only beloved is the conclusion to balogh's survivors' club series. in each of the previous outings, one of the lead characters was somehow involved with the napoleonic wars and suffered terrible injuries or ptsd from the experience. they formed the survivors' club while recuperating at the home of our hero, george, the duke of stanbrook. but this isn't the most interesting thing about our hero, what makes our hero unique is that he is pushing 50!
luckily balogh does not pair him with a teenager, something that probably did happen quite often in regency england. his heroine is also a woman of a certain age--though she has yet to hit her 40s. one wouldn't think that age is such a big deal in romance novels, but it is. and i'm here to tell you that even though the character's ages do matter in some respects to the plot, it's not a big deal for the reader.
dora and george are perfect for each other. their romance is mostly sweet, sometimes bittersweet. they ache and long for more from each other but don't know how to express this. the love scenes are not all that steamy, which suits the characters though i also kind of wanted more for them. like, so what if they were old, they could still have some excitement in the bedroom, right? this isn't a story where the two leads have to overcome obstacles to be together. the biggest issue here were the secrets george was keeping, and once he is able to tell the truth about his past everything resolves pretty quickly.
we do get to see all the other survivors and their assorted spouses throughout the novel, and then at the end we get to see their families at some point in the future in a sweet epilogue that ties a neat little bow on the series. as the closing novel to the series, it does a good job, though i think the others were better about building up romance. if you are going to pick up the series, i wouldn't start with this one. even though the novels are meant to stand alone, i think this one really does close things out and it would be a better read if you've already invested time in the characters before reading.
**this book is set to release on may 3, 2016. i was able to read an advance reader copy via the first to read program. i received a copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review.