After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws--until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.
Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other's arms.
Includes Mary Balogh's charming short story, "The Suitor."
Comment: This is the third installment in the Survivor's Club series by Mary Balogh.
The writing style of this author is a comfort to read so obviously I couldn't not follow the series.
The third "survivor" is Ben, who got hurt in his legs during the war, was told he would not walk again but with perseverance and will, he did, even though he struggles.
Circumstances and his own sense of guilt prevent him from taking over the estates he is supposed to be running after his older brother's death. No one expected him to fully recover and his younger brother and his family are doing very well with the estates so Ben feels adrift now.
While visiting his sister he has a weird meeting with her neighbor Samantha McKay, a recent widow. After visiting her to apologize, Ben can't help but feel that woman is someone he could care about but how will they be friends if society seems to not approve? Will they take the chance anyway and escape from everything?
As always, mrs Balogh has thought of two main characters that are well developed and who the readers will want to see succeed.
Their backgrounds are well explained and they are naturally good people who have been dealt not so good possibilities but now we feel it's finally their time to find happiness.
The plot isn't complicated and follows the usual pattern the author has for all her stories, the two main characters shouldn't suit, they need to face some obstacles but the fact they communicate, are mature and act like it, means the biggest conflict comes from the indecision of admitting to their feelings or not at a certain moment.
If there is one thing I'd add to this author's work is a little bit more sexual tension that we, reader, might notice even if the characters wouldn't. I confess sometimes it does feel as if everything is rather vague and not fully convincing at the end.
Ben is a good character, I could very easily sympathize with him when he decides to not go back and take charge of his inheritance because he feels he might come across as ruthless for his younger brother. He also doesn't want to be a bother for others. I think the author always does well in portraying the characters inner struggles and personality.
Samantha was likable too and could understand her need to not be made a virtual prisoner of her mourning but she was rather impetuous at times. Nothing wrong with that of course, but I do prefer the heroines to feel they are doing the right thing, even if that isn't the smartest option and Samantha had all reason to want to do her own thing yes, but I suppose I'd have liked the escape to happen in a different manner.
After the characters decide to go away to look for a place for Samantha to live in, they start to discover interesting new things about their pasts, namely Samantha. A good part of the novel from a certain point centers on her. Happily, there is also the mention of the other survivors closer to the end, so I felt there was some balance achieved in how the story progressed. It was easy to care for the characters in general and wanting to see them happy. I liked how the story progressed.
Comparing with the first two books, I'd say this is my least favorite because the romance wasn't as romantic to me somehow.
My edition also included a novella, titles "The Suitor", which features characters seen/mentioned in the series but they are not central, though. It was a cute novella but to be honest I wasn't dazzled by it.
Al in all, this was another good book by the author, it had many positive elements which I expected anyway and although it wasn't as special as I would have liked, it was still a good read and an excellent way to pass the time.
I'm very eager for the next one.