Balogh, Mary 1944-
BALOGH, Mary 1944-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Bahlog"; born March 24, 1944, in Swansea, Wales; daughter of Arthur (a sign writer and painter) and Mildred (a homemaker; maiden name, Double) Jenkins; married Robert Balogh (a coroner and ambulance driver), 1969; children: Jacqueline, Christopher, Sian. Education: University of Wales, Cardiff, B.A. (with honors), 1965, Dip.Ed. 1967. Politics: "Left of Centre." Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Knitting, music, reading.
ADDRESSES: Home—Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada. Office—Box 571, Kipling, Saskatchewan SOG 2S0, Canada. Agent—Maria Carvainis Agency, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, Ste. 2905, New York, NY 10019. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Kipling High School, Saskatchewan, Canada, English teacher, 1967–82; Windthorst High School, Saskatchewan, principal and English teacher, 1982–88; full-time writer, 1988–.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best New Regency Author award, 1985, Best Regency Author award, 1988, Career Achievement award, 1989, Best Regency Novel award, 1991, for The Secret Pearl, Best Regency Romance award, 1992, Career Achievement for Short Stories award, 1993, and Lifetime Achievement Award, all from Romantic Times; Northern Lights Best Historical Novella, first place award for The Wassail Bowl, 1996; Best Novella, Midwest Fiction Writers, 1997, for The Wassail Bowl; seven Waldenbooks Awards; two B. Dalton Awards.
A Masked Deception, New American Library (New York, NY), 1985.
The Double Wager, New American Library (New York, NY), 1985.
A Chance Encounter, New American Library (New York, NY), 1985.
Red Rose, New American Library (New York, NY), 1986.
The Trysting Place, New American Library (New York, NY), 1986.
The First Snowdrop, New American Library (New York, NY), 1987.
The Wood Nymph, New American Library (New York, NY), 1987.
The Constant Heart, New American Library (New York, NY), 1987.
Gentle Conquest, New American Library (New York, NY), 1987.
Secrets of the Heart, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.
The Ungrateful Governess, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.
An Unacceptable Offer, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.
A Daring Masquerade, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.
A Gift of Daisies, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.
The Obedient Bride, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.
Lady with a Black Umbrella, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.
The Gilded Web, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.
A Promise of Spring, New American Library (New York, NY), 1990.
Web of Love, New American Library (New York, NY), 1990.
The Incurable Matchmaker, New American Library (New York, NY), 1990.
Devil's Web, New American Library (New York, NY), 1990.
An Unlikely Duchess, New American Library (New York, NY), 1990.
A Certain Magic, New American Library (New York, NY), 1991.
Snow Angel, New American Library (New York, NY), 1991.
The Secret Pearl, New American Library (New York, NY), 1991.
The Ideal Wife, New American Library (New York, NY), 1991.
Christmas Beau, New American Library (New York, NY), 1991.
The Counterfeit Betrothal, New American Library (New York, NY), 1992.
The Notorious Rake, New American Library (New York, NY), 1992.
A Christmas Promise, New American Library (New York, NY), 1992.
Beyond the Sunrise, New American Library (New York, NY), 1992.
A Precious Jewel, New American Library (New York, NY), 1993.
Courting Julia, New American Library (New York, NY), 1993.
Deceived, New American Library (New York, NY), 1993.
Dancing with Clara, New American Library (New York, NY), 1994.
Tempting Harriet, Signet (New York, NY), 1994.
Dark Angel, Signet (New York, NY), 1994.
A Christmas Belle, Signet (New York, NY), 1994.
Tangled, Topaz (New York, NY), 1994.
Longing, Topaz (New York, NY), 1994.
Lord Carew's Bride, Signet (New York, NY), 1995.
Heartless, Berkley (New York, NY), 1995.
The Famous Heroine, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.
The Plumed Bonnet, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.
Truly, Berkley (New York, NY), 1996.
The Temporary Wife, Signet (New York, NY), 1997.
A Christmas Bride, Signet (New York, NY), 1997.
Indiscreet, Jove (New York, NY), 1997.
Silent Melody, Berkley (New York, NY), 1997.
The Last Waltz, Signet (New York, NY), 1998.
Unforgiven, Jove (New York, NY), 1998.
Thief of Dreams, Berkley (New York, NY), 1998.
Irresistible, Jove (New York, NY), 1998.
One Night for Love, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1999.
More than a Mistress (also see below), Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2000.
No Man's Mistress (also see below), Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2001.
A Summer to Remember, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Slightly Wicked, Dell (New York, NY), 2003.
Slightly Scandalous, Dell (New York, NY), 2003.
Slightly Married, Bantam Dell (New York, NY), 2003.
Slightly Sinful, Bantam Dell (New York, NY), 2004.
Slightly Tempted, Bantam Dell (New York, NY), 2004.
Slightly Dangerous, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Slightly Unforgettable, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2005.
More than a Mistress [and] No Man's Mistress: Two Novels in One Volume, Wings Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Secret Pearl, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Full Moon Magic, New American Library (New York, NY), 1992.
Tokens of Love, New American Library (New York, NY), 1993.
Rakes and Rogues, New American Library (New York, NY), 1993.
Moonlight Lovers, New American Library (New York, NY), 1993.
(With Patricia Rice) Captured Hearts: Five Favorite Love Stories, edited by Mary Jo Putney, 1999.
Under the Mistletoe, New American Library (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Nicola Cornick and Julia Justiss) Christmas Keepsakes: A Handful of Gold/The Three Gifts/The Season for Suitors, HQN Books, 2005.
Also author of novellas published in A Regency Christmas, Signet, 1989; A Regency Christmas II, Signet, 1990; A Regency Valentine, Signet, 1991; A Regency Christmas III, Signet, 1991; A Regency Valentine II, Signet, 1992; A Regency Summer, Signet, 1992; Full Moon Magic, Signet, 1992; A Regency Christmas IV, Signet, 1992; Tokens of Love, Signet, 1993; Rakes and Rogues, Signet, 1993; Moonlight Lovers, Signet, 1993; A Regency Christmas V, Signet, 1993; From the Heart, Signet, 1994; A Regency Christmas VI, Signet, 1994; Blossoms, Signet, 1995; Dashing and Dangerous, Signet, 1995; A Regency Christmas VII, Signet, 1995; An Angel Christmas, Topaz, 1995; Love's Legacy, Leisure, 1996; Timeswept Brides, Berkley, 1996; A Regency Christmas Feast, Signet, 1996; A Regency Christmas Carol, Signet, 1997; and The Gifts of Christmas, Harlequin, 1998.
ADAPTATIONS: More than a Mistress (recording), read by Jenny Sterlin, Recorded Books, LLC, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Born in Wales, romance author Mary Balogh moved to Canada after she completed her university studies, intending to stay only long enough to fulfill a two-year teaching contract. However, Balogh notes at her personal Web site, she went on a blind date, fell in love, and ended up marrying the man, to whom she has been wed for more than thirty years. She resides in Kipling, a small farming community in Saskatchewan.
"I always wanted to be a writer, even as a child," Balogh told Jean Mason of Romance Reader, "and used to fill notebooks with stories. I was in my thirties, though, before I really had a chance to put my dream to the test." She noted on her Web site that she was "addicted to the novels of Georgette Heyer," who inspired her to write romances.
When she began her writing career, Balogh was teaching high school English in Saskatchewan, Canada. She also served as a high school principal for three of her twenty years in education. Her first novel, A Masked Deception, was "written longhand at the kitchen table while home and family functioned around me," she observed at her Web site. The novel was completed in 1983, at which time she went in search of an editor. She was ultimately offered a contract by Hillary Ross at Signet, with whom she worked until the late 1990s. A Masked Deception won Balogh a Romantic Times award for best new Regency writer, an auspicious start to her long writing career. She has devoted herself to writing full time since 1988.
Balogh has since written more than sixty romance novels, along with numerous short stories and novellas. Her novels use historical settings and most are called "Regency" romances. "The true Regency romance is actually a novel of manners, custom, and social consequence, focusing on the social doings and interpersonal relations—often marriage-oriented—of the British upper classes during the reign of Prince Regent," according to Kristin Ramsdell in Library Journal. Balogh told Mason that she began writing Harlequins, but changed to writing Regencies when she discovered her talents were better suited to that genre.
While Balogh's plots conform to the expectations of the historical romance genre, her attention to what St. James Guide to Romance and Historical Writers contributor P. Campbell called "minute details of the Regency Period"—whether the clothing, customs, or social manners of the time period—is what readers find most absorbing in her novels. Balogh informed Mason that she believes the Regency period has more appeal to romance readers than other historical eras as "it was an age of contrasts—civility and endless war, bawdiness and correctness, vulgarity and elegance, to name a few." Other characteristics of the era she believes appeal to readers are the "elegant" and "revealing" dress of the time, the "vast country estates, the London Season, horses and carriages, the emphasis on manners and etiquette."
Commenting in an interview on the All about Romance Web site on the differences between the characters in her historical novels and the readers of today, Balogh noted that the biggest difference is "the attitudes between men and women—it has to be politically correct even when you're writing historicals." While a historically accurate depiction might find men to be "domineering" and women "submissive," "you really can't get away with that in modern novels," she observed, "You have to somehow skirt around that and make the heroes sensitive to women and respect them." Balogh added that she likes to "use as my model actual books that were written at the time," such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.
While many of Balogh's novels take on a more intense, dark tone, a few are particularly praised for their humor, including The Unlikely Duchess, The Lady With the Black Umbrella, and A Famous Heroine. Overall, however, "my books are character books," Balogh told Mason, "Plot is never of much significance to me."
In the novel The Ideal Wife, ambitious Abigail Gardiner, dismissed from her position as a lady's companion, is desperate to better her financial condition. The wealthy Earl of Severn, her distant cousin, is anxious to escape an upcoming marriage arranged by his mother. As Leslie A. Bleil explained in Library Journal, the Earl of Severn "sees in the seemingly meek and mild Abigail 'the ideal wife'—quiet, obedient, someone who will allow him to continue his bachelor ways, yet produce an heir." The Earl is ultimately mistaken about his cousin.
A minor character from The Ideal Wife is the hero in A Precious Jewel, a book, which Mason noted, is often seen "as one of the most interesting and powerful Regency romances ever written." The book is unique in that the heroine is a prostitute, a point that initially caused some resistance to the book's publication.
Using a character or characters from one book in another book is a device Balogh enjoys. "There are several reasons why I do this," she informed a writer for All about Romance. "One reason is that minor characters intrigue me…. Sometimes it's deliberate—I'll plan out a group of characters and want them each to have their own story." Other times, Balogh says, she pulls a hero from one of her books and a heroine from another who she thinks would make a good match.
Balogh changed publishing firms in the late 1990s from Signet, for which firm she had written since 1985, to Dell. Asked by Mason why she made the switch, Balogh replied, "In particular I was frustrated because my larger Regency historicals, which I thought should have been marketed as pure historicals, were actually put out there as Regencies, a far smaller market." Once she began publishing with Dell, Balogh ceased writing Regencies, as Dell wanted an exclusive contract with her, and so her writing now focuses on Regency-and Georgian-era historicals.
The first book Balogh published with Dell was One Night for Love, which begins with the interruption of a lavish wedding by the heroine, the groom's former spouse who was thought to have died in a war. "Bestselling author Balogh … bursts the bounds of genre in this emotionally complex Regency," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, noting the novel's passion and "mature, compelling characters."
More than a Mistress marks Balogh's hardcover debut. It was described by Katherine Hennessey Wikoff in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as combining characteristics of the Regency romance with those of a historical. "No doubt Regency purists will feel let down by Balogh's choice to move beyond the insular boundaries of romance fiction's most rarified subgenre," Wikoff commented. "But the rest of us may savor our good fortune in finding an author we can depend on time and again to deliver compelling, emotional reading experiences." Rocky Mountain News contributor Annie Oakley commended the novel as a "delightful and witty Regency romance that keeps you entertained from start to finish," while Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman deemed it a "luscious, high-energy Regency-era romance."
No Man's Mistress is the sequel to More than a Mistress. Kristin Ramsdell observed in her review of the book for Library Journal that Balogh's novels "feature strong, unconventional heroines and often test the limits of the [romance] genre." A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book a "heartwarming sequel" to More than a Mistress, praising Balogh for her "charismatic characters and swift pacing."
Balogh wrote a series of romance novels featuring members of the Bedwyn family. Set in Regency England, the series includes six novels: Slightly Wicked, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Married, Slightly Sinful, Slightly Tempted, and Slightly Dangerous. A common theme running through many of these tales is that of a woman who, for one reason or another, deems herself unworthy of the attentions or proposals of a gentleman. However, love conspires to bring them together in one way or another. For example, in Slightly Wicked Rannulf Bedwyn falls in love with a woman named Judith whom he believes, on first encounter, to be an actress. Later, however, he discovers she is the daughter of a destitute pastor. To complicate matters, Rannulf is supposed to marry Judith's cousin. Honor and social class prejudices keep Rannulf and Judith apart, but true love is destined to win in what a Publishers Weekly critic called "a truly engrossing read."
Another plot device often used in the "Slightly" novels is that of the fake marriage, in which a couple marry or become engaged as a ploy to avoid marrying someone else. This is the case in Slightly Scandalous, which features Freya Bedwyn. Freya pretends to be engaged to a marquess, who does not wish to marry the woman his family has chosen for him. Although not planning to actually marry, the sassy Freya and roguish marquess become drawn to one another and find real love. Although this storyline has been used before by many romance writers, what critics have found appealing is Balogh's talent for characterization. As Kristin Ramsdell observed in her Library Journal review of Slightly Scandalous, "Zingy dialog, witty humor, and marvelously appealing characters breathe new life into a classic plot."
Other reviewers have made similar comments about the other novels in the "Slightly" series. In a review of Slightly Dangerous, Booklist contributor Diana Tixier Herald similarly praised the author's "believable characters," as well as her "finely crafted Regency-era settings." In a book not part of the "Slightly" series, an MBR Bookwatch, a critic enjoyed the fact that in Simply Unforgettable Balogh's story is "character driven" and that even the "secondary cast adds depth and humor."
All in all, reviewers of Balogh's series have felt that it upholds her reputation, as Herald put it in a Booklist review of Slightly Scandalous, as "the queen of spicy Regency-era romance."
Balogh once told CA: "Romantic novels, ones that inspire hope and faith in human nature and the power of love, have always been my favorites among the myriad books I have read (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Crime and Punishment, for example).
"I have chosen to channel the gift of my imagination into writing the type of literature I most enjoy reading. Characters and conflict are my forte and what readers most appreciate about my books (as well as historical accuracy). Flawed characters with troubled pasts and complex emotional states people my books and fight their way toward redemption and peace when they encounter the sometimes troubling but always conquering power of love in its many forms."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Booklist, September 15, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of More than a Mistress, p. 226; March 15, 2003, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Slightly Married, p. 1282; May 15, 2003, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Slightly Scandalous, p. 1650; October 15, 2003, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Under the Mistletoe, p. 395; December 15, 2003, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Slightly Tempted, p. 732; April 1, 2004, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Slightly Sinful, p. 1354; May 15, 2004, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Slightly Dangerous, p. 1602; February 15, 2005, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Simply Unforgettable, p. 1066.
Library Journal, November 1, 1991, Leslie A. Bleil, review of The Ideal Wife, p. 130; August 2001, Kristin Ramsdell, review of No Man's Mistress, p. 86; November 15, 2001, Kristin Ramsdell, "Regencies Rule Again!," p. 54; May 15, 2003, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Slightly Scandalous, p. 72; April 1, 2004, "Regency Reigns," review of Slightly Dangerous, p. 122; December 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of Simply Unforgettable, p. 86; January 1, 2005, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Simply Unforgettable, p. 90.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Simply Unforgettable.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 2, 2000, Katherine Hennessey Wikoff, "History, Romance Make a Good Match," p. 2.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 1999, review of One Night for Love, p. 67; July 30, 2001, review of No Man's Mistress, p. 64; March 10, 2003, review of Slightly Married, p. 59; April 14, 2003, review of Slightly Wicked, p. 54; April 28, 2003, review of Slightly Scandalous, p. 54; July 7, 2003, "Stars in the Ascendant: From a Publishing Debutante to Romantic Veterans, These Dozen Authors Are Poised for the Next Big Step," p. 37; December 1, 2003, review of Slightly Tempted, p. 46; April 19, 2004, review of Slightly Sinful, p. 45; June 7, 2004, review of Slightly Dangerous, p. 31; February 21, 2005, review of Simply Unforgettable, p. 156.
Rocky Mountain News, Annie Oakley, review of More than a Mistress, p. E4.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1999, review of The Famous Heroine, p. 416.
All about Romance, http://www.likesbooks.com/ (February 12, 1998), "Mary Balogh: Regency Romance's Shining Star"; (August 30, 2005), Jane Jorgenson, review of Slightly Unforgettable; Nonnie St. George, review of The Temporary Wife; Sandy Coleman, review of Slightly Dangerous; Blythe Barnhill, reviews of Slightly Scandalous, One Night of Love, The Last Waltz, The Notorious Rake, Captured Hearts, and Slightly Sinful; Teresa Galloway, reviews of Slightly Tempted, The Secret Pearl, and Under the Mistletoe; Donna Newman, review of Slightly Wicked; Megan Frampton, reviews of The Ungrateful Governess and Slightly Married; Ellen Micheletti, reviews of Heartless, Dancing with Clara, Captured Hearts, Thief of Dreams, Unforgiven, and A Summer to Remember; Rachel Potter, review of No Man's Mistress; Nora Armstrong, review of More than a Mistress; Robin Uncapher, reviews of A Precious Jewel and The Obedient Bride; Anne Ritter, review of Silent Melody; Dalia Hedfi, review of The Famous Heroine; and Anne Marble, review of Lord Carew's Bride.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (August 30, 2005), I. Watson, reviews of A Promise of Spring, A Christmas Promise, A Precious Jewel, An Unacceptable Offer, A Counterfeit Betrothal, Web of Love, Christmas Beau, Secrets of the Heart, Black Umbrella, Lord Carew's Bride, Courting Julia, Snow Angel, Tangled, The Constant Heart, The Double Wager, The Famous Heroine, The First Snowdrop, The Gilded Web, The Ideal Wife, The Incurable Matchmaker, The Last Waltz, The Notorious Rake, The Plumed Bonnet, The Secret Pearl, The Temporary Wife, The Trysting Place, The Ungrateful Governess, The Wood Nymph, Truly, A Gift of Daisies, A Certain Magic and A Chance Encounter; Marilyn Malone, review of A Masked Deception; Ashareh, reviews of One Night of Love and A Summer to Remember; Angel Manners, reviews of More than a Mistress, Simply Unforgettable, Unforgiven, and Indiscreet; Kelly Lowe, review of Irresistible; Harriet Klausner, reviews of Slightly Dangerous, Slightly Married, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Tempted, Slightly Wicked, and No Man's Mistress.
Mary Balogh Home Page, http://www.marybalogh.com (March 10, 2002).
Romance Reader, http://www.theromancereader.com/ (February 8, 1999), Jean Mason, "Meet Author Mary Balogh."
Romantic Times, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (August 30, 2005), Melinda Helfer, reviews of Indiscreet, Irresistible, Unforgiven, Lord Carew's Bride, The Famous Heroine, The Last Waltz, The Plumed Bonnet, The Temporary Wife, Thief of Dreams, and A Christmas Bride; Kathe Robin, reviews of Heartless, More than a Mistress, No Man's Mistress, One Night for Love, Silent Melody, Truly, Simply Unforgettable, Slightly Dangerous, Slightly Married, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Sinful, Slightly Tempted, Slightly Wicked, and A Summer to Remember.