It's taken nearly a year, but I've finally read all the books in Mary Balogh's Bedwyn World -- the Bedwyn Saga/Slightly series, the related Simply series, and now the prequels. For the most part, I've enjoyed them all, and One Night for Love is no exception.
On the surface, this book is full of historical romance cliches -- a secret wedding in Portugal, the "dead" first wife showing up at her husband's second wedding, a secret lost child, rags-to-riches, love between upper and lower class, a shadowy villain -- but Mary Balogh writes such engaging characters that the cliches actually work.
Lily and Neville are a delightful, heart-breaking couple. She's the daughter of a sergeant, and he's an earl. And when Mary Balogh writes a lower-class heroine, she does it up right. Lily is utterly uneducated; she cannot read or write or do sums. She knows nothing of history and has never heard of Bach or Beethoven. She truly has no idea which fork to use. But Neville loves her and wants to protect her from the haughty stares of the ton
. Lily is proud, however, and doesn't want to be an object of pity.
I will say that her transformation from waif to lady (you knew that was bound to happen, didn't you?) comes rather quickly and easily, but if you ignore how little time passes, it actually becomes rather believable. Neville's transformation and his growing respect for Lily is quite moving, though.
If I were advising a new reader just discovering historical romance, I would recommend without hesitation all the books in Bedwyn World, beginning with this one. The entire series covers about ten years or so and the later books feature cameos from earlier characters. It's lots of fun to see their romances, marriages, and families over time.
And now, in her latest book, The Proposal, Ms. Balogh features Lady Gwen, the hero's sister and a minor character in this book. I look forward to reading it.