A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh
published by Vanguard Press in December 2009
Reginald Mason is wealthy, refined, and, by all accounts, a gentleman. However, he is not a gentleman by title, a factor that pains him and his father within the Regency society that upholds station over all else. That is, until an opportunity for social advancement arises, namely, Lady Annabelle Ashton. Daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family, Annabelle finds herself disgraced by a scandal, one that has left her branded as damaged goods. Besmirched by shame, the earl is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone willing to have her.
Though Reginald Mason, Senior, wishes to use Annabelle to propel his family up the social ladder, his son does not wish to marry her, preferring instead to live the wild, single life he is accustomed to. With this, Reginald Senior serves his son an ultimatum: marry Annabelle, or make do without family funds. Having no choice, Reginald consents, and enters into a hostile engagement in which the prospective bride and groom are openly antagonistic, each one resenting the other for their current state of affairs while their respective fathers revel in their suffering.
Genre: Historical romance
My Story: I'm not going to summarize this book, because LOL, I don't think I can do better than the blurb and there's also a twist that I don't want to give away :P
My Opinion: I've read Ms Balogh before and while I don't dislike her style, I don't love it either. I'm pretty neutral towards her and as a result, I don't actively seek her books. However, A Matter of Class was an exception. A Matter of Class got excellent reviews from Hilcia, Leslie and Christine and thus, I was very curious about it... Wouldn't you be?
A Matter of Class is about two persons who meet and learn to know each other, each encounter building up the relationship. The story is simple, but does contain a little interesting twist. I think Ms Balogh did a good job at foreshadowing it and while readers are not totally surprised at the end; I thought it was very clever. Annabelle and Reggie are two likable characters. I think the best way to describe them would be mature and that is a nice change for once LOL. Actually, I think what made them stand out the most is that despite their wealth and rank, or lack of rank, Annabelle and Reggie were two regular persons who found themselves in a difficult situation and tried their best to work it out... and not only for themselves, but also for the harmony and peace of their families. And that's where the charm of this book lies in - the characters. There were no martyrs, no angst, no dark secrets, no tomboy-ish heroines, no rake-ish heroes... Simply two persons with strong minds and resolve and I thought they were inspiring. I also really liked how they cared about their families and you could see that their family happiness was important, but not at the expense of their own. Both tried their hardest to get things right. Everything is then backed up by Ms Balogh's writing and voice. In fact, its simplicity complements the storyline and characters very well. I think it defined the mood for the readers, pulled them in the story.
My only complaint is that A Matter of Class was too short. I would have loved to read more about Annabelle and Reggie :P
Grade: B+. Short review for a short book, but don't be mistaken. A Matter of Class was a very enjoyable read and definitively lived up to its buzz :)