Monday, March 9, 2015

Beyond the Sunrise by Mary Balogh

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Survivor’s Club novels comes “an epic love story” (Publishers Weekly) of intrigue and deception and the promises that can break a heart.…

“I will love you all my life and even beyond that.”
Even at fifteen, Jeanne, the privileged daughter of a royalist émigré, knew what she liked: Englishman Robert Blake, bastard son of a marquess. Yet his questionable birth rendered him forbidden. Forced to part, they were still young enough to believe in tomorrow. But as time passed, that brief ephemeral flirtation at Haddington Hall faded into memory.
Eleven years later in Portugal, during the Peninsular Wars, they meet again, both of them spies, and destined to be working on opposing sides. He is now a captain with the British army. She is the widowed Marquesa das Minas—sometimes going by the name Joana da Fonte. However for only one of them does the flicker of recognition still burn.
Amid the fury of war and in the shadow of secrets, passion flares once again. But for Joana and Robert, each entrusted to a dangerous mission that demands deception, falling in love could be the most dangerous risk of all.

Published & Release Date: NAL Publishing, February 3, 2015 (Originally published November 1992)

Time and setting: 1810, Spain and Portugal

Genre: Historical Romance

Heat Level: 2 Scorching Flames

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Vikki’s Musings

I am a huge fan of Mary Balogh ever since I picked up a copy of Allyne Bedwyn’s story. She is definitely one of my auto-buy authors. I can honestly say that I have loved all the books I have read by her, and I have read many of them. Beyond the Sunrise is quite different from her other novels, but nonetheless very enjoyable. I have read many of the reviews of this book, and the ratings are all over the place, which is unusual for one of her novels. While this is not an easy, light-hearted read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fifteen-year-old Jeanne Morisette, is the daughter of an aristocratic French émigré. While visiting Haddington Hall, the home of the Marquess of Quesnay, she meets his bastard son, Robert. A sweet, innocence romance starts between the pair and for four glorious days, they revel in the feelings of first love.

Jeanne’s father finds out, and he tells her lies regarding Robert. While at first, she does not believe him, her insecurity and youth influence her feelings, thinking that Robert has shared some of their private moments with the stable hands. When she tells Robert farewell, she says some very hurtful things to him.

Robert’s tender feelings are wounded by her words and when his father laughs over his audacity in thinking he could be romantically involved with a girl so far above his status, he feels humiliated as well. This causes him additional anguish, and instead of allowing his father to buy him a commission, he runs away and joins the army as a private, determined to make his own way in the world.

They meet again eleven years later and while Robert recognizes her, she does not know that he is the young boy from her youth who professed his love for her with all the fervency only the young can have. He thinks the now widowed Marquesa des Minas is vane and a complete flirt. He can find no redeeming characteristics in her at all, yet he is immensely drawn to her.

Robert Blake has clawed his way up the ranks and is now an acclaimed war hero and a captain. Battled scarred and toughened by the rigors of battle, he has become a well-thought of comrade by his peers.

General Arthur Wellesley, who will in a few years become the Duke of Wellington, gives Robert a dangerous mission to complete, but before he ventures into enemy territory, he is asked to accompany the marquesa to her aunt.

The couple clash repeatedly while fighting an overwhelming attraction for each other. Lies and deceit keep them at odds much of the time. It does not help that both of them have been given missions that will lead them into peril, making it appear that they are on opposing sides. Is there any chance that the innocent love they had in their youth can become a love strong enough to weather all their secrets?
This is not a pretty read to say the least. Jeanne’s character is not easy to like. At times, I despised her and hated the half-truths and the tactics she employs with any man she comes in contact with, including Robert. She never gives him a straight answer, allowing him to believe the worst of her. However, underneath her tough exterior is a woman of great loyalty and dedication. She will accomplish her mission for Wellesley and her personal one, regardless of the loss for herself. While I cannot like her methods, I do admire her fortitude and determination in the face of the enemy.

Robert Blake’s character is brusque and at time even brutal, and he has his own secrets he holds tight to his chest for most of the story. He is just as much at fault as Jeanne when it comes to being honest with her, and just as quick to believe in her betrayal. But again, on a deeper level, he has tremendous courage and is just as determined to success in a mission that is not one he would have ever volunteered for.

While I enjoyed the romance between Robert and Jeanne, what made this such an incredible read for me is the historical details of the battles they fight in. The accuracy of the account takes my breath away. I can’t even imagine all the research Ms. Balogh must have done to write this fantastic tale of love and betrayal.

If you enjoy a rousing romance with a good bit of history interwoven, then Beyond the Sunrise is a book you will want to read. As with all of Ms. Balogh’s novels, this will remain on my keeper shelf for many years to come. Happy reading!

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