Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Regarding the Mistress Trilogy, I would propose a change to the present ordering:
263 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 1 More Than a Mistress (2000)
264 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 2 No Man's Mistress (2001)
249 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 3 The Secret Mistress (2011)

About The Secret Mistress Mary Balogh writes:

Maybe one could write "The Mistress Trilogy (Prequel)" or something similar in the spreadsheet to alert readers.

There are a couple of scenes in the first two books that were left out by the editor, as I understand. They can be found along with a later written "Series Epilogue" in Now a bride. See Amazon and Goodreads where it is listed as Mistress #2.5.

Below I have copied the content of Now a Bride and the books to which the scenes belong because although one can read it in one go (less than 50 pages), it would make more sense to read what belongs to More Than a Mistress right after or possibly even along with the book.

When I read More Than a Mistress it was very clear that something was cut unusually short. Similar but less so with No Man's Mistress. Although Now a bride is short it was a worthwhile addition.

Maybe one could write "The Mistress Trilogy (Prequel)" or something similar in the spreadsheet to alert readers.
There are cases where Book # is NOT indicative of time sequence of events of characters, But MOSTLY it is indicative. This is not just for Mary Balogh's books, it is in others author's books too. Often, it is in response to the reader's feedback and author thought new branch off, but needs to clarify some plot before the branch off happens. There are many other reasons too.

Series Names and Book# among different websites are different in SOME cases, but MOSTLY they are in synch. I tend to take author's website as more appropriate. But, there may be some exceptions as these entries are made during times and scope of how we will use the data is not clear.

Regarding the Mistress Trilogy, I would propose a change to the present ordering:
263 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 1 More Than a Mistress (2000)
264 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 2 No Man's Mistress (2001)
249 Mary Balogh The Mistress Trilogy 3 The Secret Mistress (2011)
You suggested BookId to indicate the order of the book, But, I used it as a KEY (to the information on the row) as it is needed for my coding. But, In MOST cases, it is indicative of the order. In the case of BookID 249, I made some adjustment to BookID values before, to reuse the KEY for some practical purposes( of coding) at that time. So, BookID (249) is not indicative the order. Interestingly, story line fitting in to it in this case.

I will have to think through a way to represent Series Name, Book #, Characters, their story lines in time sequence( if you think it is essential). Easiest way is to put comment on the cell. But, I locked the sheet as I was using it as if it is a database. If you can post the comment you want me to put it, I will paste the comment on the sheet.
Finished Balogh's Slightly Scandalous. I enjoyed Freyja's character, her assertive attitude and her mannerisms, reminded me of an old friend. I thought Balogh did a great job slowly revealing that Freyja acts her certain way because she wants to keep others at arms length, so she won't get too close to them and risk being hurt again. This, of course, is a very relatable feeling, and her personal realization she reached that she was ready to try and love again was beautiful and I felt like I went through it with her. Also, the villain was well written again! A real petty tyrant, and I thought the story showed a great strategy of dealing with people like her in our lives.
In fact, I think this has to be my favorite book by Balogh yet (even though One Night for Love was so good!). The characters, the setting, the happy ending. It was all so tender and beautiful, lots of crying on this one!


The Living Force
Another book to add to the list: Balogh, "The Temporary Wife". Some very specific family issues are portrayed here and I think a LOT of people will identify with them, particularly men with overbearing fathers. I just couldn't put this one down!

Made a 'break' in the middle of SC series with Temporary Wife by M. Balogh, last week. So far, this novel has had the greatest impact on me, probably to (a lot of) unresolved (emotional) issues with my own father.
Thank you Laura for recommending it.

Ark is reading a Balogh book at the moment: "The Temporary Wife". He remarked at lunch that he was frequently brought almost to the point of tears by the psychological events portrayed. This book has also made him laugh out loud.

The Survivor's Club series is just amazing, too.

My experiences with this book were very similar, with maybe one small addition:
When brought to tears near the end of the story by the way main hero got the chance to set things 'right' and make amends, a veritable downpour happened when dynamic with my father popped into mind and the way how he departed from this world. I became conscious that as much I loved him, I also hated him - a realization that was probably so 'painful' that it hadn't been allowed to be part of my psychological inner landscape.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I enjoy the Simply Quartet by Mary Balogh. What is common for all four books is that the female protagonists have suppressed by considering it far away and unrealistic the option that they might enter into marriage. The books also treat the experience of being single and in spite of company all around still feel somewhat alone, which by the female protagonists is still considered preferable to the possibility of a relationship where the love is not mutual.

Beware the wounds to be sorted out for the male character in the second book, Simply Love, are no less than what is found in the Survivor series; the heroine here does some demanding therapy work.

The judgments about dukes that the headmistress Claudia maintains right into the fourth book appear at odds with her other mental skills though they might reflect a deeper passion. Initially, I thought her "allergies" a bit unrealistic, but emotions backed into a corner by sweeping generalizations are not uncommon at all with much political and religious fervor being fueled by them.

A practical observation. The last book of the Bedwyn series, Slightly Dangerous, has Christine Derrick as the heroine. Her sister is Eleanor Thompson and her story is told in a short novel in Once Upon a Dream. While I read this story after Slightly Dangerous, it would have made more sense to read it after the Simply Quartet in which the Bedwyn family appears frequently, especially in the last three books. Once Upon a Dream only happens a few years after the last book of the Simply Quartet. Anyway, I'm not sure Once Upon a Dream is in the spreadsheet, though the story is nice. As one of few, it follows a couple that is already a bit older with both characters around the age of 40.

R o l a n d

learning about what goes underneath our own fascade personality in society or preferred society and family, choice's that reveal despite the perceived lost involved. Ideas conveyed in the Romance Novels seemingly complex to psychology or psychiatric sessions comes with the wisdom of experience being written upon a story. The fun of reading specified romance genre not very many would take serious for mending hearts and teaching in hindsight about the subtly of persons/characters social view of perceiving their reality; indirectly teaching our perceived reality more or less. I think relationships are not meant to be taken seriously only it's healthy principles, trust is transcendence thus a guide. I think
So thanks for the foresight Laura and Chu including whom involved for the intuitive Ideal!
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FOTCM Member
A practical observation. The last book of the Bedwyn series, Slightly Dangerous, has Christine Derrick as the heroine. Her sister is Eleanor Thompson and her story is told in a short novel in Once Upon a Dream.
I read these series, too, and agree with you.

I found that reading the 2 prequels One Night for Love and, then, A Summer to Remember followed by the Bedwyn Saga, and, then, the Simply Quartet ending with the sequel novella, Once Upon a Dream, is how they should be read. Even the first prequel's characters, as well as the second prequel's characters, are carried on throughout both of those series. I really enjoyed all of those books.


FOTCM Member
Kerrigan Byrne's "Victorian Rebels" series is indeed extremely intense, but really very good.
Intense to the point that by continuing on the series "THE SIMPLY QUARTET" by Mary Balogh, I first found it a little bland at the beginning.
I agree. I have read the first three novels of Byrne's Victorian Rebels series and am currently reading number four, The Duke. There are several reasons why I think this series is so good. One is that it depicts what Mary Balogh called "the underbelly" of society and ever since reading the recommended books here on crime and the criminal mind (like Samenow's The Myth of the Out of Character Crime or Whoever Fights Monsters) my need to learn more about crime, violence, destitution and prostitution has become more pronounced. It could be related to a past life, which has carried over to this one, or to the lives of my (grand-)parents and myself, I don't know, but these particular novels seem to fill a void in me in that sense.

I also find that it has become easier to relate to what the characters are going through without my identifying with them. The way some of them live their lives is so different from the life I am leading, yet I am just like them. I recognise their narratives, thinking errors, self-importance, wounding and the impact of their past, because I have been making the very same mistakes. I think these novels can teach us about true redemption and forgiveness even if past mistakes can seem insurmountable to us. It doesn't mean that others see them in that same vein. When the characters forgive their loved ones for their 'sins' (which according to Jordan Peterson just means missing the mark) these victims of their own internal considering may learn to see themselves differently, although as we know it will require ongoing work on themselves. Mary Balogh makes that important distinction in her interview with the MindMatters crew: the novels have a happy ending, but it's not a happily-ever-after.

The Victorian Rebels series seem to trigger all kinds of old sensations and emotions like panic and anxiety and made it difficult for me to fall asleep these past few nights, but at the same time I have the impression that I am clearing away all kinds of mental debris and recognising old patterns of behaviour which go very deep , but I don't think I could have done it without having so many other romance novels under my belt before embarking on this series. My body also seems to be clearing away all kinds of debris, because I have a bad cold, which hasn't happened in a long time.


I've finished "Passions of a Wicked Earl" and I'm near the end of "Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman", Lorraine Heath was a good discovery.
The first book of the series I've read is a good story, even if I didn't like much the author's writing style, not as subtle as Mary Balogh's one. There are too many of useless clarifications while the reader is capable of a good understanding of her allusion.
This may be because I've read it in French, so the translating may be of poor quality.
Anyway, I really liked this story as it shows how learning to know each other seems crucial in order to love someone, it is never too late to learn about our partner and there is no end to this.
Again, communication is the key, there is so many unsaid feelings and thoughts, so much of pride in human beings.
Reading them and feeling so frustrated about these helps to be less proud and unveil ourselves to our beloved one.
I also noticed that what makes me cry the most is the separation of beings who love each other. It hurts so much to see them suffering and lose a part of themselves.
I also realized that forgiveness is not easy for everyone and that each love story is different, that it is difficult to see the truth and make allowances when love is part of the deal.

Same for "Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman", the main characters are very good people who have had their fill of suffering and traumas but, still they learned from those and, even if it's hard, love makes them get even better people.
On the contrary, bad characters are very nasty, in both stories too ! And for a change, women are the ones who are the craziest in Lorraine Heath "London Greatest Lovers" two first books.

So, I'm looking forward to reading the happy ending of the current book.

R o l a n d

Is this book soon to be or on the Romance recommendation list?


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R o l a n d

Do readers actually cry over some of these Romance books. Or type the word "tears, or cry", and conveys heart-felt?
For myself I'll receive flashes or an impression that leads to a image that is slightly alive. One time I seen a clear image of a ball where a Male about forty in his attire for the dance walks away from a Woman. The woman being alone at the banquet setting whom looks up and then see something like she had a psychic glimmer. Another was very surreal. In Florida st. Augustine, I was laying down either after or right before I interacted with one of the 'someone to love saga, a infant came into my chest I automatically held this baby up to the sky of stars the skies where dark; was night although it's was day time when occured. This infant is white child or Caucasian American. Another time when I first began reading Marry Balogh romance novels infact my first one. I was walking in the evening after I read a few chapters. Up the hill I went and a female walked with me for about two seconds I could dimly see a type woman or young female with blossom dress like in the 18 century. Ect ...
Staying on the topic of forgiveness in posts above by Mariama and Lys, after finishing Slightly Tempted I realized I never really thought about the books in that way. I thought the point was to learn lessons of love but forgiveness specifically never popped into my mind. I made a previous post about how the ladies of the stories refusing marriage to the male would agitate me, and I think I realize why.
I once knew a beautiful woman I loved so much, the first woman I ever showed my love to. Despite jumping through every hoop I could imagine, she just would not say yes to me, making me feel unwanted, not good enough, and I never truly realized till now I was angry at her for refusing. She did many things to hurt me, sometime unconscious, other times purposely to push me away but I always stuck around because I loved her and I didn't want to let her go. I was angry that despite how open we were to each other, and how much she meant to me, that she was unwilling to take the next step in the relationship. She was my best friend, the only person I've ever opened myself up to and her rejection made me feel like there is little value to try again.
But at what point does love turn into possession? Because if I truly love her, I would respect her decision, I wouldn't try to force a change. We get angry when our expectations don't match reality, and I was angry that I felt like my hand was forced to end the relationship. I couldn't say I loved her when I was hoping she would change or if I was too scared to let her go or if I kept pushing her to be something she didn't want to be. So, I was also angry at myself for ending it because I felt I could have done more even though there was nothing more to be done.
I realized I hadn't forgiven her for what she chose and it was hanging over me, nor had I forgiven myself. To this day she despises me and I know I hurt her and I hated myself for it. When Gervase chose to forgive the ones that hurt him, I wondered if I would be strong enough do the same. I realized I wouldn't, which meant I was holding on to the past, like the book said. Would I forgive myself for trying to change her? When I had so many chances to stop. But we never stop making mistakes, that's why we are here to begin with, and I believe they only remain mistakes until we learn from them. I told myself I forgive her, but it's not as simple as that. It will take me awhile to work on. We both did what we thought was right at the time, but so much has changed and I want to be able to proudly say that I'm not the same person I was two years ago. Forgiveness takes time and strength indeed.


FOTCM Member
Hey guys,

I finished Someone to Honor by Mary Balogh a few days ago and have had not much time to post my thoughts about it. But I would just like to reiterate, as the Wescott series progresses, the stories become that much richer and the characters gain depth, this story is moving along quite rapidly and six years have come and gone between the first book and this one.

It was an interesting story with several of the same concepts as many of you have noticed from the rest of the novels, honor, truth, love, and so on. However on this one there was a very interesting theme that I wanted to explore as it left me with a few interesting ideas.

This is the story of Abigail Westcott, who became an illegitimate daughter of his father. Six years prior to the beginning of this story, she was ready to make her debut to society but it all suddenly changed when Anna Snow became the only heir to the name, fortune and property.

She meets and marries Left-tenant Colonel Gilbert Bennington, a friend of Abigail's brother Harry Wescott. They have an interesting first encounter, of almost polar opposites and it is depicted in his brute masculinity in display in front of her prudish tenderness as someone who had grown as a lady, as she runs into him chopping wood shirtless with an axe.

It's interesting because all the assumptions that one would expect them to make, is made about the other. "She's just a self righteous prudish lady, I could never like her" and "He's just a brute and uneducated beast that wouldn't know how to behave properly".

Through their interaction, they discover one another, they become people that they ought to honor. This is explored in a very interesting way, in my opinion. At some point they're engaged in conversation and she explains to him that she didn't want the lady life anymore, that she didn't want to marry for what she was, or what had merely happened to her, but for who she was. He asks her who that was, and she could not answer.

And I think this is the crux of their story, Who you are is several different aspects of your life, not just where you were born, who you were reared by, or what happened to you, or was done to you, but in great degree, what you have done with all of that.

Gilbert is a man of war, who had killed many men, his ex-wife lured him into marriage because she sought to exploit this brute-ness she perceived him having, she was seeking thrill and this ultimately lead her to her demise, leaving behind their daughter who was now in the custody of Gilbert's ex in-laws.

Abigaill was a lady for all intents and purposes and to all outside spectators, but that isn't who she was, she rarely showed her true self to the world, she lived a lot inside herself.

In order to establish a believable legal case for Gilbert to get his daughter back, being married was a good idea, this propels them into marriage.

And this is where I thought it is the most interesting. Being a Wescott novel one would expect it to be Abigaill's story, but it's really Gilbert's. He was so sure of how others perceived him because of his background and upbringing, that he would behave in a way that would anticipate rejection and almost disgust. And he defends it quite clearly, even quarreling with Abigail over it, which I hadn't seen in a novel done quite so well. I gotta commend Abigail's patience in that instance and her ability to put herself in his shoes.

However, at the legal hearing for the custody of his daughter, the entire Wescott family came forth on his behalf. To honor who he actually was, a man who had turned an awful hand into an honorable life, worthy of the respect and care of others. Despite his brutish appearance and his "gutter rat" childhood, he was a loving, caring, sweet and honorable individual.

This is explained as, despite the difficulties of his life, he never gave up on his dream ( a loving family) but I think that can be seen another way, it's never loosing one's north towards an aim. Said another way perhaps would be, react to life today as if you were already the person you aim to be.

It's the marrying of your nature, with your ideal in your present self. Your instinct with your imagination, your emotions with your thoughts, your body with your mind and so on. It's taking a part of you that you cannot change (your past), and connecting it with that part of you that can potentially change (future) in your self today. Or at least recognizing that such is your current situation, you're coming from somewhere, headed in a direction. The direction you can choose but your point of origin just happened to you.

There was a part of the book that was rather stoic philosphy, at some point Gilbert says something like "Do not borrow trouble from the future, and do not dwell on the one from the past unless you're willing and able to do something about it". It speaks of being here today without loosing sight of your goals and where you came from. Quite stoic and mindful.

Personally, this whole series has moved me quite a lot, dealing with broken families and difficult childhoods, it has put a lot more into perspective for me. The Wescott series has at times made me sad, angry, lonely and nostalgic. But it has also been inspiring and healing, if that makes sense.

Now on to Someone to Remember


Jedi Master
Okay I have to say that I am enjoying this exercise so much more than I anticipated. It's actually saving my sanity because otherwise I would be obsessively be reading about negative outcomes of the COVID vaccine and other very terrifying and depressing news of the worId. I have a tendency to hate being on earth, feeling like I just want to flee, especially these days. I find these novels, at least the ones that I've read so far, as very life-affirming. And things turn out well in the end. The hero/heroine WINS! There is just something deeply healing about reading about love, friendship, sisterhood, the power of forgiveness and generosity. Okay, so I've only been reading (rather listening to) Anne Gracie on Audible. I just burned through Merridew and the Chance Sisters. I've been listening in the car and while cooking. I think, at least for me, there's something about being read to by a talented narrator that makes the story really come alive.

Since I just finished the Chance Sisters, this one has been fresh in my mind. I absolutely fell in love with Lady Beatrice and the "sisters/nieces;" especially how they rescued each other. Lady Bea seemed to guide romantical things for the girls in a direction that was unassuming and quite STO although she is quite the grande dame.
The girls, I feel did the same for her when she was a neglected old woman facing death literally in her bed due to neglect and elder abuse by her servants. Abigail's plan to arrive as wealthy nieces with servants in tow to the great lady was brilliant. I found the love stories between Damaris and Freddie and Daisy and Patrick Flynn so moving. If you've read the series, you'll remember that Damaris fled China after her father (who turns out not to be her biological father) is beheaded. She finds passage on a ship but is forced to be raped every night by the captain after she accepted aboard as a helping hand, at least that's the impression she was originally given by the captain. She chose this fate among the choices given to her by the captain to either be thrown overboard or raped by all of the crew.

Chu, what you said resonated.

Sometimes it feels like I needed more processing even if the experience itself turned out okay, or wasn't so traumatic. Other times, it's "PTSD" from certain experiences, even if consciously I don't go remembering them every day. It could also be that that was something you manifested at the time because you needed it, and needed truth, while today you sometimes forget to be that person? Well, it could be so many things! I would say, just let the process take place, and be grateful for the outcome of that experience in particular. Some experiences are "turning points" in our lives, and they may carry some weight (good and bad) that we didn't manage to process at the time, so they resurface now. But if it leads to integrating them and learning from them even better, then it's good, I think!

I've had a few psychic readings in my life. One psychic told me that in a past life I was abducted onto a ship but protected by someone high up on the ship . I thought that she was full of it until I reflected back to my first boyfriend. When I saw him in Biology class in high school I just knew that I knew him. Years later I wrote him a letter on the eve of my graduation from High School telling how much I liked him. There was a very strong attraction between us from the start. It really felt like when I met Paul these past life memories came back. So I think this is why I felt Damaris's trauma on the ship so acutely.

And then I just loved Daisy. How she turned out kind and loving despite growing up feral so to speak, then being bought by a brothel owner who served as a less than stellar mother. Sure, she had trust and self-esteem issues. But her love story with Flynn healed deep wounds. And then when she found herself pregnant with Flynn's child, with something in her feeling that being pregnant is the worst but possibly the most exciting/potentially loving event possible. When Daisy asked if she and Flynn could continue to live with Lady Bea and have her as the "aunt" to the child when Lady Bea herself could not have children...well that just broke open my heart.

The love expressed in these series reminds how the Cs closed Session 7 May 2016 aka the crystal session
A: Mind melding is possible for those who love. Goodbye.

(Andromeda,) That's totally Star Trek! It's what the Vulcans do when they share all their memories and stuff.
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