Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

Life is pretty quiet in my corner of the world. I'm trying to get back into a review rhythm again ^_^; My muse just comes and goes. I was so motivated this morning and then, I simply got busy and there it went... Muse was gone ^_^; Let's hope she stays long enough for me to complete this review :P

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
Series: None

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 :)


  1. Oh yeah!! I have this one! I'll need to move this to the top of my TBR pile.

  2. I never could get into Mary Balogh. I might pass on this one.

  3. My mom has been trying to get me to read Balogh for awhile now. But I haven't been in a historicals kind of mood....I'll have to give her a try sometime though!

  4. I think Balogh is like many historical fiction writers that have scads of books to their name: they run out of creative ideas and eventually the plots are pretty much the same. Several of her early books are spectacular. I, too, get tired of the short novels--with the kind of talent many of these writers possess, it is sad to see that they are not developing these story lines fully. Oh well . . .

  5. Wonderful review Nath! So happy you read and enjoyed A Matter of Class!

    Totally agree about mature characters. The childish antics can get old and repetitive.

  6. Okay, I thought I wouldn't want to read this. Now I do. *g*

    "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..." made me change my mind and put it on my list of books to possibly buy.

    Thanks, nath. :)

  7. Dev - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Dev :P

    Isabel - Hmmm, I've read only a few ones of hers and those that came with the highest of recommendation... but I know what you mean, Isabel. I have one, Petal of flowers or something like that... and I doubt I'll read it ^_^;

    Mollie - Hey, true, I rarely see you reading historicals! Moods can't be forced and if they could, better not :P

    Dr J - Well, she has had a long careers... and I think that historical authors are restricted a bit by the time periods they choose.

    As for not developing these stories fully, well first of all, why should short stories and novellas exist? Seems to me it has more to do with publishing houses demands.

    Leslie - Thanks Leslie :D I usually like my heroines to know what they want, be expressive and so on... but sometimes, it's a nice to discover different characters :P

    Taja - LOL Taja :) I think you would enjoy it :) If you go on Books on Board, you can get quite a good price :)

    And you're welcomed :P

  8. This book definitely provided one of the sweetest few hours I've spent reading a novella. Glad you enjoyed it too. :)

  9. Hey, I feel the same as you about Balogh. But your review has me curious. While I would hesitate to add a paperback to my ever-growing pile of books I don't hesitate so much with an ebook. hehe. Thanks!

  10. Christine - Nod nod, I agree Christine. And I like the way it was written... I guess it did work best as a novella...

    Tabitha - LOL, the joy of having an e-reader, right, Tabitha? :) I hope you enjoy it ;) I personally wouldn't have gotten it if it wasn't for the great reviews.

  11. Great review Nath. I'm so glad you read and enjoyed A Matter of Class! This is definitely the best Balogh has written in a while. A short, but complete novella and I enjoyed every word. And you said it... "mature characters"... so right!

  12. Hilcia - It was definitively a good book :) Thanks for recommending it :) And yes, mature characters... It doesn't seem much, but LOL, it's quite rare in romance actually! :P