Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Matter of Class - Mary Balogh

Reginald Mason is wealthy, refined, and, by all accounts, a gentleman. However, he is not a gentleman by title, a factor that pains him and his father within the Regency society that upholds station over all else. That is, until an opportunity for social advancement arises, namely, Lady Annabelle Ashton. Daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family, Annabelle finds herself disgraced by a scandal, one that has left her brandished as damaged goods. Besmirched by shame, the earl is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone willing to have her.

Though Reginald Mason, Senior, wishes to use Annabelle to propel his family up the social ladder, his son does not wish to marry her, preferring instead to live the wild, single life he is accustomed to. With this, Reginald Senior serves his son an ultimatum: marry Annabelle, or make do without family funds. Having no choice, Reginald consents, and enters into a hostile engagement in which the prospective bride and groom are openly antagonistic, each one resenting the other for their current state of affairs while their respective fathers revel in their suffering.

So begins an intoxicating tale rife with dark secrets, deception, and the trials of love - a story in which very little is as it seems.

Ms Balogh is one of my favourite writers. Lately I have enjoyed some of her books more than others and while I was curious about this one it was only when a friend mentioned having loved it that I decided to pick it up.

At first glance the story deals with one of the regency romance genre favourite themes, the marriage of convenience. And in this case a marriage of convenience between two people with different status, Annabelle is an Earl's daughter and Reginald the son of a man who made is fortune with coal mines. That alone would be enough to keep them apart forever but when Annabelle's reputation is ruined and her father desperately needs money there's no other alternative than accept the alliance.

The story happens in just a few days. from the proposal to their wedding day. During that period Annabelle and Reginald seem to get to know each other and learn to deal with each other while at the same we are treated to flashbacks of their past through the years. I'm not very fond of flashbacks and that is in fact my main complaint, when there are many I start getting distracted and want to get back to the main action.

There's no big drama in this story and everything seems to go on smoothly but Ms Balogh reserves us a final surprise. I thought that was a clever one, I don't think I've read a similar plot device before, but maybe it would have worked better as a short story (and with fewer flashbacks).
Readers should be ware that this is a novella not a full lenght although it is being marketed as a hardcover which may lead to some confusion. I'm planning on getting the author's next book in the Huxtable series and I sure hope she manages to surprise me like she did here.
Grade: 4/5


  1. I was considering buying this book, didn't realize it was a novella though. Thanks. I'll wait my turn at the library.

    I too love Mary Balogh, I've been re-reading a couple of her books recently.

    Thanks for the review Ana! :D

  2. Hi Leya, I hope you like this one at least as much as I did. :-)

  3. Numa palavra... surpreendente!! Mary Balogh no seu melhor, mas com um final que me surpreendeu imenso!! Adorei!!

  4. Lucie, ainda bem que também gostaste!! Espero que ela continue a surpreender-nos nos próximos livros...

  5. I love plots with a twist and one written by Mary Balogh is even better. I would recommend this book, short as it is. It's a great fun read. Jane E.


I love to chat about books and stuff and I would love to hear from like minded readers. Please do leave me a comment :-)


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