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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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I had a really good week. It looks like I did a lot of reading and I did. But there were also outings and some sewing. One day we had really cold weather – like back to winter – and by 10am I lit the fire and sat by it all day and read. Don’t think I even did that in winter!

What I read last week:

What I am reading now:

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Up next:

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Last Week’s Posts

At the End of the Day.  Liz Byrski

Books by Irish Authors

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Review

The Arrangement. Mary Balogh

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The Arrangement
Mary Balogh
Published: Piatkus
Date: 2013
Format: Kindle
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Own book
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Blinded by a cannon blast on the Napoleonic battlefields, Vincent Hunt, Lord Darleigh, needs to escape the well-meaning meddling – and matchmaking – of his family. But anonymity proves impossible, and soon another marital trap is sprung. Luckily, he is saved by a stranger with a captivating voice… And when Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, Vincent can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.

At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent’s proposal, fearing her attraction to this handsome yet heartbreakingly vulnerable man. But when he convinces her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Could an arrangement born of desperation lead them both to a love destined to be?

My thoughts banner
The Arrangement is #2 in the Survivors’ Club series by Mary Balogh.  I have now enjoyed the first two books in this series and it will certainly be a series that I read through all of the books.
Sophia has had a rather unfortunate life up until the time she meets up with Vincent.  Her parents are dead and she has endured some tough treatment at the hands of relations who have treated her worse than a servant.  Eventually when she comes to the rescue of Vincent as her cousin is trying to compromise him, she is turned out at midnight by said relations.  
Once Vincent proposes to her and the marriage is set, all that follows is a story of Sophia coming into her own person.  She proves herself to be loveable,  thoughtful and considerate.  While she and Vincent have an arrangement that at the end of a year they can perhaps go their separate ways, and Sophia can have the little cottage she always dreamed of, it is obvious it’s never going to happen.
Vincent, blinded in battle, finds himself dependent on his mother and sisters and he dislikes it very much.  With marriage to Sophia he sees the promise of his becoming independent from them all.  In general he manages blindness very well, especially with the help of his friend from childhood – Martin’s help.  However at times he finds himself overcome with panic.  He appreciates Sophia in a way she has never experienced before, and is very angry with how she has been treated by her relatives.
I loved this gentle story, and the experience of seeing the differing points of view of both the main characters.  I loved how they supported each other, and were open and honest in their communication.  The book needed no crisis where both characters were pushed apart, rather it was a rising culmination to two people finding happiness in themselves and with each other.
4 stars
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The Proposal. Mary Balogh

The Proposal book cover

The Proposal
Mary Balogh
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: 2012
Format: Kindle ebook
Pages: 321
Genre: Historical romance
Source: Own book
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Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous—if beautiful—aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?

My thoughts banner
The Proposal is the first book in the Survivor’s Club books by Mary Balogh.  Obviously I have come late to this series, and was hooked in by the reviews of the most recent book to look up the first one and read it.  I hate reading books out of order – even ones that are probably very loosely related.
Gwen – Lady Muir has been married and lost both an unborn child and a husband in two different accidents.  She lives ‘happily’ with her mother and nearby family and friends.  She carries within her burdens from her past, however she does not let them prevent her from enjoying her family and visiting others in need.  When she meets up with Hugo all that begins to change – there may be a possibility of a relationship – even love.
Hugo is an interesting character.  He has come from a middle class background, been a hero in the Napoleanic wars, and returned from them to reconcile with his father who had not wanted his only son to go to war.  When his father dies he takes over the very wealthy business.  However he needs a year to himself first to mourn and goes to the country.  Before, when returning from the war he had become part of a group of people who were all dealing with the wounds – inner and outer – of war. It is while he is visiting with these friends that Hugo meets Gwen.
They are obviously attracted to each other but can Hugo over come what prevents him from seeking Gwen’s hand in marriage.  They come from a different class of society, even though Hugo was made a Lord on return from the war because of his excellent leadership and gains for the country.
The story moves along quietly and steadily and if you enjoy a really well written regency historical that is sensual but not full of big sexual scenes then Mary Balogh is your author.  There was an amount of wisdom shared in this book, not obtrusive but there.  
 I really enjoyed The Proposal and I look forward to reading the next few in this series. 
4 stars
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More Than A Mistress. Mary Balogh

More than a mistress

More Than A Mistress
Mary Balogh
Published: Brilliance Audio
Date: 2011. First published 2000.
Format: Audiobook
Length: 11hours 46 minutes
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Source: Own book

She raced onto the green, desperate to stop a duel. In the mêlée, Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham, was shot. To his astonishment, Tresham found himself hiring the servant as his nurse. But Jane Ingleby was far too bold for her own good. Her blue eyes were the sort a man could drown in – were it not for her impudence. She questioned his every move, breached his secrets, touched his soul. When he offered to set her up in his London town house, love was the last thing on his mind.

Jane tried to pretend it was strictly business, an arrangement she was forced to accept in order to conceal a dangerous secret. Surely there was nothing more perilous than being the lover of such a man. Yet as she got past his devilish façade and saw the noble heart within, she knew the greatest jeopardy of all, a passion that drove her to risk everything on one perfect month with the improper gentleman who thought love was for fools.

My thoughts
More Than a Mistress was first published in 2000 and Brilliance Audio published it in 2011.  This book has sat for many, many, months – like 24 months in my audio library.  It was one of those books I bought with a free $10 bonus when you buy 4 in a month at Audible.  What a pity that I left it so long.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable listen.  Rosalyn Landor does an excellent job of narrating the book – I am sure that is why I found it so pleasurable.  Her voices for the various characters are excellent.
On the one hand there is Jane, supposedly responsible for murder and theft, on the run from her pursuers and the Bow Street runners.  She becomes the nurse of the Duke of Tresham when he is injured in a duel.  Eventually she becomes his mistress and the relationship develops from there. Of course Jane is a bit of a mystery and she is more than she tries to portray. She is a feisty, outspoken heroine, and can always be relied on to solve the problems that come her way.
Jocelyn, the Duke of Tresham is your usual hoity-toity Duke.  He is drawn to Jane and he finds himself developing an intimacy with her that he has never experienced before.  So much so that he shares with her things he has never shared before.  However he feels let down and is very upset when he finds out that Jane has not been as forthcoming with him as she might.  
My favourite word in this book was ‘hauteur’.  The Duke was forever being described with this word in varying ways.  I wish I had been counting them.  I did enjoy it.
Naturally everything works towards a happy ending, as such books are expected to do.  However before that happy ending is reached there is time for Jocelyn and Jane to work out their grievances with each other, and reach a satisfactory conclusion.  All very entertaining and engaging, witty and well written.
I am not a huge reader of historical regency romance – sometimes I find they drag a little.  I wasn’t bored one bit by this one.  This is the first in a trilogy.  I will eventually listen to the next two.
5 stars