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Miss Clara Danford had no illusions about Fredrick Sullivan She knew that this magnificently handsome gentleman was a rake whose women were legion and whose gambling debts were staggering She also knew why he wished to wed her It was not for the beauty and grace she did not have but for her fortune which would rescue the dazzling wastrel from ruin Should she refuse and lose her one chance to have such a splendid mate? Or should she accept a proposal made with lips that lied as skillfully as they kissed? One thing was sure Clara might have no illusions to lose but she would have to be careful not to lose her heart

10 thoughts on “Dancing with Clara

  1. says:

    I wouldn't put this book in the romance category NOT IN A MILLION YEARSI can understand and even admireif he deserves it a hero with flawsit makes him believable and realbut I definitely can't abide a hero who is so flawed that he'll keep on committing adultery till almost the end of the booksorryI can'tit just sort of spoils the whole point of reading a romance noveland even in the end the hero is not sure whether he'll ever be able to remain faithful to his wife and redeem himselfdefinitely not romanceI totally agree with some other readers that while we love a rake storywe want the rakes REFORMEDCheating heroes?This book left me wondering what exactly have I read? An insight into an alcoholicwomanizergambler's tormented soul as in how much he hates and loathes himselfalthough the only reason I could detect for his abysmal and abominable behavior was a weak willan extremely weak will to try to better his life or a love story?then by the end I concluded that if I put it in the love story category I would probably hate itbecause I read fiction so that by the end of a book i'll feel light hearted and positivenot depressed because the hero is too darn weak to stop his womanizing and the heroine too accepting and forgiving of this crapone gets enough of all this in real lifedon't want it in fiction tooso it will definitely go into the hero who needs to be admitted into a rehab immediately and heroine who'll keep on forgiving the hero no matter how much he hurts her because she knows how sick he is categoryWhile reading it my feelings were something like thisADULTERY is a deal breaker for mejust can't abide it in a bookbut even so I found Balogh's The Obedient Bride which too deals with adultery okbarelycould still understand the male leads reasons and stupiditybut this book is the limitwouldn't recommend it to anyoneIf you're interested in reading Mary Balogh's booksstart with the Huxtable uintet seriesthey are fineDancingjust left me disappointed and dissatisfiedan epilogue could have really helped this book It's a testament to Mary Balogh's writing skills that I actually didn't end up hating the characters and the book P

  2. says:

    I remember reading this series when it came out in the 90’s It was unusual for an author to redeem the villain from one book and give him his own story in another Lisa Kleypas did this with Devil in Winter – but MB did it first This is a reformed rake story except the rake isn’t really reformed until the last pages and he wonders out loud if he’ll slip up again But the heroine reassures him that she’ll forgive him no matter what That is a bit off putting to some readers to say the least But it fits with the theme of forgiveness and absolution MB establishes from the opening The hero is full of self loathing because he cannot forgive himself for abducting and threatening to rape the woman who became his sister in law Book one in the series She told him she would never forgive him so he can’t forgive himself He is also angry at himself for falling so deeply into debt that he is seeking marriage to a woman any woman – who has a fortune Why? Because his father will never forgive him if he confesses his debt to himSo we have a judgmental world the hero is operating in and he’s living up to his low expectations Because this is a romance and HEAs are reuired His sister in law forgives him His father is proud he’s managed to be a kind husband etc The hero is on the path to redemption So based on the “rules” MB set up in this story the only way for the hero to stop cheating and gambling is to know absolution from the heroine is guaranteed I’m not sure if I’m explaining this very well – but the hero has to forgive himself before he can grow and change but he can only do that after the person he has wronged has forgiven him This is the classic arc of a cheating story but since this was a historical marriage of convenience it’s a little easier to take He’s a bad boy He’s self destructive But his guilt can lead him to better things And he’s not as bad as the hero of the next book The heroine is another character who is living a self fulling prophecy Her father was convinced she was a cripple and because of his coddling she hasn’t used her legs for 20 years and can’t walk When she changes the pattern when she decides to go outside eat and do some exercises – she painfully progresses And yes she has slip ups with this new regime just like the hero Hero is crippled Heroine is crippled But they’re on their way to better things So how does this work as a romance? EhMB can be pretty cold blooded with her sex scenes and her practical heroines This is a practical heroine who doesn’t indulge in dramatics Their one week honeymoon is the emotional heart of the story and it was a week of mild pleasures and comfortable togetherness It’s the kind of relationship that won’t wear itself out as long as the hero is kept on a short leash And now to determine if this hero is really redeemed I introduce you toRedemption Guidelines by reeder connoisseur of cheating romances1 The infidelity should serve as a catalyst to surface an overlookedunresolved issue that has always been present in the relationship Since it’s a marriage of convenience they don’t really have a relationship But I think the cheating wakes them up The hero starts to understand his relationship with himself and then begins to see the heroine as a person who doesn’t deserve to be hurt The heroine realizes she doesn’t have to blindly obey the men in her life and she does have worth outside of being a cripple to be pampered But lets not go crazy – this heroine is still a doormat – but she is at least doing something for herself by leaving London and doing her exercises 2 The cheater's contrition should be genuine I thought so 3 The cheater gains insight into his actions that will prevent the behavior from recurring I do think he gained insight I would not trust him with his old friends or to be on his own for too long He has a weak character which is why it’s good he’s with the heroine in a new place with fresh adventures to look forward to His marriage was a major reset and it took him awhile to understand it If you have any other guidelines you look for in a cheating romance put them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list

  3. says:

    Freddie Sullivan is uite desperate He has run up gambling bills so high that he is to the point where he can't pay them and may have to be sent to debtor's prison He is ashamed to ask his father to bail him out yet another time so he heads to Bath to find a rich bride There are three possibles and he settles on Clara Danvers the richest and the one who doesn't have a guardian or father to scuttle his chancesClara is struck by Freddie's beauty and charm She is under no illusions about him She knows he needs a rich wife and she is certainly rich But she is not beautiful and because of a childhood illness in India she can't walk She accepts his proposal and the two marry and embark upon a marriage that is at times wonderful painful and revelatoryOver the years I had heard a lot about this book Most people either love it or hate it The people who hate it are those who point to Freddie's adultery as a deal breaker He is a terrible hero and thus this is a terrible story and not worthy of being labeled a romance I disagree I think anyone who focuses solely on that one aspect of Freddie really misses out on the larger largely wonderful and moving storyFreddie isn't simply an adulterer He is a charming beautiful man who has two evils he has a gambling addiction and he hates himself The two things feed on each other uite destructively And he does things to constantly punish himself Before he married Clara he justified it as the life of a merry bachelor But after Clara guilt is added to the stew and his demons gnaw at him in newer waysThis is not to say this book is a downer or even heavy No Balogh uses a very light deft touch with these issues Freddie is after all charming and wonderful Everything is delivered with a smile and bedroom eyesI have to admit that when I was reading the early chapters after Freddie proposes to Clara I despised him His inner dialogue lets the reader know that he does not find Clara at all attractive and yet is constantly telling her how he has fallen instantly in love and he loves her It is uite sickening I mentally kept calling him an asshole and a jerk well as this is a Regency probably cur rake scoundrel or roue would be apropos But my distaste did not last Freddie is under it all a decent person and he takes pains to try to make Clara happy He respects her and begins to see her as a person And most of all he begins to reverse the damaging effects that her father's coddling has wrought for yearsClara for her part is under no illusions about Freddie She marries him because as she puts it she wants his beauty for herself She is a pragmatic woman who deals very much in reality There is one point where Freddie is having the mother of all pity parties and Clara very nicely calls him on his crap and tells him they don't have time for him to feel sorry for himself any What I found so incredibly gratifying about this story is how these two people actually do grow in love in a way that feels to me to be very grounded in realism to me I am absolutely loving my foray into Mary Balogh's early regencies And this one tops the list

  4. says:

    Re read December 2010Yeah I still hated this bookI'm with the other reviewer who said that while they love a rake story they want their rakes REFORMEDEven though Clara never expected that he'd be faithful it still hurt to hear about all the women he had while they were married BlargI can get past infidelity in a book No really I can I just read another story The Obedient Bride which while the infidelity sucked didn't absolutely ruin the book for me But this one? No In re reading it I did have to concede that a lot of Freddie's womanizing was self punishment but I don't care had he succeeded the first or even second time he attempted to give up his whorish ways I think I could've forgiven him However it was his continued debauchery that left me cold and disgusted with him and uite frankly disgusted with Clara who said that not only did she forgive him but that she would continue to forgive himSo no I stand by my one star review of this BUT I will concede that having read a few stories by Mary Balogh whom I'd sworn off completely after reading this book long ago that the author isn't a complete git and does have some talent P

  5. says:

    I hardly ever reread books not because I don’t feel like it but because the TBR pile is of a TBR mountain by now and I made it a resolution to read mostly those booksHowever I couldn’t resist picking up Dancing With Clara when the opportunity arised I enjoyed it as much if not than when I first read it Why? Maybe because this the ultimate story of a rogue being redeemed by loving a good womanFreddie Sullivan has left for Bath in shame after having attempted to compromise his cousin – a rich heiress – so he could pay off his debts In Bath he woos Clara Danford a young and very rich lady who is crippled and uses a wheel chair for that same reason Freddie and Clara marry and while he tries to act like a man in love she is fully aware of why he married her she agreed for her own reasons – she was lonely and he was beautiful They spend a week honeymooning in their country estate and things proceed rather well till Clara tells Freddie he doesn’t need to pretend he is in love with her With is pride hurt he removes himself to LondonThis could be just another story about a wastrel who marries money and continues on a life of dissipation but it’s not And it’s not because Balogh describes very well rounded and complex characters Freddie has a lot of faults he gambles and visits brothels while away from his wife but he doesn’t forget her or what might make her happy That is why he searches for the doctor to see if she can walk again and why he takes her to the theatre But he is still hurt and unable to forgive himself of what he did in the previous book see Courting Julia And the he cares for Clara the unworthy he feels This is an angst ridden story with some really dark moments and in the end we are not presented with a typical happy end Freddie will continue to try to be a better person and Clara’s forgiveness is what keeps him in the right pathI realise this review is mostly about Freddie but I think him and his growth during the book are really what this story is about Despite his faults he tried to bring joy to a crippled and lonely woman and fell in love with her in the process Maybe it isn’t such an easy story to like but I certainly found it much interesting than just being presented with lighter characters and easier solutions This seemed somehow much realAn A And can someone please tell Mrs Balogh’s publisher these books should be reprinted

  6. says:

    I am very fond of this book It's great to see a character who was a villian in other books be the hero in this one He isn't however cleaned up and we are not expected to believe that he was totally misunderstood in the previous books Freddie has to grow and change and try hard to become a better man Much interesting reading than a cardboard gentleman Clara is well written too She is a smart woman who doesn't tell herself lies but lives the life she is given But she also has the courage to try to become something A wonderful example of why early Balogh's are so much better than later ones in my opinion

  7. says:

    I'm shocked shock I tell you I finally like a book from Mary Balogh I would like to thank all the MB fans who never gave up on me lolThis book actually thought me something about myself I love books that are uniue no matter what theme Who would have thought that I would have thoroughly enjoyed a book about a crippled heroine in a wheel chair? I usually like my heroes and heroines to be perfect I figure it's fiction and it's my fantasy and to me that's one of the best things about romance You can be anyone you choose and I choose to be perfect darn itI was hooked into this story from the first page I definitely have to give props to MB on weaving this tale She did an awesome job She was an unlucky author for me Every book I tried by her failed but finally finally I got one I now understand what all the fuss is about She's a darn good writer Both the hero and heroine were developed so well and you actually got to see them falling in love with each other The hero's character was very realistic He isn't the normal hero you see in romance novels these days He has flaws boy does he have flaws He's a villain from the last book a fortune hunter a liar a cheater a gambler a womanizer you name it he's it He tries to change through out the whole book but always falls shortThe heroine has a few flaws herself She married the dude for his looks In the end though you see the redemption of the hero and his love for the heroine is believable I wouldn't say he groveled much but he suffered on his own for a while before the HEA I took away a star from this book because of a pet peeve of mine that I won't even mention because I know I'm the only one in the world with this pet peeve Another thing was that MB did not add an epilogue and the book really needed one

  8. says:

    Clara is so very lovely She is innocent but intelligent and brave in spite of all troubles she had in life Freddy is the ultimate rake a womanizer an inveterate gambler extremely irresponsible full of debits and willing to do whatever it takes to pay them off even marry a crippled woman and then betray her with all the whores in town It is a very good story but the hero is not easy to like and uite beyond redemption You cannot help but think that Clara deserved better even though he falls for her in the end

  9. says:

    This was a charmingly slow build tale With realistic thoughts and attitudes by both main characters at the beginning of their transactional relationship A lovely tale of redemption and healing as they learn to love Of course the usual Balogh undertones of depression good lord this woman is a downer in her writing but it was definitely worth the reread It’s on the staid side of the marriage of convenience range of plot development an “inspirational drama” overcoming odds schtick than a comedy Humor was present but minimal usually in interactions with her companion Extreme self flagellation too much time in the characters heads and lots of cyclical thinking was my one issue with this as with other Baloghs Note this will probably have some touchy subjects for some Legit extreme infidelity this dude did not do things by halves I’d have wanted to disinfect that dck when he was done with it Some may find her too lenient at the end his character arc was definitely at an incomplete redemption point he has not been “reformed” just yet But I found her attitude realistic for the era He’s also the kind of pretty boy that still exists today Wife expects stress and just waits around until he settles down in his old age Fifty fifty he behaves from where the book leaves off At least back then he couldn’t leave her for his secretary Lol I like that the book was mostly her knowing herself what she wanted even if others would find it pityful what she was willing to accept and realizing she could get through anything even if she would prefer to do so with company that might not be uite perfect but was still better than the alternative It sounds like settling but it was very women’s lib to me She acknowledged that she wanted certain things and was ok with certain sacrifices or exchanges She had choices and she made hers with open eyes

  10. says:

    In the same way that the heroine of this 1994 Balogh reprint goes into her marriage to the sleazebag fortune hunting hero with her eyes open to what he is and what he wants the romance reader needs to go into the reading of this aware that it's not a typical feel good Balogh love story This is not a comfortable read It's not a fun happy read It's not even very romantic And I'm willing to bet that the hero's despicable behavior throughout the book is such a deal breaker for most romance readers that they will hate him and perhaps may even hate the story itself This ain't no fairy tale folks and there are no warm fuzzies to be found within the pagesSo why on earth do I like it? Because I love meaty romances with flawed characters and complexity and a certain amount of unpredictability in the plot While I do NOT like infidelity on the part of either H or h I accepted it here as part and parcel of this hero's extremely damaged personalityI guess everybody knows the plot? Wheelchair bound very plain but very wealthy heiress Clara Danford is wooed by very charming handsome fortune hunter Freddie Sullivan villain of the previous Balogh novel COURTING JULIA in this series He needs her money desperately to pay off huge gambling debts and avoid debtor's prison He pretends a deep attraction to her assuming I guess that she'll be grateful for his attentions and believe him She on the other hand is well aware of what's going on but is lonely finds him to be beautiful full of life charming and thinks 'Why not buy his companionship?' She's smart enough to consult her lawyer before the marriage to protect the bulk of her fortune from his fortune seeking handsThe rest of this story is to read not talk about You'll find that Freddie does have some admirable ualities He does actually care about Clara and her feelings is kind to her in her presence and they actually find mutual pleasure in the marriage bed But Freddie is too far gone in his self loathing self destructive addictive behavior for them to find an easy and immediate HEA Matter of fact it's up to the reader to decide if there is a real and true HEA at the end of this book It ends somewhat abruptly and there is no epilogue That's why I'm hoping for the re release of TEMPTING HARRIET the third book in this Sullivan series where we will once again meet up with Clara and Freddie as secondary charactersI found this to be an admirable though unusually realistic and dark story from Balogh There are a few things however that keep it from being a 5 star read for me none of them having to do with the H's rather horrendous behavior My reservations about the story have to do with my inability to understand 1 Why is the hero the way he is? He has decent parents and other family members and a good relationship with them What are the reasons he became so self destructive and self loathing? and 2 Why does the heroine show good gumption at the beginning of the story but turns into a bit of a passive obedient and too forgiving wimp around the hero as the story progresses? Her late father of course whom I learned to dislike even than I disliked the hero is to blame for her passivity and her desire to please the men in her life but she did start out the story so well that her backslide was somewhat unsatisfying and 3 Clara's disability is a bit of a cop out SPOILER if you don't know already is that there is no actual medical reason for her inability to walk Blame it all on a horrid overprotective daddy and on Clara who never got up the gumption before Freddie appeared in her life to try to rectify things End of SPOILERThis is well worth the read even if you don't like it From 1994 it's a relatively early work of Balogh's who began releasing HRs in 1985 and whose SLIGHTLY series my favorite was released from 2003 2004 I haven't enjoyed many of her earlier stories but this one goes into my list of worthwhile reads YMMV of course