Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #86 – A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh

I decided to fashion a fill-in-the-blank romance novel review to make these posts easier to write:

Part A. The Summary: (Title) is a romance of the (“you are everything I never knew I always wanted”/opposites attract/love story balanced with a strong subplot/teach me how to love/I know I am unworthy, but I love you so) variety: Boy meets girl. (Specify relationship obstruction). (Oblique hint at resolution). Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

Part B. The Introduction: A (historical/contemporary/paranormal) romance set in (location and time period) and written by (author’s first and last name), (title) is my (first/second, etc.) book by this author. (If this is an author you have read before, please complete the following:) I generally find her work (pleasant/a good time filler/spectacular/reliable/fun/vile, but the book was free). (Comment on previous work and link to other reviews where possible). I found (title) (suggested descriptors that can be supplemented as needed: enjoyable/lacklustre/misogynistic/soporific/,and/or romantic). I (will continue to/will not) seek out (author’s last name)’s other novels because this one (was nothing special/showed promise/was really good/passed the time pleasantly enough), (and/but/although) I (would/would not) recommend this particular effort.

Part C. The Plot: The main plot of (title) focuses on (the reformation of a rake/the awakening of a wallflower/a revenge plot/a road trip/an intrigue or mystery/their marriage of convenience/and/or the healing of a tortured hero and/or heroine). (Hero’s name and title, as appropriate) is (that rake/a protector). He is (insert three adjectives). (Comment on his general appeal or lack thereof, specify traits leading to this conclusion.) The heroine, (name and title, as appropriate), is a (wallflower/victim of circumstance). She is (choose three adjectives with special focus on her relatability). (Insert MacGuffin.) (Hero and heroine’s names) (are/are not) instantly attracted to each other. Over time, they come to discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.

Part D. The Subplot: (Continue to Section E, if there is no significant subplot, or if it is uninteresting.)

The subplot in (title) revolves around (the reformation of a rake/the awakening of a wallflower/a revenge plot/a road trip/an intrigue or mystery/their marriage of convenience/and/or the healing of a tortured hero and/or heroine) It was (an excellent addition well-executed/cumbersome and got in the way of the main story).

Part E. Conclusion: (Reword opinions stated in Part B. The Introduction.) (Make general comments on the quality of the writing either positive or taking pleasure in being cleverly derisive). (If the book is not recommended, provide a suggestion for a romance with a similar theme more successfully presented.)

Part F. Closing: (Insert link to annotated list of available reviews for readers’ edification.)

© 2013 Mrs. Julien Presents

Let’s give the format a go with the Christmas novella A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh …

A Handful of Gold is a romance of the “you are everything I never knew I always wanted variety”: Boy meets girl. He is a confirmed bachelor looking for a little debauchery over Christmas. She is snowed in at his residence. Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

A historical romance set in Regency England and written by Mary Balogh, A Handful of Gold is my umpteenth book by this author. I generally find her work a reliable time filler. Her novel, Slightly Dangerous, is a classic of the genre. I found A Handful of Gold a bit dated, twee, and too escapist, if such a thing is possible. I will continue to seek out Balogh’s other novels because this one passed the time pleasantly enough, although I would not recommend this particular effort.

The main plot of A Handful of Gold focuses on the reformation of a rake. Julian Dare, Viscount Folingsby is that rake. He is bored, rich, and surprisingly accommodating. He showed remarkable forbearance in the presence of unexpected house guests, including a newborn baby. The heroine, Verity Ewing, is a victim of circumstance. She is sweet, bright, and in dire straights, as are we all at times. Verity has agreed to become Julian’s Christmas mistress because she desperately needs money. Julian and Verity are instantly attracted to each other. Over time, they come to discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.

This was far from Balogh’s best work. I found the novella trite and heavy-handed, and the casually put upon servants an unintentionally unsympathetic element in relation to the main characters. Balogh is an adept, consistent, and reliable writer; however, A Handful of Gold wasn’t a Kindleful of Delight. If you are looking for a Christmas novella, I can recommend two from Courtney Milan: This Wicked Gift which came in the same collection as A Handful of Gold and was the reason for my purchase, or A Kiss for Midwinter which is a classic of the genre and happens to be one of the best romances I have ever read.

The (Shameful) Tally 2013

This review formatting document is also posted on my tiny little blog.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #86 – A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh

  1. OMG, I love your romance review template! This whole post made me laugh so much. It’s high on my shortlist for favourite group blog post of the year (also on there, the one where you introduced ThunderSex ™). To be fair, there have been so many excellent posts on this blog in the past year, and I don’t even have time to read all of them. When push comes to shove, whatever I pick is going to have been written by one of my online reading buddies.

      • It’s amazing! I wholeheartedly approve. I have to read Loretta Chase’s Knave’s Wager later this month to complete my A to Z Reading challenge, and I may use your awesome new template to review it. I’m pretty sure that no matter if it’s as great as I hope it is, or as disappointing as I fear it might be, The Duchess Conspiracy deserves to be reviewed without a template, as great as MacLean is becoming, Milan is still the best there is.

    • I am completely paralyzed by the email Mswas sent out asking us for our favorite reviews. There are over 3,000 on this site. I have no idea where to start.

      • To be fair, I don’t know where to start either, even among the many I’ve read from the people I actually “follow”. Also, I have some pretty well reviewed books coming up on my reading list in December, I don’t want to do my best of the year selection just yet.

  2. Dear (Ms. Julien) thank you so much for your (excellent) review of (A Handful of Gold). I appreciate the (handy template) you have provided and am (stealing) it for my own (diabolical purposes). With greatest regards, (insert name here).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s