Book Review: Mary Balogh's The Huxtables and A Matter of Class

Am no stranger to Mary Balogh.  Her name has been mentioned many times amongst romance readers that I was quite delighted to have come across some books by her at the local bookstore. The Huxtable series was a good addition on the shelf, while the slim novella sized A Matter of Class was acquired slightly before Christmas on a business trip to a remote part of Indonesia, in anticipation of the lack of in-flight entertainment onboard.

Book Review: Mary Balogh's The Huxtables and A Matter of ClassTitle: First Comes Marriage

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Dell

Year Published: 2004

Stand alone or series: Book 1 of The Huxtables series

Why I read it: I was casting around for a book with a marriage of convenience angle for the TBR reading challenge last year and chanced upon this book

On the Back cover:

The arrival of Elliott Wallace, the irresistibly eligible Viscount Lyngate, has thrown the sleepy village of Throckbridge into a tizzy. It soon becomes clear that Elliot seeks a convenient marriage to a suitable bride, and desperate to rescue her eldest sister Margaret from a loveless union, Vanessa Huxtable – a proud and daring, a young widow – offers herself up 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 then a strange thing happens: as the wedding night approaches they become inexplicably drawn to one another. And, as intrigue swirls around a past secret – one with a striking 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.

In my books …

Okay, this was the weakest book amongst the three for me, although I was quite charmed by the other two sisters, and curiosity prompted me to seek out the other two books. Thankfully, the next two books in the series captured my interest, with more intriguing heroes.

IMB Rating: 3.0, liked it

Book Review: Mary Balogh's The Huxtables and A Matter of ClassTitle: Then Comes Seduction (Huxtable)

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Piatkus

Year Published: 2010

Stand alone or series: Book 2 of The Huxtables series

Why I read it: I liked the first book enough to want to find out what happens to the other two sisters, and the cover from Piatkus is gorgeous

On the Back cover:

In a night of drunken revelry, Jasper Finley, Baron Montford, gambles his reputation as London’s most notorious lover on one woman. His challenge? To seduce the exquisite, virtuous Katherine Huxtable within a fortnight. But when his best-laid plans go awry, Jasper devises a wager of his own.

For Katherine, already wildly attracted to him, Jasper’s offer is irresistible: to make London’s most dangerous rake fall in love with her. Then Jasper suddenly ups the ante. Katherine knows she should refuse. But with scandal brewing and her reputation in jeopardy, she reluctantly agrees to become his wife. Now, as passion ignites, the seduction really begins. And this time the prize is nothing less than both their hearts.…

In my books …

The reformed rake angle worked well in this book.  Jasper turned out to have some honour left in him after all, and their story turned out to be a gamble which turned out well. It’s the hero which carried the story, but it worked for me.

IMB Rating: 3.0, liked it

Book Review: Mary Balogh's The Huxtables and A Matter of ClassTitle: At Last Comes Love

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Piatkus

Year Published: 2010

Stand alone or series: Book 3 of The Huxtables series

Why I read it: Of the three sisters, Meg’s the one I liked the most, so of course I won’t miss her story


On the Back cover:

Only desperation could bring Duncan Pennethorne, the infamous Earl of Sheringford, back home after the spectacular scandal that had shocked even the jaded ton. Forced to wed in fifteen days or be cut off without a penny, Duncan chooses the one woman in London in frantic need of a husband: Margaret Huxtable.

A lie to an old flame forces Margaret to accept the irresistible stranger’s offer. But once she discovers who he really is, it’s too late – she’s already betrothed to the wickedly sensual rakehell. Quickly she issues an ultimatum: if Duncan wants her, he must woo her. And as passion slowly ignites, two people marrying for all the wrong reasons are discovering the joys of seduction – and awaiting the exquisite pleasure of what comes after…

In my books …

My favourite of the three books in the series. Margaret is such a sharp-witted, level-headed character, that to see her slowly being persuaded by an instinctive empathy for Duncan’s trouble, and what she perceived to be other layers to his character, into marrying him is such a delightful discovery. Both characters were engagingly witty and heart-achingly vulnerable.  Their sensible approach to marriage underpins a resistance to love, and a caution towards handing over their hearts to each other. It was rather touching to see both learning to know, and then like each other through their unintentional alliance.

The last parts when they both grew to love each other and bonded over a little boy were some of the best parts of the story. Particularly when she championed Toby so bravely, and the little tyke learnt to run to her for protection.  Awfully sweet ending, and a great justice is served.  Margaret is magnificent.

IMB Rating: 4.0, Really liked it

Title: A Matter of Class

Book Review: Mary Balogh's The Huxtables and A Matter of ClassGenre: Romance

Publisher: Vanguard Press

Year Published: 2010

Stand alone or series: standalone novella

Why I read it: the star-crossed love angle had me hooked, but all is not as it seems …

On the Back cover:

Reginald Mason has exhausted his father’s last iota of good will with his spoiled attitude, exorbitant shopping tabs, and excessive gambling debt. Annabelle Ashton has just embarrassed her family by trying to run off with the coachman. Their fathers, who are life-long rivals, finally come to an agreement in which they decide that their children should marry, which would propel Reginald up the social ladder and save Annabelle from disgrace.

Having no choice, the two consent, entering into a hostile engagement in which they are openly antagonistic, each one resenting the other for their current state of affairs, while their respective fathers revel in their suffering. So begins an intoxicating tale rife with dark secrets, deception, and the trials of love—a story in which very little is as it seems.

In my books …

For one thing, the story is too short!! Would have love to see it developed as a full-length novel.

That said, despite its length, or lack of, the story is powerfully told, and through a series of flashbacks, the plot slowly unfolded, and you suddenly realized the convoluted efforts the pair of star-crossed lovers went through to be together.  Now, that’s inspiring.

IMB Rating: 3.5, liked it

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