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lord carews bride

Historical Romance Review: Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh

The heroine of Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh is a spinster who has put off romance but is searching for meaning in life. Through her chance encounter with the reclusive Lord Carew, she finds friendship, love, and self-discovery.

historical romance review
Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh
Rating: four-half-stars
Published: 1995
Illustrator: Ted Sizemore
Imprint or Line: Signet Regency
Book Series: Stapleton-Downes #4
Published by: Signet
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 225
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooksOpen Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh


The Book Backstory

I have a secret to confess about Mary Balogh. She’s an author I’ve always meant to read, but because I can only accomplish so little in life, her books would get pushed down in my TBR list. I own about twenty of her romances, but except to delight in a few covers I’ve never touched them.

One day I decided that it was as good as any to start. The reviews for Lord Carew’s Bride intrigued me. although I couldn’t find the title among my books. So instead of reading one of the romances I already owned, I ordered a copy of Lord Carews’ Bride. And I’m glad I did; the cover is darling!

It was then that I realized I already owned it; the story was part of a two-in-one volume with Dark Angel.

Now this means I have to get a copy of the original version of Dark Angel because my book-collecting OCD demands I must!

dark angel mary balogh

The Book

Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh was originally published as a 1995 Signet Regency romance. The story tells of Samantha Newman, an increasingly aging spinster (she’s in her mid-twenties!), searching for meaning and fulfillment in her life.

Through Samantha’s chance encounter with the reclusive Marquess of Carew, Balogh weaves a tale of friendship, love, and self-discovery.

The Plot

At 25 years old, Samantha is almost on the shelf. But because she is beautiful, she is still courted by many gentlemen. Nevertheless, she is still troubled and unhappy due, in part, to past heartache.

During a stay in the country with her friends, Jennifer and Gabriel, Samantha takes a walk and stumbles upon the property of the reclusive Marquess of Carew. She meets an unassuming crippled man who is warm and amiable. Thinking he is a landscape designer, she builds a cordial friendship with him.

Only later does she discover that he is no mere gardener but is actually the wealthy marquess.

Back in London, Samantha is again threatened by the man who broke her heart years earlier when she was a fresh-faced debutant.

Lord Carew is also in London, and it is then the true identity of Samantha’s supposed landscaper friend is revealed. Lord Carew will always be Samatha’s confidante and ally, regardless of who he is. He offers sanctuary from the emotional drama and pledges to marry her.

Deciding that friendship is better than the heartache of love, Samantha accepts Carew’s marriage proposal.

Their marriage is one of convenience. Nevertheless, as they get to know each other, they realize that their feelings for each other transcend mere affection.

The relationship between Hartley Wade, Lord Carew, and Miss Newman unfolds gently, with tender moments like when she massages Carew’s injured hand.

Samantha acknowledges that what she feels for Carew is more than mere friendship; it’s love.

My Opinion

Lord Carew’s Bride is not an angsty, overly dramatic book with nail-biting cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. This a slow, character-study of romance. I’m not complaining! It was a real treat to experience.

One of the standout elements is how Balogh portrays the relationship between Samantha and Carew, her “landscaper” friend. The two characters are so different from each other on the surface, but as they spend time together their bond grows gradually and authentically.

These two protagonists genuinely like each other, and it’s s a joy to watch it unfold.

The case of mistaken identity allows for a unique dynamic between Samantha and Carews. When his true identity is revealed later on, it is handled in a most satisfying manner.

Another of this book’s strengths is how Balogh explores the issue of romantic relationships and contentment. Samantha’s journey from being unsatisfied with her life to finding happiness in friendship to true joy in marriage underscores this theme more deeply than one might expect in a 225-page romance.

Balogh has a real talent for bringing characters to life and exploring the complexities of love.

Steam Factor: Sweet Meets Warm

Obviously, this is a trad regency, so the steam factor isn’t going to be sizzling. The romantic relationship between Samantha and Carew grows gradually and authentically.

They find pleasure with each other in their marital bed, although it doesn’t start as a roaring fire of passion. There’s a moment where Carew thinks to himself of how delightful their nights together are, even if his new bride is still shy and unready to initiate love play.

Carew was confident time would change that as he was a patient lover. He could never force his bride into sex for his own pleasure; instead, he sought reciprocity and mutual enjoyment.

The slow-burning romance between them heats ups, and some sensitive readers might feel a pleasant tingle. Lord Carew’s Bride straddles the line between sweet and warm. Should we call the heat level swarm? Weet?

Let’s just keep it at “where sweet meets warm.”

Final Analysis of Lord Carew’s Bride

Lord Carew’s Bride is a charming love story with engaging writing. Balogh’s prose is quite, almost exquisite, at times. The way she portrays the love between Lord Carew and Samantha is nothing short of delightful.

Lord Carew is the epitome of a wounded hero, and readers will root for him every step as he overcomes his physical limitations and finds love and happiness.

Despite a few less-than-perfect moments, this is certainly a book I’ll recall fondly. Certainly, if you’re looking for an engaging traditional Regency romance, Lord Carew’s Bride is a great place to start. I’d rank it as a must-read for fans of the genre.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.4


Samantha Newman is getting older, but though she is beautiful and courted by a large number of gentlemen, she is restless and unhappy. While she is staying in the country with her friends Jennifer and Gabriel, she takes a walk alone and wanders onto the property of the reclusive Marquess of Carew. She meets him far from the house and mistakes him for a landscape designer. He is an ordinary-looking man and is half crippled. He is also friendly and unassuming, and Samantha soon relaxes into a warm friendship with him.

It is only much later, back in London, when she is again threatened by the man who broke her heart years ago during her come-out Season, that Samantha discovers who her friend really is. And this time she is tempted to settle for the contentment of friendship in order to escape the pain of love.

Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh

Category Romance Review: Driving Force by Sally Wentworth

Driving Force, Sally Wentworth, Harlequin, 1988, Cover Artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1197


3 1/2 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Driving Force, a Sally Wentworth Harlequin Presents, offers few surprises but is a satisfactory read regardless.


West Marriot– our hero, not a 3-star hotel but a famous race car driver–was terribly injured in a race several months ago. Madeleine French, a nurse and physiotherapist, had been married to West for four years. Maddy couldn’t withstand the anxiety of being married to a man with such a dangerous career, so she gave him an ultimatum, married life or fast cars. When he refused to quit, she left him. Several months later, West was in an accident that immobilized him.

Maddy receives a call from West’s mother, requesting to catch up. In fact, Laura, West’s mother, declares to Laura West isn’t recovering at all and may never walk again. She begs Maddy to come to help her ex-husband, and although Maddy initially refuses, in time, she realizes she still loves her ex and can’t abandon him. Maddy knows it won’t be easy for West to accept her, as their divorce was acrimonious, with West, a man a proud man, begging Maddy to stay.


A power play over wills begins. West is furious that Maddy thinks she can come back into his life when she abandoned him before. Maddie is determined to see him as the man he once was–even if the man he once was broke her heart by choosing a life of danger over being a stable partner, whom she didn’t have to fret over constantly.

As is typical in so many of these Harleys, to add some more drama to the mix is another woman on the prowl, waiting for West to make his comeback and hinting at all sorts of nasty things to the heroine. There’s another man who’s very interested in Maddy, and Maddy does little to dissuade him of his interest. But these are just sides characters to the main plot.

Have Maddy and West learned enough over the past year of trauma to make it possible for the two to make it another go of their marriage?

Final Analysis of Driving Force

In another author’s hand, this book would be a tepid so-so read. But with Sally Wentworth’s standard angsty writing, a passionate hero who can admit when he’s wrong, and a defiant heroine who will compromise but won’t be run-over, this makes for an emotionally satisfying romance.

It’s obvious a man like West won’t be content with just walking again. He’s determined not just to enter but to win another race.

In the end, there’s a gentle resolution between the two. West gets his last hurrah, and Maddy gets her happily ever after with the man she loves.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

speak only love deana james

Historical Romance Review: Speak Only Love by Deana James

historical romance review
Speak Only Love by Deana James
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1991
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Book Series: Regency Duo #1
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Speak Only Love by Deana James

The Book

Speak Only Love is yet another Deana James treat. This Zebra romance takes us to Regency Era England and the story of tumultuous love between two uniquely original characters.

The Characters and Plot

Vivian Marleigh is a mute heiress who cannot speak ever since she witnessed the tragic death of her mother. She is forced into marriage with a young, hard-drinking viscount, Piers Larne. The marriage was arranged by the viscounts’ wicked father, the Earl.

Piers is not happy about this union, but what can he do? He feels powerless in his life, with no agency. His daddy pulls the strings, and like a puppet, Piers must dance to his control.

Piers is a dissolute mess, spending most of his time drinking and recovering from gunshot wounds or the many injuries he receives. For besides being the wastrel son of a nobleman, our hero is also a smuggler.

Vivian doesn’t speak a word in the book, yet the love story unfolds and the two pawns in an evil man’s game soon form an intense bond that goes beyond words.

The heroines in James’ book always have a delicate sense of strength, a fortitude that makes them mightier than the hero in many ways. Vivian is no different, her persona grows into one with a powerful voice, even though she cannot physically speak.

speak only love deana james
Speak Only Love, Deana James, Zebra, cover artist unknown

Another Great Romance by Deana James

Though at first both parties in Speak Only Love are wary of each other, neither of them wanting to be part of this unlikely union, slowly they begin to understand one another. Without words, together Piers and Vivian form an unexpected bond.

They face many harrowing experiences, as Piers’ smuggling activities catch up with him. Vivian, who doesn’t have a physical voice, is an amazing, resilient character. With her abiding strength, Piers can face whatever challenges lie ahead.

Final Analysis of Speak Only Love

Speak Only Love might not be Deana James’ best novel I’ve read so far, but it certainly was a compelling read. I do prefer Deana James’ western and medieval romances to her Regency & Victorian Era novels. Even so, she has yet to disappoint me in any of her books.

I really appreciated the way James wrote her heroines. They go through hell and back but always retain their dignity. Good stuff.