Set against the seductive backdrop of Regency England, New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh’s latest novel sweeps us into the sensual, enthralling world of an elite academy for young ladies. Here, amid music lessons and garden parties, whispered confessions and secret yearnings, one of the school’s teachers—headmistress Claudia Martin—will find her well-ordered world jolted by love when she meets a man who would make the perfect husband…for somebody else.Roll out the Bedwyns! It's another Mary Balogh book so they have to be there don't they, and seeing as the Bedwyn's are going to be out, let's trot the Ravensburg's out for another outing. And this is of course, the last book in the Simply series, so we must, must have all the other couples make an appearance. If this is the first book by Balogh that you were reading it would have been almost overwhelming trying to figure out who all the other people being talked about were with dukes and duchesses, and their various offspring, and not to mention the siblings and their spouses.
Tall, dark, and exquisitely sensual, he is the epitome of male perfection. Not that Claudia Martin is looking for a lover. Or a husband. As owner and headmistress of Miss Martin’s School for Girls in Bath, she long ago resigned herself to a life without love. Until Joseph, Marquess of Attingsborough, arrives unannounced and tempts her to toss away a lifetime of propriety for an affair that can only lead to ruin.
Joseph has his own reasons for seeking Claudia out. Instantly, irresistibly attracted to the dedicated teacher, he embarks on a plan of seduction that leaves them both yearning for more. But as heir to a prestigious dukedom, Joseph is expected to carry on his family’s legacy. And Claudia knows she has no place in his world.
Now that world is about to be rocked by scandal. An arranged marriage, a secret that will shock the ton, and a man from Claudia’s past conspire to drive the lovers apart. But Joseph is deter mined to make Claudia his at any cost. Even if that means defying convention and breaking every rule for a love that is everything he has ever wanted—a love that is perfection itself…
Does that sound a little cynical? Well...I guess it is, but I cannot tell you how relieved I am that Balogh has announced that the next book will not be related to the Bedwyn's already, because as much as I like them, they do tend to overwhelm the other characters.
How about this book then? As I said before this is the final book in the Simply series, featuring the school teachers of Miss Martin's School for Girls in Bath. The heroine in this book is the aforementioned Miss Martin - a very prim and proper head mistress who has a well known dislike for dukes. What isn't well known is why she dislikes dukes.
Enter Joseph, Marquess of Attingsborough, who is not a duke...yet! He is next in line to the title though - a duke in waiting if you like! Joseph visits Miss Martin's school with a message from her friend, and very kindly offers to share a carriage with her and two of her pupils as they travel to London in a couple of days time. He also appears to be very interested in Miss Martin's school, and whilst Claudia has some suspicions about the motive behind this interest, she can't fail to be charmed by this very likable man.
I really liked Joseph. When his secret revealed to Miss Martin, I couldn't help be charmed by him myself, and I cheered (on the inside) when he revealed his secrets to his family and friends, despite the fact that a man's private business should never be told in society. I really, really disliked his fiance, although I guess that that is what we were supposed to feel, but in many ways I found her a bit too one dimensional, and we never did find out if there was a reason for her cold fish kind of ways.
I liked Claudia too. When we learn why it is that she doesn't like dukes, I did find the reason a bit flimsy, but still understandable. and I loved the devotion and care she showed to all her students and friends.
The strongest parts of this book were when the author concentrated just on our couple. Their growing friendship and attraction to each other was again well written. Where the book was weakest however was in the need to have so many previous characters play a part.
So now that this series is over, what are my thoughts on it? I guess I could sum it up by saying simply forgettable, although that would be a bit harsh. Certainly I could remember Anne and Sydnam's stories from Simply Love, but I really struggled to remember Peter and Susanna's story from Simply Magic. It is fair to say that I remember nothing of the story from Simply Unforgettable, which is kind of ironic. **checks MB's website** Oh yes, Simply Unforgettable featured Frances and Lucius...nope don't remember it!
There was nothing majorly wrong with any of the books really. I rated them all between 3.5 and 4 out of 5, which are perfectly respectable grades, but there really is very little that makes then stand out amongst the other historicals out there either!
I will read Balogh's future books, and I do still have many books from her back list to read, but in this case, I will be looking forward to seeing what can be done with brand new characters.