"The cliff face was warm and hard..."; "the wind howling around their feet and whipping at her skirt"; "the sunlight sparkling on the water far below;" "the gulls crying from above": Mary Balogh writes wonderful visuals and sensuals in "The Gilded Web", such as these excerpts from page 278 of her 1989 historical romance, republished last year in paperback and digital editions.
Although most of her books receive higher ratings than "The Gilded Web", I enjoyed it so much, I sought out more books by Mary Balogh. "Slightly Scandalous", "Slightly Tempted" and "A Summer to Remember" gave me hours of pleasure. There is a quality in Balogh's writing that I don't find in most romance genre novels, little gems of thought scattered among the plot and character development which reward the reader looking for something extra. Her musings on such subjects as caring for the inner child, protection vis a vis oppression, the nature of death, life and happines give added depth and interest to her charming settings, quirky characters and sometimes unpredictable plots.
In Mary Balogh's books, themes of honor, the respect of society, and integrity play out amongst the human drama and social constraints of London and rural England in the eighteen-hundreds. Issues of gender equality, treatment of the handicapped, class distinctions and other social topics lose their boring anonymity and generalizations in Mary's appealing characters.
When I need a "time-out" (as I have lately - due to a thyroid dysfunction) I can think of no better way to relax than a good book. For those like myself, who enjoy well-researched historical romance novels, I'd have to say, "Give a novel by Mary Balogh a try".