Blogging for review of many books....!!

First Comes Marriage (Mass Market Paperback)

by Mary Balogh (Author)

Product Description

Against the scandal and seduction of Regency England, New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh introduces an extraordinary family—the fiery, sensual Huxtables. Vanessa is the second daughter, proud and daring, a young widow who has her own reason for pursuing the most eligible bachelor in London. One that has nothing to do with love. Or does it?

The arrival of Elliott Wallace, the irresistibly eligible Viscount Lyngate, has thrown the country village of Throckbridge into a tizzy. Desperate to rescue her eldest sister from a loveless union, Vanessa Huxtable Dew offers herself instead. In need of a wife, Elliott takes the audacious widow up on her unconventional proposal while he pursues an urgent mission of his own. But a strange thing happens on the way to the wedding night. Two strangers with absolutely nothing in common can’t keep their hands off each other. Now, as intrigue swirls around a past secret—one with a stunning connection to the Huxtables—Elliott and Vanessa are uncovering the glorious pleasures of the marriage bed…and discovering that when it comes to wedded bliss, love can’t be far behind.

About the Author
Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Slightly novels: Slightly Married, Slightly Wicked, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Tempted, Slightly Sinful, and Slightly Dangerous, as well as the romances No Man’s Mistress, More than a Mistress, and One Night for Love. She is also the author of Simply Love, Simply Unforgettable, Simply Magic, and Simply Perfect, her dazzling quartet of novels set at Miss Martin's School for Girls. A former teacher herself, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.

First book in new series, February 24, 2009
By Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen"

'First Comes Marriage' is the first in a new series by Mary Balogh following the fortunes and loves of three sisters and one brother. At the start of this book we meet the Huxtable family, eldest sister Margaret, youngest sister Katherine, young brother Stephen and the middle sister, Vanessa Dew. Vanessa is a widow, having married a neighbour who died a year and a half ago. Although Vanessa still lives with her in-laws, her three siblings live in a small cottage and make do with minimal money.

When a viscount comes to stay in the local inn the village is intrigued, especially when he attends the assembly dance. However the Huxtable family are astounded the next day when they discover that their lot is going to change significantly. As they find themselves moving to a new area and preparing to be introduced to polite society, it seems that Viscount Lyngate is planning to ask the eldest sister, Margaret, to marry him. But Vanessa knows Margaret still carries a torch for her young love, serving overseas in the army, and so she persuades Lyngate to marry her instead.

As Vanessa and Elliott settle down to married life, she has to come to terms with his rather sober and unsmiling demeanour and he with her feelings for her dead husband. Some of his past actions may come back to haunt him, along with a former good friend who may well be a rogue, and Vanessa has to cope with her own poor self-image. Can they find happiness and love in a marriage of convenience?

Mary Balogh is, in my opinion, one of the finest writers of Regency romances today. 'First Comes Marriage' has all her trademark skills, including deep characterisation, flawed and yet appealing characters and historical accuracy. She falls unexpectedly into a trap laid by Georgette Heyer who coined in her own books the term 'Cheltenham Tragedy' (which appears twice in this book) and which Heyer used for a plagiarism lawsuit against another author who used the phrase. There were also times in this book where it did feel very much like the start of a series; there was a great deal of scene setting at the beginning and we followed some of the other characters (to be featured in further books) more closely than one might normally expect for a standalone novel. I also felt that the falling-in-love aspect of the book was perhaps a little more rushed than it might have been. Despite these minor comments I found this to be another excellent read which had emotion, action and character in abundance.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2009

Vanessa's book -The Huxtable Quintet series, February 24, 2009
By Misuzmama (New York, USA)

The quaint village of Throckbridge in Shropshire is all abuzz with the news that a viscount is staying at the local inn. The gossiping tongues immediately start wagging and nearly every female sighs in delight when the devastatingly handsome -and eligible!- lord arrives at the annual St. Valentines assembly. Bored and agitated, Elliot Wallace, Viscount Lyngate, simply wants to fulfill his task and is impatient to remove himself from this backwater country as soon as possible. Plain and recently out of mourning widow, Vanessa Huxtable Dew, takes an immediate disliking to the arrogant aristocrat but is determined to make to best of the night despite being maneuvered into dancing with the disagreeable man. But her interaction with him is not so short lived for he calls upon her family the next day and shockingly informs them that their brother, a mere boy of seventeen, is the new Earl of Merton. Lyngate insists that his new ward must be immediately removed to Warren Hall in Hampshire (Merton's principle seat) and begin tutoring/training for his responsibilities. As a close knit family, the three Huxtable sisters are determined to accompany their younger brother. Not pleased with the change of events Lyngate submits and looks grimly ahead to the daunting task of launching three women into society . Soon it becomes apparent that marriage to one of the sisters solves a myriad of problems on both sides. Lyngate fulfills his duty, and promise to his grandfather, in acquiring a bride. She, in turn, takes on the burden of preparing her sisters for the ton. But Lyngate is in for one more surprise. He has somehow gotten himself engaged, not to the oldest and prettiest sister, but to Vanessa, the plain unpleasant one who has sacrificed herself in her sisters place. Ultimately he resigns within himself to go forth with the wedding. After all how terrible could it be having a wife who promises complete loyalty and devotion?

Balogh is one of my favorite romance authors but I just didn't really care for this first book in the Huxtable series. Although the writing, character development and historical details are top notch, it is the romance itself that I found to be less than appealing. I felt like Elliot and Vanessa were as mismatched as they come and unlike in other books (Slightly Dangerous for example) there was no spark, no passion between these two. I do not mind a slow moving love story if it comes to a satisfying conclusion. In the end, however, I had the distinct impression that they had settled into a content marriage, far less than the wedded bliss I've come to expect. Vanessa exudes delight and laughter bringing joy to everyone around her but not Elliot. She claims that it will be her mission to please him and make the humorless man laugh. But he seems unaffected by her charms until nearly the end. I also found it tiresome that Vanessa's lack of beauty was referred to over and over again -nearly every twenty pages. And I longed for duty-minded Elliot to come to his senses and finally admit that their marriage had come to mean much more than convenience. He kept flip-flopping back and forth in his mind which was irritating. And when he finally did admit his feelings it happened altogether too quickly and lacked a certain sincerity.

A less than satisfying romance, hopefully the rest of the series will be better.

My Balogh romance shelf keepers (besides the above Slightly Dangerous):
The Notorious Rake
TrulyMore than a Mistress
Simply Love