Tuesday, May 31, 2016
In this last book of the Survivor's Club series, 48 year-old widower George Crabbe, The Duke of Stanbrook, decides he is ready to find a companion, a friend, a wife, a lover of his own. The only woman who comes to his mind is Dora Debbins, a 39 year-old spinster and music teacher he met over a year ago. George visits Dora at her little cottage and to her utter amazement, he proposes. She accepts.
During the rest of the novel, we discover the characters. There is Dora's capacity for hope and joy, her vitality and willingness to accept the opportunity to be happy with a man she respects, admires, finds attractive, and slowly comes to love. George will do anything to make Dora happy -- to keep this woman he fully admires at his side. He's almost perfect, but not quite. George gives, and has given so much of himself to others, but has never learned how to accept support from friends. So sad, so hardheaded, so darn huggable!
Most of Only Beloved is focused on relationship growth and characterization. The details about the marriage, how George and Dora get from companionship and attraction to love, are all fabulous. This couple develops a mature relationship with few, if any, misunderstandings. I love that about them. And, although this is not the most sizzling, sexual of couples, there is intimacy, love, and passion between them. Of course there are a couple of personal conflicts thrown in for good measure.
Dora's main problem is her estrangement with the mother who abandoned the family when she was a teenager, creating a scandal and robbing her of a future. Balogh does not rush the resolution to Dora's conflict, as it takes almost the whole book to conclude satisfactorily. George's conflicts, on the other hand, are more complicated. Having read the other books from the Survivor's Club series, we know that George's son was killed during the Napoleonic War, and that his first wife committed suicide afterward, but here we find out that there is more to both incidents. George has never revealed his secrets to anyone. A nemesis is revealed, and it all concludes in high drama.
There are two epilogues: one for the book and one for the series. I don't usually mind epilogues at all, however this time around, the epilogue to the series seem to be a bit much! So many children… I couldn't make out whose child belonged to which couple even when Balogh used the last names! Regardless, it was a sweet ending for them all.
Only Beloved was a lovely ending to this series. A quiet, joyful, happy, romantic ending. Recommended.