*Spoiler alert* I received an advanced copy of Only Beloved, by Mary Balogh from First to Read. This is the seventh book in a series about a group of soldiers (and a woman) coming together after the Napoleonic War. You learn more about the Duke of Stanbrook, George; who had opened his house to be a hospital to wounded soldiers. This is where he met the characters from all the other books. Now, one does not need to read all the books to understand everything here, I did not. I still got a good feel for the characters and a deep love.
We begin this story with George realizing that now that the hospital is no more, and everyone is gone, that he is lonely. A widower who lost his son to the war, he never thought to remarry. Now that the idea has come up though, there is only one person he can see in that position: Dora Dobbins, his friend’s sister-in-law.
Dora spent her life since she was seventeen taking care of her sister. At Thirty-nine she doesn’t see herself as remotely marriageable and has come to terms. She has her own cottage, and teaches music in her little community. When George shows up, proposing marriage, she is overwhelmed. But she wants this, was already a bit in love with him from their first meeting at her sister’s wedding.
On their wedding day, a man came in to protest the marriage- Eastham, George’s first wife’s step brother. He insisted the duke had killed his sister, should not be allowed to remarry. While no one believed this, and the ceremony continued, it does put a strain on a person. Sadly the past is the one thing George will not speak of and so Dora must always feel it between them. Still, it is the only cloud in a happy marriage as George proves himself time and again to be kind and giving. He helps Dora get in touch with her estranged mother. Who helps George, though, who consoles him? This thought spins through Dora constantly.
Coming back into contact with a seemingly contrite Eastham allows Dora to think that she might finally help George by helping the two reconcile. Without giving too much away I am going to say that this was not a good idea. It does, though, break through George’s walls and he finally gives himself completely to Dora. We leave the two happy and starting their family.
While I truly loved the characters here, and it was a good story, it dragged for me. It was not my favorite of her novels. Now that might be different if I had read the other six books…. But as it was the writing style I did not care for, I can’t see that being the case. Still, it was a lovely story and I am glad I read it.
This book comes out 5-3-2016, be on the lookout!
This is a romance novel, so obviously there is some sexual content but it is very sedate as is any violence. I give it a three on the adult content scale.
Link to book: