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

Review: The Escape by Mary Balogh


The Escape
by Mary Balogh
Series: The Survivors’ Club, Book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by Dell, 2014
E-book, Purchased
394 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: In this poignant novel of longing and salvation, a hopeful widow and a resilient war hero discover the promise of love’s magic and new beginnings.

After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws – until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.

Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

Includes Mary Balogh’s charming short story “The Suitor.”

And was that what his problem was? That wherever he went, he had to take himself with him? Was it in denial of that fact that he had decided to travel? The eternal quest to escape from himself, from the body that slowed him down, made him grotesque and ungainly, and stopped him from living the life he wanted to live?


It might have amused Samantha that Sunday service had become the big outing and social event of her week, if it had not also been so pathetic.


  • I like Mary Balogh’s writing very much.
  • The setting in Wales sounds wonderful. (I want to visit Wales!)
  • I like all the characters in the series so much and it’s nice to catch glimpses of them in each book.
  • Ben is an inspiring character. He refuses to give up and he refuses to feel sorry for himself. However, he’s also not sure what to do with his life. He always thought he’d be a military officer and now that that’s impossible he’s lost his way.
  • Both Samantha and Ben must make a journey both to Wales and to decide who they really are and where their lives are going.
  • Ben is completely different from Samantha’s deceased husband who never tried to do anything for himself and insisted Samantha wait on him all the time.
  • The whole Survivors’ series deals with the effects of war on the survivors. Sometimes there are physical injuries, sometimes psychological injuries and sometimes both.
  • The way Ben and Samantha meet is pretty funny. Neither of them reacts well and they don’t want to see each other again, but Ben knows he needs to see her to apologize. They gradually see each other more as Samantha becomes friends with Ben’s sister.
  • The way Ben and Samantha fall in love is wonderful. I really feel they are in love and will stay in love.


  • No jeers!

And a few thoughts . . .

The Escape
The Escape
  • I like Mary Balogh’s writing very much. She does a great jobs Making her characters unique. I always feel like I know them when I’m finished with her books.
  • I didn’t read The Suitor so I can’t comment on that story.
  • The above cover is apparently the cover of the Kindle edition (according to Goodreads). I like it much better than the cover I saw when I bought my Kindle book. (However, it does look a little too modern for me.)
  • The next book in this series–Only Enchanting–is due to come out at the end of October 2014. It is Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby’s story. I can’t wait!

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

Review: The Proposal by Mary Balogh

When I started this blog I wanted to write fairly short reviews…that’s why it’s called “Notes…lol. Anyway, I read a blog post at the On Starships and Dragonwings blog about doing list reviews so I’m going to try that with this review and see how it goes! I’m going to call it a bullet point review.

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The Proposal
by Mary Balogh
Series: The Survivors’ Club, book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by Dell, 2013
E-book, Library
384 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy. 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 is a gentleman in name only: a war hero 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. Hugo doesn’t wish to court Gwen, yet he cannot resist her guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face. He wants her, but will she have him? The dour ex-military officer who so gallantly carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, Hugo captivates her more—with his desire, with his love, and with the promise of forever.

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Mary Balogh’s books are pretty much auto-buys for me (although I did get this as an e-book at my library)! This is the first book in a seven book series and the next book comes out at the end of this month. All the characters in the series…most of whom were soldiers…are wounded in some way. In this first book Hugo was psychologically wounded by his guilt for having survived without a scratch when so many of his men were wounded or killed.

What I liked about this book:

  • Gwendolyne, Lady Muir–I’ve read about her in a couple of other books–One Night for Love and A Summer to Remember–though I read those books several years ago. I meant to reread them which I forgot to do 😦
  • Hugo was awarded his title for leading “a forlorn hope” which is an actual phrase. I found it on Wikipedia, but there are also other sources. One meaning (and the meaning used in this book) is a band of soldiers–usually volunteers–chosen to take the lead in a military operation against a defended position where the risk of casualties is very high.
  • Both main characters resent the other for waking them from their inner turmoil (Gwen’s first husband died, she’s felt guilty about his death and never wanted to remarry); Hugo carries guilt both for the soldiers who were wounded or died during the forlorn hope and for his father’s death).
  • The humor in the book…that Gwen can laugh at herself and also find humor in Hugo’s proposal.
  • Hugo and Gwen both have to change in different ways to come to terms with their love for each other because even though they are in love there are real obstacles to their love.
  • Gwen realizes Hugo has made all the concessions in their relationship…entering her world, but she hasn’t entered his world.
  • Gwen is finally able to see below the surface of Hugo’s dour expressions and attitude.
  • Hugo is willing to change his mind about people–Gwen, his stepmother, his sister–when he realizes he’s made mistakes about who they really are.
  • I really do like both Hugo and Gwen. Hugo was the harder sell, but beneath his dour exterior is a very sensitive and caring man.

What I didn’t like:

  • Hugo’s attitude toward Gwen and other members of the aristocracy even though his friends in the Survivors’ Club are part of the aristocracy. Hugo inherited his wealth from his father (a merchant), but was awarded his title for his bravery in war.
  • Hugo is determined to marry someone from his own class and almost reaches the point of no-return with a woman who’s terrified of him and doesn’t love him.
  • The fact I didn’t read the other books Gwen was in I couldn’t remember much about her (but that’s my fault not Mary Balogh’s!)

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I hope you can tell I had very few quibbles with this book. I’m looking forward to the next one which is about Vincent who was blinded in the war. I’ve heard from a few people who’ve gotten advance copies of it that they like it better than The Proposal so that’s exciting!

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I’m going to use a list here, too…lol

  • What do you think about this method of reviewing?
  • I think I like it. It really makes me focus on what I did and didn’t like.
  • It was much faster to write this review.
  • I’m going to try it on a few more books before I decide for sure whether to adopt it for all my book reviews.
  • Do you as a reader of the review feel it tells you enough about this book to decide whether you want to read it?
  • Does it tell you too much about the book?
  • If you’ve read my paragraph style reviews which do you like better?