Only a Promise by Mary Balogh

only-a-promise-by-mary-baloghOnly a Promise by Mary Balogh
Series: The Survivors’ Club #5
Genre: Historical Romance
Setting: London and Sussex in the English countryside
Published by Signet, 2015
E-book, purchased
400 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Ralph Stockwood prides himself on being a leader, but when he convinced his friends to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, he never envisioned being the sole survivor. Racked with guilt over their deaths, Ralph must move on . . . and find a wife to secure an heir to his family’s title and fortune.

Since her Seasons in London ended in disaster, Chloe Muirhead is resigned to spinsterhood. Driven by the need to escape her family, she takes refuge at the home of her mother’s godmother, where she meets Ralph. He needs a wife. She wants a husband. So Chloe makes the outrageous suggestion to strike a bargain and get married. One condition: Ralph has to promise that he will never take her back to London. But circumstances change. And to Ralph, it was only a promise.

There could surely be nothing worse than having been born a woman, Chloe Muirhead thought with unabashed self-pity as she sucked a globule of blood off her left forefinger and looked to see if any more was about to bubble up and threaten to ruin the strip of delicate lace she was sewing back onto one of the Duchess of Worthingham’s best afternoon caps.


What irritated him most about her, perhaps, was that she really was a help–an invaluable help, in fact. And that she did it all cheerfully and efficiently. And that she could–and did–think and act independently.

It fairly set his teeth on edge–until he remembered how unabashedly happy his grandfather had been yesterday.


  • I like this series a lot. And this book has a Marriage of Convenience plot which I enjoy in historical romances when they are well done. And this is well done!
  • Even though they marry for their own convenience: Ralph because he needs an heir and Chloe because she is 27 years old with little prospect for marriage and children which she wants. They do not plan to have any emotional involvement with each other.
  • I like that we get the point-of-view of both Ralph and Chloe. Ms. Balogh does a great job of showing that what people are thinking isn’t the same as what they outwardly show or say. They both outwardly show lots of confidence even when inside they don’t feel that confident!
  • I like this series a lot partly because it shows that people who go to war not only need physical wounds we can see healed, but also the wounds we can’t see.
  • Ralph promises Chloe they won’t travel to London. They will live in the country. Of course, events happen and he can’t keep that promise.
  • That’s not the way to begin a marriage. Chloe has good reasons to not want to face the Ton after two disastrous seasons.
  • Ralph has his own demons from the war, of course. He was severely injured in the war, but that’s not where his personal demons are: his three closest friends killed in front of him in the same battle which injured him. He feels responsible for their deaths. He has lived in such hell that he has tried to commit suicide.
  • I like how Ralph supports Chloe. For example, when he discovers how Chloe feels about her hair he is with her all the way. And this is when he still thinks this is a Marriage of Convenience and that he is not going to feel anything for Chloe!
  • I like how Ms. Balogh shows that these two damaged people need each other and each other’s strength to find their own strength and face their fears to make themselves whole again.
  • Mary Balogh does such a great job showing emotions–showing two damaged, but ultimately courageous, sincere and honest people falling in love.


  • Chloe should have known that Ralph wouldn’t be able to keep the promise that they wouldn’t go to London. When they’re married Ralph is the Duke’s heir after all. However, this is a small quibble.

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I read this book for the September TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian. The theme for September is to read a Historical novel.
  • Mary Balogh is one of my favorite historical romance authors. I don’t read very much romance, but when I do Mary Balogh is usually my first choice.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Mary Balogh‘s first book was published in 1985 and she’s been writing (over 70 novels and close to 30 novellas) ever since. The latest book is Only a Kiss, the 6th book in The Survivors’ Club series, published in September 2015.
  • She grew up in post-war Wales. She wanted to teach and travel so she took a 2-year contract in Saskatchewan, Canada. After a blind date with Robert Balogh she ended up marrying him and staying in Canada! She and Robert have three grown children. Her dream was to write, but that had to wait until their children were older.
  • When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Reading Challenges

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

8 thoughts on “Only a Promise by Mary Balogh”

  1. I’m not a big fan of the marriage of convenience trope but this sounds both beleivable and likable. I’ve read Balogh once or twice, I think. I like the sounds of this, great review!


  2. Some bloggers whose opinion I respect, such as Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard, recommend Mary Balogh all the time, so it’s nice to see someone who doesn’t usually read a lot of historical fiction choose her and enjoy it. I will definitely give this author a try, as I’m trying to stretch my comfort borders more this year.


    1. Yes, Lark and I share a love for Ms. Balogh’s books. I hope you will like her writing if you get a chance to try one of her books, Rita.


  3. I’m so behind on Mary Balogh’s books it makes me sad. I love a good marriage of convenience plot myself and this sounds wonderful. I do agree that Chloe really believing that she’ll never have to go to London again is a bit unrealistic but I can believe Balogh does a good job with it!


    1. It’s so hard to get to all the books we want to, but I hope you’ll get some time to read a few Balogh books before long, Katherine.


  4. I love books like this, when written well they are just a lovely bit of escapism 🙂

    I haven’t read anything by Mary Balogh, but it seems like she would be a good author to become acquainted with (or her books, rather!)


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