I enjoyed reading historical romance a few decades ago, but thought I was 'done' with that genre now. Wrong. Somehow - I don't even remember why, I stumbled across "A Summer To Remember" by Mary Balogh a few months ago. How did I miss reading her works previously? I've counted sixty-eight novels on her backlist and she's still writing. Happily, many of her earlier works are being reissued in both print and e-book format. My addiction to historical romance is rekindled. So far I have collected nine of her e-books from Powell's books online, plus four of her novels in print through BookMooch, and I have six of her books on hold at the library.
Mary Balogh's characters are people I'd like to meet (well - maybe not the villains), and I appreciate the exquisite settings she provides for their lives. Is there any more critical reader than someone who writes and studies the art and craft of creating a novel? I'm frequently jarred out of the story by less experienced writers, but not by Balogh. Her prose is smooth and lyrical and her plots develop with enough surprises to keep me interested. There is a sense of timing in her books that feels realistic without dragging the action. I love it that her characters have strong convictions, have honor and courage, but also have flaws and failings. Perhaps it is as much how her MCs deal with their failings, as their honor, that makes them sympathetic and fascinating.
There is heat in Balogh's stories, explicit, well written and well-balanced with the rest of the story. While her characters have physical attraction for each other, she develops their personal psychology and background, their other reasons for romance, and I can't say which I enjoy most - it adds up to a good reading experience. The chemistry between her MCs is believable and complex.
Coming in tomorrow's blog - another of my favorite romance writers.