Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Spotlight Review: A MATTER OF CLASS by Mary Balogh

A MATTER OF CLASS - Mary Balogh
Vanguard Press (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-59315-554-4
January 2010
Short Historical Romance

Regency England

Mr. Bernard Mason made a fortune in coal, moved south and bought an estate in Wiltshire, hoping to set up as a gentleman. Mr. Mason's friendly overtures to his new neighbor, the Earl of Havercroft, were cruelly rebuffed however. Havercroft forbade his family and dependents to even recognize the existence of any Mason. And that's the way things remained for thirty years. In that time, the Masons produced one child, their son Reginald, who was sent to the best schools and was otherwise reared to be a gentleman. At twenty-five, Reggie's wealth and good looks, coupled with friends among his former school mates, have given him some acceptance by the ton, and he has been taking advantage of that wholeheartedly in the past year. What with Reggie's gambling debts and the expense of always dressing in the height of fashion, Bernard believes it's time to crack down on his son. And it looks as though the perfect chance has come for Reggie to marry into the upper class, and redress old hurts as well, for Havercroft's daughter just ruined herself by attempting to elope with her father's coachman.

Havercroft finds himself in a bind what with bad investments and huge expenses, and now the marriage of his daughter to the wealthy (and odiferous) Marquess of Illingsworth is a no-go after her ruin. The earl is forced to accept a connection to the detested Mason.

But what of the two young people? Reggie faces being cut off without a penny if he doesn't offer for Lady Annabelle. Lady Annabelle, in turn, faces being sent to her father's farthest estate to earn her keep as a chambermaid if she doesn't accept Reggie's offer. Really, they have no choice at all...have they? The points of view alternate between Reggie's and Annabelle's with no head-hopping confusion, and we are treated to several enlightening visits to the past.

What a charming and engaging (pardon the pun) tale! Not only do Reggie and Annabelle enchant with their story, but the families (beautifully contrasted) are arresting as well. The fathers, you see, are not really evil villains; Havercroft is probably no worse than the majority of his peers, while Mason senior wants better for his son. The mothers also add to the whole.

Whether called a short novel or a long novella, at 190 pages A MATTER OF CLASS offers solid entertainment by the ever-popular Mary Balogh. Her website, www.marybalogh.com, lists more good things to come, both original work and the reissue of some of her backlist. You can never go wrong with a Balogh book.

Jane Bowers

1 comment:

Stuff Rhys Likes said...

I agree -- her books are wonderful.

~Lindy