Another Dream by Mary Balogh (from Once Upon A Dream anthology)

Once upon a dreamWhy I read it:  I adore Mary Balogh books so I bought it. (I haven’t yet read the Grace Burrowes story. I may not ever do so as I really only bought it for the Balogh novella.)

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Miss Eleanor Thompson has found satisfaction as the director of a respected school for girls. The life of a dedicated educator offers many rewards and much meaning–but also more loneliness than Eleanor anticipated. She accepts an invitation from her sister, Christine, Duchess of Bewcastle, to attend a Bedwyn houseparty, never dreaming the summer curriculum might include stolen kisses and true love. 

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I was feeling in the mood for a comfort type read but I also wanted a story I hadn’t read before – so I turned to Mary Balogh. She is ever the comfort read to me. I just sink into her books like I would a comfy couch.

Eleanor Thompson is Christine’s sister (as in Wulfric’s wife). She is now the owner/operator of the Bath school for girls formerly run by Claudia Martin, now the Marchioness of Attingsborough. On her way to Lindsey Hall for a summer holiday with her family, she is stranded at an inn waiting out a storm. There, she meets a charming man, a widower with two young children, Michael Benning, the Earl of Staunton. Robert is five years old and very shy, Georgette is # and precocious, voluble and whip smart. The children take a shine to Eleanor and Eleanor and Michael take a shine to each other.

Deconstructing my favourite sex scene

Regular readers of the blog will know that I like a good hot sex scene. I read Alisha Rai’s Play With Me recently – very hot.  KA Mitchell’s No Souvenirs and Regularly Scheduled Life (scroll down a little after you click the link for a brief review), Heidi Cullinan’s Special Delivery and Double Blind,  Cara McKenna’s Willing Victim, most everything by Charlotte Stein – all feature very hot scenes which, for the most part, advance the story and reveal the characters (and not just because they’re naked).  In fact, I wrote a post a while back saying that I don’t like fade to black (except when I do) and why.  So you might be surprised then, to know that my favourite sex scene ever, is not at all sexy. Not the least bit hot.  But I love it. When I need a comfort read and I have a spare 20 minutes, I open the book up just before the scene starts and within seconds I’m sighing in pleasure (er, not that kind of pleasure).   In fact, it has happened that those spare 20 minutes have turned into numerous complete re-reads, but I digress.

The book?  Heartless by Mary Balogh.

Sadly, it is out of print, but I hope it will be available digitally one day soon. I paid a hideous amount for it on eBay five or so years ago and have never regretted a single cent. ETA: Cue streamers and cries of Huzzah!! it is available again. You can buy it  from Amazon here.

It is a book I don’t think I can be entirely rational about.  It is my favourite Mary Balogh, a definite Desert Island Keeper and in my top 5 books of all time (don’t ask me to name the other 4 – it’s too hard).  I’m sure the book has flaws. I don’t care. I love it. And, I’d like to share with you one of the (many) reasons why.

bright pink cover with embossed silver author name and title (top and bottom) with cut out decoration in the middle, part of which reveals some of the inner cover of a man and a woman in an embrace

Here’s the blurb (from Goodreads)  Life has taught Lucas Kendrick, Duke of Harndon, that a heart is a decided liability. Betrayed by his brother, rejected by his fiancée, Luke fled to Paris, where he became the most sought-after bachelor in fashionable society.

Ten years later, fate has brought him back home, to the rescue of the very people who had once shunned him. Luke is amused by the advice that a wife will make his takeover of both the title and the family estate smoother, but amusement turns to desire once he sets eyes upon Lady Anna Marlowe.

Unbeknownst to Luke, Anna is also no stranger to pain, but her suffering can’t be so easily overcome, not when her tormentor stalks her to the very doors of Bowden Abbey. Luke and Anna, each made fragile by the past, must learn to trust both each other and their love if they are to have any chance for a future together.

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