Only Beloved (The Survivors’ Club #7)
By: Mary Balogh
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again.
Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.
For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?
I first read a book from The Survivors’ Club, Only Enchanting (review), last year and liked it enough. I wasn’t in any particular rush to pick up the rest of the series but I was keen to pick up this book when I found out that it would feature Agnes’ sister, Dora, and the Duke of Stanbrook. I thought they had a lovely moment together in Only Enchanting and that they would make a good couple. So yay that that wish came true 😛
Firstly, Mary Balogh’s writing continues to shine here. It was one of the highlights that I noted from Only Enchanting, that her storytelling was much more introspective and beautiful in its own way, reflecting the seriousness and the nature of the stories told in The Survivors’ Club. It was especially fitting here as both George and Dora are very solitary and thoughtful individuals. I will have to say that there is quite a bit of repetition in this novel recounting the other members of the club; granted, it didn’t bother me so much as I haven’t gotten around to reading the rest of the books in the series, but nonetheless it occurred enough times for me to notice it.
But going back to the story, I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (review) in that the lead couple are a bit older than the age range you find in other historical romances, they’re a little more seasoned when it comes to life and what gets thrown their way but they’re still wide-eyed about life whether they admit it or not 😉 It was nice to read Dora get her happily ever after in a sense of gaining some happiness for herself and getting the things she thought was long past her and that she could never have. And the same for George–not to delve into his backstory (my hazard guess was correct), but after all that he went through and being the kind soul that he is, he deserves all the happiness that comes his way. And their romance, whilst quiet and a bit of a slow burn, just falls together nicely without any ruffles.
Not to say there wasn’t any tension and drama; there’s of course George’s past that he keeps tightly under wraps and that you know will burst right into the open and cause trouble (the tension was really on a matter of when and how) and there’s Dora coming to terms with her own past and what her mother had done (a continuing thread from Only Enchanting). But I really enjoyed how relatively drama-free their story was otherwise and that George and Dora get to know each other and strengthen their relationship without too much kerfuffle.
Only Beloved was a lovely story and a great wrap-up to the series. Now I definitely need to go back and read the rest of the books in the series! (I think I want to read Only a Kiss next because Percy seems like quite the hoot, lmao) 😀