Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gentle Conquest - Mary Balogh


It should have been the perfect marriage for beautiful Georgiana Burton. The husband her parents had picked for her, Lord Ralph Chartleigh, was wealthy, handsome, noble, and kind. Unfortunately, he did not measure up to Georgiana's firm notions of what a man should be. He was uninterested in society, impervious to fashions, had the worst of tailors, knew little of women -- and was wary of the little he knew. Clearly Georgiana had to teach him a great deal about life and even more about love...forgetting until it was almost too late how much she had to learn herself.

Another Balogh oldie (yes I read quite a few last month) and one that I started worrying about once I was introduced to the heroine. She seemed the ultimate shallow girl, marrying because her parents so decided but determined to make fun of her husband. The husband was intelligent, honourable, charming even although a bit shy with his bride. He fell head over heels in love with at first sight and seemed unable to utter more than a couple of words in her presence. Georgiana pretends to also be shy and delicate while she is being courted but while Ralph never even kissed a girl she has already been kissed by a couple of her friends and sees nothing wrong with a light flirtation.

Ralph's inexperience and Georgiana’s behaviour lead them to an awkward situation on their wedding night and they do not consummate it. Instead Ralph decided to wait till they get to know each other better. He is quite surprised by the vivacious girl she becomes after the wedding and feels even more enchanted by her. Although seems as shallow as in the beginning we can see that she doesn't have a bad heart and would like to make a go of her marriage. She is a bit impulsive and sometimes her actions really are a bit too much but she is the kind who learns from her mistakes.

They eventually return to London and the ton's social life. Georgiana meets her old friends and makes the acquaintance of one of Ralph's cousins. The more she gets to know her husband the more she wants their marriage to be consummated, you can see her growing up, appreciating her husband as she should and he deserves. But Ralph doesn't seem in any hurry to do the deed. With the help of her husband's cousin she eventually comes up with a plan to seduce him, but since he feels intimidated by her she pretends to be someone else.

I must admit that Georgiana's crazy plan was quite funny. Because of that I could suspend my disbelief regarding the fact that Ralph slept with his wife believing her to be a stranger and never realising it. But I could see a mile away that someone would eventually believe Georgiana to be carrying on an affair and that might have some trouble explaining what she had been up to. How she was found out and how Ralph dealt with the situation was also quite funny.

Despite what I would think to be a crazy plot if I had just read about it I think the story worked very well, showing two young people (18 and 21) getting to know each other and falling in love while still showing some adolescent behaviour. While this isn't one of my favourite Balogh's it was still a very nice read.

The secondary romance was also a nice touch.

Grade: 4/5




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