Mary Balogh has talent, being able to write a story that makes the reader sigh and dream of their own HEA. She writes with an eloquence that fits perfectly with the historical period in which the book is set. These are just a few reasons why Balogh's books always please the readers—and they apply to her newest novel, The Proposal, too. The heroine and hero of this story were flawed, imperfect—realistic, in a sense. They both have dark pasts that they are struggling to overcome. Their story is not a light, carefree romance, but it does have brief scenes where the banter and conversation help to lighten the slightly dark mood that follows both characters. I liked Gwen, a strong heroine who is past the first bloom of youth. She's had a terrible time since her husband's death (suicide), as she blames herself. She's determined never to remarry, and after almost 10 years, she's learned to accept it. When it seems that fate has stepped in and thrown her into the path of the mysterious Lord Trentham, Gwen slowly begins to rethink her pledge. But can she overcome her past and reach for a new future? Hugo is a tortured hero, one who has seen the brutalities of war and lived to tell the tale—even when many of his fellow soldiers did not. After returning to England injured (nor physically, but mentally), the country calls him a war hero—but he thinks himself a broken killer instead.Originally from the upper working class, he doesn't want anything to do with the ton, but upon his return his finds himself a titled gentleman, a “gift” for his time at war. He doesn't fit in with the high society crowd, and he doesn't want to. But for his younger sister, he'll brave the ton so she can attend a few balls. To do so, he'll need the help of a woman—will Lady Gwen fit the role? More importantly, can he forget his past, as well as their difference in class, and offer up his heart to Gwen? Will she even accept....Although there were a few parts during the book when I skimmed a couple of pages, overall this was a really good story, if lacking a bit in action. Towards the end, the sigh-worthy moments were more dominant, and I had a smile on my face from it. Always a sign of a good book! :) 4 STARS! A lovely historical romance, one filled with interesting characters who break the cookie-cutter mold just a bit. I look forward to the next book in this new series—like Hugo, the rest of the Survivors' Club members seem to have their own personal obstacles to overcome, and I think each of their stories will be quiet the adventure! A perfect book for any fan of the genre, The Proposal is sure to be a keeper on your shelf! This review is property of The_Book_Queen (TBQ's Book Palace). You may also find this review on my blog, as well as BN, Amazon, and GR.