Mary Balogh’s Survivors Club series never disappoints. I have to admit that Ralph didn’t strike much of a chord with me in previous books. And when I was reminded that he was the survivor with a scar across his face, I expected a much different book. Maybe something Beauty and the Beast-y or the kind of story where everyone is repulsed by his scar and only the heroine can see the real man beneath. It was neither. Instead, the book focuses far more on our hero’s psychological scars and it’s all the better for it.
Ralph doesn’t have a lot of personality for a reason. He became of shell of himself after he lost his three best friends in the war. It’s not the scars or injuries to his body that destroyed him. It was the survivor’s guilt. It drove him nearly to suicide –and the only reason he was able to overcome it was because he turned his feelings off… or very nearly so. Now his grandfather, the Duke, is edging closer to the grave and Ralph can no longer ignore his duty to marry and produce an heir. He is willing, but there is no way love can ever enter the equation.
Chloe doesn’t expect marriage will ever be in her future. Two scandals tied to her family have made her quite ineligible. So now she is staying away from the ton, serving as a guest to her grandmother’s best friend. Her hostess just happens to be Ralph’s grandmother, which is ultimately how Chloe and Ralph cross paths. The two end up making a match of convenience. She gets the children and security she wants and he gets a wife willing to provide heir with no expectations of tender feelings.
It takes awhile before we really begin to see Ralph’s personality. But Chloe is painted very clearly. She is practical, pragmatic, and intelligent. I loved that she took a chance and went after what she wanted. She is loyal and honorable. And though she has been dealt more than one bad hand in her life, she never rolled over and played dead. I loved the genuine affection she held for Ralph’s grandparents. I respected the way she approached her relationship with Ralph and the poise and class she displayed in difficult moments.
The romance is a slow burn, but it’s worth the wait. It’s also worth the wait to see Ralph come out of his shell. These two are so good for each other and I really enjoyed watching them both realize it.
This book isn’t quite as angsty as some of the other installments. I guess that is because Ralph internalizes so much. But I still enjoyed his journey and was satisfied with the HEA. Can’t wait for the next one!
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Only a Promise
by Mary Balogh
Release Date: June 9, 2015