Only a Promise

Only a Promise4.5 StarsChloe Muirhead chances at love have been dashed Disgraced through a family scandal she s basically ineligible for marriage, and at the age of twenty seven she s well on her way to becoming a spinster Staying with her mother s godmother, the Duchess of Worthingham has provided a escape of sorts, out of sight and mind from London society Ralph Stockwood only wishes he was ineligible, because he has no desire to fall in love or form any emotional attachment His emotional scars from fighting in the Napoleonic War weighed him down with guilt, and for a time he didn t even want to live, not feeling worthy Marrying and letting someone in doesn t sound appealing at all, but as the heir to the Duke of Worthingham Ralph must provide an heir for the title With the current Duke, his grandfather, aging and ailing, he must find a wife soon When Chloe hears of Ralph s predicament, she makes an offer of marriage with no expectations of emotional ties or love from him She provides an heir, takes care of the house and Ralph can go on about with his life without much changing Oh, how na ve we can be, right I adored Chloe I admired her strength and courage, her determination to rely on herself to take what happiness she could from life and not to expect others to give it to her She wasn t bitter when Ralph was distant or pulled away after opening up to her, because she never expected him to in the first place She counted every amount of tenderness he offered her as a happy surprise, but didn t want to put too much stock in it and have her heart crushed by relying on it Ralph for his part was surprised when he found himself yearning for his wife and the affection and comfort she provided Also, that he desired her it didn t really register how beautiful she was until right after they married These feelings scared him And his very longing for the night, for her body, for her, had almost kept him away For frankly he was a bit bewildered andthan a bit alarmed by his eagerness. Ralph was happily surprised that Chloe enjoyed sex just as much as he did It would be impossible not to form some emotional bond, not to fall in love when you allow someone in enough to enjoy sex on a regular basis, especially if you sleep with them, and grow attached to their presence in your bed every night Chloe and Ralph were sincerely good people and therefore saw the good in each other, and that admiration along with physical attraction inevitably turned into love, much as neither wanted to admit it Chloe and Ralph, with all their intentions of keeping at arm s length emotionally, provided each other the support and motivation to face their fears and confront their individual baggage from the past.For a beautiful historical romance that will tug at your heart, and fill you with joy, Mary Balogh s Survivors Club series cannot be missed Only a Promise was a gradual build toward love, full of small steps forward and some occasional steps back Both the progress and the digression pulled at my emotions While the story is part of the Survivors Club series, it s not necessary to read the other books to enjoy Only a Promise I did read Only Enchanting, the book previous, and completely loved it, though A copy was kindly provided by Signet in exchange for a honest review. Only a Promise by Mary Balogh is a 2015 Signet publication This book turned out to be one of my very favorites in the survivor s club series I know I sound like a broken record, but this series is appealing to me for a number of reasons The Survivor s Club struck a chord with me right off, and so far, I don t think I ve missed a single book The premise is one in which wounded soldiers, mentally, emotionally, and physically, are still recovering from the effects of war Each story is compelling, emotional, and inspirational All the characters have had to overcome major obstacles in order to open their hearts up to the possibility of falling in love Ralph s story is no exception and it is certainly painful, so I really felt bad for him He is severely wounded physically in the Neapolitan war, and is left scarred, but it is the loss of three comrades during the war, which has left him emotionally drained to the point where he has nothing left inside but bitter regret and remorse For Chloe it is a broken heart that taught her that love is just a lie, the actions of a selfish sister that ruined her chances of marriage, and the shocking revelations about her parents that have caused her to become fodder for the cruel gossips in London society With her reputation in ruins, this chance with Ralph is a golden opportunity for her But, once they are married, and reality sets in, all of Chloe s hopes are dashed as she endures the one thing in this world she dreaded the most, and Ralph appears impervious to her pain I love the mature characters, how they deal with really difficult and complex issues, and go through transitions that only love s restorative powers can accomplish I literally watched Ralph fall in his wife, saw him face his worst fears, and all that bottled up pain slowly released from him No man can do everything, Graham explained Each of us can do only what is within his power If we dwell upon our inability to solve the world s problems, our only possible recourse is to despair Despair accomplishes nothing Chloe is a character I admire tremendously No matter what era you live in the shock she endured concerning her parents is one that would send anyone into a tailspin Like Chloe my first inclination would be to withdraw from society and it was Ralph s preference as well, until duty called The trouble with running away is that you must always take yourself with you Both main characters really stepped into their roles, gaining strength from one another as their love for each other grew I loved how Ralph addressed his feeling for Chloe, as not just about romantic love, or sexual pleasure, but that deep abiding love that is what holds couples together through the ups and downs that life inevitably brings This is a wonderful story about learning to face your worst fears, forgiving yourself, and the power of love which is what made all that possible for Ralph and Chloe I loved this one 5 stars I find I don t have a lot to say about this Mary Balogh writes well, but this is a fairly formulaic marriage of convenience tale with an emotionally damaged hero and a heroine who s had a few hard knocks in her own life It s an interesting and worthy idea, writing a series of romances about a group of men and a woman who have been deeply damaged by the Napoleonic Wars in Regency England times I read The Arrangement a couple of years ago, about Vincent, the one who was blinded in the war also a marriage of convenience story, heh, I seem to be a sucker for those , and found itmemorable. I really loved Only a Promise It was sweet and poignant and brilliantly written The angst was handled very well it was justified and kept to a reasonable limit, unlike, say, The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell by Samantha James The love scenes were very lukewarm, though, but that didn t really bother me since I realised, later on in the book, that this was not about the romance The story was all about how Ralph and Chloe developed themselves How they, because of their marriage, learned how to move on from the past, to let go of their fearsAnd to actually live Yes, this was a story about two people dying and coming back to life Because that s what Ralph and Chloe were at the start dead They were dead inside they had given up hope for love, for intimacy, for happiness Until their marriage proved them otherwise Until they learned that their love for each other brought them to life.And I m not only talking about love in a sexual sense here, as is usual in romance novels No, what they had went deeper than that They had companionship, friendship, intimacy Their love was a collection of all those things, and it was simply beautiful to witness I cried I blushed I laughed And I simply adored every minute of it. My least favorite of the series so far Ralph has been something of an enigma through the other books Indeed, I always struggle to remember that he s one of the Survivors The trouble is that he s a brooder and kind of egotistical about it.Chloe is fine, I guess She has had wretched luck and is kind of licking her wounds when she runs across Ralph She overhears his frustration with the standard ing nues and a reluctance to blight their lives with a husband who won t care for them however well he does his duty to care for and protect So naturally she signs up, instead and yes, her wretched luck was indeed so bad that this was a move up for her Anyway, she had guts and grows into them and that s all well and good.The problem with Ralph, for me, is that I have no personal experience with such deep grief and guilt It seemed rather self indulgent to me, even before we found out that it was, indeed, rather self indulgent I ve never had that depth of depression, either Altogether, that made him kind of hard for me to relate to or even want to spend much time with This isn t helped by his resenting Chloe because he s developing feelings for her Like it s her fault she s just so nice to him that he s becoming attached Which is then exacerbated by him taking weeks to get over himself Literally weeks.Anyway, I m painting him a bit harsher than he probably deserves He s not a dead loss and he does pull it together in the end I kept wanting to thunk him on the head, but that was only half the time The rest of the half he at least did support Chloe, even emotionally.A note about Steamy This one had a good half dozen explicit scenes, but they were skimmed over, mostly So still in the middle of my steam range, even iffrequent Frankly, at least a quarter of my problem with Ralph is his rather cold blooded manner in the bedroom even after he has come to cherish Chloe, he doesn t show it or say it or indicate in any way his growing reliance on her or the comfort she freely gives him He s a selfish taker, is what I m saying and it made me respect him less. Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.I ve read all of the books in this series Some I ve likedthan others I m actually not a huge fan of this author For me, it s hit or miss But this series has captured me and I love it I can t quit reading it I experienced the entire spectrum of feelings when it came to Chloe, the heroine I liked her just fine at the start She s been harshly affected by a couple of scandals involving her family Chloe has never done anything wrong at all but because of those scandals, she s sort of been laughed out of London Or shunned out, anyway And she feels that she s pretty much ineligible on the marriage mart since no one would want her So I really felt for her at that point I liked when she approached the hero with her marriage bargain I thought she was so brave But then I stopped liking her for a while because I felt like she let the hero hurt her feelings over and over again without giving him attitude or anything Not even a LITTLE bit of attitude But finally, her bravery and backbone shows up again and I was right back to liking her Ralph was a very difficult character to like He s been depressed ever since he came back from the war He blames himself for his three best friends getting killed in the war Through most of the book, he was a sad and angry man I could understand why he was that way, of course, but he still wasn t likable or fun to read He d pretty much shut himself off emotionally from everyone He doesn t want a wife because he knows he s an empty shell and has nothing, emotionally, to offer He was right the cold and unfeeling way he dealt with Chloe for most of the book made meandangry The fact that Chloe just let him act that way made me like Ralph less and less I think I was about 75% through the book before I even STARTED liking Ralph And even at the end, I was glad that he was a better person but for me, it didn t make up for the way he had treated Chloe earlier.The Sexy Time was okay I found it to be pretty typical for a historical romance in regards to heat level and frequency Actually, the heat level was a bit lower than usual since it sounded TO ME like Chloe just laid there, like a cold fish, and Ralph just performed the act long enough to fill her with his seed and he rolled off Actually, it was a pretty big turn off for a majority of the book And I didn t like Chloe and Ralph s relationship for most of the book either and I m using that term very lightly He never beat her or anything awful like that But he was certainly unkind and unfeeling He rebuffed Chloe a lot and not only does that hurt one s feelings, it really is a blow to one s self esteem as well I didn t think Ralph ever did enough or anything, actually to make up for that This book was just okay for me There are other books in this series that I liked a lotand would recommend Chloe was decent but I wished she would have stood up to Ralph s rudeness a bitRalph, of course, takes a pretty significant emotional journey in this book As glad as I was that he d made peace with some things, I still say he wasn t much fun to read I would not recommend starting this series with this particular book but I m still looking forward to the next book in this series. Ralph Stockwood Prides Himself On Being A Leader, But When He Convinced His Friends To Fight In The Napoleonic Wars, He Never Envisioned Being The Sole Survivor Racked With Guilt Over Their Deaths, Ralph Must Move On And Find A Wife To Secure An Heir To His Family S Title And FortuneSince Her Seasons In London Ended In Disaster, Chloe Muirhead Is Resigned To Spinsterhood Driven By The Need To Escape Her Family, She Takes Refuge At The Home Of Her Mother S Godmother, Where She Meets Ralph He Needs A Wife She Wants A Husband So Chloe Makes The Outrageous Suggestion To Strike A Bargain And Get Married One Condition Ralph Has To Promise That He Will Never Take Her Back To London But Circumstances Change And To Ralph, It Was Only A Promise Most of the book was food for thought It was extraordinary realistic at times, with the author masterly delineating the somewhat ordinary characters and their everyday struggles in a marriage without love.There was no cushioning of tragedy, and the whole deal was a pretty straightforward affair showcasing two people that fall in like before being in love There are no giddy feelings, just deep essential human emotions that need time and effort in order to develop Still, while I applaud the prose, and marvel at the unique simplicity of it, the book as a whole felt somewhat flat It was a study of human relations muchthan a love story And while it kept me interested, it was boring on another almost inexplicable level I will read the next book, and will slobber at the thought of Gorge getting his own story But I do not recommend this book to people that are not devoted Mary Balogh fans or avid HR readers. A lovely addition to the series This one is a marriage of convenience story that takes place over maybe 2 months or so The story mainly concerns the growing relationship between two people who had given up on relationships love There was a lot about PTSD and it was dealt with well within the understanding that people had about the illness two hundred years ago Lovely relationship development It was nice to see a family that dealt with scandal without casting out the offender which in this case was the heroine s younger sister I did get some flashes of Pride and Prejudice with that character though but I enjoyed them It was nice to see some old friends from other books Now we have to wait for the next one Bummer Boring with a capital B.

Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two year teaching contract in 1967 She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian When she s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting She also enjoys watching tennis and curl

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  • Kindle Edition
  • 402 pages
  • Only a Promise
  • Mary Balogh
  • English
  • 13 July 2017

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