A Counterfeit Betrothal by Mary Balogh

Cover of A Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh: A woman in a pink Regency dress holds a finger to her lips.

A Counterfeit Betrothal

Mary Balogh

2013 (1992)

Dell

Mass market paperback

Source: Personal copy
Lady Sophia Bryant wants to get her estranged parents back together. Her solution is to pretend to be engaged to her childhood friend, Lord Francis Sutton. Her parents, Olivia and Marcus, have to help prepare for the wedding. In turn, they pretend to still be in love for Sophia’s sake. Alternating points of view  of the four of them showed how they miscommunicated with each other.
This was well written, though a little repetitive. (In an early chapter, it said twice on the same page that her parents had been separated for fourteen years!) The characters all had depth and clear motivation. There were a few times I thought, “Why doesn’t she just ask him if he loves her? Well no, then the book would be over too soon.” The plot was mostly the miscommunications, but I liked this book overall. As a reprint of an earlier novel, I see Balogh’s strengths lie in characterization more than plot. Now I’m interested in reading more recent Mary Balogh books, like her Survivor’s Club series.

What I’m Reading 

I’m reading the historical romance A Counterfeit Betrothal by Mary Balogh right now. It’s one of Balogh’s early books, so it’s a little repetitive. The characters are engaging, though. I’m looking forward to reading her more recent books!

Upcoming Reads

Some of my upcoming reads are:

Herland and Other Selected Stories, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, edited by Barbara H. Solomon: Picked up at  a bookstore in Maine.  I read the famous story “The Yellow Wallpaper” back in high school. I’m interested in reading more of her works!

Highland Scandal by Julia London: Another historical romance read from a used bookstore. It looks fun!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: I realized back in August during #AusteninAugustRBR 2015, this is the only main Austen novel I didn’t own. Now I do!

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs: A pick for a Weird Wednesday post. I also own and enjoyed the first book in this YA fantasy series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Harness the Sun: America’s Quest for a Solar-Powered Future by Philip Warburg: A book I received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in August or early September, and accidentally forgot to review before it was released.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Ironskin #1)

Ironskin

Ironskin (Ironskin #1)

by Tina Connolly

Tor, 2012

This book is a historical fantasy set in a place very much like England. It’s loosely based on Jane Eyre. It was nominated for a 2012 Nebula Award.

Five years after the Great War with the fey (fairies) ended, Jane Eliot comes to work as a governess for the mysterious and handsome Edward Rochart. His little daughter Dorie has had a “fey-curse” from birth. Jane thinks she can help, as she was also cursed by the fey during a battle. She has to wear an iron mask over half her face, so her curse won’t hurt others. In a subplot, her newlywed sister Helen and her husband are also keeping secrets.

The world building here was very good. Jane finds it amusing that her book of children’s tales (a spoof of A Child’s Garden of Verses) tells how to protect yourself from the copperhead hydra, but also has “fictional” stories about dragons. I thought that was a good choice–in a world where humans live with dwarfs and fairies, something else magical doesn’t exist in this world! As Helen is into fashion, there were many descriptions of clothes. The pre-war fashions were long Victorian-type dresses, and the post-war ones were short dresses with fringe, like the 1920s.

Besides the clothes, the theme of the book reminded me of England after World War I–a sense that the wonderful easygoing time of the aristocracy is now lost, and how those times won’t return again even if Jane wishes they could.  Both Jane and Rochart have regrets about what happened during the war. The fey gave humans technology to run their cinemas, cameras, and lights. This magical light was blue. After the war, the fey disappeared, so humans must go back to using coal and steam, and no more blue-and-white movies or photos.

Now, about the Jane Eyre connection. The name “Rochart” was too close to “Rochester” for me, but they are different characters with different motivations for their secrets. (From what I remember of Rochester at least; I haven’t read Eyre since high school.) Jane Eliot is young, in her early twenties, but more worldly than Jane Eyre due to her wartime experiences. Connolly does mention “no madwoman in the attic” and mentions Charlotte Brontë in the acknowledgments.

This is the first book in a trilogy. The second book, Copperhead, is about Helen, and the third, Silverblind, is about a grown-up Dorie.

Besides writing, Tina Connolly reads flash fiction stories on her podcast Toasted Cake.