Friday, March 25, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse and March's Book Pick: Only a Kiss



Hello Friends! Welcome to The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a gathering of book lovers who congregate once a month to discuss what they've read.



This month, I am doing this without having finished any of the books I started. I am currently reading five books (mistake number one). Why do I always do this to myself? I start one book, then I run across another and think, “Oh! I must read that one.” In between my own writing, and editing other manuscripts, I find I read a little of this one, a bit here, a chapter or two there…and then it’s the end of the month and I’ve finished nothing.

But here we are and I must choose something, so I’m going with my gut on this one. Of all of the novels I began reading this month, the one I’m closest to finishing as well as the one I’m most enjoying is Mary Balogh’s Only a Kiss.


Here is the blurb from Amazon:

Since witnessing the death of her husband during the wars, Imogen, Lady Barclay, has secluded herself in the confines of Hardford Hall, their home in Cornwall. The new owner has failed to take up his inheritance, and Imogen desperately hopes he will never come to disturb her fragile peace.

Percival Hayes, Earl of Hardford, has no interest in the wilds of Cornwall, but when he impulsively decides to pay a visit to his estate there, he is shocked to discover that it is not the ruined heap he had expected. He is equally shocked to find the beautiful widow of his predecessor’s son living there.

Soon Imogen awakens in Percy a passion he has never thought himself capable of feeling. But can he save her from her misery and reawaken her soul? And what will it mean for him if he succeeds?



First of all, this novel takes place in Cornwall. I visited Cornwall back in the 90s and found it breathtaking, but I’ve recently enjoyed a renewed love of the region after watching Doc Martin, Poldark, and last week’s Lifetime Movie Network’s adaptation of Agatha Christie's And then there were None. Mary Balogh is a wonderful writer and her words paint beautiful descriptions of a Cornish coast (as well as detailing some of the problems the Cornish suffered during the Regency such as smugglers, shipwrecks, etc.) Additionally, I am not much of a lover of romance, but that’s why I like this one. Aside from the romantic aspect, there is a much more serious side plot featured. Imogen is a member of the Survivor’s Club, a group of people who have survived insurmountable odds and lived to tell about them. In Imogen’s case, she witnessed the death of her husband in the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic wars. Although she was treated well, her husband was tortured (often within earshot of her holdings). In the end, she was witness to his hanging. Along with the grief of his loss, she must also now deal with survivor’s guilt.


While there is the usual hot and heavy bedroom sequence in here, considering the length of the novel, the sexual content is relatively small (although if you are offended or bothered by such scenes, best to skip this one, as it’s pretty graphic).

Balogh is master of creating secondary characters, and it’s virtually impossible not to love Lady Lavinia’s character, Imogen’s aunt and an inhabitant of Hardford Hall, who takes it upon herself to rescue every stray dog in the region. She treats them like her children, loving them back to health and providing them with permanent homes either in her own house or others. She brings extra life and humor to the story. 

The plot unfolds slowly and with much attention to detail from the Regency period. Fabrics, locales, foods, and language are all authentically created in Balogh’s novels. She is a prolific writer and has dozens of books to her credit. I read another one of her regency novels last year entitled Heartless with a similar reaction.    

What have you been reading this month?

13 comments:

  1. Oh! I do love a good Regency! Putting this one in my list.
    Thanks for sharing, and hope the ending lives up to the beginning.
    V of V's Reads

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    1. I hope so too! I think you'll love this one.

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  2. This sounds like a book I would enjoy, thank you for recommending it. I hope you manage to finish reading some of your books!

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    1. Me too! My full-time job gets in the way...

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  3. It does sound interesting; I think with so many good books out there it is sometimes hard just to read one straight through.

    betty

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    1. You're right, Betty. I sometimes think I'm ADD when it comes to books.

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  4. Ha! I just knew Veronica would be up for this one.

    Not really my scene but you never know. Maybe I will suggest it to my wife.

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    1. Not every book is for everyone! :)

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    2. Certainly true, and for me that's part of the fun of these monthly gatherings. What better way to enjoy our similarities and differences?

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  5. Honestly, I always wanted to skip over the sex scenes in romantic books. I don't know why--they just always made me feel uncomfortable!

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    1. Me too! Cringeworthy. I'm glad to hear that because I'm working on a novel right now that's historical fiction, but there's no graphic sex. I know s lot of people read historical--especially Regency--for the bedroom scenes, so I'm glad to hear that's not everyone.

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  6. Sounds like myself! I used to be guilty of reading multiple books at once, then finishing half. I am working on writing a poetry book now so I haven't done that yet!

    I work for a library and this book has been popular. I might check it out and skip over the sex scenes, especially if they are graphic. That makes me uncomfortable, but as Stephanie Faris wrote, sex scenes in romance novels tend to make me uncomfortable!

    I've been reading books for a book discussion group. I read Station Eleven and Everything I Never Told You so far. Then I've also been working on my poetry book.

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    1. I feel the same, Jessica. I'm glad to hear others do too.

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