In “Another Dream” by Mary Balogh, Miss Eleanor Thompson has found satisfaction as the director of a respected school for girls. The life of a dedicated educator offers many rewards and much meaning–but also more loneliness than Eleanor anticipated. She accepts an invitation from her sister, Christine, Duchess of Bewcastle, to attend a Bedwyn houseparty, never dreaming the summer curriculum might include stolen kisses and true love.
In “The Duke of My Dreams” by Grace Burrowes, banker’s daughter Anne Faraday is cast into the company of Elias, Duke of Sedgemere, at house party in the Lakes. Anne warms to the lonely man and conscientious father behind the title, and Elias becomes enthralled with the brilliant, burdened woman beneath Anne’s genteel facade. Liking turns to love under the Cumbrian summer moon, but family obligations, secrets, and a prodigal duck conspire to thwart the course of true love.
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When two of my favorite authors get together to write stories for one book, I know I’m going to have some quality reading. As it turns out, these wonderful novellas are even more than I had hoped for. What an emotional and enjoyable reading experience!
Another Dream by Mary Balogh
Eleanor Thompson thought her future was all planned out. With some financial help from her brother-in-law, The Duke of Bewcastle, she was able to purchase the school where she’d been a teacher. However, she never counted on the emptiness she’s now feeling as she realizes that she’s not happy, and her future is looking very bleak unless she makes a change. She is invited to a houseparty at her sister’s home, and plans to do some serious thinking. En route, some nasty weather forces her carriage to stop at an inn, where another gentleman has also stopped because the road is impassable. Michael Benning, Earl of Staunton, is headed for the same houseparty. He is widowed, and has his two children with him, as this party is very family friendly. Michael is also pondering his life, thinking it’s time he stopped mourning, and remarried. He is considering a young lady, Miss Everly, though he has not made any serious efforts at courtship yet.
Michael’s children desperately want a new mother, but they don’t want Miss Everly. They are intuitive enough to see through her false kindness to them. When Georgette, Michael’s daughter, sneaks downstairs to join Eleanor at her meal, she immediately knows that Eleanor is a perfect choice. Eleanor’s background as a teacher allows her to get along famously with Georgette until Michael shows up, anxious to find his lost daughter. He sends her back to her room, but arranges to share a meal with Eleanor. They have an amiable meal and good conversation, yet never discuss where they are both headed, so they leave, never expecting to see the other again. They are both pleasantly surprised to meet later at the houseparty, and the children are beyond delighted.
The situation appears ideal for them to become better acquainted, but Miss Everly appears, having intimated to the hosts that she and Michael are all but betrothed. Eleanor, believing that Michael is about to become engaged becomes polite, but distant, and Michael takes her distance as lack of interest in him. What a tangle! Eleanor and Michael are wonderful characters, and so perfect for each other. It’s their own consideration for the other that is actually pushing them further apart, but the children do their best to try to bring them together.
What an absolutely lovely story this is! I adore the fact that Mary Balogh chose her hero and heroine to be a little older – 40 and 39, respectively. I don’t know of anyone who can write children who are more endearing, though not perfect. Robbie, the timid little boy tugged on my heartstrings, while his talkative older sister was acting like a little mama and protecting him. I loved seeing Wulfric, the Duke of Bewcastle, being his ducal self, while having a heart of gold when it comes to his family. (And if you have not read Wulfric’s story in Slightly Dangerous, what are you waiting for?) ONCE UPON A DREAM packed more than a full length novel’s worth of love, passion, and emotion into an extremely well written novella. I love this story to pieces, and recommend it wholeheartedly.
Duke of My Dreams by Grace Burrowes
Elias, Duke of Sedgemere, agrees to attend a houseparty with his friend, Hardcastle, with the intent of keeping him safe from the young ladies who would love to lure him into matrimony, by any means, fair or foul. Elias, who is a widower with three sons, has no qualms about keeping the young ladies away from himself, as well, since he has no immediate plans to remarry. While on the way to the party, they encounter an acquaintance, Miss Anne Faraday, having trouble with her carriage. Anne is a commoner, the daughter of a banker, and it seems the coaching inn proprietor doesn’t feel she’s worthy of a change of horses from his establishment. Elias may be a crusty lord, but he’s not a snob. In truth, he admires Anne greatly, and is angered on her behalf. He arranges to have his own horses made available for the remainder of her journey, as well as paving the way for her to receive much better treatment wherever she stops. What Elias doesn’t realize is that Anne is headed to the same houseparty he and Hardcastle are attending.
Anne finds Elias attractive, as well, but she has no illusions that a banker’s daughter can have any kind of relationship with the Duke of Sedgemere, at least not a proper one. During the party, Anne and Elias spend a lot of time together, which soon leads to kissing, which leads to passion, which leads to love. But there is no easy happy ever after here. Even if Anne and Elias can work around the difference in their stations in life, Anne has a very large secret, one that makes a life together seems impossible.
Grace Burrowes is another author who has a knack for writing perfectly imperfect children, and animals, and somewhat curmudgeonly heroes who are sexy as all get-out. When they fall, they fall hard. I love Sedgemere and his kindness and his honor. I adored his three children, and the smuggled duck, Josephine. (Or, is that Joseph?) DUKE OF MY DREAMS is another well written, heartfelt, delightful story that packs a big punch for a novella. I love this story, and am happy to recommend it for your reading pleasure.