and loneliness to one another it's not of love that they speak but of friendship. It would be the perfect opportunity to share how they are falling in love with each other but instead a big misunderstanding comes of that afternoon of love. Sydnam feels he didn't please her and that he is not good enough and Anne feels he proposed out of obligation.
They separate at the end of the vacation month and after she returns to Bath Anne finds out she is pregnant. She writes to Sydnam who comes to marry her and suddenly all the peace and serenity they shared in Wales seems to be gone. They keep fighting with one another till it doesn't seem they are the same people. This part annoyed me a bit, I wanted things to happen a bit diferently instead of Anne just giving up her independence and writing Sydnam to come to the rescue. I wanted them to talk about it.
Then they decide to visit his parents, that was nice and I actually liked seeing Kit and Lauren again as their book is one of my favourites from the more recent books Balogh wrote. Sydnam starts to accept that he can still do somethings, like painting, even if he has to do it a bit differently. And then they decide to go and face Anne's parents. That's when it all went downhill for me. Since she decided to face them I wanted to have some closure, for them to accept how they had wronged her and harmed her and David. In the end nothing like that happens. Leaving things as they were did not satisfy me at all even if Anne acknowleges that if things had been different she wouldn't have found Syd. Mind you that these two have still not admitted their love for each other.
Then the grand finale is a party in Bath that all the Bedwyn's organise since there wasn't a proper wedding breakfast for Anne and Syd, they seemed a bit to much, a bit like a soap opera grand finale with all the characters smiling and enjoying themselves happily into the sunset.
This books has some similarities with Lord Carew's Bride, one of my favourite traaditional regencies. Whereas in that book a lot of emphasis is given to manners and behaviours, there are also two damaged characters and several misunderstandings between them. However the magic that exists in Lord Carew's Bride is absent in this book. Maybe the problem is that there isn't a worthy villain.
But I really did like the first half of the story when they were getting to know each other and sharing their thoughts and feelings.