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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

ARC Review: Only Beloved by Mary Balogh
Only Beloved is a sweet romance that focuses on both lead characters sorting out their past and coming to terms with it. It was a nice conclusion to the Survivor's Club series. We saw many cameos of previous protagonists, thus also getting a little extra epilogue for each of them. My only qualm was that there were some boring parts that drug on a little too long for my taste.

Dora is a 39 year old spinster who lives in a small village and is a local music teacher. She is quite a gifted musician. She missed out on her society debut to raise her younger sister. Dora isn't bitter over her sacrifice and has learned to accept her situation in life and make the best of it.

George is a 48 year old Duke who lost his only son in the Napoleonic Wars and his wife who was beside herself with grief over losing their son and committed suicide. He opened up his country home to wounded soldiers of the wars, and in doing so created the Survivor's Club. This group of individuals became close friends and a great support group for each other.

George makes a hasty decision to remarry, and the person who comes to mind first is Dora, an acquaintance he met a year or so prior. So out of the blue he travels to her home to ask for her hand in marriage. I think they were both surprised that she says yes! Both Dora and George's new engagement and marriage are disrupted by their difficult histories.They have to learn to help each other overcome the sorrows of their pasts.

I really like Mary Balogh's style (sweet and calm) but this book took it too far for me. I found several parts hard to get through. It felt to me like she fluffed up the story with details to make the tale longer, that weren't necessary to the plot. Despite that one misgiving, the romance was precious. The story was almost too perfect and left the reader with this feeling of foreboding. This was the desired effect in my opinion though, because the climax was quite exciting! And the little extra message of starring older protagonists than what is the social norm, was fantastic!

I do wish I had started this series with book one, and I do plan to go back and read them because I love them so much. Mary Balogh is a wonderful writer. I am excited to see what she has in store for future series!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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