REVIEW: Simply Magic by Mary Balogh
Dear Mrs Balogh,
Yes, yes I know I said I wouldn’t be reading your next book without some great reviews but it’s hard to turn down reading a free arc of a much anticipated series by an author who has generally given me such reading pleasure in the past. I really need to put my foot down and control myself better because this book doesn’t please me any more than the last one did.
While Susanna Osbourne acknowledges that Peter Edgeworth is one of the most handsome men she’s ever met, from the moment he opens his mouth and spouts some inane comment, she’s determined to have nothing to do with him. And after all, once her two week summer holiday with former teacher Frances, Countess of Edgecombe, is over she’ll be returning to her job as a teacher in Bath at Miss Martin’s School for Girls. Susanna will try to ignore Viscount Whitleaf until then.
But Peter Edgeworth is determined not to be ignored by this lovely young woman. Chagrined that his initial inane complement goes ignored by her, he decides to discover just why Miss Osbourne dismisses him before even trying to get to know him. He’s not a bad sort of fellow. Most women fall at his feet and he’s happy to lavish them with proper attention and enjoy their company. He knows exactly how far he can go without risking an entanglement he doesn’t want thanks to a matchmaking scheme his mother has pulled in the past and he just genuinely likes people.
Slowly, Peter chips away at Susanna’s icy facade and discovers an intelligent woman who likes teaching for a living but who secretly longs for a husband, children and home of her own. Not that it’s likely she’ll find it buried at a girl’s school in backwater Bath. After finally giving in to Peter’s polite efforts to get to know her, Susanna finds herself growing to like this man. He’s not the idle, worthless fribble he at first appears to be and she counts off each day of her vacation with growing sadness that she’ll probably never see him again.
It’s on her last day before returning to Bath that the two take a fateful walk around the Edgecomb estate which culminates in a physical encounter leading to a proposition by Peter. Though determined to positively remember the afternoon’s events, Susanna can’t envision becoming a mistress and so turns him down. Both think that will be the end of their relationship until the marriage of Anne Jewell to Sydnam Butler brings them together again. It is then that events in their past lives begin to surface. Events which changed Susanna’s life and which could either bind them together in love or tear them apart for good.
If readers want a quiet, introspective novel, this is it. Events during Susanna’s vacation go by slowly, slower, and slowest. Everything is described down to the smallest detail with way too much introspection and agonizing over little things. Peter thinks that women tend to make too much of the minor things that men do yet he does the same thing. Roughly the first half of the book is them think, think, thinking about every slight action. I felt I was at a never-ending, afternoon tea party where people continuously watch the clock to see how soon they can leave without offering insult to the hostess.
And for anyone who needs an up to date rundown on how all the past characters in this series or the Slightly Series are doing, don’t worry, you’ll get it. Yes indeed, once again– the entire Bedwyn family plus Ravensburg family are here for your reading enjoyment. While not as prominently seen as in “Simply Love,” they do all appear in two sequences here. Needless to say, I skipped most of them.
I know you’ve written a lot of books and finding different plots has to be difficult at this point but….again with the one afternoon of sex between two unmarried people. Then Peter acts a total cad (offering a place as his mistress then not even bothering to check to see if Susanna was preggers). I mean, he doesn’t even try to withdraw or take any precautions. Susanna knows consequences of unprotected sex – in everyday existence and by example of Anne Jewell! What were they thinking?!? To top it off, the sex scenes are about as exciting/emotionally involving as reading stereo instructions. If Susanna is going to risk it all then I want emotional involvement, caring, or something to justify her actions.
While I like that Peter isn’t a rake, he’s just so blah. By the end of the book, he’s started with his program to take back control of his life from his overbearing momma but for the most part, he reminded me of Mr. Bingley from the mid90s production of “Pride and Prejudice,” nice but otherwise very forgettable and certainly not the “nobleman whose passion seems too magical to be true” that I was promised on the back blurb. Susanna is a more interesting character yet she’s far from fiery. On the contrary, she’s more logical (except for the sex) and controlled. Finding out the past events which haunted her was the main reason I kept reading the story. But I must admit to some degree of frustration about how this is done. Susanna and Peter’s memories of her papa and the villain don’t get revealed until almost the end of book. This makes a total difference and ends up giving the resolution almost deus ex machina-esque quality. These two can dredge up the most inconsequential memories of their childhood but manage to completely forget things of major importance.
Your fangirls will probably eat this book up but I just never connected with either it or characters. I think it would have been much better in trad length rather than single title length. What is good could be concentrated upon and what was unneeded could have been cut. And considering it’s out first as a hardback, I would have been quite upset to pay the $22 list price for what I got. C- again.