The Escape (Survivors Club) by Mary Balogh (Amazon)
Rating: Very Good
Description: After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.
Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.
Genre: Romance - Historical
Why I Picked This Book: Mary Balogh has been one of my favorite historical romance authors for years and I couldn't resist this one.
My Impression: Mary Balogh has long been one of my favorite historical romance authors largely due to the fact that she really tackles darker issues than I usually find in historical romance. She's not an author that really goes into the usual tropes. Now don't get me wrong - I love some tropes and I adore a good light romp of a book full of witty banter but this isn't one of those books.
Ben is struggling to adjust to his new life post-wartime. His injuries are keeping him from being the man he was before the war and there is a feeling of aimlessness that is causing him to start to fall into a depression. Samantha's marriage wasn't the happily ever after she had hoped for but after 5 years of tending her wounded husband she is now stuck with his prim and stern sister after his death. Both of them are unhappy and both of them long to live again though they don't have the faintest idea of how to go about it.
To say the romance is a slow burn would be an understatement. They really don't have regular contact until a third of the way through the book. While this would usually make me impatient it works here because their backstories and current situations are so important to who they both are that it never felt like nothing was happening. The story was building from the very beginning and while the romance was slow developing the plot was not and the story itself hooked me early on. I cared about these characters and I desperately wanted things to work out for them both as a couple and as individuals.
This is a romance that deals with very real issues yet never manages to lose its sweetness. It pulled me in from the beginning and I didn't want to put it down! While this is book is part of a series (and a later one judging from all the married friends) it works perfectly as a stand alone as it focuses almost solely on Ben and Samantha.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the Survivors Club books and really anything else Mary Balogh writes.
Would I Recommend this Book? I would! If you like Sabrina Jeffries books I think you'd love Balogh's.