Monday, February 23, 2009

A Gift of Daisies - Mary Balogh

Lady Rachel Palmer is beautiful, wealthy, and frivolous--as well as betrothed to someone else--when she meets and falls in love with the high-minded Reverend David Gower, who is devoted to a life of service and poverty. It seems like an impossible match, especially when David is so set against it.

I started this book with great expectations. So far I have always enjoyed Balogh’s traditional regencies and I was planning on loving this one too.

But this book is very different from all the others I’ve read before by her. First of all it has a strong religious side. The hero is a vicar and extremely dedicated to his good works and helping his poor parishioners. And then there’s the fact that the heroine is rich and noble and the hero is poor and a second son and it’s the heroine that asks the hero to marry her and he is the one who refuses.

Rachel and David meet in London during the heroine’s season. They fall in love with each other but keep those feelings to themselves till eventually the heroine proposes believing her feelings returned. The hero refuses because he thinks she wont be happy as a poor clergyman’s wife. This leads the heroine to ask a childhood friend to marry her. Eventually she accepts that David loves her but wont marry her and that she must be true to her feelings – breaking the betrothal to the friend she doesn’t love – and dedicate herself to good deeds. Although the blurb mentions she is betrothed to someone else when they meet that is not true.

The second half of the book is about how both of them are dedicated to helping others, that they are happy and fulfilled and that they are resigned not to marry. Then David receives an inheritance that allows him to think of marriage to Rachel, but accepting it however will force him to give up his life as a poor vicar. When he proposes it’s Rachel’s turn to say no because she loves him too much to accept such a great sacrifice from him. It took a compromising situation for them to come to their senses and decide to marry.

Well I never quite understood why they couldn’t marry, yes the hero was poor but he was also part of the nobility and so an acceptable party. And in the end he is still poor when finally the marriage is arranged so I ended up thinking they could have saved all that useless self-sacrifice and just get on with it from the beginning. Or Rachel could have let him accept the inheritance and they could be both rich and do good deeds even if in a different place. I’m afraid that instead of being moved by their actions I was annoyed. And I kept thinking Rachel could have ruined Algie and Celia´s happiness.

Looking forward to hear other opinions from Balogh fans. And thank you I. for lending me yet another HTF oldie.

Grade: 3.5/5


Ioanna February 25, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

I remember that I liked this book overall. I liked the fact that the hero was a vicar, which is unusual. And for me everything unusual is usually a good thing :) But I was exasperated at the supposed problems/obstacles. They love each other and would like to spend the rest of their lives together, but they don't get married because David is too poor and Rachel too rich (David objects too that). Rachel proposes to give her fortune away so they will both be poor. But David objects too that as well. Then David receives an inheritance so they will both be rich, but Rachel objects to that. I do not remember how it ends but from what you say Ana at the end David at least is poor, so I can not see how they got married (since they had objections to that :)

Ana T. February 27, 2009 at 12:18 PM  

Yes, I thought there were a bit too many objections going back and forth but you are right that at least it should be given some points for originality.

Btw Ioanna have you started Balogh's latest yet? I did and it seems to lack exactly some originality. :-S

Cari Hislop March 1, 2009 at 9:40 AM  

The hero is a Vicar? Balough wrote a book where the main characters don't have sex before they get married at the end? I didn't think she could! Pity the story sounds really stupid. I don't like romances with sex. Among other reasons, it defuses sexual tension which to me is a large part of a romance novel. I don't think I'll be picking daisies any time soon!

Ioanna March 2, 2009 at 3:55 PM  

There is another book where the h/h do not have sex before they get married (maybe there are more books, but I can not remember them from the top of my head). It is "The temporary wife". Here the h/h get married first, and have sex later. However since they marry in the very begining of the book and have sex on their wedding night, it does not fit your preference of no sex, and prolonged sexual tension :) However it is a GREAT book, I think Balogh's best by far, and one of the best Regencies there are, so I heartily recommend it if you have not tried it. The sex in this book (which is not a lot) works really great in developing the story and the characters. I truly can not think of any other book where the few sex scenes work to such great effect. I hope you try the book (if you have not already read it, that is).



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