by Mary Balogh

April 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-33824-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Delacorte Press

Mary Balogh’s fans have been looking forward to her newest novel, Simply Perfect. One of her most beloved characters is about to find romance where she least expects it, and readers are gleefully awaiting the book to see how it all unfolds. Anyone can write a few paragraphs about “girl meets boy, falls in love and lives happily ever after” but only a few authors can make the journey unforgettable. Ms. Balogh is one of those authors who craft remarkable stories filled with exceptional characters who live in our hearts long after the book has been finished.

Claudia Martin’s life is rewarding and satisfying. Her school has succeeded beyond her expectations. The occasional crisis is not enough to dim her appreciation for her teachers and students. From her perspective, every bump in the road has brought her to this destination, and she is happy. She is looking forward to her trip to London to place two of her charity students in their first work environments, since she will also visit with some of her former teachers and friends.

She is not particularly pleased when the Marquess of Attingsborough appears at the school. She has a low opinion of most nobility, and has no idea what he could want. Another black mark against him is his appearance. The man is astonishingly handsome, and probably knows it. Even worse, he is charming. The fact that he has been recommended by one of her former teachers is a small point in his favor, and to refuse his offer of transport to London would be impolite. Claudia must accept, but is not looking forward to the journey.

Joseph Fawcitt, Marquess of Attingsborough, has his own reasons for coming to Miss Martin’s school. He is very impressed with the entire program, but even more impressed with Miss Martin herself. The epitome of what one expects in a headmistress, she is stern but not severe, and her affection for her students is evident. He has some difficult decisions to make, and his family’s pressure to marry is adding to his burden. He hopes he is not making a grave mistake.

Simply Perfect was satisfying on so many levels that I cannot begin to list them all. The emotions evoked by this touching story had me in tears by Chapter 14, and was worthy of a standing ovation by the final page. Ms. Balogh pulled out all the stops, bringing back characters from many of her most popular stories, including the Bedwyn and Butler families. Having so many familiar faces together was fabulous, and readers can almost hear the conversations taking place. I will be hard-pressed to find a book to top my enjoyment of this one.

Reviewed in March 2008 by Paula.

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