This month we are fortunate to have the latest release of Mary Balogh “The Proposal” featuring Gwen’s story. Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has been a long time denizen of Balogh novels and there has been a great deal of speculation about who she would end up with and whether she would even get her own story. Ms. Balogh launched a brand new quartet of books beginning with Gwen’s romance with Hugo, Lord Trentham.
I absolutely adore Mary Balogh. She’s a writer who truly brings emotion to the page without skimping on historical accuracy. Her new title looks absolutely fantastic, but then I don’t recall ever reading one of her books and being disappointed.
Drop a note in the comments if you’d like a copy of The Proposal. Random House is sponsoring the book. Dear Author will cover the shipping for a book overseas. We’ll give one away.
Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.
Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous—if beautiful—aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?
The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.
Ms. Balogh agreed to answer a few questions written by Janine.
1) The traditional regencies you wrote for Signet in the 1990s are in the process of being reissued. Many readers find those books somewhat different from your more recent works. What do you think accounts for the differences?
I think there are two main differences:
(a) book length. The Signets were 75,000 words long, the historicals I now write, 100,000. I enjoy having the greater scope for the development of plot, character, and love relationship, but with the shorter length I had to make every page pack a wallop! As I write a book, I can feel its “shape,” (sorry, can’t think of a clearer word). A 25,000 word novella has a vastly different shape than a full-length book (I always say novellas are all beginning and ending with none of the pesky middle). I was thoroughly comfortable with the 75,000 word books. I knew just how long I had to keep winding them up before I could let go and allow everything to unravel toward the conclusion. It took some time to feel the shape of the longer books. I think I have it now, though!
(b) I am older now, and perhaps a little bit wiser (or not)? Sometimes I read one of my older Signets and would love to dive back into it to make changes. I may no longer feel or believe as I did when I wrote it. However, I always restrain myself. That book came from who I was then. It would be wrong to superimpose upon it who I am now. I tended to be far more introspective in the older books. There are long passages of interior monologue from the point of view of various characters. Now I tend to use more dialogue to bring out characters’ thoughts and feelings. Some of my older books were quite dark in theme. I tend to cringe away from too much darkness now. I use more humor and irony. This does not mean, however, that my current books are more fluffy. I still try to infuse meaning and passion into them. I just want my readers to feel happier as they read, not just at the end. I love it when a reader tells me that she (or sometimes he!) laughed aloud at some passages in a certain book.
2) You portray emotions like embarrassment and anxiety very powerfully. What is it that draws you to depicting your characters in moments of discomfort?
Nothing happens in moments of tranquillity and complaisance! Pleasant as those states may be, and much as we may desire to live out our lives in them, it can’t be done. Indeed, if we never suffered, we would develop and grow as sympathetic, compassionate persons far more slowly. One thing that often amazes me when I read other people’s romances is that “passion” is given only its sexual component. There is a great deal of sexual passion (and innuendo and activity) and not much else. I get easily bored with such stories because they miss all the rich complexity of life that should have a bearing on the main characters and their growing relationship with each other. Love is not just about sex! And passion is not just about sex. I want it all when I write. I want my stories and my characters to be real. I want my readers to live every moment of their lives with them and become so engrossed that they forget they are reading a book.
3) Do you have a favorite or favorites among your books? Which one(s) and why?
Well, that is a little like asking a mother if she has favorites among her children. On the other hand, if a mother has close to 100 children, perhaps she would have favorites! I am particularly fond of SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS, MORE THAN A MISTRESS, THE NOTORIOUS RAKE, THE PROPOSAL because I love the heroes and got so much enjoyment out of creating them. If I am giving one of my books to someone who has not read me before, I tend to give A SUMMER TO REMEMBER because I like the interaction between hero and heroine and the way in which they bring healing to each other as well as love. I think there is perfect balance between the hero and heroine in that book, and that is not always easy to achieve And, of course, ASTR introduces the Bedwyn family and the whole of the SLIGHTLY series. THE SECRET PEARL and A PRECIOUS JEWEL are great reader favorites, and when I hear it I am reminded that I am very partial to those two. And… Well, I could go on until I have named close to 100 titles! Oh, oh, and SIMPLY LOVE is definitely one of my favorites. It brings together two terribly wounded people from previous books, and I loved working things out for them and giving them their happily-ever-after. Right, I’ll stop now. I am always very fond of a book as I write it. I couldn’t possibly send it in if I were not. I always have to feel that it is one of the best things I have ever written.
You can purchase The Proposal at your local bookstore or via one of these links: