Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The First Snowdrop - Mary Balogh

The Abandoned BrideThe handsome, elegant Alexander Stewart, Viscount Merrick, wed young and innocent Miss Anne Parrish in haste-his hand forced by circumstance and honor. But now his duty was done-and it was Anne who had to repent at leisure.
Merrick declared he would return to London to resume the pursuit of pleasure that Anne had so rudely interrupted. Anne for her part was free to enjoy the privileges of her new position-but enjoy them as alone as only a proper wife without a proper husband could be.
Anne's only revenge for this cruel insult would be to break the heart of this man who had broken hers. But to do this she would have to be even more heartless than he...

I think Mary Balogh's talent was most in evidence in her traditional regencies and especially in those with Christmas themes. I have read quite a few of them. Some I have reviewed on this blog, others I am still saving for a rainy day. A few years ago I read Christmas Belle and while checking Balogh's website I realised that it was the second book in a duet. It has been on my mind, since then, to get that first book and find out more about the other members of Jack Frazer's family. The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge provided the perfect opportunity.

One of my favourite plots in romance is the "marriage in trouble". So I was quite happy to discover that The First Snowdrop has one such plot. After being caught alone with Anne during a snowstorm that made them spend the night in the same house Alex feels morally obligated to offer for her by her brother and the local vicar.  But when Anne accepts his proposal he feels trapped and convinces himself that she must have planned it. Alex's punishment of Anne is to abandon her in his estate for over a year...

Anne feels devastated on being left there after a promising wedding night. But while timid and lacking in self-confidence, she proves to be a strong woman when she spends that year improving her looks and Alex's estate. They communicate when it is strictly necessary and Alex pays all the bills she sends him but they don't each other again. When she receives an invitation from his grandmother to spend Christmas with the family Anne can't resist an opportunity to see Alex again. 

I had to suspend my disbelief a bit to buy that Alex would so mistake Anne's behaviour on that first night and that he would accept to offer for her when he already had another life planned. But I was happy I did because I really enjoyed the story once we get to Alex's grandparents house party. Alex doesn't immediately recognise Anne but once he does and he gets to know her better he realises he has been treating her very badly. But he seems unable to change the situation and even when he is decided to make a go of their marriage and Anne mistakes his intentions he is unable to tell her what is on his mind. 

I really enjoyed the interaction between the family members, the warmth of their relationship and how Anne really came out of her shell and decided she deserved better from Alex. I just think they could have solved things then if they had had an honest conversation instead of dragging their misery for a few more months. Although not one of my favourites it was a book I enjoyed reading and it made me want to reread Christmas Belle.

 Grade: 4/5

 This counts for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

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