Only Beloved Mary Balogh
Only Beloved
A Novel

This is Book 7 and the final book of the Survivors' Club series—following The Proposal (Hugo's story), The Arrangement (Vincent's), The Escape (Ben's), Only Enchanting (Flavian's), Only a Promise (Ralph's), and Only a Kiss (Imogen's). This is George, Duke of Stanbrook's story and Dora Debbins's. Dora was first introduced in Only Enchanting, as Agnes's sister. She met George when she dined at Vincent's house and gave a harp and pianoforte recital. Many readers have written to me in the hope that she would be his heroine, something I intended all along!

Dora has had a hard life. When she was seventeen and looking forward to her come-out Season in London, her mother suddenly ran away with a younger lover and the family was soon embroiled in the horrible scandal of divorce. Dora lost her Season and gave up any chance of finding a husband and personal happiness by remaining at home to bring up her much younger sister. Then, just when Agnes was grown up, their father remarried and his new wife made Dora uncomfortable in her own home. She moved to a village in a different part of the country to live in a cottage and make a living giving private music lessons. Agnes married and was later widowed and went to live with Dora. But then, as told in only Only Enchanting she married again and moved away. Dora was left with her quiet dignity and memories of the golden days when Agnes was being courted and she met the Duke of Stanbrook.

George has always been the quiet, sad one of the Survivors, the one who made his home available for the treatment of severely wounded officers from the Napoleonic Wars. He gave unstintingly of himself to those men and one woman, but no one really knew him—except for the fact that his young son had been killed in the wars and his wife had committed suicide a short while later. Now George, reflecting on the fact that his young friends have all recovered from their wounds and found happiness in marriage, feels that his own life is slipping away in a loneliness he can no longer deny. He considers marrying again and is surprised to realize that only one woman will do. He met Dora only a few times when he was staying with Vincent. He scarcely knows her. Yet it is to her he finds himself proposing a marriage of quiet companionship and comfort for them both. Neither of them is young. They cannot expect a strong romantic attraction or passion…