My Rating: 3.5/5
Author: Mary Balogh
Title: The Proposal
Genre: Historical Fiction
Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her. Hugo is a gentleman in name only: a war hero whose bravery earned him a title, a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. Hugo doesn’t wish to court Gwen, yet he cannot resist her guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face. He wants her, but will she have him? The dour ex-military officer who so gallantly carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, Hugo captivates her more—with his desire, with his love, and with the promise of forever.
The Proposal is a regency romance novel that follows Gwen and Hugo after an event in the summer that brings these unlikely pair together. This book is part of the Survivor’s Club series – named from a group of men (and one widow) that survived the casualties of war together. Personal demons are faced by multiple characters in this story—with the quest for happiness and love sought by many.
The story is written in third person through Gwen and Hugo. Gwen, Lady Muir, lost her husband seven years prior and has had some difficulty with trusting herself to love/marry again. While visiting her friend, they come in to a disagreement which leads Gwen to take a walk along the beach. Not wanting to get caught in the tide, she trespasses onto the Duke of Stanbrook’s vast property. While doing so, she comes into a mishap that lands her in the arms of Hugo, now Lord Trentham. From the middle class world, Hugo went to fight in the war and received a title for his spectacular achievement. He, along with some other survivors, had healed at the duke’s estate. Every year the “survivor’s club” gets together to help each other cope with the aftermath of the war – physical and mental. During his stay, he admits that since his father died the prior year – thus inheriting the family business – he needs to find a wife. What he finds instead is Lady Muir, whom is part of the upper class world in which he hates. The characters were well written and multi-dimensional. I think I enjoyed reading about Hugo the best and his endeavors to understand women and society. However, I think Hugo’s post-war recovery could have been written out a little more to balance Gwen’s troubles.
The plot follows the couple through the season. The beginning of the story was a little slow, but it picked up as I continued to read. The story contained the usual regency romance plotlines, but added the emotional element of survivor’s guilt—which is something I haven’t really read in these types of books. Although there were any major surprises, I enjoyed the story.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, I liked the book. It’s a regency romance with a focus on survivors. If you like regency romances, you should give this book a try.