It's better and more satisfying to stick with a series.
I suspect that your discomfort may have something to tell you. And yes, a break now and then is needed with some of these stories. There are some that are really heavy and others that are light. What is amazing is how we are able to enter into the mental/emotional worlds of the characters and derive powerful lessons from their experiences. I can tell ya, it has already helped me a lot especially in reviewing my own life experiences and being better able to see where and how I made errors in judgment and mistakes in my choices. It may be that I followed the path that was necessary for me, but still, I am now able to see where and how I may have hurt others and why and how I should forgive those who hurt me. I can't DO anything about most of it, but knowing and sending out the thought that I'm sorry or I forgive may mean something.
But what was a dowry really, and what of morning gift?The gifts mentioned in ancient Greece and the Old Testament, diaparthenia, mohar, have sometimes been translated as morning gift, but should in fact refer to a form of bride price. 
The concept of a morning gift to a brideEngland
Dowry was used in England. However, the right of daughters to inherit and of women to hold property and other rights in their own name made it a different instrument than on the Continent. The Salic law, which required females to be disinherited and disenfranchised from land ownership, did not apply in England. Single women held many rights men did. The most famous example of this English female inheritance and agency right is perhaps Elizabeth I of England, who held all rights a male monarch did.
While single women held rights to hold property equivalent to those of men, marriage and married women were affected by the Norman Conquest changes to the law in the 12th Century. Coverture was introduced to the common law in some jurisdictions, requiring property of a wife to be held in the husband's name, custody and control. The Normans also introduced the dowry in England replacing the earlier custom of the new husband giving a morning gift to his bride. At first the husband publicly gave [or received?] the dowry at the church door at the wedding.
The Wiki for Morning Gift in English has just a description of a novel
In the novels, there are if one has read a number of titles, several ladies who consider setting themselves up as independent spinsters when they become of age or inherited from their deceased husband. It would not be entirely wrong to suggest that their spirit of courage and independence is backed up with laws that supported them. The Wiki explains that the system was not so easy to manage and continues:If the husband died first, which was frequent, there was a Widows dowry of one third of the husband's lands at the time of his marriage; the income, and in some cases, the management, of the lands, was assigned to her for the rest of her life. This concept is included in the Great Charter, and along with the recognition of female inheritance and absence of the Salic law, and women, particularly single women, holding many rights equivalent to those men held, manifests English law differing fundamentally from the law of the Continent, especially the law of the Holy Roman Empire.
With all the crusades in the 13th century, these disputes may not come as a surprise.
Now isn't that interesting? I often thought that stowing away excess men and women in gender isolation often against their will, many of whom probably were as talented as their illustrious family members, appeared like a way to regulate certain genes in the population. Many women in England seemed to have been saved from this fate. Interesting also that that several areas where the morning gift had been practised were quick to turn Protestant. Perhaps some of you living in those regions have a former monk and nun who adapted to the social changes brought about by the Reformation and whether for reasons of convenience or romance became a part of your family line?The English dowry system permitted most noble families to marry off their daughters and thereby gain extended kin and patronage ties. Marriageable daughters were a valuable commodity to ambitious fathers, and the English aristocracy sent few of their eligible daughters to convents.
A serious stickler for Regency era propriety, and the Romance novels are full of them, even if the protagonist may be less enthusiastic would no doubt be familiar with a couple of verses from Exodus 22 that speak of dowry. On Biblehub they are listed under the subject of "Laws of Social Responsibility":Failure to provide a customary, or agreed-upon, dowry could cause a marriage to be called off. William Shakespeare made use of such an event in King Lear: one of Cordelia's suitors gives up his suit upon hearing that King Lear will give her no dowry. In Measure for Measure, Claudio and Juliet's premarital sex was brought about by their families' wrangling over dowry after the betrothal. Angelo's motive for forswearing his betrothal with Mariana was the loss of her dowry at sea.
|16"If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.||16“If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.||16"If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife.||16And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.||16If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and he has sexual relations with her, he must certainly pay the bridal price for her to be his wife.|
|17If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.||17If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.||17"If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.||17If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.||17If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must pay an amount in silver equal to the bridal price for virgins."|
Amazing how Tacitus puts it; and whether strictly true or not, I can see that a number of the protagonists, share this spirit of courage and daring, even if the daring frequently takes the form of daring to heal and be healed, the courage to love and be loved.18. The matrimonial bond is, nevertheless, strict and severe among them; nor is there anything in their manners more commendable than this. 106 Almost singly among the barbarians, they content themselves with one wife; a very few of them excepted, who, not through incontinence, but because their alliance is solicited on account of their rank, 107 practise polygamy. The wife does not bring a dowry to her husband, but receives one from him. 108 The parents and relations assemble, and pass their approbation on the presents—presents not adapted to please a female taste, or decorate the bride; but oxen, a caparisoned steed, a shield, spear, and sword. By virtue of these, the wife is espoused; and she in her turn makes a present of some arms to her husband. This they consider as the firmest bond of union; these, the sacred mysteries, the conjugal deities. That the woman may not think herself excused from exertions of fortitude, or exempt from the casualties of war, she is admonished by the very ceremonial of her marriage, that she comes to her husband as a partner in toils and dangers; to suffer and to dare equally with him, in peace and in war: this is indicated by the yoked oxen, the harnessed steed, the offered arms. Thus she is to live; thus to die. She receives what she is to return inviolate 109 and honored to her children; what her daughters-in-law are to receive, and again transmit to her grandchildren. ForXVIII. Quanquam severa illic matrimonia; nec ullam morum partem magis laudaveris: nam prope soli barbarorum singulis uxoribus contenti sunt, exceptis admodum paucis, qui non libidine, sed ob nobilitatem, plurimis nuptiis ambiuntur, Dotem non uxor marito, sed uxori maritus offert. Intersunt parentes et propinqui, ac munera probant: munera non ad delicias muliebres quaesita, nec quibus nova nupta comatur: sed boves et frenatum equum et scutum cum framea gladioque. In haec munera uxor accipitur: atque invicem ipsa armorum aliquid viro affert: hoc maximum vinculum, haec arcana sacra, hos conjugales deos arbitrantur. Ne se mulier extra virtutum cogitationes extraque bellorum casus putet, ipsis incipientis matrimonii auspiciis admonetur, venire se laborum periculorumque sociam, idem in pace, idem in proelio passuram ausuramque: hoc juncti boves, hoc paratus equus, hoc data arma denuntiant; sic vivendum, sic pereundum: accipere se, quae liberis inviolata ac digna reddat, quae nurus accipiant rursus, quae ad nepotes referantur.
Above had mentioned Balogh's Bedwyn series starting with the book with Lily, with Gwen staying somewhat steady throughout its pages. This book was a little deeper than some in terms of differences. and in letting go of some form of inadequacies and seeing oneself in a new way and working towards it. Thought the book a powerful story.
Started the second one 'A Summer to Remember' which picks up on the fist. There is further discovery of Gwen from just after her incidents in life that later she had told her new husband, Hugo. However this is also about the jilted bride from the wedding in the fist book, Lauren (a childhood friend of Gwen's). It is also the story of a rakehell character (the Earl of Ravenshead), by ton standards - these two complete opposites, wounded in their own ways. There is Gwen's aunt Elizabeth (cool lady), the Duke of Portfrey et cetera. So far it has been an interesting read, and one can see how Balogh's later books were synchronized. I'm also actually glad to have read the Survivor Club series fist and then to have come back and seen more of those character roots (select few for now).
I read the Bedwyn Prequel before beginning the Survivor series, and it works very well, as if the heroines of the prequel sets the stage for others to follow, even if one may ask:As per Balogh's website, these two books are categorized as Bedwyn Prequel for Bedwyn series( 6 books). But other platforms like Amazon/overdrive categorized as Bedwyn series/saga ( 8 books) depending on the platform.
Based on the timeline perspective, it does looks like Bedwyn Prequel came first, then it was combined with Bedwyn series books, then came Survivors club( some additions later).
And under A Summer to Remember:Note that Lauren Edgeworth’s story is told in A Summer to Remember, which introduces the Bedwyn family and leads to the six-part Slightly series and the four-part Simply series. Gwen, Lady Muir, Neville’s sister, has her story told in The Proposal, which is also the first book in the seven-part Survivors’ Club series.
Good all these series are not listed as must-reads after the Bedwyn Prequel.Note that Neville, the Earl of Kilbourne’s story is told in One Night for Love. Gwen, Lady Muir, Neville’s sister and Lauren’s best friend, has her story told in The Proposal, which is also the first book of the seven-part Survivors’ Club series. Note too that A Summer to Remember introduces the Bedwyn family and leads to the six-part Slightlyseries and the four-part Simply series.
In the description of one volume/two stories of the Dark Angel Series not listed, there is also:These are two books that were first published in 1994 and 1995 respectively. The heroines are cousins and both of them appear in both books. There are three other books also linked to them—The Famous Heroine, The Plumed Bonnet, and Christmas Bride. They will be republished soon—see the Upcoming Books page for the publishing schedule.
From this it appears that A Christmas Bride connects both to The Ideal Wife Series and The Dark Angel Series, while Christmas Beau is a standalone.There is one more book in the series—A Christmas Bride, which will be out again at the end of 2012 in a 2-in-1 edition with the standalone Christmas Beau.
The connecting book appears thus to be A Christmas Bride with Edgar Downes connecting to the Dark Angel Series and Helena, Lady Stapleton connecting to the Ideal Wife series.Regency romances in order of author website http://www.marybalogh.com/books.html
The Earl of Severn is the hero of The Ideal Wife. Sir Gerald Stapleton, his friend, is hero of A Precious Jewel. Heroine of The Famous Heroine is Gerald's 'wicked' stepmother Cora Downes.
Jennifer Winwood and Gabriel, Earl of Thornhill, are the hero and heroine of Dark Angel . Samantha Newman, heroine of Lord Carew's Bride , is Jennifer's cousin. Lord Francis Kneller, hero of The Famous Heroine is a one-time suitor of Samantha's. Gabriel's and Francis's friend, the Duke of Bridgwater, is the hero of The Plumed Bonnet . The hero of A Christmas Bride , Edgar Downes, is the brother of Cora Downes, The Famous Heroine Less
The books from the Legend of the Four Soldiers have been added to the list which now counts 180 volumes including 4 doubles, making it 184.Well, I've found another set - four books in this one - by a new author: Elizabeth Hoyt. The series is called "The Legend of the Four Soldiers" and the titles, in order are:
To Taste Temptation
To Seduce a Sinner
To Beguile a Beast
To Desire a Devil
I know there is some confusion w.r.t series and 2- in-1 books for some cases. I haven't read in this Dark Angel series yet. I ended up putting on sheet to understand. Just like us, distributors are also confused. I updated the sheet. Here is the diagramThe sequence of books in the Dark Angel Series
In the spreadsheet Dark Angel/Lord Carew's Bride are listed as 1 in the Dark Angel Series, but one could also say that Lord Carew's Bride is really number 2 in the Dark Angle Series, and altogether list them as 1/2. I found a copy that had only one story and then just read that, thinking the other was not part of it.
The funny thing is that Charity lost her previous job because she spoke up against abuse, see chapter one, but I guess the point you make is in regard to her leaving after her inner struggle in chapter 16. One could also
I read Mary Balogh's Christmas Belle and maybe it wasn't so heart-wrenching as her Web series but there were so many things in there that I could relate to it was a bit astonishing.I will definitely check that out since I've already read 'The First Snowdrop.'
I'm halfway through The Perfect Kiss (Anne Gracie's Merridew Sisters), and I really appreciate the laughs. I could use the humor now, and it's a reason I like Gracie a lot. For this series, I think I like this one along with The Perfect Rake and The Perfect Waltz, and not so much The Perfect Stranger, because a main character is acting primarily for the benefit of people she/he loves on a non-sexual level, and the attraction and sex with a different person occurs incidentally during the course of trying to help the loved ones.