Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Summer To Remember by Mary Balogh ***

A Summer To Remember is the first I MEAN SECOND in the Slightly series, a sort of prelude as it were. Somehow the magic wasn't there for me with this book - too wordy, or something.

The heroine is Lauren - she was left at the altar by her fiance Neville when it was revealed, while she waited in the back of the church to enter, that he had been married and his wife whom he thought had died was alive - and there! (apparently this is the plot of the first book) He apparently had never even told anyone in his family about this marriage, which was confusing since Lauren had been raised in his family since she was 3. I kept trying to figure out how she could not have known - it was something about his having married her while away, in the military or something. (after I read the FIRST book I guess I'll understand better - ETA I have now read the first book, and since he thought her dead, and they had only been married 1 day, and it wasn't anyone the family knew, he never talked about it to anyone. Whew. It made more sense reading it.)

Anyway, she's very prim and proper and has decided it is her lot in life to be a spinster, and is planning the very same when she witnesses the very roguish rakish Kit fighting off 3 local yokels who made some unwelcome overtures to a milk maid. He defended the milk maid's honor, bare-chested and brawling and then took as his prize a lusty kiss - all observed by Lauren, who is horrified.

Then Kit reveals to his friends that he is being called home, after having been banished for 3 years, to marry his dead brother's fiancee. It seems he thought he was in love with this young woman when his brother announced their betrothal, and he fought the brother - and was sent away. The brother died, leaving Freyja alone, and now the parents think they will make it up to him by signing a marriage contract for the 2 of them. Only now he doesn't want her.

He's also suffering from guilt about his younger brother, who went to war with him and managed to lose an arm and an eye to torture while accompanying Kit on some spy mission.

The upshot of all this is Kit wants to find a young woman to marry before going home so he can spoil the parents' plans - and the friends decide Lauren is just the one.

They set up instead a Counterfeit Betrothal - oooops, Ms Balogh already used that title and conceit... - and went together to his parents to thwart them. Actually, what Lauren has in mind is to help poor Kit get back in his family's good graces, and hopefully also marry Freyja after she (Lauren) jilts him, on purpose, so she can go live that spinster life she sooo craves. She thinks he's still secretly in love with Freyja.

Blah blah blah, yada yada, they manage to both fall in love along the way and both help the other get over their phobias and problems, but - ah, the honor - they cannot betray their original deal, so she leaves and breaks it off. Guess what happens. Hint, it's a romance and the main characters always get their HEA.

It's an AAR Top 100 for 2007, and the beginning of a long series. No notable pets, no besotted heroes - just your typical pretend engagement. Sigh. Yawn. 3 stars. OH I cannot believe I read this out of order - it's the SECOND and One Night For Love is the FIRST in the series. Dang. I have got to get my notes in order!

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