Author: Mary Balogh
ISBN: 978-1-59315-554-4
Publisher: Vanguard Press

Reginald Mason is a gentleman only by breeding and training and not by birth. His father has given him the best advantages in life and yet he has managed to squander and over extend himself in many ways. When playing at the tables or gambling he never gave a thought to the debts he incurred and the fact that his father had to provide the sums to pay them. His extravagant life style was never in question until he father decided it was time for him to marry and upgrade his social status by marrying the woman of his choice whether he agreed to it or not. This brings me to my review of A Matter of Class by New York Time best selling author Mary Balogh.

The story unfolds with Reginald Mason and his father discussing his future and the debts that he incurred. Although they are quite wealthy, their money came from working in the coalmines and was not considered worthy of upper echelon status.

How would you feel or react if you had no say in whom you were going to marry? How would you feel if the only reason the person was going to marry you was because of a deal struck with your parents? Is class and status really what makes a person? Is wealth the primary reason one person should be considered worthy of another? That is something you need to consider for yourself as you read this delightful and entertaining novel.

 Lady Annabelle Ashton is the only daughter of the Earl of Havercroft whose family and Reginald’s have been at odds for many years. Lady Annabelle having disgraced herself by running off with her father’s coachman is now labeled or branded as damaged goods. The fact that nothing happened and it was relatively innocent did not change the way those of high society viewed her nor what her father was about to do.

 Reginald’s father Bernard decided in order to raise his son’s social standing from merchant class, he would propose a match between his son and Lady Annabelle much to the chagrin of both parties involved.

 When their fates are sealed and the marriage proposal is accepted you can feel the tension between the two of them and more. The author then flashes back to their youths and how they first met. As children they were told to ignore each other and not allowed to be friends. Meeting secretly without the knowledge of her nurse or his family they became friends. But, at that time social class, money and the station you were born into was more important than the person you were or could be. Even today there are many families who still believe that matchmaking their children with the right person whether for monetary reasons or religious. But, for Annabelle and Reginald their parent’s reasons were different. His parent’s reasons for joining them together was to raise his station in life and hers to repair her reputation and pay off her father’s debts.  

What I love about this book is the banter between Annabelle and Reginald and the flashbacks to their childhood. Most children do not care whether you are rich or poor or how much money your father has in the bank. Most children just want to have friends and be accepted for who they are. Annabelle and Reginald have a secret friendship that begins when she is five and continues even into their early teens. But, what keep them apart are their family and their dislike for each other and more.

 Annabelle’s father wanted her to marry and betrothed her to the Marquess of      Illingsworth but Annabelle had other thoughts in mind. Running away with her father’s coachman set a plan in action that might come back and haunt her if it was not carried out just the right way. As a result the Marquess withdrew his proposal and her family was embarrassed and forced to do, as we would put it today, damage control. But, sometimes what you see and hear is not always what is the truth. Annabelle and Reggie were like Romeo and Juliet: two star crossed lovers but will the outcome be the same?

Thirty years of waiting and thirty years where two families were set apart from each other by stubborn pride and one more thing: Social class and money. Will they wind up together? You have to read this story for yourself and find out. 

Mary Balogh created a story filled with deceit, lies, trickery, hope and humor that will not only restore your faith in love, but will let you know just how clever a woman can be when she wants to get her man.

Money can buy material things and maybe even your way into social society but it cannot buy love, trust, loyalty and faith in another person. You need to read this heartwarming, humorous and refreshing and totally full of class novella by an author who will keep you guessing about the outcome until the very last page. This is a great book and the author has a new fan. I hope that I will have the honor of reviewing more of her books in the future.