Only Enchanting

Written by Mary Balogh
Review by Nancy Henshaw

In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby joins his six fellow members of The Survivors’ Club for their annual reunion. Three weeks at Middlebury Park, and for the lucky ones, wives are included. Flavian is not so fortunate. Deserted by his promised bride and betrayed by his lifelong greatest friend, his only good luck is that he is not in an insane asylum. Plagued by memory loss, excruciating head pain and uncontrollable outbursts of maniacal violence, surely no woman will take a chance with this damaged nobleman. Agnes Keeping, a gentlewoman of modest means, has the entrée to Middlebury. She has been haunted by loss and mystery since infancy. The passion that flares up between Agnes and Flavian cannot be denied but she is a virtuous widow, he an honourable gentleman. The only possible connection between them can be by marriage.

Mary Balogh writes to a high standard; she approaches the difficult subject of recurring mental trauma with integrity and is to be congratulated. Although the earlier chapters of the novel are somewhat long drawn out, the lively second half, especially Agnes’s encounters with the terrifying dowagers of the “ton”, are enormously entertaining.