The Proposal offers what I hope will be a double treat for readers.
First, it is the story of Gwen, Lady Muir, who has appeared in a minor role in several books, including One Night for Love and A Summer to Remember. Indeed, her book was originally planned to complete the trilogy, but a change of publisher and several changes of editor put that plan on hold for a long time. I know many of you have been waiting for her story. You have been telling me so! Here it is at last. Gwen is the widowed sister of Neville, Earl of Kilbourne, and it appears that her short marriage was an unusually troubled one since during it she lost an unborn child and ended up permanently lame as the result of an accident while she was out riding with her husband. And then, just a year later, he died accidentally when he fell from a gallery in their home. Gwen has steadfastly resisted remarrying, but at last she is beginning to feel restless and lonely and left behind by her brother and all her cousins, who are married with children of their own. Perhaps, she thinks, she will at last consider marriage with someone quiet and refined and undemanding.
Second, it is the first book in a new seven-part series to be known as The Survivors' Club Series. The seven members of the club, six men and one woman, are survivors of the Napoleonic Wars, five of them former military officers. All seven were variously wounded during the wars and ended up spending several years at Penderris Hall, the Cornish estate of the Duke of Stanbrook, healing and recuperating. The duke was not an active participant in the wars, but his only son was. He died in the Peninsula. The one woman is the widow of a reconnaissance officer who was captured as a spy in the Peninsula and tortured. She was present during part of the torture and the death of her husband. The seven are all nominally healed, but they return to Penderris for a few weeks each year to spend time with one another, to draw strength from one another, and to help with any problem that might have arisen.
This is the story of Hugo Emes, Lord Trentham, whose wounds were psychological rather than physical, but were very real for all that. He became something of a hermit after leaving Penderris, but now his father, a wealthy middle class businessman, has died and left Hugo responsible for the running of the businesses and for the wellbeing of his stepmother and half-sister. He can best cope, he believes, by marrying a woman of his own kind—someone of the middle class, that is, a practical, capable woman. When he rescues Gwen after she has had an accident on the beach below Penderris, he despises her as a pampered member of the upper classes, while she resents his blunt, morose, reticent manner.
Neither plans to fall in love with the other.
This is Mary Balogh at her riveting best. Everyone loves a wounded hero and Mary introduces us to an unforgettable one who discovers the healing power of love.
Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Two deeply damaged protagonists who need to forgive themselves finally acknowledge their love in this gently funny, heart-melting story that will tug at your emotions and beautifully launches Balogh's new series.
Kristen Ramsdell, Library Journal
...the heart of the tale lies in the slow-growing closeness between the alternately taciturn and blunt Hugo and the charming and gracious Gwendoline, whose social poise hides deep wounds left by a troubled marriage. Beautifully characterized and with a gracefully developed romance, this is a historical romance of unusual thoughtfulness and depth from one of the best writers in the genre.