Saturday, February 27, 2010

REVIEW: A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

A Matter of Class is a delightful little historical romance. Prior to reading this novella, the only other work I had read by this author was the short story "A Handful of Gold" in the Heart of Christmas anthology last December. I enjoyed Balogh's story in the anthology, and when I read Hilcia's and Phyl's enthusiastic reviews for A Matter of Class, it was an easy decision to read this book. Even easier when I noted that my library had it on the shelf and I didn't have to spend hardcover price on a novella.

A Matter of Class is a story about two families who live on adjacent properties and have lived with a great deal of tension and even animosity towards each other because of simple matters of class.

Mr. Bernard Mason was born to the working class and therefore has no title. As a result of great financial success as a coal merchant along with great efforts to advance himself socially, he and his wife and his son Reginald Mason now live nearly accepted among the genteel class. Their neighbor, the arrogant Earl of Havercroft looks down upon the Masons and treats them with snobbish disdain. So much so that he even forbids his wife and only daughter, Lady Annabelle to speak with the Masons or even look at them in church. Needless to say, there is long standing petty antagonism between the families, or at least between the patriarchs.

The Earl of Ashcroft is looking at dire times. Not only is he near financial ruin as a result of a poor financial investment, but now his only daughter, Lady Annabelle Ashcroft has been disgraced by a scandal and likely facing life as a ruined woman. At this point her father would marry her to anyone who would have her.

On the other side of the fence, Bernard Mason has had enough of his son Reginald's wild, extravagant living and demands that he settle down and marry or have all his funds cut off. When Mason learns of Lady Annabelle's ruin, he sees the perfect opportunity to finally secure a title for his family and simultaneously put his arch enemy in his place.

Bernard Mason all but demands that his son Reginald propose marriage to Lady Annabelle and for once, the Earl of Havercroft agrees with this arrangement so as to spare his daughter complete ruin and save his family from financial ruin.

Marriage appears inevitable but would it really be enough to overcome matters of class between these families? And is there any hope for love between Reginald and Annabelle?

A Matter of Class is a cleverly written, engaging novella that was truly a joy to read. Within the first few chapters of the book, the reader is introduced to the Mason and Ashcroft families, the basis of their antagonism and their current state of affairs. Then the author begins to skillfully intersperse the current progress of the story with flashbacks to the past, slowly revealing more details about the characters and the challenges that differences of class posed on Regency England society. It is also through these glimpses of the past that the reader can't help but develop a fondness for both Reginald and Annabelle and desperately want to see them fall in love.

Eventually the chapters about the past catch up to those of the present in a clever denouement and of course, a happily ever after.

A Matter of Class is a fun and sweet romance. I enjoyed every minute reading this cleverly written little romantic tale.


  1. Oh, I'm so pleased you liked it! And that's a great review, Christine. It's hard to write a good one and not give it all away. So, will we turn you into a Mary Balogh fan?

  2. Hi, Christine!
    Stop by my blog, I left something there for you ;)


  3. Good Morning! Just stopping by to say hi! Have a lovely day, lovely lady.

  4. Lovely review as always Christine. This does sound like a wonderful story.

    Thanks for sharing!!


  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this little story too, Christine. :)

    Great review! I agree with Phyl... not an easy task reviewing this book without giving it all away. ;P

  6. Love Mary Balogh and have been reading her for years. She writes some wonderful historicals so I hope you plan to read more of her.

    I have this one from the library and hope to get to it soon.

    Wonderful review Christine!

  7. Phyl, I certainly enjoyed the short story and novella I've read by Balogh, but the true test will be one of her full length novels, don't you think? Thanks for inspiring me to read this book! :)

    Hilda, thank you! You are a sweetheart. I hope the blogging bumps are over.

    Michelle, Hello there! :) Thank you! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Guess what book I started reading today?! I'm so excited!!!

    Lea, thanks for visiting! :)

    Hilcia, A Matter of Class was truly a gem of a read. Thank you for inspiring me to pick it up.

    Leslie, I hope you get to read this book soon. It's a short one, so you can probably read it in one or two nights tops.

    I'm going to see what other Balogh titles my library has. I know I've seen at least the last two or three releases still on the new release shelf and I've been noticing the cover art for an upcoming one around as well. I'm sure I'll read another by the time the year is up.

  8. Personally, some of her most recent stuff has been hit or miss for me. I think that's why I was so pleasantly surprised by AMOC. If your library has it, I would try and start with A Summer to Remember. Some of the other Balogh fans who read your blog might have a different opinion, but I love that one.

  9. You're the third blogger who says this book is great! I'm really starting to believe it :D Great review again, Christine :P

  10. Phyl, my library DOES have A Summer to Remember! I put it on my library loot list so I won't forget. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

    nath, it is a sweet little read. Look for it at your library. It's a pricey HC novella selling for $16 in the US.

  11. I second Phyl's recommendation! A Summer to Remember and The Secret Pearl and favorites... so, yeah!

    The new cover you have seen out this month is actually a re-release of tow of Balogh's old Signets. The book has two books in it, Dark Angel and Lord Carew's Bride, I'm reading it ATM. :)

  12. Oh, great review Christine - thank you! I have this on my TBR list and you have tempted me to perhaps try it earlier than anticipated (I'm still in Romance Fail :)

  13. So glad to hear that you liked this one. And I completely agree it was short and sweet!

  14. Sorry for my late reply.

    Hils, thanks for the Balogh recs. I'm going to check out both of those books at my library.

    orannia, you should definitely give this one a try. It's so short and sweet... it'll be over before you had time to decide to not finish it. LOL. And hopefully you will have enjoyed it.

    Jill, sometimes short and sweet is just what a girl needs in a romance read! :)


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