Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Are You Reading : : Mary Balogh

Anne McAllister is just getting started on a new book. So while she's thinking about her people in their situation, she's catching up on some great books in her TBR pile.

I love linked books. When I find an author whose work I love has created not just a story, but an entire world, I rejoice. I also have a hard time resisting the temptation to jump right in.

Usually I don't resist.

As I write linked books and whole worlds myself, I know that each book has to stand on its own. And since I have a brain like a sieve and can't remember what happened in earlier books, even when I'm the one who has written them, I don't mind reading books out of order. They simply have to be coherent unto themselves. That's all I ask.

With Mary Balogh's recent trilogy, which has been followed by a fourth book now out in hardcover and a fifth to come next year (so I guess it's not really a trilogy, is it?), I haven't been disappointed. Not a bit.

I bought them in order. First I bought First Comes Marriage. Then I bought Then Comes Seduction. And recently I bought At Last Comes Love. I'd even intended to read them in order.

But because I had a book of my own that first required writing, and then needed revising and last, wanted one ultimate tweak, I didn't get around to reading any of them when I bought them.

This past week, though, I have.

I started with the third one, At Last Comes Love. I don't know why. I think it's because I liked the hero's name -- Duncan. And I have a thing for heroes who are 'misunderstood.' Duncan had done something terrible -- by society's standards -- five years before. He had basically been persona non grata ever since.

But now circumstances have altered. He's back in society. But he's still not explaining himself. Nor is he apologizing. What he is is looking for a wife. He runs into Meg who is, at that moment, rather desperate for a betrothed. They'll marry, but it won't be easy. The marriage of convenience that he and Meg contrive has plenty of obstacles for them to overcome before their reach their happily ever after.

I enjoyed it because I liked the characters, and because while their situation is unique to them and the period in which they live -- their issues with love and marriage are real. Mary always gives her characters plenty to talk about. They don't just stare at each other and yearn. They confront each other. They tackle their own and each other's insecurities. It makes for great reading.

Which next? I wondered. And I went back to the beginning to read First Comes Marriage. I identified with "plain Jane" heroine Vanessa, though I think she's much more of a saint than I would ever be.

That's the thing about Mary's books -- they call upon their characters to act heroically in not just in great tragedies, but in everyday difficulties. Vanessa did that. And it was lovely to watch Elliott discover he loved her.

I am just about finished with Then Comes Seduction. I'm dragging it out -- making it last -- because I think I really love Jasper most of all. He is the qunitessential bad boy hero. But there's a most inconvenient conscience in him that at the worst possible moment takes him by surprise. Blake Snyder would have called it a "save the cat" moment. It's that par excellence.

So Jasper has won my heart. Now he just has to win Kate's. I know he will, of course, because they were together in Duncan and Meg's book. But it isn't the happy ending I'm looking for -- it's the journey they take to get there.

These three books have made my 'down time' a most enjoyable week.

I'm looking forward to Seducing an Angel, Stephen, Lord Merton's story, which is out in hardback now. And I'm even more eagerly awaiting Con Huxtable's story, A Secret Affair, which is coming in summer 2010. It's a long wait. But I'm sure it will be worth it.

What have you read lately? I may still have a pile of books to get through, but I'm always willing to learn about more -- especially linked books. Got any suggestions?

Anne's next Harlequin Presents, One Night Mistress...Convenient Wife is coming in both US and UK (Modern) in November.

It's loosely linked to her previous Savas-Antonides stories -- well, there's a Savas hero in it -- and introduces Sophy who will be George Savas's heroine if Anne ever stops reading Mary Balogh and gets back to work.


  1. I absolutely adore Mary Balogh! A friend recommended her books to me and I've been hooked ever since.

    I can even go so far as to say Mary Balogh is the reason I started buying books online - couldn't get them in the book shops here in South Africa!

    Loved reading your post Anne! You put a smile on my face today. :-)

  2. I love Mary Balogh as well. Picked up 'The Comes Seduction' at Easter in the US and then bought everything I could find of hers! I have also converted both my parents. Didn't know there was a fourth and fifth coming out. YAY!

  3. As we've been decorating, the books have been removed from my TBR shelf (and I can't reach where DH has put them, growl). So I did some whining, and lovely Jenny Haddon suggested a couple of Georgette Heyers. Duly bought them; they arrived this morning and tonight I have to choose between Cotillion and Sylvester...

  4. Amanda, So glad you've been able to get the books sent to South Africa. That's one of the really good things about online shopping, isn't it?

    Biddy, So glad you've discovered Mary. She has a wonderful long backlist for you. And what a good idea to convert your parents, too. My dad used to read her books when he came to visit. Loved them. Stephen's story is out now in hardback. It depends on how long you can resist the temptation whether you'll last til the paperback. Or you can find it in a library!

    Kate, choose Sylvester! Sylvester! Yes! Oh, I envy you reading them for the first time. I do hope you enjoy them. I loved Sylvester.