Anne Jewell's illegitimate son, David, is a cousin of the Marquess of Hallmere (hero of Slightly Scandalous,). When the Bedwyn family all decide to spend a month of the summer at the Duke of Bewcastle's estate in Wales, the marquess and marchioness (the former Lady Freyja Bedwyn) decide to invite David. And because Anne is not willing for him to go alone, she is persuaded--much against her better judgment--to go too. She is able to do so as both Claudia Martin and Susanna Osbourne are staying at the school in Bath to care for the charity girls, who have nowhere else to go during the holidays.
Sydnam Butler, younger son of the Earl of Redfield and severely maimed during the Napoleonic Wars, lives at the Welsh estate, having persuaded Bewcastle to employ him as the steward. He is not quite a recluse, but even so he is disturbed to know that such a large group is coming for a month, and so he withdraws to the dower cottage close to the cliffs at the seaside estate.
And so these two wounded souls meet. And because both are misfits, they spend time together, as friends, talking to each other as they have been unable to talk to anyone else for years. Inevitably warmer feelings develop between them, but they part at the end of the month, convinced that they will never see each other again.
This is when fate takes a decisive hand in their affairs, and soon they are together again--but not happily. Anne has issues from the past to deal with, involving rape and the subsequent birth of her son and estrangement from her family, and finds happiness impossible. Sydnam has faced up to his disabilities and made a useful life for himself, but there is still his deep-seated passion for painting that he can no longer indulge with his right arm and right eye gone. And yet he cannot ever be happy again unless he can paint!
Separately and together--mostly together--these two wounded persons have to face and overcome their worst demons before they can be whole enough to love each other as they each deserve to love and be loved.
Dell Historical, ISBN 0-440-24197-3
The writing is superb, with realistic dialogue, sexual tension, and a wonderful heart-wrenching story. Simply Love is a book to savor, and to read again. It is a Perfect 10. Romance doesn't get any better than this, and I dare readers to not shed a tear or two over this delightful tale. This reviewer is already looking forward to the next book in the series.
Marilyn Heyman, Romance Reviews Today
Expectations had been high for the story of torture-maimed Sydnam Butler, the brother of Kit Butler (A Summer To Remember). But Simply Love has been well worth the wait: Mary Balogh doesn't disappoint her fans. The subtly drawn characters, the well thought-out story and the deeply felt emotions are truly touching. Simply Love is a mature read about a couple whose problems are not easily solved. They grow from their experiences and the ending is believable and emotionally satisfying. Fans of Mary Balogh will be delighted to meet the Bedwyn and Butler families again, who despite all their charms never overshadow the main couple and their story. Simply Love manages to fulfill all the wishes of even the most discriminating readers.
Birte Lilienthal, LoveLetter
I'm a sucker for a "Beauty and the Beast" theme, and in the hands of the extraordinary Mary Balogh, this story transcends the genre. Sydnam and Anne are both scarred, lonely people who've survived great tragedies and learned to expect nothing from the world. Their story is tragic yet ultimately triumphant--a tale of how love can lead to healing our deepest, hidden wounds. Have a lot of time, and some tissues nearby, because you won't want to put this book down once you've started.
Lenore Howard, Fresh Fiction
What happens when two people, scarred by life, meet and feel an instant connection? How will they overcome their past to begin a new chapter? Do they want to break free of those chains? Are they brave enough, and strong enough to try? These are the questions that must be faced by the main characters in Mary Balogh's newest novel, Simply Love. Two people we have met before in separate novels come together in this emotionally charged story of courage and compassion. Readers, be prepared for a full dose of emotion. Ms. Balogh knows how to bring it all to her stories. From belly laughs to throat-choking tears, Simply Love is simply--superlative.
Paula Klug, A Romance Review
With more than her usual panache, Balogh returns to Regency England for a satisfying adult love story. The maturity of the novel's protagonists--who grow from their difficulties and triumphs--distinguishes this romance for the genre.