Comment: After having read the first book in the series last year and having enjoyed it quite a lot, I was very eager to keep reading things from this author.
This is the second installment in the Bedwyn family saga series by author Mary Balogh and now it's time for Rannulf's story.
Rannulf is on his way to stay with his grandmother for a while, he knows she loves him and he doesn't like to disappoint her. He knows she expects him to court and, if he agrees to it, marry a girl she has been thinking about for some time as being perfect for him.
On the way, he finds a stagecoach overturned and the passengers in need of help. He can't do it alone some he takes one woman with him promising to send more people to help everyone. The lady he rescues tells him she is an actress and they share special moments together. But the woman is gone without notice after agreeing to spend more time with him.
The woman isn't an actress but lady Judith Law, coming to live with her wealthy aunt after her father asked for a loan. She knows she has a life of disguised servitude in her future so she is reckless for a while. But she was not ready to find the man who treated her so well to be the apparent groom to be to her vain cousin...
I had a great time reading this book and I couldn't put it down! There's something about it that just made me happy and focused on the story that I wanted to keep going. It didn't take too long to read it especially because of how interesting the characters were.
I think the author's talent is very visible in this story. I have to say I do like the writing style, it's ot the most serious or classical one but it's not silly or too easy either. The way the story is told and how we are given the information, how the details and plot are put in action is always so precise and structured that, for me, it makes it all seem perfect. I can understand why some readers think it's a too cold approach but after countless authors giving a more erotic vibe or a comedy one, this style, I must say, agrees well with my tastes too.
The story is always developing, there aren't too many quiet moments or without activity and even the parts where we have access to the characters' thoughts aren't too still to be boring. I really liked knowing the main characters and their personalities. The plot is a little predictable in some moments, namely when we can foresee how the "bad" guy will do something or when others try to be an obstacle in the hero and heroine's path. But even knowing what will happen, if not exactly how, isn't enough to make this story boring. I was always so expectant to see what the characters would do next...
The main protagonist, obviously, have the focus on them. The way their relationship developed was quite interesting, especially after they realized each others' true identity. The beginning wasn't my favorite part but the way they connected was subtle and provided a good base to what would happen next.
Rannulf is a gem of hero, not a complete alpha type, not with certainty in his path but of course with the help and interest of the heroine to give him strength, he becomes someone we would like to know personally and even support too.
I liked Judith a lot, she wanted adventure, she thought she only had one chance to have it before her fate was sealed. I don't think I would act like her but her inner thoughts helped in liking her at the same time. And I do love heroines in danger of poverty and having to work or support themselves. I confess I like a little bit of martyrdom in them too, if it fits. It made it all to much sweeter and romantic when they fell in love and she could be recognized by her worth, despite her status in life.
It does make me want to sigh....
The end wasn't as I imagined but it followed the lines of what is expected. It was a good here, as it was in the previous novel, to see the Bedwyn siblings and family come together and help each other. The sense of family is something I really, really love in series and sagas and if it continues I'm sure this would become one of the best elements in all the books.
The HEA was cute, hopeful, the villain was bested and all wrongs are looking to become rights and that's a romance for you.