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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ah, the arranged marriage. Can even the bestselling Balogh (Seducing an Angel) find anything fresh in this staple of historical romance? The answer, as demonstrated in this breezy tale, is yes. Reginald Mason is a dashing young rake whose spendthrift habits so outrage his wealthy coal-merchant father that Reggie is given an ultimatum: he must marry whomever his parents choose or lose his inheritance. He's soon matched with Annabelle Ashton, daughter of an earl whose property adjoins the Masons' land. Annabelle has not only ruined a proposed marriage to a loathsome marquis but put herself outside polite society by attempting to run off with a coachman. It's the perfect match: the earl needs his daughter to marry into money, and Reggie's father longs for acceptance in high society. The young couple, naturally, resent both one another and their fathers, but the author has a surprise in store for both the reader and the scheming parents. Balogh's in fine form, stripping the story to its core to give readers a fast-moving and winning romance. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

For both Lady Annabelle Ashton and Reginald Mason, marriage is inevitable, want it or not. After unsuccessfully trying to elope with her family’s coachman, Annabelle returns home in disgrace, leaving her family scrambling to find someone willing to make her respectable. Reginald is perfectly content to continue living the life of a rake, but his fed-up father finally insists that Reginald marry or he will permanently cut off his allowance. Since Annabelle’s father desperately needs money to pay off some debts, and since Reginald’s father has always wanted a connection to the upper class, the solution seems obvious: Reginald must marry Annabelle. The fact that both families have been bitter enemies for years, and that Reginald is not in love with Annabelle, doesn’t matter one whit. Balogh’s latest elegantly executed tale is rich with her usual subtle humor, deliciously romantic sensuality, and a truly clever twist on a classic Regency plot. --John Charles --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 4 pages
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441826378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441826374
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,951,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Slightly novels: Slightly Married, Slightly Wicked, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Tempted, Slightly Sinful, and Slightly Dangerous, as well as the romances No Man's Mistress, More than a Mistress, and One Night for Love. She is also the author of Simply Love, Simply Unforgettable, Simply Magic, and Simply Perfect, her dazzling quartet of novels set at Miss Martin's School for Girls. A former teacher herself, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful By C. Klaassen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the story of Lady Annabelle Ashton, the only child of the most austere Earl of Havercroft and Reginald Mason, the son of a crass social climbing merchant. When the book opens Reginald is being schooled by his father. During the last year Reginald has become a profligate dandy. His father seeks to put an end to his extravagance. Reginald counters that he is a young up-and-comer who, at the age of twenty five years, is only aping the behavior of his gentlemen companions. These are the activities and interests of the idle gentry class. And, oh by the way, his is not the worst transgression in the neighborhood, has his father heard about the Earl's diamond of a daughter? No? Well, she has utterly and completely ruined herself in a failed attempt at elopement with her father's handsome footman. Reginald's father gleefully smiles and rubs his palms together. Here is an opportunity, for advancement and revenge. His old enemy, the Earl, is in dire straits, he needs the money his daughter was to marry into. No one of his class will have the chit now. He, the one the Earl looks down his long nose at, will save the family from ruin and in doing so elevate his son.

Proud Annabelle has been locked in a barren room with only her bible for companionship. She is to be sent to a distant estate to live out her days as a spinster. How far she has fallen. Even her mother's companionship is to be denied to her. How could her plans have gone so horribly awry? Annabelle is no ones damsel in distress, but if ever she needed a knight it is now. Someone to fight by her side. Her father enters her cell, the family has been saved. Saved by that odious merchant and his limp noodle of a son.

So begins Reginald and Annabelle's story. It is a lighthearted tale. With Ms.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ann Elliot VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What happens when a noble, recently impoverished Earl meets his neighbor, a wealthy North country coal "baron," in church on Sunday mornings? Nothing. The Earl demands that his family coldy ignore the upstarts--and the warmer, friendlier family keeps a dignified distance. The two men despise each other, but they arrange a marriage between their only children: The Earl's daughter has brought herself to ruin through a failed elopement with a coachman and the Earl is in desperate need of money; the neighbor wants his son to marry into a titled family and to give up his recent forays into fashion and gambling.

The book is, indeed, very short. A reader can polish off the book in an evening between finishing dinner and going to bed. The plot twist can be ascertained within the first few pages. That doesn't make the book any less entertaining. Balogh is a careful wordsmith and the reader cannot help but chuckle and admire the way she never tells a lie in her narrative, but leads the reader down the wrong path.

Unlike many of Balogh's books, this one does not use pathos to bring readers to tears. The writing is good-natured, with gentle humor. There are no villains. The greatest suffering occurs when Anna is sent to her room for two days with no reading material except her Bible. In addition, there are no improbable, unbelievable situations.

Balogh is playing with style here, rather than with substance. She does explore the theme of "guilt" (one of her favorites), but the guilt experienced by all the major characters only underscores their basic decency.

The book is fun for an evening's entertainment, but it is not one I will keep to read over and over. As others have said, don't purchase this one expecting a novel. It is, instead, a breezy, well-written short story with a hard cover.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Helen Hancox on December 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I think that Mary Balogh is probably the best current writer of Regency romances. She manages to combine characterisation, interesting plots and at least a worthy attempt at historical accuracy. She is also particularly good at writing short stories (get hold of her story 'The Wassail Bowl' as an excellent example).

What may not be instantly apparent, if ordering 'A Matter Of Class' online, is that it's in no way a full-length novel. My reviewer's copy was 190 pages in length but these pages are printed with large text and wide spacing. In a normal book's printing that's probably under 100 pages. I found the book rather more of a lengthy short story than a book on its own, as much as I enjoyed it.

This book revolves around a clever plot device that isn't revealed until the end of the book (and which I shan't give away here). It was very well done, however, and I found myself turning back to the start of the book again once I'd finished it to see if I could pick up the clues. We follow the story of Reginald Mason, a man whose father has made his money in trade and who is trying to establish Reginald as a gentleman. This is somewhat difficult when Reginald is gaming to excess and generally behaving like a wild son.

When Lady Annabelle Ashton, daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, is caught eloping it seems that she won't find anyone to marry her. However, the daughter of an Earl is a worthy candidate to help elevate Reginald to more lofty circles and his father is for the match. Annabelle's father, too, sees Reginald as her only possible salvation from ruination. But can these two make something out of such an awkward start. And is there any significance to their previous meetings as young children?

This was a good read, as always from Mary Balogh, but it is short and in some ways that was a disappointment. It's definitely still worth buying, however.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2009
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