The Proposal

By Mary Balogh

(Random House/Delacorte, $26, 320 pages)

Who is this author?

Mary Balogh, who is known for her high-quality historical romances set in Georgian or Regency England, is a New York Times bestselling author and has written dozens and dozens of novels. Her series include the Slightly and Simply novels, the Mistress trilogy and the Huxtable series, among others. Balogh (pronounced like Kellogg) grew up in Wales and was a high school teacher in Saskatchewan, Canada, before becoming a full-time writer.

Here’s what she says on her website,, about how she got started:

“I was addicted to the novels of Georgette Heyer, whom I had discovered only a few years before while working my way through a Grade XI reading list during a maternity leave. I cannot adequately explain how enchanted I was, how transported into a world I had experienced before only through Jane Austen. I knew that if ever I wrote, it was that romantic world of Regency England that I wanted to recreate.”

What is this book about?

It’s about an unlikely romance: Lady Gwendoline, a young, aristocratic widow seemingly satisfied with her new solitude meets Lord Hugo, an ex-soldier with a noble title inherited from his wealthy merchant father. Neither initially thinks the other is a worthy partner, but when he scoops her up following an ankle-spraining fall, their hormones kick in and love blooms in a fast and furious manner. But problems ensue, as they always do. Despite his title, Hugo is middle-class and happy to be; Gwendoline carries serious emotional baggage from her marriage, which ended unhappily. And the fate of Hugo’s unmarried sister is entwined with that of the loving couple.

Why you’ll like it:

Balogh gives her readers the delicious details of life in a long-gone time, but the emotions of her characters are universal. Her imagination seems boundless, allowing her to create a huge body of work that enchants her readers and, through sheer numbers, offers many opportunities to enjoy her writing.

What others are saying:

Says Publishers Weekly:

“In a strong opening for the Survivor’s Club series from prolific Regency doyenne Balogh … a mismatched couple finds common ground in trauma and survival. When Hugo Emes, Lord Trentham, a resolutely middle-class businessman’s son raised to the peerage for heroism in battle, rescues elegant widow Gwendoline Grayson, Lady Muir, after she badly sprains an ankle, both agree that their mutual attraction can go nowhere. Though Gwendoline’s agreement to sponsor Hugo’s young sister in society allows Balogh to include the typical trappings of the Regency genre, 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.”

A widowed noblewoman and a lord with middle-class antecedents engage in a decidedly unconventional courtship. Lady Gwendoline, somewhat lame from a long-ago riding accident, sprains her ankle while taking an ill-advised shortcut up a seaside cliff, which just happens to be on the grounds of Penderris Hall, where the Survivors’ Club, six Napoleonic war veterans and a widow, meets annually. One of these, Hugo, Lord Trentham, who earned his title as a reward for valor in a “Forlorn Hope” assault on the enemy, comes upon Gwen, and in his gruff, no-nonsense way carries her to Penderris. ..Gwen and Hugo are instantly drawn to each other, and in contravention of every rule of decency, consummate their love days later, in a way that Jane Austen may well have imagined but would never have put in writing…Balogh contravenes the conventions of historical romance by introducing an ingredient the genre is not always known for: intelligence,” says Kirkus Reviews.

 “This is Mary Balogh at her riveting best. Everyone loves a wounded hero, and Balogh introduces us to an unforgettable one who discovers the healing power of love,” says #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

When is it available?

It’s on the new book shelves at the Barbour, Blue Hills, Camp Field, Dwight and Goodwin branches of the Hartford Public Library and can be requested at the Downtown library, where it also is available in a books-on-tape format.

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