An Unacceptable Offer by Mary Balogh

An Unacceptable Offer by Mary BaloghAn Unacceptable Offer by Mary Balogh
Published by Class Ebook Editions on April 2, 2019
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Jane Matthews has been secretly in love with the charming, very handsome Viscount Fairfax for a long time—since well before his marriage, in fact. Now he is widowed and, after a suitable mourning period, is back in London in search of a new wife and a mother for his two infant daughters. He chooses Jane, whom he finds likable and quiet and sensible and surely the ideal choice to suit his needs. When he proposes marriage to her, however, she surprises them both by saying no. Instead, she accepts the offer of his best friend. Too late—or so it seems—the viscount falls deeply in love with Jane as he comes to value her for herself.

Though none of them have been featured on my blog so far, I’ve been in the process of reading as much of Mary Balogh’s backlist as I can. Yes, it bothers me that I can’t read ALL of them, because some of her early novels have yet to be converted to ebooks. The good news, though, is that Hoopla has all of the ebooks of her older novels, so I get to read them for free (or for fifty bucks because I have to pay for access to another library system to get Hoopla but STILL). They’ve been surprisingly good for romance novels from the 1980s. However, I wasn’t going into An Unacceptable Offer with high hopes, because the one I read before it was the only Balogh novel I truly did not enjoy at all, but An Unacceptable Offer turned out to be my absolute favorite of her backlist thus far.

The older Balogh novels have been a tad bit more melodramatic than the Westcott series (what she’s working on presently and where I fell in love with her writing). Otherwise, they’re very similar stylistically: a more old-fashioned writing style, not sex-focused, and with unique heroines and love interests. They’re definitely romance novels that won’t work for a lot of romance readers, but the style and the characterization is generally pretty perfect for me.

An Unacceptable Offer didn’t really sound like my kind of set up. The heroine’s crush from her debut season comes back to London after the death of his wife to find a new mother for his two daughters. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not into kids, and the unromanticism of that didn’t hold much appeal. It also sounds like something that could be really sad.

However, that’s not what this book was like at all! An Unacceptable Offer reads almost like a Shakespearean comedy, and it’s an absolute tropefest in the best way, where things pretty much always play out in a low drama way despite being completely absurd. It’s so excellently my thing, and the romances (there are two) are absolutely precious.

Going in, I didn’t expect to like Viscount Fairfax, because single father isn’t an aesthetic that calls to me. However, I swiftly came to love him, because he’s bantery and also totally a feminist before that was a thing. One of the reasons he ended up being unhappy with his original pick for a wife was that she was obsessed with producing a male heir and hated their two girls, and he loves the shit out of his little girls. Like, he says multiple times that he would be 100% content to have only girls, and he has no problem seeing his title pass on to one of his many male cousins. I’ve literally never read this in a romance novel, and it just made me so damn happy. Oh! And when he does occasionally act like a privileged male (because let’s be real even the best guys do) and Jane calls him on it, he totally takes in the lesson and apologizes. Now this is the content I am here for.

Even better, Jane and Fairfax form a real bond through conversation. It’s one of those romances where he’s initially not really attracted to her but he falls in love with her mind and attitude first which makes everything about her lovely to him. They form a true attachment over their shared opinions on life and child-rearing, which means that they will actually be a great match in life, rather than just being two hot people who found each other. Even the scenes with the kids are cute, because they’re both just so happy with the kids.

The side ship is also fantastic, and I love that in that case the lady has no interest in children, and that’s one of the things that bonds the couple. Again, that’s something I’ve never really seen in a romance novel, and it made me want to cheer. Jane and Fairfax will live their life of rural bliss raising as many kids as they can manage (as long as they’re born two years apart because he really doesn’t want another wife to die in childbirth), and Honor and Sedgworth will travel the world having adventures, talking art, and not having any kids. It made me smile so hard to see everyone end up so well-matched.

This is one of those books I finished reading with a massive grin on my face. It’s easily the best of the early Balogh novels I’ve read so far (at least if you have similar romance taste to mine). I will absolutely revisit this one.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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