Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had...
Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…
Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.
Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.
Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling 'Slightly' sextet and 'Simply' quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.
Someone to Love by Mary Balogh is a 2016 Signet publication.
I loved the Survivor Club series, but of course all good things must come to an end. So, I began to eagerly anticipate the start of a fresh series, and couldn’t wait to dive into Westcott number one.
Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage, but has been anonymously supported by someone. She became a teacher and settled into a life of peace and relative contentment, until, she receives a summons, and at long last finds out who her parents were. It would seem her birth was legitimate, and her father, who is now deceased, was a bigamist, meaning his second marriage was never legal and his other children are illegitimate, which means Anna is his sole heir.
So, overnight Anna becomes an heiress, with a vast fortune, and is totally overwhelmed by the reversal and feels awful about her misplaced half siblings, who decide to keep their distance from her.
Taking pity on Anna, Avery Archer, the Duke of Nertherby, takes it upon himself to help Anna make the necessary adjustments to fulfill her obligations and live within society proper. In the process, he is stunned to discover he actually LIKES Anna as a person, is drawn to her in a way that goes beyond physical attraction.
But, those closest to Avery wonder if Anna is a good match for him. Will he become bored with Anna, or can their love grow deeper once the ‘honeymoon’ phase is over?
As always, Mary Balogh creates wonderful characters and addresses real life relationship problems, which proves it’s not always hearts and flowers and couples must face and overcome highs and low for the relationship to grow.
I love the maturity of her characters, and the way she provides just the right amount of angst and conflict and give them a chance to grow and learn.
Anna is a character that shows real fortitude as she is swiftly whisked away into a world she struggled to adapt to. Her humble attitude is admirable as she hopes to eventually return to her old life, and her concern for her extended family is a nice touch. Although, while her character was developed, she I thought she could use a few moments of fire or passion, which she seemed to lack, in my opinion. She wasn't terribly exciting, but her story was very touching and heartwarming, all the same.
Avery, on the other hand, is a very unique hero. He’s very closed off, has unconventional looks, and keeps things pretty close to the vest. Anna comes along and leaves him totally flummoxed, as to why he’s so smitten by her. I actually enjoyed his flamboyance and dialogue, and his occasionally stern countenance, which made him very interesting, and was highlight of whole story, for me.
The story does have a few problems, such as the introduction of too many characters, which slowed down the rhythm and flow, and could be confusing at times. While I enjoyed learning more about Avery’s deepest secrets, his story was too complex to have been tacked on in such a hurried fashion in the last chapters of the book.
Other than that, I am pleased, overall, with this first installment in the Balogh’s new series and will definitely be continuing on with the series.
For a book that has stirred up so much controversy, this was surprisingly bland. While it was enjoyable to read, both the advance publicity the book has enjoyed, and the brouhaha over whether there is a sub-conscious racist bias (frankly, no, there isn't) had created a Wizard of Oz-like shadow that the actual book doesn't live up to.
There are excellent reasons to pick it up, of course. The writing is never less than literate (this is Mary Balogh, folks) and the McGuffin - unknown legitimate daughter dispossesses her father's second family - has huge potential (which I look forward to seeing released in future books in the series). Anna, the heroine, is one of Balogh's solemn girls, whose principles are set off by the shallowness of high society. Avery, Duke of Netherby, is an unusual hero: in a genre dominated by tall muscular men, his slight build and medium height are an anomaly (he reminds me of Gilly in The Foundling, in that regard), even if his ennui (and efficient secretary) are closer to the Marquis of Alverstoke (Frederica). They make an attractive couple.
I have a couple of problems with the story, however. One is probably inevitable, in the first book in a series - ALL the series characters are introduced. Several times. Their relationships to each other and their salient characteristics are described. Several times. The method does work - I am now clear about who is related to whom, and - from the various reactions to Anna - their characters are more or less fixed. But it does take time to do this effectively, and it's time that comes at the expense of the main relationship.
For example, one of the elements of Balogh's writing I particularly enjoy is her immersion in her characters' point-of-view: the heroine will ruminate again and again on the hero, say, but each time her thoughts subtly alter. What appears at first sight to be repetition is actually cunning development. That's almost completely lost in StL. Instead, Anna's thoughts are rather clumsily accelerated by the inclusion of occasional letters to a friend. The letters are jarring, because they are the opposite of the subtle approach I've admired - Anna almost blurts out her thoughts in a way that's at variance with her poise in "real life". The Duke, too, is rushed (in a not altogether convincing way) into love.
But I think the main reason for a 3-star rating is that - for Anna and the Duke - there is just not enough at stake, emotionally. It was all just a little too easy whereas I wanted everything to matter more to them. So I don't think this will go on my To Re-read pile.
What an unusual hero!!! He's not tall, he's not huge; he's sophisticated and almost dainty. At least on the surface! But, oh boy, he's totally opposite inside!
I loved his unpredicatbility! The way he made everybody respect him without even trying! How he made his opinion clear without even braking a sweat!!!!
But our heroine is just what he needs! She's opinionated and with a will of steel! Nothing he can do will make her dance to his tune!! And not only he, but also all the others!
She's in a situation where a lesser human being could make a lot of wrong decisions, do a lot of harm, or simply squander all the money in a stupid way. But not her! She knows what she wants and how to get it without offending anybody, just explaining her opinion - as simple as that!
I admired both of them! And they made this book special!
I am so disappointed. Balogh is a perma-auto-buy for me. This book has a great premise, btw. It's a stellar way to setup a series. But this book reeks of orientalism.
You see, the hero learned an Eastern martial art. Which one? Who knows. It's never named. He wears a white uniform when he practices, but it's not karate because his teacher was "an elderly Chinese gentleman" who spoke with a heavy accent and taught him deep thinky lessons. These don't seem to include any actual traditional Chinese values like filial piety or courtesy or Taoism.
The Chinese man--I can't even tell you his name because he doesn't get one--is a cipher who exists only to provide the white male lead with power over his adversaries. This would be a less glaring offense, maybe, if there weren't a dozen well-drawn orphans running around with names and speaking lines.
What a great opportunity Balogh had to include a character of color with a great story. (What made him decide to help a poor little rich boy? How did he come to leave the Middle Kingdom for Britain? In what ways are his values consistent or not with English ones?)
I have always enjoyed Mary Balogh's work. When I first discovered Historical Romances, her books were ones that I fell in love with! I have read several series by her, so when The Westcott series popped up, I bought book one immediately....then waited for a couple more to come out before I started!
In "Someone to Love" I fell in major love with the heroine this time! I can't often say that in many of my romance reads, but Anna was a very unique and likeable character! She was raised in an orphanage and then grew up to become a teacher there. To her surprise, she receives some mail that will change her life forever...she must go to London to find out what has happened.
When she ends up in London, she finds out that she is no longer considered an orphan...but indeed she is a very rich woman! There are a ton of family members who wish to whip Anna into shape, so that she can start acting like a real lady should! When she meets a Duke named Avery...her life will change once again!!!
Avery is not your typical hero...he is smaller built, but with very handsome face...in a delicate way. (for lack of a better word! I actually pictured him built like Brad Pitt, with that same pretty face...LOL) Avery has always been curious about love, and Anna gives him a run for his money....also, she makes his boring life very interesting!!!
This was a great journey, that I found very amusing, and an all out feel good story! My only complaint was that I often felt that the author repeated a lot of information. An example would be...where we would read about what Anna was doing...then a few pages later, she would write her friend in detail about what she had done. So I was reading what she had done twice...That happened more than once, and I ended up skimming the second time the info was relayed. Other than that, I highly recommend this series. I can't wait to have Alexander's book. I really liked his character and I hope he will fall in very deep love!! LOL
I don’t know where the time is going, but it seems hardly any has elapsed between turning the last page of Only Beloved, the final novel in Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series – and reading Someone to Love, the first story in her new, eight-part series about the Westcott family. The story revolves around an orphan who discovers she is an heiress, and tells of her interactions with her new family and the highs and lows contained therein. Its underlying themes are, surely to do with the importance of self and family; about remaining true to who one believes oneself to be under even the most difficult of circumstances, and the importance of having those around us who love, understand and comfort us. These unwritten truths of the human condition are exactly the sorts of things that Mary Balogh explores so well within the pages of all her books; she isn’t much given to melodrama or high-adventure, preferring to work upon the smaller canvas of her characters’ experiences and emotions – good and bad – in ways that are relatable and familiar to readers.
Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has recently died and has left his heir to the guardianship of Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby. After the reading of the late earl’s will, his widow asks the family solicitor for his help on a delicate matter. She knows that her late husband had been supporting an illegitimate child born before their marriage, and she would like to make some kind of final settlement upon her. Lady Riverdale asks the family solicitor to seek out this young woman and then to make her and Avery aware of the results of the search.
Anna Snow is twenty-five years old, and has lived almost all her life in the orphanage in Bath at which she is now a teacher. She enjoys her life and her job, she has good friends around her and is content. Completely out of the blue, she receives a letter from a solicitor she has never heard of, informing her that he is sending a chaise to take her to London for a few days. Anna is puzzled, having no idea what awaits her, but arranges a leave of absence from the school and travels to the capital with the companion provided for her.
Of course, Anna is the late Earl of Riverdale’s daughter, but unfortunately for the family, the solicitor’s inquiries have revealed much more than her identity and location, and this information is going to change the lives of the Westcott family forever.
For the child believed to be a by-blow is actually legitimate, the issue of the earl’s marriage to the daughter of a country parson. His wedding to Lady Riverdale took place a few months before the death of his wife, meaning the later marriage was bigamous, and the son and daughters who believed themselves to be members of the nobility are nothing of the sort. The repercussions of this discovery are huge. The earldom and entailed property pass to the viscount’s cousin, Alexander, who has absolutely no desire to be an earl, far preferring his life as a country squire; the eldest Westcott daughter is jilted by her fiancé and the family is suddenly presented with Anna Snow – really Lady Anastasia Westcott – sole heiress to the earl’s unentailed property and almost the entirety of his fortune.
The Duke of Netherby watches all this from the sidelines, presenting a calm voice of reason amid all the turmoil. He is the first person to appreciate that Anna’s pleasant, demure manner hides a steel backbone, and he is surprised to find that he rather likes and admires her for it. He is one of those archetypally ennui-laden aristocrats often found gracing the pages of historical romance; he doesn’t like to exert himself overmuch and pays great attention to his clothes, but he’s sharp as a tack and far from a fop. Unlike the typical romance hero however, he’s not tall, dark and handsome; he’s of average height, slightly built and almost angelically beautiful, and yet he possesses an aura of power held in check and there’s an almost overwhelming self-confidence and masculinity about him that means that he’s the centre of attention in any room he enters and that people generally fall over themselves to please him. He’s also witty and charming to those he allows close enough to discern that about him, and the relationship that develops between him and Anna is an unlikely friendship underpinned by a completely unexpected mutual attraction.
There is quite a lot going on in this story, and I admit to having been just a little bit overwhelmed by all the different family members and connections that are introduced. I suppose that this is because Someone to Love is the first in a series and there is a lot to be set up, but I still had to stop a few times to remind myself as to who was who. The two principal characters are well drawn and Avery, in particular, is very intriguing, especially given he is so unlike the standard romance novel hero. Being small and somewhat feminine in appearance as a child, he was horribly bullied when he was younger, and although he tried everything he could to fight it, nothing worked. But a chance encounter in his teens helped him to overcome the bullies and I really appreciated his unusual backstory and loved learning how he gained his incredible self-possession.
Anna is perhaps a little too good to be true, but I liked her for her insistence on retaining her own sense of identity in the face of her sudden change in situation and enormous external pressure. Faced with a group of very determined ladies of the ton, she recognises their superior knowledge of society and its conventions and allows herself to be guided by them – but only up to a point. Her delight at the discovery that she has a family, something she’s dreamed of all her life, is bittersweet, given that family’s reaction to her, but I admired her ability to have empathy for them, even when their actions were deliberately hurtful.
The romance is fairly low-key but perfectly in character for both Anna and Avery, who are not people given to histrionics or great flights of passion. As it turns out, both are looking for Someone to Love – even Avery, who has cultivated aloofness and detachment to such an extent that he finds them difficult to shed, and I enjoyed the glimpse Ms. Balogh gives us into what happens to a new marriage after the honeymoon period and the difficulties faced by a fledgling husband and wife in adapting to their new state.
I enjoyed Someone to Love very much, and I am looking forward to learning more about Harry, Alex, Camilla, and the other characters introduced in the course of the story. Once again, Mary Balogh’s ability to create interesting characters and plotlines shines through, and her great strength in exploring the emotions and motivations of those characters is much in evidence. My final grade takes into account the fact that the book suffers somewhat from “set-up-itis”, but it’s nonetheless a strong start to a new series from this much loved author.
This is the other kind of five-star reading experience—the kind that is almost impossible for me to review. It's been about two weeks since I finished it and I'm still not able to articulate details, even to myself. This is a completely emotional response and probably a deeply personal one. So I'll just say that this hit me right in the feels and that I loved the protagonists unreasonably and completely. Avery's responses to Anna often reminded me of Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side when one of her family expressed their need: "Well alright, then". It meant that her resources and efforts are now engaged on your behalf and that she has your back. After all the well-meaning (and even loving) aunts have explained why Anna needs to hole up in her home until, well, until and Avery turns to Anna and asks "would you care to accompany me for a walk in the park". This was his "well alright, then". It meant that he could both see what she needed and that he was willing to put himself behind that need despite what anyone else thought they should do. He did this a handful of times and after every one, I fell that much deeper in love with him.
And that's only the most obvious thing that engaged me. I loved the setup with Anna being the faux-orphan and the family that lost everything because of it and the rest of the family that accepted the reality and worked together to make the best of it they could—including supporting Anna emotionally. I got the feeling that they started off willing to love and embrace her and that they truly did so sooner rather than later. They weren't as good at it as Avery, but I liked that their motivations really seemed to be a sincere desire to help and support and love Anna.
Anyway, I'm stopping here. The story was lovely, but both Avery and Anna were very understated characters, so I can see why others may not connect. I really loved that quiet support and devotion between them. Add that this introduces a huge extended family that is all up in each others' business and it'd be easy to lose Avery and Anna if you weren't as invested as I was. Then add that the book starts chapters before most authors would have (I thought it excessive at first, but rethought that once the two get together and that groundwork was leveraged for deep connections that couldn't have happened without it) and that's a recipe for people going meh on this book. I can see that. But my response was very much the opposite.
A note about Steamy: I forget how many explicit sex scenes there were, but I'm assuming standard for Balogh. I remember that it was the middleish of my steam tolerance, at any rate.
It seems Mary Balogh's books don't quite work with me judging by the three I've read so far (including this one). As for those two I've read, I don't remember much.
There are a number of reasons why I didn't really enjoy this book. It starts well enough. I mean, it has this Cinderella feeling and I love a good Cinderella story. But then the author puts many, many, many people in a room throwing their names at us as if we're supposed to know and remember them right away. To some, that won't be a problem but for me, it was annoying (to put it mildly).
Next, neither character was really likeable to me. She is this perfect (but not that pretty, mind you) generous soul who stands up for herself. And stuff. If I hadn't read the blurb and saw the name of the hero, I would have thought another person was the protagonist (see the comment about many, many, many people). Usually, when authors create a hero in a historical romance and he isn't supposed to be nice, pleasant and whatnot, they usually make something attractive. It can be anything really; from the good looks (you are beaten over the head with this one's height and how slender he is) to some appealing quality. The real flaws are sometimes there, but not as pronounced. I never warmed up to the hero. He is pretty as an angel, though. That is something this book won't let you forget. He does have a couple of interesting moments (mostly what he says). There were a couple of lovely scenes featuring siblings (heroine's cousins) and some of those duke's comments were interesting enough, so I can't say I didn't like anything.
As for the writing and the story itself, there lies the real reason I couldn't quite enjoy it. It is repetitive. Let me illustrate: an event happens (in detail), then Anna writes a long letter to her friend and we get to read about the same event again (in more detail). This happened at least three times and that's three times too many. At least three times we are told about the duke's past and his experiences at school. Another thing that kept bringing me out of the book was the behaviour of servants. Let's just say this ton is unbelievably tolerant.
Overall, I am not saying I won't try another book from this author, but I will wait a bit. I am not really interested in the next book in the series since the heroine was horrible in this one. I like historical romances. It just happens this is, with the exception of a couple of scenes, one of those I couldn't make myself enjoy.
Even though Anna Snow grew up mostly happy in the orphanage that was her home the last twenty years, she’s always longed for a family to call her own. Finding out she has a fortune in addition to a family sounds like a dream come true. Unfortunately, Anna’s immediate family wants nothing to do with her and transitioning into the life of a lady is overwhelming. Anna’s used to freedom and independence, hardly possible for a society woman caged in by all of the expectations of the ton. Anna’s determined to keep her identity intact, though.
To Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby, Anna is unexpected and unlike any other woman he’s known. Usually bored by the trivialities of London society, Avery is surprised that he feels compelled to help Anna navigate her new life. She’s so unlike any other woman he’s been attracted to, but there’s something about her that fascinates him.
I liked that Anna had a mind of her own and yet a soft heart. She could’ve been very bitter over the way her family treated her when they found out who she was, but instead Anna continually worried over their situation and tried to help when she could. I’m very interested in their future stories.
As for the romance, the pull between Anna and Avery was immediate; they just seemed tuned into each other. Once it was acknowledged things moved pretty fast, but I liked that. There was no dancing around the subject of will they or won’t they, which allowed time to explore the mystery behind how Anna ended up in an orphanage to begin with, and the feelings that brought up.
Mary Balogh has become one of my favorite historical romance writers. Her stories are moving with interesting and complex characters. Someone to Love kicks off what I expect to be a wonderful series, and I’m already eagerly anticipating Camille and Joel’s story! Even though Camille didn’t leave me with the best impression here, I can definitely understand her feelings and reactions. A copy was kindly provided by Signet in exchange for an honest review.
My fellow historical romances readers, you will be horrified to learn that I sometimes hate a historically accurate historical romance. Yes, I'm one of those dreaded readers who would rather be sheltered from the realities of the past. I don't even mind when an author takes a little historical license and gives the heroine an opinion and the hero less of a "you are my property" feel. So, while I truly enjoyed Someone to Love I also struggled with it a lot. It was just a little too real.
Anna Snow was left in an orphanage at the age of four years. It wasn't the worst place to grow up but there was always that nagging feeling of abandonment and lack of someone to love. Years later and Anna has taken on the position of teacher at the orphanage and she's relatively happy with her lot in life. Yes, she had dreams of being "found" and returned to a loving family, but she was also very realistic and resigned herself to being alone. Imagine her surprise when she is summoned to London...and has a family...and is rich beyond her wildest dreams.
The Westcott's appear to be a very snooty and spoiled bunch, so, basically a very historically accurate portrayal of an aristocratic family. Their world is shattered when the rug is ripped out from under them as the truth of Anna Snow's existence comes to life. It was horrible to observe these ladies and gentlemen act in such a mean-spirited way to a woman who can not...should not be blamed for the sins of her father.
The Ton turn on the Westcott's and Anna Snow's quiet existence is definitely a thing of her past. Anna must learn all the ways of being a proper lady knowing that she will be judged. I absolutely loved that Anna took all of her education in her stride but was determined to keep a little of her old self intact. She does not want her hair short. She does not want her dress to have flounces. She does not want to keep quiet when her family is disrespected. So, she doesn't.
Throughout all of this, one man is witness to all of the drama by his connection to the Westcott's. He is intrigued by the plain and slight woman who holds herself in a dignified and calm way. She's not at all his type of woman but there's something about her that draws him in.
Someone to Love is not a story of insta-love or even insta-lust. There is an attraction but it appeared as if it baffled both Anna and Archer. With time together they soon realise their attraction is more than just physical. They actually like each other and may have even found their very own...Someone to Love.
I really enjoyed listening to this story and while a lot of it can be attributed to Mary Balogh's beautiful writing, some of my enjoyment must be credited to Rosalyn Landor's narration. She is one of my favourite narrators and I find her voice very easy to listen to. If you haven't listened to Ms Landor narrate a historical romance, you are missing a treat. She portrays each character with their own voice and I never struggled with identifying who is who.
I'm so glad to have finally started the Westcott series and I will definitely be back for more in the future.
Promising start to a new series by the author I adore. Mary Balogh is my comfort read. She waves her magic and creates emotionally satisfying world of complex relationships between strong, likable and honorable characters without relying too much on evil villains or annoying misunderstandings. Her stories tend to have more characters’ introspection as opposed to melt downs or limitless arguments.
If you never read Mary Balogh before, I wouldn’t recommend to start here. I think Bedwyn saga or Simply Quartet series or some of her singles are superior to the story.
If you are a fan of the author, I think you would be pleased. Yes, there are ruminations that maybe little excessive and recycled plot devices and storylines but instead of annoying, it brought me comfort and satisfaction. I smiled and sighed with contentment at the end. This is exactly what I needed.
I read this as paperback which featured graphic representation of the Westcott’s family tree. I don’t know if e-version has it. I hope it does as I found the reference very helpful, especially at the start, when so many family members appeared on the scene.
And, now to the story itself.
Someone to Love is the first in Balogh's Wescott series featuring a family that finds itself neck deep in scandal when the head of the family dies and it is discovered that he had a secret wife and child, which makes his second marriage invalid and those children illegitimate. Miss Anna Snow, the secret child turned heiress, grew up in an orphanage and became a teacher there. As many orphan children, she grew up dreaming of one day finding her family. And it seems at the age of 25 her dream came true. But the dream of a happy family collided with a stark reality as she's faced with siblings who want nothing to do with her, and now she has to integrate herself into the ton. Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, a guardian to now illegitimate Ann’s half-brother, is typically one to keep out of such affairs, but when he sees Anna struggling with her new station, he steps in to help her out.
Avery is not your typical tall, dark and brooding romance hero. He is slight, elegant and beautiful with a carefully cultivated aura of ennui which he uses to keep people at a distance. If it weren't for the sheer forcefulness of his personality and confidence other men would be inclined to write him off. Indeed, there is a background story about Avery being underestimated physically because he isn't tall and big and the way he dealt with it. Despite his appearance, Avery is definitely romantic hero material.
I liked the quiet romance between Anna and Avery. They fall in love day by day, minute by minute. Their relation to one another is based on respect and honesty.
It’s a very good story but not perfect. Being the first book in the series, there is a lot of time spent on setting and introduction of various characters. This is expected but made the story drag at parts and the romance as lovely as it is often seems to take a back seat. I wanted to see more of it!
The other drawback is the letters that Anna writes back to her friend Joel. These letters, for the most part, don’t provide any new information but just rehash everything that has already happened. They felt a little like filler to me and I mostly skimmed them.
Overall it was a very satisfying read. I look forward to the next book in this series.
I’d heard all about this book before the Australian publisher – as usual – finally got their review copies out AFTER the release date (something about *Advance* Reader Copy doesn’t ever compute for them, apparently).
Why? Because a review on a certain website caused DRAMA.
But more about that at the end.
Mary Balogh is one of those prolific authors I hadn’t got around to reading until now, but I’d heard so much good about her. And when I started this book I came to an immediate realisation: she actually writes historical romance.
Most of what I’ve been reading in this genre lately has seemed a lot more like a ridiculous Hollywood romp than anything set in England of the past, some books with not a single aspect of Regency manners, attitudes, language or behaviour in their pages.
Balogh gives a sense of the strength and power the aristocrats wielded back in the day. By creating a heroine who enters this world later than she should have we get to see exactly how ordered society was, and how extremely different these people were to the average, everyday English people.
There are few authors who dare to do that anymore. Lynne Connolly is one. Madeline Hunter…
Our heroine has been dumped in an orphanage and hidden away until the age of twenty-five, and it is assumed she is the bastard daughter of an earl. However, it turns out she is the ONLY legitimate child of the earl, as the man married her mother before he married his aristocrat.
When this is discovered, overnight she is elevated to one of the richest and most powerful women in England, and the earl’s other family are immediately banished from society.
Our hero is one of the most unique I have ever read, and in every way he is the Regency duke as he would have been – not a Fabio. He has a thousand affectations, wields his power sometimes unforgivingly, and has the looks that would’ve been considered desirable back in the day.
Seeing him go from dismissing the heroine and trying to force her to use the servants’ entrance to his house, to realising he is in love with her, was so well-written.
And the best part was that it was a romance, and one that followed social rules of the day. No random pre-marital sex romps in ballrooms, and no gallivanting about London unescorted. This was an aristocratic marriage that actually FELT like an aristocratic marriage – something else that has been sorely missing from my historical romance reading for a while.
Now. The reason this book caused DRAMA.
Because the hero was bullied as a child away at school, he followed all sorts of physical pursuits to make him capable of defending himself. And this included martial arts (a note: I usually don’t like it when Regency characters randomly learnt martial arts, because it feels so out of place, but that worked for me in this book).
The reason everyone got so upset was because he learnt it from “a Chinese gentleman”. This man was never given a name, and people took issue with the lack of respect for a minority character.
Having followed this drama, I’d expected that this man was actually going to be a character in the book. He’s not. He is, however, mentioned near the start and near the end.
It was badly done. I don’t ever think of people I know as the Indian gentleman or the Ukrainian gentleman. A name could have gone a long way to fixing this and stopping a lot of people being upset.
I don’t know… If only people in the romance community took their pitchforks after all those Western historicals (and their authors) where there are actually Chinese characters ON THE PAGE who are stereotyped badly – and often – the way they have with Balogh. Or maybe it’s a different crowd reading historical romances set in America’s Wild West, and I’m one of the few reading both and so one of few who notices...
There were a couple of other issues I had, but that is more because I’m used to reading “modern” historical romances, and this one is in a more traditional style. For example, there were a lot of characters who were often referred to by different names and titles, and near the start I was confused (especially as three of the main characters are called Anna, Avery and Alex!).
However, what I took away from this one is that I need to be reading more Mary Balogh books. This is what I want to read when I pick up historical romance. Not those modern and anachronistic romps.
SOMEONE TO LOVE, the first book in Mary Balogh’s new eight book Westcott series, is a charming, character-driven romance, written with her usual warmth, humour and emotion.
Anna is such an engaging heroine. I love the quiet, inner strength she demonstrates when first meeting her family and the calm, dignified way in which handles herself despite the hostile reactions. My heart ached for Anna because her dearest wish has always been to discover her rightful family and become a part of it, only to find that they hate her.
It’s understandable that she decides to stay and explore her new life as Lady Anastasia Wescott but I also admire her determination not to lose a sense of who she really is.
I must remain, I have decided, and learn who Lady Anastasia Wescott is and what her life would be if she had not been turned into Anna Snow at the age of four and left there at the orphanage. I must decide how much of her I can become without losing Anna Snow in the process. It may be conceited of me, but I am rather fond of Anna Snow. (from a letter to Miss Ford, the matron of the orphanage.)
I like how she stands up for herself, refusing to let the ladies of the family manage her life or shape her into a perfectly polished lady.
I love her kindness and generosity which is evident in the way she provides employment to some of the orphans and her determination to share her fortune with her half-siblings.
Avery is certainly not your typical hero. Instead of tall, dark, handsome and muscular, he is short, slim and graceful (I pictured him with a Fred Astaire like physic) with beautiful angelic looks. His gold-handled quizzing glass at the ready, he appears the epitome of a bored, languid, haughty aristocrat.
…the Duke of Netherby rarely made the effort to do what was inessential or what was not conducive to his personal comfort.
However, he exudes an unexplainable aura of power and danger, commanding attention whenever he enters a room and the story of how he acquired such incredible self-possession adds an intriguing layer to Avery’s character.
I love how Ms. Balogh builds their relationship, gradually moving from attraction to friendship to a genuine loving relationship…one I believed in. When Avery first sees Anna, she’s quite unappealing in her drab clothes and severe hairstyle, but there is something about her that intrigues him. Most people are intimidated when they first meet him but Anna stands her ground and Avery admires her quiet dignity. He frequently utters the most absurd things but Anna is the only one who has ever had the audacity to call him absurd. At first, Anna doesn’t know what to think of Avery; she is both attracted and repelled by him, but the more time they spend together, she realises that there is more to Avery than he allows the world to see. Watching these two finding common ground, falling in love and marrying was such a joy. Ms. Balogh enhanced my pleasure with witty dialogue and a sensual, emotional and tender love scene.
The scenes when they visit and spend time with Anna’s grandparents after their marriage reveal so much about Avery. He is more at home in the country and I loved seeing a relaxed Avery who treats Anna’s grandparents with such warmth and respect.
I like how Ms. Balogh realistically highlights the difficulties facing the couple as they adjust to married life, after the glow of the honeymoon period has worn off. Both Avery and Anna want to recapture the wonder of those three weeks but Avery realises that he has to reveal his real self to Anna despite his fears and insecurities.
You will not remain on the surface of my life, will you, Anna Archer? You will not be content to bring me comfort and delight, though there has not been much of either, has there, since we returned to London. Is it because this question has needed asking and answering? Is it because you will not be content until you have seen to the very core of me? And perhaps because I will not be content until I have allowed you there?”
This scene is moving and beautifully written and seeing Avery so vulnerable really touched my heart. Both discover that they have always been searching for the same thing – someone to love – and have found that someone in each other.
“My duchess.” “My love.” Dreamy blue eyes gazed down into hers for a moment. “My love?” “My love,” she repeated. “Of course. Did you not know? Oh, Avery, did you not know?”
“You can be and may be and already are, Anna. My someone to love. My everything.”
As this is the first book in the series, there are a lot of family members introduced in quick succession and it was a difficult to keep a track of who is who (see note 1). The good thing is that many of these wonderful secondary characters will get their own books and therefore I’m not complaining.
MY VERDICT: This is a fabulous start to the new series. Highly recommended.
Note 1 – The published version of the book has a family tree at the front.
Westcott series to date (click on the book covers for more details):
**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. **
This review was first posted on my Rakes and Rascals Blog:
The new Westcott series from Mary Balogh is looking to be yet another winner for this great lady of Historical Romance. The first in this saga, Someone to Love has an original synopsis with some fascinating characters and with another seven books to follow, I am rubbing my hands together in anticipation.
Anna Snow has lived out twenty-one of her twenty-five years in an orphanage, first as an inmate and latterly as a teacher. Never privy to her origins beyond some few vague, unexplained flashbacks, she has naturally always wondered about her earlier life and her parents; and like most young women in her situation, dreamed that perhaps she is the long lost daughter of distinguished parents. This last seed was planted by virtue of her having known that she has an unknown benefactor. However, that old adage, be careful what you wish for has come home to haunt her as the unexpected arrival of a letter summoning her to London drops her into the middle of a nightmare.
The widow of the recently deceased Earl of Riverdale has long been aware that her husband was secretly supporting an illegitimate child. Now that he is dead she seeks to mitigate any future claims on the new earl; to this end she instructs her solicitor to find the child and make a one off payment. But what follows is beyond anyone's wildest imaginings. Anna, unaware of what awaits her, has been instructed to arrive at the home of Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby. On arrival, she is met with derision and suspicion, first by Avery who mistakes her for a servant and then by the late earl's widow and family, who, believing her to be the earl's by-blow, are shocked by her attendance at the reading of his last will and testament. What transpires is shocking; the earl had covertly married Anna's mother and kept her existence and that of their child a secret. He had then married the current Countess only months before the death of Anna's mother, meaning that Anna is the earl's only legitimate child, Lady Anastasia Westcott. His three children - including the new earl - are illegitimate, the issue of a bigamous marriage. I loved the way Mary Balogh draws the reader into the familial gathering so that we actually feel the dawning realisation - step by step - of the family's shocked reactions; denial, shock and despair - as they slowly digest the ramifications and what it will now mean for the earl's disinherited, illegitimate family. Anna - herself just as shocked - nevertheless remains dignified and calm throughout as she is derided by everyone and then verbally attacked by one of her half-sisters. Her only thought through it all is that at last she has the family she has always craved and how she just wishes to help her stepmother and half-siblings.
Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby - who is related to this family through the second marriage of his father, and as nominated guardian of the young earl - has been unobtrusively and quietly observing proceedings. A closed and seemingly impenetrable aristocrat with an unmistakable air of entitlement, he is drawn by the quiet dignity of the newly promoted Lady Anastasia - an attraction he is unable to quantify. An exquisitely beautiful man of only average height and slight build but with a carefully cultivated aura of ennui which he uses to keep people at a distance, he nevertheless does not need to raise his voice nor use anything other than a well aimed look to part crowds or gain complete subservience. On the face of it, the attraction between the understated, plainly dressed Anna and the immaculately elegant figure of Avery is beyond comprehension; nevertheless he feels compelled to take her under his wing and guide her through the pitfalls of a society which is completely alien to her. The development of the relationship between these two complete opposites is expertly and realistically achieved and it's difficult not to root for them even though their eventual HEA seems unlikely.
Mary Balogh does not need to depend on ridiculous plotlines; her writing and storylines are always quietly addictive and plausible. Avery - no tall dark and handsome Adonis - is nevertheless absolutely delectable and loveable, albeit dangerous and not to be trifled with. His story in itself is compelling; what we learn about his past and how it has shaped the man he is is fascinating and finally he finds someone to love and trust in the delightfully ordinary and quietly determined Anna, herself desperately in need of a family and someone to love.
Someone to Love is a beautiful, gently moving but highly compelling love story with hidden depths. As far as I am concerned nothing that Mary Balogh writes is less than a fantastic read. I loved it and look forward with much anticipation to the next in the series.
Not my favorite Mary Balogh. I have a hit/miss relationship with her books- I either love them or I don't, with nothing in between. I always appreciate her writing skills and her relatively drama-free plots, though, and this is also true for this book. That being said, there were a few things that just didn't work for me and kept me from enjoying the story.
First of, there was a massive info dump in the beginning. Setting up a new series is always tough, especially when it's about such a big family. But about the first 150 pages were devoted almost entirely to setting up family dynamics and the different members' backstory, with the added difficulty that the relationships were completely rearranged by the fact that the heroine is an unknown legitimate daughter from a first marriage no one knew about. This meant that a whole branch of the family is now illegitimate and none too happy with her, and it actually made my head hurt to remember who was who, and who was on her side and who hated her.
Then there were the mysterious martial arts that apparently caused quite the controversy because the hero learned his (unnamed) skills from an unnamed ancient Chinese man whose name isn't mentioned and who speaks in clichéd riddles. I don't have a problem with that (he's only in one single flashback from the beginning and in a brief paragraph when the hero tells the heroine about him). But I do have a problem with how it was used: the hero was bullied as a kid and almost sexually abused at school (which was mentioned in a mere aside! It had a huge impact on him, but was never really dealt with, so why mention it when it never comes up again???) because he was pretty, golden-haired, and skinny. As a result he spend years honing his body, turning it into "a weapon" with the Chinese man (how? when? what exactly did he learn??? Question I all wanted answered), and in the end, the bullies were scared of him - not because he ever defended himself, but because he had the whole "aura of mystery" around him cliché going on. Also, when the heroine secretly witnesses his skills in a duel, she writes to a friend, that she is "afraid" (her words!) of him, musing that she doesn't think he'd ever hurt her - "unless severely provoked" (again, her words). Do I really want a heroine who is afraid of the man she marries?
Which brings me to another problem. Avery and Anna are both insanely private people. We get very little insight into their thoughts, and I could never really understand either of them. Especially in the case of the aforementioned letter I never really got the sense that she got over her initial fear, which bugged me. Also, it took almost 190 pages for them to kiss, you get their wedding night, and that was it. I just didn't feel any intimacy growing between them, and they hardly spent time together as it was, what with everyone trying to turn Anna into a proper aristocrat.
All in all, there were too many little things that bothered me to mention, but in the end I just didn't like it - I just didn't care one bit for any of the characters. The devastatingly handsome, upright and principled cousin sounds like good hero material, and the cousin who was rendered illegitimate (heroine of book 2) sounds interesting (even though she spend most of this book as a screeching, irrational shrew, but towards the end she sees reason and decides to let go of her fury and change), but other than that I have a hard time remembering anyone else. I still enjoyed it because it's Mary Balogh, but other than that, I was a bit disappointed.
This was an interesting premise for a series - a Schitt's Creek scenario for some characters (they lose everything and have to adjust) and a rags-to-riches scenario for the others. In the first book, the heroine has just discovered that she is the legitimate daughter of a recently-deceased Earl. He married his second wife while still married to his first, so his three children are now illegitimate and no longer considered part of the ton.
Also on the way up - the Earl's second cousin who is now heir to all the entitled properties and the title.
About the series: This is a nine book series - this heroine finds her HEA with a duke in book one. (1) I've already started the second book - which concerns her illegitimate half-sister (2) There are two more half siblings (3, 4) Then the second cousin who got the entitled properties (5) Then his sister who suffered an abusive first marriage (6) I'm guessing the late Earl's wife-by-bigamy will also be given an HEA since she's only 40 when all of this is discovered. (7) The duke has a half-sister who is only 17 (8) Late Earl's wife-by-bigamy has a clergyman brother? (9)
I'm sure this isn't the correct order, but it will be fun to see if I correctly guessed who MB is interested in.
So back to this book:
Just like this review there is a lot of space dedicated to establishing the series. It's a sloooow start. However, once the romance begins it's very sweet. Hero is a secretive duke who was bullied in boarding school because of his small size and his angelic looks. Luckily, he met a "Chinese gentleman" who taught him mental discipline and martial arts.
When this book was first reviewed, there was a lot of uproar about the stereotypical portrayal of the only person of color in this story. I understand it now, since in a story about how important a name is to Earl's children this Chinese gentleman doesn't even have a name. I don't think MB was being intentionally racist - I think she was trying to gloss over a backstory of how a Chinese gentleman landed at a cold-water boarding school in England.
Anyhow, this training gave the duke a formidable presence and it helped him recognize the inherit dignity of the heroine as confronted all of her relatives in her shabby orphanage clothes.
MB loves her themes and the theme of this story was understanding yourself and embracing your identity so that you can be intimate with another. She did succeed with this H/h's HEA.
I'm very much a fan of Mary Balogh's writing, and I think she's outdone herself in this book. Avery is certainly a man that any woman would fall in love! He is absolutely passionate !!! The intimate scenes between the couple, were more elaborate and did not lose the romantic touch that Mary always inhales in this type of scene. The end of the book is one of absolute tenderness! This story is tightly tied and opened the series beautifully.
Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, is chronically bored which makes dealing with his MULTITUDES of aunts and cousins annoying, especially when Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, dies leaving his heir, Harry, to Avery's guardianship. EXCEPT OH NO HUMPHREY WAS A BIGAMIST AND HIS ENTIRE SECOND FAMILY ARE BASTARDS.
Enter Anna Snow, orphan, who discovers that she's the one—and only—legitimate child of the late Earl. She's in over her head, obviously, because orphan or whatever. But she's got style and she's got class and she's got Avery checking out her ass (figuratively).
1. So this is very much a First Book: it's 50% plot and lists of characters and setup, and 50% putting two people together in the most assembly-line-esque manner possible. Character A's tabs are interested in Character B's slots: GO GO GO.
2. The decision to have Avery be a master of some unnamed martial art style learned from some unnamed Chinese gentleman was a bad decision. If you were to swap Avery's "special skills" for basically any other sporty activity in the world, you'd end up with the same story—meaning that its inclusion is not explicitly necessary except as a means of communicating something "exotic" and "other" about Avery's "special" confidence—yikes on several tandem bikes, y'all.
3. Anna, as a character, bothered me. Her in-person persona is a staid, contained woman who presents herself with quiet confidence. There are moments in the text where this facade is acknowledged—Avery's awareness of her white knuckles; comments about her picking at meals; his coming to know her better; etc. These instances serve to establish a character who is far more reserved and introverted in her lifestyle. And then there are her letters to Joel, which are exuberant underlined, caps-locked, exclamation marked things that ultimately don't seem to connect back to the Anna Snow of the rest of the book.
I am not saying that I prefer one Anna over the other, or that these Annas couldn't be two sides of the one woman—but I was expecting to see some of that exuberance and joy and cascading feeling in her later scenes with Avery as she discovers him to be one of Her People that she can emote to / on / around. But those scenes never come—she and Avery connect, somewhat deeply, but we never see any of the joy and verve from her letters.
4. Somehow Balogh pulled a fast one on me and delivered not one but TWO found families in this thing?? Like, I PREPARED FOR THIS READING EXPERIENCE. I trained, long and hard, because the found family was right there in the blurb: Anna Snow discovers she is not an orphan and discovers her ~~family, so Reader, I WAS READY.
alksdjlfj and somehow there's another fucking set of them in the wings waiting to drop on my fucking head 60% of the fucking way into this fucking thing like what the actual fuck.
5. I did not hate this, for all my swearing and complaining. I didn't love it but I understand what it is and is trying to do. I appreciate Balogh's approach of controlled motion: two bodies in orbit establishing a new status quo, a new normal as their gravities intersect and change their trajectories.
6. But I still find myself impatient through much of the latter halves of her books: I keep waiting for the fall: for characters to tumble and find themselves unmoored and ungrounded. For them to be surprised by the descent, to awake in a new land, to be unprepared.
And it never happens, and I'm always slightly disappointed at the end. It's as if the roller coaster car has pulled into the station after doing a sedate loop of the tracks, bypassing the drop-offs and loop-de-loos and corkscrews. We went on a journey and saw the scenery and enjoyed ourselves, but there's that little voice wondering if maybe it could have been a little more exciting.
7. Editing my review to note that I found Avery and his dry, bored asides fucking hilarious. Just the most sarcastic little shit to ever stumble into love.
Someone To Love is an interesting romance novel because it deals with two people who are highly skilled at concealing their emotions. This book is relatively slow and calm and quiet but with so much emotion just beneath the surface. Overall, I loved it, but when it had problems… boy, were they big ones.
In some ways this is a deconstruction of the Cinderella story. It would be one thing for Anna to inherit a nice legacy, and she would love to be embraced by the family. But to suddenly inherit everything and thus unintentionally disinherit all her relatives, who understandably resent her for it, is a nightmare, especially when Anna is pressured relentlessly to fit into her new state — whether she wants her new state or not.
I read an advance copy months before writing this review, and then right before I was going to write the review I decided that I better just quickly skim through it to refresh my memory. And that, my friends, was a mistake because the rest of the night was spent happily re-reading the book, skimming be damned. This book is so subtle that I truly didn’t realize how much I liked it until I finished the last page of the second read.
It’s not a perfect book, alas. As I mentioned, when there are problems, they are big ones.
Avery reveals that as a boy he learned martial arts from “a Chinese gentleman.” While I’m always happy to see an acknowledgement in Regency romance that England was not populated entirely by white people, this character is stereotypical. He has no personality other than being an elderly Chinese master of “Oriental” arts who makes cryptic yet deep and wise comments. He doesn’t even have a name. He has no role other than to further Avery’s emotional journey. It’s embarrassing. It’s mercifully brief, but intensely cringe worthy.
There’s a duel in the book featuring the “Oriental” arts, and several tantrums thrown by a seventeen-year-old girl whom I would have sworn was twelve, but otherwise there’s no action. All the drama is firm but polite. About eighty percent of the spoken sentences in the book might just as well end with “Bless her (or his) heart.”
This book is odd because most of it is so delightful, but the martial arts element, which could have worked (since Avery is a small guy who has to defend himself against bigger guys), is used so awkwardly. It’s offensive, not because of the word “Oriental,” which is appropriate for the period, but because the teacher is a horribly dated stereotype who has no story or purpose of his own. He doesn’t even have a name, despite Avery spending time enough with him to develop considerable skill. Even if I remove the racist element, there’s the problem of the ending and the secret dojo thing that feels patched in from another story in the most ill-fitting and artificial way.
In reflecting on my experience with this book, I realize that I compartmentalized a horribly problematic element of the book to such an extent that I almost managed to erase it from my own head. I read a lot of older books (and by older I mean Regency and Victorian novels published during those time periods) and in doing so I’ve developed the ability to automatically split my experience of a book into separate parts. I recognize problematic elements — and believe me these older books are full of problems, I analyze them in terms of social impact and history, and I take them seriously, but I’m very abstract about it. This allows me to accomplish some useful academic things, but it’s also an expression of my own privilege. I think many readers will like this book for the reasons I did, and many will hate it for the reasons outline above. I can’t pinpoint who will or who won’t, but I can say that there are so many other exquisite Balogh books that we could be reading instead of this one.
If I somehow managed to remove the embarrassing stuff from the book (both the racism and the simply clunky plot points), what would be left would earn at least a B+ grade. I truly adored almost every aspect of this book other than the racism. But even though the racism takes up only a tiny amount of word space in the book, it’s incredibly cringe worthy. I am so torn about this book, but I have to give it a D+ because a modern author simply need not resort to these kinds of racial stereotypes – not even for just a few pages.
Mary Balogh was one of the first romance authors I read, so she holds a special place in my heart. I even had that awkward, "omg I love you so much" conversation with her in an elevator once. The poor lady was trapped and couldn't escape me. I eventually let her out.
My most favorite hero of hers is Wulfric - be still my heart. I didn't love her previous Survivor's Club series, so I skipped many of those. But Someone to Love worked well for me.
Anna Snow grew up in a orphange in Bath since the age of four, and has found peace in her life. At the age of twenty-five, she is a teacher at the orphanage and someone has been anonymously supporting her all these years. Her world gets turned upside down when she receives a letter and a summons to London. She learns not only that her father is dead, but he had three other children with another wife. And then she learns even more. To make a long story short, she learns her father's second marriage is bigamous, which means her half-brother and sisters are illegitimate, all of this coming out post-death. She goes from penniless orphan, to inheriting her late father's fortune.
Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby is short!! Yes, you read that right. He is short, and dandy-ish, wears flamboyant clothes and can cut anyone down with a glare through his quizzing glasses. I was sold right from the start. Avery has perfected that bored look. He couldn't care less what people think of him. He has mastered hiding his emotions and when complete chaos erupts at his stepmother's house when they learn Anna is the true heir, and her siblings are now ruined, he takes it all in with slight amusement. His focus is on Anna, the stranger in the room who is getting murderous glares from her new-found family, but is taking it all in stride. Anna herself can hide her emotions too.
Throughtout her life Anna had cultivated one quality of character above all others, and that was dignity. She always tried to instill the importance of it in her fellow orphans too whenever they were under her care.
As an orphan one had so very little. Almost nothing at all, in fac, except life itself. Often one did not even have identity. One might know the name by which one had been christened - if one had been christened - or one might not. For everything else except life itself one was dependent upon the charity of others.
She goes through this book with much dignity. Once the chaos calms down, her family decides she needs a hair cut, new clothes, jewels and to be presented to society. Anna doesn't want to lose herself, and while she understands the eyes of the ton, she also stands up for herself and tries to keep true to herself. Avery falls in love with this plain woman. He falls for her quiet, yet intense spirit. He would never admit it out loud, but he falls hard and eventually lets the world know.
There are many characters in this book - I was confused about who and how everyone was related for at least the first half of the book, but they do settle down and all get their place. There is an odder reference to a "Chinese Gentleman" that taught Avery some form of martial art when he was younger - which you learn plays an important part of keeping himself calm in life. It is kind of just thrown in there and not presented as well as it could be. It felt very much like a stereotype that was not thought through.
Anna keeps the coolest heads of all coolest heads in this book. I half expected her to shove Avery's quizzing glasses up his tight breeches at some point, but she is a better person than I.
When I hear Balogh, or any historical author, is going to write a foppish, short hero, I'm in 100%. She did well with him and his slow burning intensity with Anna unfolds lovely. Can't wait for the next one.
2.5 stars. Well, it was an OK read and I did finish it, but I'm a bit disappointed. It wasn't one of Ms Balogh's best. I have loved some of her books so much, and have done several rereads of some, but this one? I feel a bit lukewarm about it, to be honest.
It is different from other Balogh books I've read. As it's the first in a new series, that's not a bad thing. It's great for authors to spread their wings and try something new. But if I hadn't read previous books and known already she's a good writer, I would have said the first quarter or third of the book was quite poorly written. It almost seemed like another, inferior author had taken over. There was so much telling and explaining. The family relationships of the Westcotts are pretty complicated, and it seemed like she had to get all of that out there before really getting into the love story. I started to get bored and a bit lost. I wasn't drawn into the story and didn't really care about any of them.
But, I have faith! So I persisted, and the story did get better. I think I'm pretty straight on who all of the characters are now, and the story was a reasonable one. But, sadly, I never really connected with Anna or Avery very much. I never really warmed to Anna or sympathised with her as I think the reader was intended to. She was too self-contained for me. And I'm not sure why Ms Balogh re-used a name - Anna was the heroine in the much-loved Heartless, one of her older books. I have reread Heartless a number of times and it was weird to read about another Anna, especially when the phrase 'My Anna' was re-used.
Avery's character also took too long to develop. The whole thing about him being a secret karate master (or some similar oriental art) seemed pretty ridiculous to me. It's not what I look for in a regency romance. I'm happy to stick to tried and true tropes, just with new characters and storylines that are variations, without straying into strange territory.
There are more books coming in this series, and hopefully now that the complicated family is established, things will settle down and the writing will be better focussed. The next book is going to be Camille's. We don't really know much about her except she was cruel and ungracious to Anna when their family circumstances changed. Hmmm. But it's going to start at Anna's orphanage, like this book did. That's not really grabbing me as a setting. I'm not really that interested in the stories where an MC is a teacher at a school or orphanage. But, maybe it will be better than this one was.
I'm left feeling a bit flat, as if I've just read a b-grade HR by some new author, not a wonderful HR by my old fav Mary Balogh. Hmmmmmm. If you want to try a better HR, go to Ms Balogh's backlist and read Heartless, or the four horsemen books, or the Mistress books, or Slightly Dangerous. Much better books.
Favourite re-read. Fantastic plot and characters, loved the witty dialogue and interesting family dynamic. The H is increasingly bewildered by his reaction to the h. She's bewildered by what seems to be ridiculous expectations of her. I loved seeing him fall in love. It needed an epilogue but know we see more of this couple in follow up books.
This is a story with a big family that is always involved in each other's business. The romance takes second place and it is not steamy, far from it. But I enjoyed the story and thought that the romance was quite realistic and true to the time.
I read the third book long ago and I remember that it was difficult to follow because of the many family members. Now that I read this one I could understand it better. I will even reread the 3rd.
The only thing I was mad about was how some family members treated the heroine. Specially the younger ones. Saying such horrible things. I was sad for the heroine.
I saw a lot of reviews that either love or hate the hero and complains about his aloof manners. I am on the team that enjoyed his character. I cannot imagine how it was to grow up not fitting the mold. Of being all pretty, small and effeminate and having not only being bullied by it but actually being beaten because of it. Who wouldn't want to close yourself up if the only thing anyone saw was in the exterior?
I thought he was very lucky to have found help and that even worse could have happened to him if he had not learned to protect himself.
I liked this one better than any MB for quite a number of years. I credit that totally to the hero. He was one of my all time favorite heroes. I was reminded of His Grace of Avon from These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. Although this hero, the Duke of Netherby, was quite a bit more amusing than Avon. This was one of those books where you smiled throughout and enjoyed the journey. The heroine Anna was a good match for him. The storyline was quite different and the secondary characters well done. I am excited to see the rest of the series.
The only reason I dropped this a star is because I felt that the climax was not very climatic.
I really loved the premise of this novel, and it starts out well. Anna Snow, a teacher at the orphanage where she was raised, gets a mysterious summons to London and discovers that she is actually the only legitimate child of a wealthy nobleman. She is completely overwhelmed by this news but some of her new relatives decide to make her presentable, and a duke who's a friend of the family (I believe he's her step-cousin or something like that, if such a relationship even exists), Avery Archer, befriends her.
For the most part, I enjoyed this frothy Cinderella story. Anna is nice character, and Avery was interesting. He's described as being delicate-looking and eccentric, with lots of affected mannerisms (I pictured him as being kind of like the character of Niles Crane in Frazier, and I've always had a soft spot for Niles.) Overall, this book was like literary cotton candy, fun and comforting for a while, but by the end, I was feeling a bit sick from the sugar-buzz. After the beginning, there was no real conflict. Anna and Avery were always accepted or at least tolerated by society, and all difficulties were quickly smoothed out. The characters never seemed to actually have anything at risk. Too much froth and not enough substance.
Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy the story, and would be happy to try another book by this author.
I had high hopes for Someone to Love, the debut novel in Mary Balogh’s Wescott series. Interestingly while I was engrossed and invested in the story, I found myself strongly disliking the hero throughout most of the book, which makes this a difficult story for me to rate. Usually when I dislike a character, I find myself losing interest in the story too. As that was not the case here, I must give credit to Ms. Balogh for writing a complex and multi-dimensional story. That said, I also did not feel the romance in the book. In fact, it almost felt as if there was no romance at all to this book. Instead the story seems more like that of an unexpected friendship. The hero and heroine eventually label this relationship as love. However, their backgrounds (which were full of an utter lack of love) and their actions towards one another throughout most of the book, left me somewhat at a loss as to whether the characters themselves even truly knew what they found. The one aspect of this book that was definitely solid, however, is the narration – making at least the format choice of audiobook an easy pick.
Anna Snow has always longed for family. Growing up in an orphanage, even if it was a well-run one, was not easy for her. Anna, however, made the best with what she had. Her stay at the orphanage was funded by an anonymous source, whose only stipulation was that she remain at the orphanage to continue receiving the funds. So, Anna stays well beyond the normal tenure and eventually becomes a teacher at the orphanage. She has found peace in her existence and enjoys teaching, when she receives a letter (calling for her attendance in London at once) that completely changes the course of her life.
Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby, has been appointed the guardian of the underage, new Earl of Riverdale, following the passing of his father. A seemingly uneventful task, like most of the tasks in his life which he generally considers to be boring. However, this soon changes when Netherby learns from the new Earl’s mother that the new Earl has an illegitimate sister who the late Earl had been maintaining – a maintenance she would like stopped, with a lump-sum pay-off, without the new Earl’s knowledge.
However, at the reading of the late Earl of Riverdale’s will, quite to everyone’s stunned surprise, the family learns that not only did the late Earl of Riverdale have another daughter, but she is actually his only legitimate heir. As you can imagine, this becomes the topic du jour with the ton and changes the destinies of all the Earl’s children, including Anna, who now inherits a vast wealth of non-entailed property, and is overnight thrust into the world of the ton. With practically no experience or relevant education, Anna (who now learns her full name is Anastasia), embarks on a whirlwind education of what is “expected” and how a Lady of her station should act. Interestingly this journey is the first thing that we see the Duke of Netherby take more than a passing interest in, and thus ensues the somewhat contentious, somewhat reserved friendship between the Duke of Netherby and Lady Anastasia.
A miss for me. I was bored for more than half of the book, it felt like nothing happened. There was no drama whatsoever besides the shock of finding out that Anna was legitimate and the other children were not. It moved at a snail pace after that with talks of balls and dresses and writing letters, Gosh, the letters.
I have come to increasingly dislike the use of martial arts in HR, it's never done tastefully. The books I have read lately featuring a character from the Orient they always seem to know martial art. Always. It's ridiculous. These "Oriental characters" seldom contribute much except to teach the main characters some ancient fighting technique that they would somehow use to defeat a great foe to the surprise of everyone. That's exactly what happened in this book. Avery quoted words of wisdom from this master but there was never any talk of his name, I find that quite distasteful.
Aside from that unpleasantness which admittedly takes a small portion of the book there wasn't any much more to like. I did not connect with any of the characters, none. They are acted immature and the others seemed nonchalant. Avery watches as his ward is almost hysterical as he is told that everything he thought was his is not and does he try to console his ward, nope. He is not a nursemaid so therefore it is not his business. Jessica who is supposedly 17 acted like a 12 year old and it got so annoying, if she was directly affected it would be more understanding but she acted like she was the one who lost everything.
I did not feel one lick of attraction between Anna and Avery, it just wasn't there. Their conversations were tedious and I was glad when it was all over. As this is the first of the series i doubt I would be returning to read Camilla's story.