Lord Carew's Bride (Signet Regency Romance) (Dark Angel, #2) by Mary Balogh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a charming Beauty and the Beast tale, which is a favorite theme of mine, mixed with a "love at first sight" story.
Hartley Wade, the Marquess of Carew, was the self-titled "Beast". Crippled by a riding "accident" at the age of six, he walked with a limp and had a crooked and useless right hand. Despite that - or, should I say, because of that - he'd grown up to become one of the most confident and emotionally strong heroes I've met. He was nice, caring, supportive and, wonder of all wonders, didn't jump to wrong conclusions when faced with situations that could easily lead to the hatred Big Misunderstanding that plagues Romancelandia. Honestly, he was anything but a "Beast", and I fell in love with him way before I was halfway through the story.
Samantha Newman was the ton-proclaimed "Beauty". Even though she was already twenty-four years old and on her seventh - gasp! - London Season, she had her own court of steady suitors and was still single by her own choice only. She'd been deeply hurt by events that happened in Dark Angel (Dark Angel, #1), the first book in this series, so she'd chosen to live a somewhat staid life and avoid the turmoil brought by love. Even though I wanted to shake some sense into her for not seeing what was right in front of her eyes a couple of times, I did understand her insecurities - after all, there's a thin, thin line between hatred and love...
The "love at first sight" theme took me by surprise: Hartley was in love with Samantha by Chapter 1, and he loved her by Chapter 2. That made me pause and think, would I buy that? Well, I shouldn't have doubted Balogh's writing skills. I bought it all! Even the fact that it was a mutual love at first sight, though it took Samantha a lot longer to realize that what she felt for Hartley was more than friendship. She was just afraid to call it "love", since she thought that emotion only lead to dispair.
Have I mentioned that there was no Big Misunderstanding in this book? There was definitely room for it more than once - Hartley omitting to tell Samantha about his title and Lionel (Hartley's cousin and Samantha's first "love") revealing to Hartley his past relationship with Samantha, for example - but Balogh chose wisely and didn't go that way. I admit that my eyes got a little misty when I read the scene where Hartley talked to Samantha after he found out about her past with Lionel. Wonderfully done, Ms. Balogh!
Lord Carew's Bride (Signet Regency Romance) (Dark Angel, #2) was all about Hartley and Samantha, and their journey to find love and conquer each other. There was a good set of interesting secondary characters - many of them with their own books, either previous or next in the series - but Lionel Kersey, the Earl of Rushford, deserves a special mention. He was one of the most hatred villains I've met. I just hated him! Everytime he appeared on scene, I wanted to slap his handsome face and pummel his gorgeous body. I was literally cheering when Hartley did just that. :)
Bottom line, I really loved this book, and Hartley and Samantha are going to stay with me for a long time. Balogh is kind of a new author to me - yeah, I'd been living in a cave, LOL - and this is only the fourth book by her I've read, but she hasn't disappointed me yet. Quite the contrary!
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