Friday, March 9, 2018

Mary Balogh - Simply Magic

On a splendid August afternoon Susanna Osbourne is introduced to the most handsome man she has ever seen . . . and instantly feels the icy chill of recognition. Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitleaf, is utterly charming—and seemingly unaware that they have met before. With his knowing smile and seductive gaze, Peter acts the rake; but he stirs something in Susanna she has never felt before, a yearning that both frightens and dazzles her. Instantly she knows: this brash nobleman poses a threat to her heart . . . and to the secrets she guards so desperately.
From the moment they meet, Peter is drawn to Susanna’s independence, dazzled by her sharp wit—he simply must have her. But the more he pursues, the more Susanna withdraws . . . until a sensual game of thrust-and-parry culminates in a glorious afternoon of passion. Now more determined than ever to keep her by his side, Peter begins to suspect that a tragic history still haunts Susanna. And as he moves closer to the truth, Peter is certain of one thing: he will defy the mysteries of her past for a future with this exquisite creature—all Susanna must do is trust him with the most precious secret of all. . . 

Comment: I've been going through Mary Balogh's Simply series and this month I picked the 3rd installment of the quartet about four teachers at Miss Martin's School for Girls. This is Susanna Osbourne's story and how she found love after a bit of a holiday, pretty much like her friend Anne, from the previous book.

Susanna Osbourne is a young woman who has had a complicated past but she was helped and guided to Miss Martin's school when she was 12 and since then she has studied there and later on invited to become a teacher. Susanna liked her life and the purpose she gives to young girls, whether because their parents can afford it or to the "charity" girls like herself used to be but all are worthy of knowledge and help. The story starts when Susanna is invited to spend some time with Frances (from book #1) and there she meets Viscount Whitleaf, a man she immediately dislikes although we are told it could be due to his too charming personality. Later on we realize there's more behind it.
Peter, the viscount, somehow can't take his off Susanna and he feels she might be someone special to him if only he could actually talk to her without her looking too prim and proper about it.
These two don't start with the best traits but will they be able to be honest with one another?

Those who have read these books by mrs Balogh probably know some of the plots overlap each other. In this third book we have scenes we are familiar with, mostly from the previous book, but of course through a different perspective this time. I found this interesting because it makes the reader feel included and knowledgeable about certain situations and interpretations. The books an certainly be read out of order when it comes to the main plot, but they make a lot more sense when read from the first to the last.

I've become a fan of this author's writing, especially when thinking about her most acclaimed series which happen to be some of her more contemporary work. I've read a couple of older titles and while her talent is obvious, her stories didn't feel as appealing for me to read. These more contemporary ones seem more in tune with my current tastes.
However, not all books can be perfection and this title, despite its positive aspects, understandable emotional situations and HEA, somehow didn't feel as amazing for me.

The relationship between the main characters isn't easy but I've come to accept it was paced well enough if one thinks the couple didn't know each other and there was some animosity from Susanna's side at first. However, despite the believable way they get to know each other, I just didn't think there was that much chemistry between them, it didn't sound as if the way things were written actually conveyed that to me.

This makes me feel a little guilty because I might be unfair. Even more when I think about the reasons for Susanna's animosity - totally deserving! - and all the emotional content to explore here. Especially when we get to know the whole truth behind Susanna's difficult past, with all the details that in real life could certainly be too much for someone to deal it but that obviously a romance plotted story sort of tones down a bit. I did enjoy understanding what made characters be the way they were and it was quite well done how each quirk of everyone's personality happened to be a necessary characteristic of them.
But the romance was just flat for me.

Despite the obvious social obstacles between the couple and happiness, I think there was a certain lack of need in their want to be with the other when it was made possible. I would have welcomed a non romance in these situations more than the eventual giving in on both their parts to secure the expected HEA. They just felt boring together or maybe the author didn't put them in situations that would be romantic enough for us to see their bond better. Walks and thinking of the other aren't always enough, I think.

All in all, still a good enough installment in the series, several details were quite interesting but not always well used and there's some lacking in the romantic relationship.
I expect wonders from the last book, though.
Grade: 6/10

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