So the book I’ve been reading is currently making me very cranky. I don’t like the way it’s going, so I went looking for a little palate cleanser while I contemplate whether I’ll finish the other or not. Enter a cheap Balogh romance. Usually perfect to while away a few hours on.
Ms. Balogh has been writing romances for longer than I’ve been alive. There’s a lot. Recently a publisher worked with her to release a whole bunch of her back catalog from the 80’s and 90’s. This was one that I picked up super cheap, but man… it felt like an 80’s romance.
A Masked Deception is the story of Margaret, an on the shelf young spinster, and Richard, Earl of Brampton in search of a wife. Margaret and Richard actually met years earlier at a masquerade and had one moment of chemistry. Margaret was pulled away by her mother so he never knew it was her. Enter six years later when her mother suggests Margaret as a wife. He agrees, and then wed. Both continue to refuse to communicate to each other as husband and wife so their marriage isn’t all it should be. Margaret’s sister helps her set up a scheme to win her husband’s affections by dressing up as she did six years ago. Our story rolls out from there.
Whooey, was this one dated. It was published in 1985 so that’s not unsurprising. Overall though I was entertained enough for a couple of hours. There’s plenty of shenanigans including two B plot love stories, which added enough fun for me to not loathe it. Our central players of Richard and Margaret drown in their own self-assumptions about the other and it’s almost unbearable. It’s so “stereotypical English” in their refusal to ever actually converse with each other about anything as fussy as “feelings”, that I wanted to scream at them many a time. Thankfully, with the Survivor’s Club series Ms. Balogh has shown that she can and does now tell excellent love stories where characters actually communicate with each other.
This one reminded me a lot of Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. If you want something to pass the time with for a few hours this isn’t the worst, but I would recommend all of Ms. Balogh’s more recent works. This is a deep cut.