A screenshot of Mary Balogh’s novel Slightly Dangerous

Here’s a confession: I have read Mary Balogh’s novel Slightly Dangerous for the second time this year. That’s not a particularly embarrassing admission, for my log indicates that I first read it in February or thereabouts, and finished reading it again last week, roughly 8 months later.

Here’s a more startling admission: Counting this year, I have read this particular novel 19 times since I first discovered it. Using these figures and averaging my novel reading over time, I calculate that I have read Slightly Dangerous every 3 months since first reading it in 2018. A remarkable statistic! I cannot recall ever reading a novel so many times over so few years.

In fact, I don’t believe I’ve read my favorite novel of all time, Jane Eyre, with such enthusiasm. I bought the paperback version of Jane Eyre for 60 cents with my babysitting money in 1963 and have probably read it more than 100 times over the past 59 years. That works out to about once every 7 months.

What is it about this particular Mary Balogh novel that so attracts me? For one thing, the characters are drawn perfectly and the story is both captivating and enchanting. Mary Balogh’s decision to pair Miss Christine Derrick with Wulfric Bedwyn, the Duke of Bewcastle, was positively inspired. And the fact that the duke’s quizzing glass features prominently in their story is a delight. (Read about the challenge Mary Balogh experienced trying to identify the best love match for the Duke here.)

Here’s another confession: I’ve read nearly every novel Mary Balogh has published, many of them more than once. I’m not usually attracted to Regency romance novels — although I adore Georgette Heyer’s books — but when COVID hit, Mary Balogh’s interesting and light-hearted stories were exactly what I needed to get me through a self-imposed “house arrest” (undertaken because I could not risk getting COVID at my age).

So, thanks, Mary Balogh, for your enchanting stories. They have proved a solid bastion against COVID’s slings and arrows, and I hope to read and enjoy them for years to come.