If you’re a fan of wounded heroes (as I am) — you may want to check out The Survivors Club series. This is actually the third installment, though it easily reads as a standalone. The club features a group of seven friends who were all injured in the Napoleonic Wars. They convalesced together and now reunite once a year to renew their friendship and serve as a support network for one another. Each member is the focus of a different installment in the series, and this book features Sir Benedict Harper. He nearly lost both of his legs and now is barely able to walk with the assistance of two canes.
Ben is adrift. It’s been three years since he was hurt and he is likely as recovered as he ever will be. The life he thought he would have in the military is over and he is unsure how to plan his future. It is during a visit to his sister that he meets the woman who will change his life forever.
It has been four months since the death of Samantha’s husband. Her sister-in-law is living with her, insisting on the strictest mourning. But Samantha is ready to live again. She spent the last five years caring for her husband in his sickbed. She wants to get out of the house, breathe some fresh air, and speak to her neighbors. A chance meeting with Ben during a stolen walk in the country gives her all three. And while the two of them don’t have the most auspicious beginning, they quickly grow into a dear friendship and undeniable attraction.
I really enjoyed the evolution of their relationship, in no small part because I really liked both main characters. Samantha is only 24 years-old, but she has already endured so much. She has lived up to all of her responsibilities and done it gracefully. She dutifully cared for a self-centered man who cared little about her for years. She endured the haughty and unkind attention of her in-laws both during and after her marriage. And she mourned her husband with a respect I am not sure he deserved. Yet she was no martyr. She recognizes her right to freedom and a life of her own and she pursues it despite the risks of the unknown.
Ben, meanwhile, has been to hell and back and it would have been so easy to give up. But we see the strength of his character in his unwillingness to lay down and die, not just literally, but figuratively as well. He pulls himself up by his own bootstraps in a way made more striking when juxtaposed to Samantha’s late husband. He tries to remain a gentleman as well, even when the opportunity presents itself to take what he truly wants.
Though friends-to-lovers isn’t my favorite trope, this one was well done. The author did a very good job making me believe in the connection between Ben and Samantha. I could see the holes they filled in one another’s lives. And finally, when it became more, I was totally invested. All this with the backdrop of each trying to find independence in their own ways. It was all very well done. It makes me want to pick up the other books in the series to see if I would enjoy them as much.
*ARC Provided by Dell
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Mary Balogh
Release Date: July 1, 2014