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Westcott #2

Someone to Hold

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Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery...

With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.

An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead...

379 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published February 7, 2017

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About the author

Mary Balogh

241 books5,580 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 774 reviews
Profile Image for Mei.
1,881 reviews414 followers
February 17, 2017
Oh, I cannot believe that Ms. Balogh managed to make me like Camille!!!

In the previous book Camille was soooo odious and I disliked her very, very much! She treated Anna like dirt under her slippered feet. She was so full of herself! She thought she was better than anybody else.

I almost rejoiced with all that befell her! That’s how much she was odious!

So when I started this book I couldn’t believe that I would end liking her! But that exactly what happened!

She went through a true transformation! From this:

…to this:

And what a story that transformation was!!!

She starts like a shrew: sequestering herself in her grandmother’s house, but as time passes she start feeling restless. She feels that her old life as a lady is not hers anymore – she’s absolutely right! She’s refusing all the attempts to make her feel better: from her sister, from Anna, from her grandmother and her whole family.

She’s hurting, but she’s not aware why.

The transformation is interesting because we see how, doubting all her previous beliefs, all the rules, all the concepts, she starts digging inside her own soul and finding out many things that are not right and that she doesn’t like at all.

But it’s not easy to discard the very foundation of her upbringing.

She places herself in Anna’s previous position as a teacher in the orphanage. And, obviously, encounters all the difficulties that a lady, who never have done anything productive in her life, is apt to encounter.

But while there’re difficulties, there’re also much more rewards! The love and affection the orphans give her; friendship with other girls working at the orphanage, the feeling of accomplishment!

And there’s also Joel, Anna’s best friend and art teacher in the orphanage.

Joel’s feelings toward Camille were like mine: contempt and deep dislike.

But, as he gets to know the changing Camille, he also changes his mind!

Their growing friendship, then attraction and, lastly, their love is wonderful and completely naturally evolving!

It is not just a romantic love/lust/insta-attraction story.

It is the story where both the hero and the heroine are completely honest with each other, even when that honesty isn’t easy or painless. Even when they wound each other with it. Even when it’s uncomfortable and shameful.

They grow together into better human beings and it’s wonderful to read how that happens!

So, please, please read this wonderful story!!!!

As Anna says:
We have a habit, do we not, of thinking happiness is a future state if only this and that condition can be met? And so much of life passes us by without our realizing how happy we can be in this present moment…

And Camille replies later on:
I wanted to be the perfect lady above all else. Happiness meant nothing to me. They frightened me, for they suggested chaos and the impossibility of achieving perfection. Now that I have been desperately unhappy, I understand that I can be happy too and that I can love and be loved, and that unless I allow these things to happen to me, I will be only half alive…
Profile Image for Julie .
4,027 reviews58.9k followers
February 27, 2017
Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh is a 2017 Jove publication.

This second installment in the Westcott series centers around Camille Westcott, Anna’s half-sister. When Anna inherited her fortune and social status, it came at the expense of Camille and her family.

Now Camille, whose very identity was wrapped up in her father’s title, her place in society, the fortune she has never lived without, and the life she had expected to forge with her former fiancé, is struggling to find herself, to discover who she is and what she wants to do with her life.

Deciding to channel Anna’s previous life, Camille begins teaching at the orphanage where Anna came from. This puts her in direct contact with Anna’s old friend, Joel.

Joel is still nursing a broken heart, when Camille barges into his life. The fact she is Anna’s half-sister and has caused Anna great distress by refusing to accept her overtures, Joel is initially resentful of Camille.

But as time goes by, the two begin to form a grudging respect for one another as they gain a better understanding of themselves and each other.

But, can this newfound relationship lead to something more?

What I love the most about Mary Balogh’s writing is the depth she gives her stories, by drawing realistic characters who are flawed in some ways, but who always learn life lessons that leads to self improvement which enriches theirs and the lives of others.

This book explores the way one might handle a stunning reversal of fortune like Camille experienced. Sometimes, believe it or not, the worst thing that ever happened to us can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. Camille took her time coming to that conclusion and it was a hard fought battle, but I think Joel was very instrumental in showing her what she had missed out on in life and how that is far more important than anything she may have lost.

But, Joel also takes life lessons from Camille, as he finds himself drawn to her and her courage and determination as he watches her slowly begin to blossom. At first, I thought he was a little hard on Camille, even though I did concede his points at times. I liked the way Joel uses his art to reflect the inner depth of his subjects and how his own identity crisis seemed to parallel Camille's, which gave them something in common after all.

On its own, these intersections give the reader a lot to chew on, and the character growth is quite satisfying. However, the romance angle was a little wobbly.

The banter and dialogue between Camille and Joel was sharp and well written, and the friendship development works quite well, but as far as romantic chemistry or sexual tension goes, I wasn’t as moved by it as I normally am when reading Bologh’s novels. The intimacy felt forced, was ill timed, and lacked real passion.

The way family dynamics worked themselves out and the comeuppance of some villainous characters, and the underlying Karma, makes up for the underwhelming romantic elements though.

Overall, this was a satisfying addition to the series. This installment reminds me of some older classic novels set in this era of time that are ageless and timeless.

Mary Balogh always delivers in one way or another and she continues to be one of the very few historical romance authors I go out of my way to read.

3.5 rounded up to 4 stars

Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,851 reviews847 followers
February 10, 2017
4.5 Stars

Camille Westcott’s life as she knew it changed in one afternoon. The Earl of Riverdale, her father didn’t legally marry her mother, couldn’t have because he was already married to another woman, making Camille and her siblings bastards in the process. In one afternoon, Camille is stripped of her title, house and fortune. As if that were not bad enough her fiancé, Viscount Uxbury, broke things off once he found out. Yet, we soon find out that all this may have been the best tragedy to befall Camille. Not that she realizes it right away.

For Camille, a girl striving for her father’s approval and love meant being the perfect lady. Things like passion and romantic love never factored in that future. When the truth of her life becomes apparent Camille struggles with her identity. Who is she without her title and the future she clung to? Camille moves to Bath with her Grandmother and sister, and attempts to figure that out, all the while coping with the blow of her father’s treachery and fiancé’s rejection. She applies for a teaching job at the orphanage, Anna, her half sister and the true heir to her father’s fortune was raised and taught at. There is where she meets Joel, the somewhat shabby, disheveled and very male art teacher. Joel stirs up feelings she never considered before!

Camille was a stiff, entitled snob in the last book, spurning Anna’s attempts to make things right and fair for all of the Earl of Riverdale’s children, even though she had no obligation to do so. Anna was the one who grew up in an orphanage even though she was truly a lady. The late Earl injured all children by his his deception, but Camille was too proud to take Anna’s kindness. Seeing her character growth from the effect the children of the orphanage had on her, to the pride that comes from making your own way, and then feeling and falling in love was very moving! Camille took to heart the lessons life forced her to learn. Her previously controlled and well-ordered life went out the window and her heart began to thaw.

Joel and Camille’s relationship started out antagonistic, but some of my favorite romances start out that way. I loved the push and pull, and then their fumbling about as they’re drawn together!

Someone to Hold
was so very enchanting! Mary Balogh’s writing was insightful, and beautiful! She really got to the heart of her characters, so many layers and feelings! I felt their emotions and was a little overwhelmed to the point of tears, both happy and sad, several times. I can’t wait for the next story in Westcott series! Alexander’s story is next.

A copy was kindly provided by Jove Books in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Penny Reid.
Author 109 books20.7k followers
April 15, 2018
I super enjoyed the characters in this book, especially the heroine. I found myself tearing up a few times when her internal dialogue hit a little too close to home. The premise was unique/interesting. The hero was flawed (for reals). Loved it.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,937 reviews1,549 followers
June 16, 2017
This is the second in a series that revolves around a relatively dynamic family that are all up in each others' business. As such, I highly recommend reading them in order if only because it's fun to get the full build-up of the family relationships.

This was a more "standard" five-star read for me than the first book was. Which means my experience is more likely to match the general audience as it's likely a less idiosyncratic one. I'm really glad that Balogh chose to tackle Camille so soon after the first. She was the most obviously aggrieved by the revelation of Anna's true lineage and the most bitter about the resulting change in circumstances. Such a strong reaction could have been milked for a long time for the emotional drama and I'm so glad that Balogh chose instead to feature it early and deeply.

And I should have known to trust Balogh to have a solid understanding of Camille's emotional landscape even if the character did not. Camille's so wounded that there's a good deal of flailing about in her activities that could have been merely random and thus driven as much by plot as by character. Instead, it all fits together as an excellent portrayal of someone who has come unmoored from all her expectations and is trying very hard to find herself again. I particularly loved how Balogh used Camille's decision to try teaching at the orphanage to show her working out her inner distress. Camille is so prickly and dour that we really needed to see her reaction to the children and their love of her to illustrate how deeply kind she is at the heart of that prickly exterior. And I loved how her uncertainty of how and what to teach such a broad range of capability and capacity lead her to consider deeply and show how she responded to being so fundamentally challenge for perhaps the first time in her life.

And Joel was an equally strong character and I loved how great a match he was for the guarded Camille. I loved his own steps in figuring out who he was and what he wanted to become. I liked how important his art was to him and his uncompromising honesty. But my favorite thing about him was how his insistence on getting to know his patrons leads him to compassion and kindness in addition to his growing understanding of them—or as a result of it. I particularly loved how Balogh never has to have anyone state how his reading of his subjects is so much a reflection of his own inner character as expressed in his art and the portrayal of those he paints.

I absolutely loved seeing these two get to know each other and come to rely on the companionship and understanding they find together. Joel and Camille quickly became one of my favorite romantic couples and a lot of that is how well they compliment and uplift one another. Which is good because a lot of the events were rather predictable, particularly as Joel discovers his relations and the background behind his growing up in the orphanage. While predictable, it was still interesting to see how the events affected the characters and how they chose to adjust and grow from them.

Anyway, this was a solid five stars and a wonderful read. If I had to rank them, I'd still have a mild preference for the first, but I'm very glad my impatience to wait for the library holds prompted me to pre-order this. I don't reread a lot of romance (mostly only Heyer, really) but I find it likely I'll return to this series at some time in the future and I'm glad I'll have the books on hand when I do.

A note about Steamy: This has two explicit sex scenes and they aren't short so it ends up in the middle of my steam tolerance. Frankly, I'm not sure I bought Camille's motivations there as unmarried sex didn't seem like her style at all (she's much too contemplative and aware that actions can have consequences far beyond the desires, even needs, of the moment). I didn't actually edit them in my head, though, because I liked the intimacy between the lead characters and adding a physical dimension to that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story. Oh! Plus, this book features the greatest hug in romantic literature. Seriously, I had no idea so much emotional depth could fit in something so simple!
Profile Image for Stacey.
1,446 reviews1,156 followers
September 23, 2019
It was better than I expected...

****4.5 Stars****

I've met Camille and Joel previously, and, to be honest, I wasn't that impressed with them. I started Someone to Hold a little hesitantly. Would my grudge against Camille's immature reaction to Anna influence my enjoyment of this story? Am I going to be faced with Joel's unrequited love for Anna the whole way through? Well, I'm happy to say that these two really grow and mature and by the end, I was completely satisfied with their love story.

I'm becoming a fast fan of Mary Balogh's style of writing. She writes historical romance characters that live up to my high expectations. There's a touch of being true to the time mixed with artistic liberty to help me avoid disappointment. Her scenes are easily visible in my mind and her descriptions of looks, styles and settings are very appealing to me. There is plenty of romance with sigh-worthy moments but the intimate scenes are not OTT or too modern. Someone to Hold was never bogged down or slow-moving.

Again, Rosalyn Landor does an amazing job narrating and I've started imagining her getting into character by wearing period-costumes while recording. Ms Landor is a true artist and I could easily listen to her narrate historical romances for the rest of my day.

I'm glad Someone to Hold exceeded my expectations. Camille's character growth and maturity shined through and I loved that we got to see her in a better light. Joel's character was a little harder to warm up to but that was mostly because... Only a slight hesitation in falling for Joel and he does come good by the end.

I will definitely be going on in the Westcott series.

Profile Image for Lyuda.
538 reviews133 followers
February 21, 2017
If I had one word to describe the story, it would be “boring”. I can’t believe I’m uttering the word while being a huge Ms. Balogh’s fan!

This is the story of Camille Westcott self-discovery and redemption. Prickly and self-righteous, she was unlikable character in the first book. Kudos to the author for keeping her character consistent and making her transformation believable. She didn’t change overnight. It took considerable amount of time for her to see the light, to love and let herself be loved.

Unlike the first installment in the series, this one concentrated more on romance as oppose to numerous Westcott’s relations. It would be a very good thing if romance worked. Unfortunately, I found it lacking one of the main ingredients - chemistry. And no, I’m not talking about sexual chemistry. Fortunately, there were just few sex scenes. Fortunately, because writing them has never been the author’s forte. Their description almost always came off as too clinical, too cringe-worthy. No, I’m referring to emotional chemistry crafting which made Ms. Balogh a Master. Very few write of feelings better than the author. Sadly, her magic failed to capture me here. I was bored reading long and numerous inner monologues. I started to skim through them just to get on with the story.

As I mentioned, the Westcott’s relations played a less prominent role in this story and it’s probably a good thing (except I wanted to see more of MCs from the first story). I don’t know if there is an English Upper society equivalent to Norman Rockwell. If there were, I imagine he would be illustrating the story of the idealistically portrayed family life. This family was just too darn perfect. Everybody got along with everybody. Despite some events and happenings at the beginning of the series that would put many other families on a war path with each other, this family survived beautifully. There were no hard feelings (except our heroine who, of course, was redeemed). They are kind and supportive, so sweet, and… so boring.

The one outsider who disrupted the idealistic family circle with persistent reoccurrence from the first installment to this one was dealt with decisively and swiftly. I’m hoping he wouldn’t come back in the third installment. How many more teeth can the man lose?

And speaking of the third installment. The short excerpt from it at the back of the book was very promising and I’m looking forward to reading Alexander's story.
Profile Image for Sabina.
24 reviews
October 2, 2018
Second in the series, and again an excellent read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as the first and I look forward to reading the next one!
Profile Image for Luana ☆.
508 reviews80 followers
May 13, 2022
Oh my, this has one of the prettiest weddings I have ever read about. Very touching. I think I have something in my eyes. Blink. Blink.

But let's start from the beginning. If you read the previous book you will know how unapproachable and downright surly this heroine is. I didn't want to read her book because I didn't like her neither then nor here. I almost gave up my reading... What held me was the hero, he's a wonderful young man and made up for the heroine. I am glad I kept reading tho because the heroine started improving and showing us why she is so horrible. It is not that she is horrible to other people. She's simply unapproachable. But she started learning with the children from the orphanage, opening up a bit and I ended up liking her and understand her a little better.

I believe this series is more to send a massage than anything else. The romance side of it is low-key but that does not take the enjoyment away from it. But be aware that the passion is basically nonexistent. It is an open door romance with the feel of a clean one. And I believe the whole series will be like that, as I have already read 3 books from it and it is all the same tepidness (I am sure that is not a word lol).

And as I said in the beginning, the end of this book was a very happy and emotional end. The type that you want to give a 5 star just because it made you feel wonderful. *Happy sigh*
Profile Image for Joana V..
345 reviews72 followers
June 27, 2018
gostei tanto deste. já sabia que ia gostar da Camille, mesmo ela sendo inicialmente má para a Anna, mas ela é uma personagem fantástica - e não havia ninguém melhor que o Joel para a amar e a fazer aprender a aceitar esse amor ❤
Profile Image for Wendy.
269 reviews125 followers
February 6, 2017
I am a huge Mary Balogh fan and there's one thing that never changes - as soon as she publishes a new book, I must have it - and I'm never disappointed; her imagination is endless and her storylines still original after decades of writing. In part, at least, some of her popularity and continuing success is in the subtlety and empathy always present in her story telling; in the unique way she has of presenting her out-of-the-ordinary characters as if she herself has walked in their shoes and experienced what they are feeling. Ms. Balogh has used this method to great effect in Someone to Hold, the second book in her Westcott series. And I could name at least two more of her books where I have felt this aspect of her writing very strongly.

In book one (Someone to Love) we met, Lady Camille Westcott, one of the disinherited daughters' of the deceased Earl of Riverdale. At the will reading Camille and her family are left reeling by the shocking revelation that she and her two siblings are illegitimate because their parents’ marriage was – unbeknownst to anyone - a bigamous one. Camille reacts badly to these revelations and comes over as a thoroughly unlikeable character. But Ms. Balogh shows us that there's a lot more to Camille than meets the eye. I ended up liking her a lot and she earned my respect and sympathy, too.

After these life changing revelations Camille hides herself away at her grandmother's house in Bath, refusing to go out unless heavily veiled. Then one day she wakes up, gives herself a good talking to and decides to take her life in hand - she has done nothing wrong, done nothing to feel ashamed of; she will live her life, such as it is, and hold her head high. She is drawn to the orphanage where her half-sister, Anastasia Westcott, or Anna Snow as she was known, had lived for most of her life and was later employed as a teacher. The orphanage is in need of a teacher once more, the one who had replaced Anna being unsuitable; impulsively Camille offers her services and is taken on on a trial basis. She cannot explain her need to do it, she has no experience with children or of teaching, but something impels her to walk in Anna's shoes, even going so far as to remove from the luxury of her grandmother's home and to take up residence in the tiny room Anna had occupied at the orphanage.

Camille meets the earthy, down-to-earth, Joel Cunningham, a man who is as far removed from the perfectly correct aristocrats of her former life as he could be. Joel is also a former inmate of the orphanage and now returns twice weekly to give art lessons to the children in his free time. To make matters worse, he always had a soft spot for Anna - although she never wanted anything from him other than friendship. Joel and Camille begin their acquaintance by irritating each other intensely, but still, they are inexplicably attracted to each other. He reluctantly admires her approach to teaching even though she appears clueless and retains her stiff-upper-lip, starchy persona and rarely smiles. Nevertheless, she has a natural ability and engages the children to such a degree that they look forward to and enjoy her lessons. This is something else I have always noticed about Ms. Balogh's writing; in her younger life she was a school teacher and it is apparent in the way she understands and talks about children - particularly in this story.

Joel, like Anna Snow before him, has always been supported by an anonymous benefactor; more recently that benefactor has paid for Joel to attend professional art lessons to further develop his natural artistic talent. As a result he has earned himself a reputation in Bath as a superior portrait painter, and Camille's grandmother has jumped on the bandwagon of the well-heeled inhabitants of Bath and commissioned portraits of her granddaughters. Camille is not best pleased by this plan as it means yet more time in his company whilst he makes preliminary sketches of her. Joel has an unorthodox approach when compared to other portraitists; he likes to get to know and spend time with his subjects, observing them as they chat and capturing an inner something he alone sees - he then pours this knowledge into his art with such great effect that it sets him above his peers. As a result of his observations, he begins to see the real Camille beneath the prim and proper walls she has erected against the pain she has suffered and learned to hide; for years craving her selfish father's affection but failing to gain even a crumb of his attention. As a result of their interaction, the attraction between them deepens and soon becomes more intense. But there are many hurdles to jump before they can achieve their HEA. Camille can't just change overnight, raised as she was as a very proper young lady. Joel, on the other hand was brought up in an orphanage - so even though at this point in their lives they are both relatively poor, both illegitimate and, therefore, on the face of it - equal - the chasm between them seems wide indeed.

I loved both these characters - they're so vulnerable and real. Joel is adorable - if annoying occasionally in his indecisiveness - and Camille has to learn to love and trust him in spite of it while at the same time, attempting to change the habits of a lifetime. She also needs to believe in the unconditional love of her family and to accept that just because her father failed her doesn't mean that her extended family has followed suit. The love story between Camille and Joel is a voyage of discovery for both of them as their previously held ideals and prejudices crumble and they learn to accept and admit their love for each other and finally find Someone to Hold against all odds. I enjoyed meeting the family again, too, especially Avery whom I adored in Someone to Love. He is still his omniscient, wise self, still going to great lengths to project his seeming ennui to all around him, whilst barely managing to disguise the deeply caring side of his nature. I am very much looking forward to book three in which we see Alexander - the reluctant earl who inherited his title by default - find his Someone to Wed. This is a lovely series so far and one I highly recommend.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,851 followers
March 17, 2018
I'm really hoping this follow-up experience with Balogh where I have a huge pile of mixed feelings is only a sign of how this series is working for me, and not the author herself. Because once again I find myself caught between loving the parts I loved and really totally unmoved over the rest.

I do want to give credit where credit is due and applaud Balogh for not giving an unlikeable character a personality transplant overnight. All of Camille's unpleasantness, stiffness, everything that made her hard to love is still here. Her transition, her self-discoveries, were so well earned, gradual, and wonderful. But I never liked her. And as for Joel.. I mean.. I don't even know? He was such a space cadet. A total chickenshit. And yet I liked him for how he challenged Camille, I liked how genuine he could be.. gah. I got nothing.

"I know who I am. I do not yet know who I will become because my circumstances have changed so drastically, but I know where I came from, and I think I realize now fully for the first time how important that is."

While I appreciated the flipped storyline in this follow up to the first Westcott (the Lady is no longer a Lady, she's a bastard, without fortune, and finds validation in a job as a teacher at an orphanage), I was super tired of the same song and dance rehashing of things from book one. I might need a bit more space between books two and three before continuing this series catch-up even though book three veers into a new direction (thankfully). I think for all that I appreciate the storylines in this series, it's the characters that are mostly leaving me cold. And speaking of cold, Balogh writes the weirdest love/kissing/etc scenes. There's like.. no emotion there. The moments have no sense of fluidity with the rest of the scene and as a result it ruins any potential chemistry between her leads.

Which, now that I think about it, might be my problem here. Balogh infuses her writing with a lot of emotion, this one particularly had me tearing up like four times; the resonance is there, the strength of family and loyalty and hopes and self-discovery. All the pain and stubbornness and validation. It's strong. But the romance? I get so little feeling from that aspect of her historical romance books. Bizarre. Hopefully book three will disprove my theory. I want some damn swoons, people!

3.25 "sometimes other people's words become uncomfortable mirrors in which we gaze upon ourselves" stars
Profile Image for Caz.
2,677 reviews1,011 followers
April 21, 2017
I've given this an A+ for narration and a B+ for content at AudioGals. By my reckoning, the stellar narration bumps the audiobook up into the 5 star bracket.

Someone to Hold, the second book in Ms. Balogh’s Westcott series, tells the story of Miss – formerly Lady – Camille Westcott, the eldest daughter of the late Earl of Riverdale, who discovered after his death that she, along with her brother and sister, was illegitimate because their parents’ marriage was bigamous.

In the previous book, Someone to Love, which announced this discovery, Camille was cold, hard, disdainful and full of hatred for the newly discovered half-sister whom she regarded as the cause of her own loss of rank and position. Making Camille into a heroine listeners could like and root for was something of a tremendous ask, but Mary Balogh does it with aplomb, giving a clear, warts-and-all portrait of a young woman who suddenly finds out that the life she has known is a lie, and who is struggling to gain a sense of self and identity in a world which has drastically changed around her.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.
Profile Image for Karen.
805 reviews1,011 followers
September 16, 2017
Wow, I can't believe she was able to turn Camille's character around. I think I enjoyed this one almost more that the first. On to #3!
Profile Image for Amarilli 73 .
2,206 reviews72 followers
July 19, 2019
Era un bel po' che la Balogh non mi smuoveva più come un tempo (e devo dire che anche il capitolo iniziale di questa nuova serie non mi aveva soddisfatto del tutto, con una Cenerentola un po' troppo fortunata per i miei gusti).
Con questo libro è finalmente ritornata a stupirmi, sovvertendo molte classiche regole del romance, e con un capitolo che è un po' l'antitesi del precedente: non più quindi una dolce protagonista che da Cenerentola diventa duchessa (come accaduto ad Anna, con qualche sbadiglio...), ma focus sulla sorellastra, che da prima figlia del conte di Riverdale, con futuro da favola dietro la porta, si ritrova all'improvviso buttata giù dalla torre, senza più titolo, né dote, e - forse - senza più sogni.

"Ci si vergogna un po' di soffrire, vero?" mormorò Camille. "A volte ci domandiamo se ce lo siamo meritato."

E questa Camille non risulta neppure una personcina tenera, con cui riusciamo a empatizzare per le sfortunate circostanze. No, caspita, Camille è legnosa, inasprita dagli eventi, incapace di trovare un nuovo scopo. Disorientata. Se fosse una ragazza del nostro tempo, la potremmo descrivere come una persona (giustamente) arrabbiata con il mondo.
La sua acrimonia verso "Anna l'orfanella" che s'è presa tutto ci sta, e ci sta pure che la vicinanza della sorellastra fortunata e tanto buona le sia gradita come l'ortica sulla pelle.

D'accordo, Anna e il Duca vorrebbero considerarsi un'unica famiglia allargata, ma in quell'epoca perdere un nome era perdere un nome, ma anche una linea di discendenza, una collocazione sociale, lo stesso futuro (per quanto la Balogh abbia salvato le figlie del conte, dotandole di una nonna comunque ricca e di parenti legittimi che restano affezionati). Quindi ho apprezzato che Camille abbia provato a farcela da sola, lasciando anche una casa sicura per rimettersi in gioco.
Ed è tutto una riscoperta: dalla figura della madre a quella dell'uomo che credeva di sposare, alla propria personalità e alla sua freddezza nelle relazioni sociali, alla capacità di provare comunque empatia verso gli altri. Sino al provare a esperienze in un modo "anticonformista", come prima non avrebbe mai osato.

Un romanzo introspettivo, più profondo di quanto appaia.

Una sorellastra più incisiva di Cenerentola e che mi è piaciuta, così come un protagonista maschile (Joel!!!!!!), altrettanto autonomo e coraggioso, che è l'anello di congiunzione con il passato di Anna e il giusto balsamo per sanare profonde ferite familiari per il futuro.
Perdonatemi, ma tra Joel e il Duca, Joel tutta la vita.
Profile Image for kris.
937 reviews186 followers
July 1, 2022
Camille Westcott is lost. After her parent's marriage was deemed invalid, she's forced to give up the life she had always known when she and her sister remove to Bath to live with their grandmother. While there, she finds herself obsessed with the orphanage where Anna Snow, the usurper, had grown up and taught—so she presents herself as a teaching candidate and picks up the threads of the life Anna Snow had dropped when she'd been summoned to London to inherit.

While there she meets Joel Cunningham, art teacher and best friend to Anna—and after some raised-hackles circling, discover boners. Or actually feelings, and compassion, and connection, and all that goopy stuff. But also boners.

Always boners.

1. I really enjoyed this. I have opined in the past about my respect and admiration for "prickly" heroines because I find them delightful departures from the "my smiles are made of sunshine and my voice birdsong" ladies who ooze affection and adoration from every microscopic poor.

Camille was caustic and biting and proud and stubborn and while we see efforts from her to change, to let herself be loved—they don't sit easy on her head. She makes overtures of friendship to Anna in a way that is clearly outside her comfort zone and yet she chooses to do so because she knows it is the right thing to do. Not because it comes naturally or because she is suddenly a different person, but because she is a person who is trying to do better.

And that really, really resonated with me.

2. Joel was fine. I wish we had had more introspection from him on his shifting perspectives on love but I guess I can't have everything. Ultimately I was left uncertain why and how he landed on the realization that he loved Camille and had outgrown? shed? evolved away from? his feelings for Anna.

3. OMFG ANOTHER FAMILY FALLING OUT OF THE FUCKING SKY. At least this one was mostly dead.

Which is one of the worst things I have ever typed in my life so. That's nice.

4. I just want to circle back to point 1 again because I was just so enamored with how this book crafted Camille's self-reliance and pride and independence and resistance to falling into her family's utopian embrace. Bravo.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books334 followers
February 7, 2017
I declared last fall that the first book, Someone to Love, was one of my best reads for the year and my top historical romance. Now, with Someone to Hold, I wanted to see how it held up against all that love I had for the first book. I gladly report that this one stood strong to the test and kept me riveted to see a proud, staunch young woman overcome much to find her place, to find love, but most of all, to find herself.

Someone to Hold is book two in The Westcotts series and works best read in order. In fact, the reader would miss a great deal if this one is picked up before the first book as all that comes in this book is based on what went on before.

The story opens with Camille Westcott making a decision. Up until now, she has hidden away licking her wounds after discovering that instead of being the eldest daughter of an earl and anticipating a high society marriage that she is in fact the illegitimate child of a bigamous marriage and a social pariah. She has been holding on by a hair and all she has left is her pride which made her hatefully blame her older half-sister, cut-off contact with her extended Westcott family, and hide away in her maternal grandmother's home in Bath.

But now, she is ready to take her own life back and try to figure out who and what this new Miss Camille Westcott is like. First, she hires on as a teacher at the orphanage where her half-sister, Anastasia grew up. Camille hates her, unreasonably she knows- it was not Anna's fault that she is legitimate and their father lied about so much. But Camille is curious about Anna's life before being discovered and restored to her place in the family. Camille also wants to stand independently and this teaching position gives her that even as she feels woefully inadequate especially with Anna's best friend looking on with his smiles and merriment.

Joel wants to hate and resent the stiff and prunish, Camille Westcott when she takes over Anna's classroom and hurt his friend by not accepting her sisterly affections. He wants to despise her for her self-pity when at least she has a loving family and grew up knowing them and her place when he has been an orphan and made his own way left to wonder about his roots. He teaches his art classes and continues to make a name for himself as a portrait artist, but all the while, he slowly gains in respect and admiration, but also understanding for Camille. Surprising twists in his life and hers have them both aware that they might share more in common than they thought.

Alright, this was a stunning and deeply engaging story. This was quite the story of growth and triumph, of friendship and love, and even of restoration. The author returned to the historical elements of family, illegitimacy, abandonment, friendship, and unlikely love this time set in Bath and at the orphanage. Joel's art and Camille's teaching become added new elements.

I enjoyed the feeling that though the main pair are new that this is an ongoing story of a whole cast of characters- The Westcott family. The whole lot of them return for Camille and Joel's story and are part of it as family is an issue for both Camille and Joel.

The story is told in alternating narrative voices of Camille and Joel. At first, I thought that the focus was to be on Camille rising up from her bitter ashes and triumphing, but then I saw that Joel was to have his own crisis moment of truth and need to face it and a new future. They are an interesting pair. They are so antagonistic at first and then so burdened that I thought a romance between was iffy. In fact, Camille was not a likeable person in the past book or the beginning of this one. She is not meant to be, but it is part of her recovery and the revelation that she is really someone quite different than even she knew when faced with these new circumstances.

In the end, I'm left once again clutching the book and swearing undying love for this series. This is historical romance with such depth and heart that I gladly push it at those who love this genre.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Juliana Philippa.
1,010 reviews917 followers
November 1, 2017
"You are an incredibly strong person, Camille," he said. "But sometimes you build a wall about yourself. You are doing it now. Is that the only way you can hold yourself together?"

She was about to utter an angry retort. But she was feeling weary. Her feet were sore. "Yes," she said.

His eyes continued to search her face. "Yet behind the wall," he said, "you are amazingly tenderhearted. And
loyal hearted."

Bottom Line Up-Top. Wow, this review ended up being long. Granted, there are a fair number of excerpts here, but still—I couldn't help myself! Camille (22) and Joel (27) just shine and my love for them (especially Camille) made me wax on endlessly lol.

The story is wonderful and has everything I love from a romance! Both leading characters are fantastic, very three-dimensional. I adore Camille and she really brought out my emotions; I don't normally tear up at romance books, but I did several times here. She's so strong and determined, but so lonely and hurt too. Joel's playfulness and straightforwardness is a perfect match for her, and I loved every interaction between them (except for when they were driving me nuts of course ;-). The chemistry is great, there is development on both sides, and although my heart was sometimes breaking, I was also laughing and smiling more than I would have expected—there are some surprisingly funny lines and moments. Cannot recommend enough!

My Review. This book reminded me of why I adore Mary Balogh so very much. She is such a talented author—she's great at romance, yes, but she's also a wonderful author in terms of character-building and the depth she is able to give to her characters. She is almost always a hit with me, and this was no exception.

I haven't read Book 1 in this series, Someone to Love , but didn't find that an impediment to enjoying this book at all. I'm actually very curious to know what people who have read Book 1 think of Camille, because we know from this book that she definitely didn't take too kindly to the heroine, Anna.

To my surprise, Miss Camille Westcott firmly secured a spot on my Favorite Heroines shelf. I say to my surprise, because she would normally be the snotty bitch that we'd likely see as the foil to the heroine, rather than the heroine of her own novel. In this book, from the beginning we have more insight into her and so I was never put off, but prior to this book (and I'm guessing during Book 1), she was the typical spoiled Earl's daughter that one would imagine. She was never petty or mean, and even in her coldness there would never have been any malice; rather, she was aloof and haughty, an aristocratic lady through-and-through.

When we meet Camille, she's at a very low point in her life. In Book 1, she and her younger siblings were declared illegitimate, because it turns out her now-dead-father, the Earl, had married prior to marrying her mother, and that his first wife only died after his second marriage took place. No one knew this, though, and so it took the family completely by surprise: one day she was a perfect Earl's daughter, engaged to a handsome, perfect Viscount, and the next it's all gone and she is holed up at her grandmother's in Bath.
"I was the perfect lady," she told him. "By design. I was very conscious of who my father was and what was due me as his daughter. From early childhood on I made every effort to do and be everything he would expect of Lady Camille Westcott. I was an obedient child and paid every attention to my nurse and my governess. I spoke and thought and behaved as a lady ought. I intended to grow up to be perfect. I intended to leave no room in my life for accident or catastrophe. I think I truly believed that I would never be exposed to trouble of any sort if I kept to the strict code of behavior set down for ladies of my class. There was never a rebellious bone in my body or a wayward thought in my mind. My world was narrow but utterly secure."
She's been wallowing in (well-deserved IMO!) self-pity for a few months, and when the book starts she has decided she needs to shake herself out of it all, take her situation in hand, and move on. She feels lost though: she defined herself through her position, through this "perfect lady image" that she thought was all that mattered, that she thought her being loved was dependent on (though she doesn't make that connection immediately, of course). Who is she now? Where does she fit? What is her life supposed to be about?
... Viscount Uxbury [her former fiancé] now somehow represented the whole of her life as it had been, though she had not known it at the time. It had all been built not upon rock, but upon sand. And, like even the most carefully built sand castle, it had crumbled and fallen.
She's adrift and completely lost—but not in any way that is annoying or self-pitying or turned me off in any way; I want to be clear about that, because if any of what I write gives you that impression, then the fault is through my description, not with Camille in the text. This is what made her so lovable and made me feel so strongly that I honestly teared up at a couple different points, my heart breaking for her: she's so strong, but also so vulnerable.

She decides to start teaching at the orphanage in Bath that Anna, her half-sister, grew up in, and almost starts to kind of take on Anna's life, before she was discovered to be an heiress and went off to marry a duke. Her sister Abigail says to her:
"We cannot change it by agonizing over it or imagining how different everything might have been. Why do you need to go to that orphanage, Cam? Are you trying to ... punish yourself somehow for the fact that it was she who grew up there when strictly speaking it ought to have been us?"
Part of it is indeed a kind of self-imposed punishment, but it's also about rediscovering herself and who she is now—who she can and has to be. She wants to prove to herself and to everyone else that she's strong and can stand on her own, that she's as strong as she thought herself to be before all of this happened and she saw herself crumble in devastation, feeling lost and out of place.

Mr. Joel Cunningham is a fantastic hero period, but he's also a perfect hero for Camille. They are opposites in so many ways and at the beginning, there is definite tension between them. On Camille's part, she's wary of and cold / distant with everyone (except for the children); on Joel's part, he was Anna's best friend growing up and even loves/loved her before she married, so he knows that she badly wants a relationship with Camille and her siblings, but that they haven't reciprocated.

He's illegitimate, an orphan, very laidback and casual, and a painter to boot—completely opposite from anything having to do with her previous life and the men she met there. She's also aware of him in a way she's never been, and her internal battle regarding that is extremely amusing to watch—watching her think something and then be scandalized by her own thoughts lol :-). And of course once she starts noticing, she can't stop ... ;-)
She did not want to be attractive to any man. The very idea! Least of all did she want to attract the art teacher with his slovenly appearance and wicked, insolent grin and his dark, bold eyes, which seemed to see through to the back of her skull and the depths of her soul. He somehow represented chaos, and her life had always been characterized by order.
Joel dislikes her and is annoyed by her at the beginning, but he's also a very good guy who is surprisingly understanding and sensitive, so even at the beginning, when he finds himself put off by her, he often ends up reaching out in a way that lowers her defenses a bit. He doesn't want to like her, but in spite of himself, he finds himself admiring and respecting her, and wanting to discover more.
Perfection as she had known it was no longer possible for Camille Westcott, and she was not willing to settle for anything less. She must search for something wholly new instead. It was not easy to like the woman, but he felt a grudging sort of respect for her.

He amended his thought immediately, however, for when she was in the schoolroom, flushed and animated and in full military sergeant mode and surrounded by organized chaos, he almost did like her. Indeed, he was almost attracted to that teacher self of hers. Perhaps because that self suggested some underlying passion. Now that was a startling thought.
The summary is a bit misleading, in that while Joel is indeed hired to paint her portrait, the summary makes it seem like that's what the book centers around and that's not at all the case. Camille and Joel's interactions are grounded in her teaching at the school every day and the fact that he teaches art there twice a week; he sketches her during the book, but when the book ends he hasn't even started on her portrait yet. (Why do romance summaries always do this?? #petpeeve).

What makes for a nice interplay is that while Camille's journey through all of this is one of self-discovery, Joel's process for doing someone's portrait revolves around getting to know who that person really is; he doesn't do portraits that flatter the person by making them appear 20 years younger or a lot thinner, etc. (as was sometimes done in that day and age), but he's able to show them as they are physically, while also capturing the essence of who they are as a person and bringing their inner beauty out. That involves knowing and understanding the person he's painting though, and so there's this continual thread throughout the book of him wondering about and trying to discover and understand Camille at the same time that she is doing the same thing. She says to him at one point early on:
"I would warn you that I will not make it easy for you. But if you do get to know me, please let me know what you discover. I have no idea who I am."
And later:
By God, he thought, she was a fascinating person. She was going to take some knowing, some understanding. For the first time in a long while he began to doubt his artistic abilities. How would he ever get her right? And what would he do if he never could?
And ...
"Do you realize how incredibly fascinating you are, Camille?" he asked. And how irritating? [LOLOL]

"Nonsense," she said. "I have never cultivated either beauty or charm, much less womanly wiles. I have cultivated only the will to do what I believe to be right in all circumstances."

He glanced up at her and smiled. She was looking prunish. "You will realize your own fascination," he said, "after I have painted you."

"Then your painting will be worthless," she told him. "I thought you refused to flatter your subjects. Why would you make an exception of me?"
The chemistry between them is fabulous, as is the playfulness and sweetness that surprisingly emerges. Every time Cam laughs or lets herself break a rule she normally wouldn't think twice about, there's this joy that is just delightful to watch—both because of her, and because of Joel's reaction to it. He's so sweet, but also strong and reliable; this presence of warmth and strength that she so needs at this point in her life. It's not only one-sided though, which I also appreciated: he goes through difficult things that make him need her support, and I always like when an author does that. We're able to see both characters' vulnerabilities and strengths, and seeing the mutual support they provide one another is what makes the developing relationship so believable.

Random Note / Annoyance.

Another Quote.
It was chilly and blustery, but at least it was not raining. Camille set the direction and strode off toward the river, Mr. Cunningham—Joel—at her side. He was not talking, and she felt no inclination to carry on a conversation. She could not explain to herself why she had wanted him with her, but she was pleased with herself about one thing. She had never before suggested to a man that he take a walk with her. She had never called any man outside her family by his first name either. Not that she had called Mr. Cunningham by his yet.

"Joel," she said, and was surprised to realize she had spoken out loud.

"Camille," he answered.

And no man outside her family had ever called her by
her first name—not even Viscount Uxbury after they were betrothed. But instead of feeling uncomfortable, she felt—freed. She was no longer bound by the old rules. She could set her own. She had wanted company, and she had got it by her own efforts.

This review is of an ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some changes and/or edits may be made to the final published version.
Profile Image for StMargarets.
2,818 reviews472 followers
March 7, 2021
In this story the author redeems the half-sister (Camille) who was so unwelcoming and resentful to the heroine in the first book.

To do this she switches roles with her two heroines:

Heroine #2 takes heroine's #1
Job as a teacher
Her room at the orphanage
Her nice guy/artist friend (Joel) who becomes the hero of this story.

To add to the role switching:
Nice guy hero villain in book one. Villain in book #1 was the "handsome" nobleman who jilted this heroine when he discovered that she was illegitimate. Hero #1 beat him in a duel in that book. Hero #2 in this book, so the villain is getting his just desserts, one story at a time.

I enjoyed all the symmetry of this story and the artifice and drama of it. It seemed like the best way for this character to work through her negative feelings about losing her title, her fiance, her fortune, her home, and her sense of identity.

The problem I had with the narrative was that it was written in a naturalistic/realistic/character-driven way. What I mean is, MB writes these deep dives into the psychology of her characters and then rescues them with author tricks. Life doesn't include that many coincidences and strokes of good fortune. Stories do. Drama does. But expecting the reader to swallow this fate as "realistic" just seems . . .


I probably wouldn't have noticed these tricks so much if she hadn't banked down the emotions of the characters in the face of such huge dramas. Heroine #2 is a perfectionist because she was trying to earn love from her evil father from an early age. She has never allowed herself to feel anything but contentment. Hero #2 has always blocked thinking about his family origins until he has to. So they are both very numb to their changes in fortunes - both for good and for ill.

I guess I'm saying the tone of the story doesn't fit with the drama. There's very little conflict in the romance - they don't like each other for about 10 minutes and then the heroine is granting all sorts of liberties that doesn't seem at all in her character.

There were some lovely parts. Especially the scenes with the orphans.

I'm afraid this Wescott family is a little too perfect for me, as well. I'm an angst junkie and so far they are not hurting each other - intentionally or unintentionally. Families are rife with conflict. What happened to this one?

Onward to book #3, which is about Alexander who inherited the title he never wanted.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,709 reviews701 followers
February 7, 2017
3.5 stars

I'm just dipping my toe into historical books, but this one sounded intriguing and I was eager to start it.

I liked Camille and Joel well enough. She's a bit stiff and fussy and he's sort of flighty, but it works. And under the circumstances of the story, it fits. I enjoyed the scenes with them together and when they weren't, it's all I wanted.

The plot moved slowly. Like slooooooowly. I struggled to stay interested, but then the chemistry parts would happen and it would be enough to keep me reading. The main downfall for me was the switching of the names. Often the same character would be referenced by their given name and then in the next paragraph, by their title. Eventually I just gave up trying to keep people straight.

Overall, it was an amusing and drama-light piece of fluff.

**Huge thanks to Jove Books and NetGalley for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Suzanne.
363 reviews46 followers
February 21, 2017
Wish I had liked this more! Balogh is my favorite. However, the heroine never grew on me, despite my hopes.
Profile Image for ♥Sharon♥.
961 reviews143 followers
December 16, 2019

Another enjoyable audiobook! I know I’m repeating myself but Rosalyn Landor is fabulous.

I wasn’t sure if MB could pull it off but she did. She brought out the sunshine in Camille. 😊

Pairing her with Joel was perfect too!

Lovely addition to the series. I must go check whose book is next.
Profile Image for Dorine.
600 reviews31 followers
February 7, 2017
SOMEONE TO HOLD by Mary Balogh once again showcases her talent for creating difficult characters who earn the reader’s love and respect. Complex, emotionally stirring and very different from the norm – quite the story!

I was very happy to be back in this world, catching up on what happened to Camille and Abigail after they found out about their father’s lies in SOMEONE TO LOVE, book one of the WESTCOTT series. Camille and Abigail, as well as their mother and brother, have found themselves on the outskirts of society, where they always belonged before the unspeakable happened to their family. To make things worse, Camille and Abigail have been sent to live with their grandmother in Bath, where they know no one, let alone having any expectations for acceptance by those who know their current disgrace.

Although this book includes some of Abigail’s story as well as Camille’s, it’s mostly about Camille’s transformation. And quite an amazing transformation it is because Camille was very unlikable and pretty much acted like a spoiled brat in the first book. When we meet Camille again in this book, she has been hiding out in her grandmother’s house, refusing to join her grandmother and sister on any social engagements.

Camille decides she’s done with her old life as well as society’s expectations and ramifications. She proves it by applying for the teacher’s position at the local orphanage. They agree to a trial period to see how she works out, and it’s there that she meets Joel, an artist and her half-sister’s best friend. Joel is almost as unimpressed with Camille as she is with him. Complete opposites in social background, they find themselves on equal footing with much to learn from each other. How that will work out when they don’t even like one another is part of the fun.

Camille is a mess after her fiancé dumps her, so it’s especially poignant to watch her pick up the pieces. She becomes likeable in her no-nonsense approach to her situation. She isn’t without faults and is sometimes extremely difficult, so she’s not easy to love, but her journey is especially touching. I cried twice before I reached the halfway point of the novel, so Camille made rare progress that touched my heart.

Because she’s so rough around the edges and becomes this person that even she doesn’t recognize, I consider her one of the most unusual heroines I’ve read. I couldn’t help but feel regret for her situation. She had everything, and yet, she really had nothing. When she figures that out, it’s gut-wrenching.

We do get an update on the rest of the characters in book one and I was especially happy to be entertained once again by Avery. He had me laughing like crazy, and Camille had a surprising subtle humor with him. I enjoyed their moments together a lot. As for Joel – I did not see that one coming. Whew – what fun!

I wasn’t overly impressed with Joel and his non-consideration for the woman he had been seeing when he meets Camille. I get it that it was common for the times, but I expected more from him. He did win me over with his compassion for Camille, but she outshone him in her transformation.

The end of the story is especially wonderful. It left me with a big, goofy grin on my face. It’s perfect and one of my favorite final chapters of all time, which is why I’m tagging this novel as a recommended read.

I highly recommend reading book one, SOMEONE TO LOVE, first, so that you get the gist of Camille’s and Joel’s previous situation. You can understand book two without reading book one, but you’ll miss the paired effect that’s quite delightful.

I can’t say enough about Mary Balogh’s talent. She makes me cry, and I’m happy to do so because her characters deserve an outpouring of emotion. Ms. Balogh’s ability to set a scene is equally superb, as I see her stories like a movie playing in my head for weeks afterward. It’s rare that I’ll read every book an author writes, but Ms. Balogh is fast becoming one of those few. Can’t wait to read what happens next!


Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies. Digital ARC provided by the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Starr (AKA Starrfish) Rivers.
941 reviews272 followers
December 5, 2018
I quite like this book. There aren't many MB books that I don't like. There's just a subtlety and maturity in her writing that I appreciate vs. other writers in this genre. It distinguishes her from the others.

However, she can get repetitive and use the same tropes and character types over and over again. But the writing and the interactions between the MCs are interesting enough that I'm not too often irritated.

This book is more 3.5 stars rounded to 4. I like the heroine Camile quite a bit. I like the prickly heroines who are outwardly cold or aloof or uncaring but inwardly quite mushy and passionate. (Same for Heroes I guess!). Camile is one of these. You don't really like her at all from other books. She was portrayed as really an uptight bitch :P So I was interested in how MB would make her likable and then lovable, and she did, so bravo!

What I take off is unfortunately for the Hero and some of the sluggishness in the plot. The Hero is rather waffly and not at all certain what he wants. I don't like these type of Heroes. It doesn't help that his past affair with a village widow is mentioned several times in the book. It doesn't help that he was also "in love" with Anna Snow, his orphanage friend and the h's half sister in previous books. This guy doesn't know what he wants!! HATE that in a Hero. Just for that, I had to go and read some of my fav romance series by another author just to make myself feel better with a Hero who DOES know what he wants! And never wavers from his love.

So... OK I'm now rounding down to 3 stars.
Profile Image for Kay*FindMeInThePages*.
33 reviews11 followers
February 7, 2017
Someone to Hold is the second book in Mary Balogh’s Westcotts series. It can be read as a standalone, however due to reoccurring characters and a continuing story arc, it would probably be best to start with the first book, Someone to Love.

Lady Camille Westcott always strived to be perfect; a perfect daughter, lady, and fiancée. However her world is turned upside down when it is discovered her parents were never legally married making her illegitimate. The former Lady, now a mere miss, with her engagement over, finds herself a social outcast. Wanting a fresh start Camille takes a job to make a new life for herself, starting on a path of growth and self discovery. It is not always easy, but she finds within herself a whole range of emotions she had never before experienced.

Joel is an easy going artist who takes an instant dislike to Camille. Yet as they continue to spend more time together, Joel can’t help but come to understand and admire her. Joel’s fortunes also take an unexpected twist leading him to make some self assessments of his own.

I enjoyed the self reflection and growth shown in the story. I started out not caring for Camille, but after understanding her motivations better I found myself rooting for her. If you enjoy historical romances, this one will be sure to please.

*ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review*
Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews203 followers
November 25, 2019
SOMEONE TO HOLD, the second book in Mary Balogh’s Westcott series, is a beautifully written and emotional story of self-discovery and finding love.

In SOMEONE TO LOVE (book 1), Camille appears downright dislikeable, especially in her hatred towards her half-sister Anna, but such is Ms. Balogh’s skill as a writer that I not only came to like Camille but also sympathise with her.

As a girl, Camille desperately wanted her father’s love, but the Earl of Riverdale was a selfish man and only ever loved one person – himself. It broke my heart to think of the seven-year-old Camille painstakingly embroidering her father’s initials and ‘I love you, Papa’ on a handkerchief, only to find it crumpled on his desk and covered in ink stains, where he had used it to clean his pen. She dedicated herself to becoming the perfect lady in the hope that, at least, he might be proud of her. I think the pain of her father’s rejection had a profound emotional impact on Camille because, in her search for perfection, she has become the prim and proper, haughty Lady Camille Westcott, for whom any show of strong feelings is considered unladylike.

I could understand how devastated Camille feels when she discovers her father’s betrayal. Her well-ordered life has crumbled around her and she no longer knows who she is or what her future will be.

The future yawned ahead with frightening emptiness and uncertainty.

I enjoyed following Camille’s journey of self-discovery and I like how Ms. Balogh doesn’t change Camille; she is still fundamentally the same person but with a different focus in life. She still displays the same strength and determination she applied to becoming the perfect lady, but it is now focussed on forging a new life for herself and a single-minded determination to succeed.

I especially enjoyed the scenes where Camille is teaching the children in the orphanage because they reveal what a tender-hearted, compassionate and intelligent person she is beneath that prickly exterior. I love how, despite her initial fears, she has a real aptitude for teaching and makes her lessons instructive, creative and fun too, capturing the children’s hearts in the process. Watching Camille’s relationship with baby Sarah slowly develop was really touching because she had never allowed herself to form an emotional attachment before.

I like Joel very much. He is good-natured, intelligent, dependable, talented and honest, all qualities I love in a hero. Although raised in the orphanage, Joel has been supported by an anonymous benefactor, thus enabling him to attend art school and pursue his passion for portrait painting. I love how his honesty extends to his portrait paintings. He refuses to flatter his subjects but studies them carefully so that he can capture their true essence on canvas. His unique style has gained him a prestigious reputation and numerous commissions from wealthy clientele. He also teaches art a few afternoons a week at the orphanage. He was in love with Anna and is still heartbroken over her marrying the Duke of Netherby.

I love the slow building romance and watching Camille and Joel gradually move from dislike and distrust to friendship, attraction and finally falling in love. It seems both natural and believable. I particularly like how, with his artistic eye, Joel is able to see the real person beneath Camille’s protective shell.

“You are an incredibly strong person, Camille,” he said. “But sometimes you build a wall about yourself. You are doing it now. Is that the only way you can hold yourself together?”
She was about to utter an angry retort. But she was feeling weary. Her feet were sore. “Yes,” she said.
His eyes continued to search her face. “Yet behind the wall,” he said, “you are amazingly tenderhearted. And loyal hearted.”

I enjoyed seeing Camille realise that she had previously suppressed everything that made her human and now…

…she wanted to live. And she wanted to love, even if that word was a mere euphemism for desire. She would live, then, and she would enjoy. She would not stop to think, to doubt, to feel.

There is a point, early in the story, where Camille asks Joel to hold her and, when Joel has to cope with life changing events himself, it is Camille to whom he turns for support. This mutual respect and support further convinced me that their love would endure.

The story is very much about family too, because Camille comes to realise that her family’s love is unconditional. I love the poignancy of the moment when Camille finally calls Anna her sister rather than her half-sister.

I enjoyed seeing the other family members especially Avery who always appears cool and aloof, but beneath that facade is someone who takes a keen interest in what’s happening and can demonstrate great kindness. He is always guaranteed to bring a smile to my face with quips like this.

“My dear Camille,” he said, “I hope I never admonish anyone. It sounds as if it would require a great expenditure of energy.”

After receiving a bloody nose courtesy of Avery in SOMEONE TO LOVE, I was delighted to see the odious Lord Uxbury receive a bloody mouth courtesy of Joel’s fist in this book!

MY VERDICT: Once again, Mary Balogh delivers a beautifully written, emotional, character driven romance. Highly recommended.

Westcott series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

Someone to Love (Westcott, #1) by Mary Balogh Someone to Hold (Westcott, #2) by Mary Balogh Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh Someone to Care (Westcott #4) by Mary Balogh Someone to Trust (Westcott, #5) by Mary Balogh

This review was first posted on the Rakes and Rascals blog:

Profile Image for Debby *BabyDee*.
1,172 reviews60 followers
February 18, 2019
Again, I am a fan of Mary Balogh. I did enjoy this redemptive story of Lady Camille and was happy to see that her demeanor changed. MB did a great job with the change of her character and it kept me wanting to know the outcome. Love Ms. Landor's narration too.

Profile Image for Wollstonecrafthomegirl.
472 reviews203 followers
July 21, 2019
So, Balogh had an uphill road with this one for me because (somewhat unsurprisingly) I did not warm to Camille and Joel comes across as kind of - um - wet in book one. So I was feeling a bit meh about the whole thing. But I will be damned if I read this series out of order. I can barely distinguish the thousands of characters as it is.

Balogh went a long, long way to walk back all those preconceptions I had about our H/h. I really enjoyed this and raced through it.

I thought Camille's decision to take control of her life might be a bit eye roll-y, particularly given her choice to work at the orphanage. I was wrong, it was kind of amazing. The path she decides to take is quite strange, but then again, she's been through a huge trauma. Her life and the life she expected have, have been completely upended and everything she has known has changed unrecognisably and so she makes the decision to make unrecognisable changes for herself. This made complete sense to me on actually reading the book.

Balogh does a very good job of setting Camille’s old life against her new one, ”She looked about the now-empty room with a grimace, ignoring the ingrained inner voice of her education, which warned that wrinkles would be the dire and inevitable result of frowns and grimaces and overbright smiles. That inner voice, which for so long had been her daily guide to genteel behaviour, now annoyed her considerably. She would frown if she wanted to.”

Camille’s journey dovetails well with Joel’s because he also makes discoveries about himself during the course of the book. This serves to drive them together. They become the only person the other can confide in and it’s a neat way of developing the romance. That said, I was less enamoured with Joel as a character. He was a bit inconsistent for me. Sort of smooth and strong at the start of the book, and a bit bumbling with Camille later, particularly after they first have sex. So, wet Joel never really dried out [this sentence sounds weird and gross but whatever].

The romance builds very nicely in that classically Balogh way. Neither likes the other at first and then layers of introspection build up and dislike becomes something else and eventually friendship and finally romance. It gripped me, although it’s fair to say the romance didn’t sing - that first sex scene and its aftermath really soured things for me. The whole romance just needed a few more fireworks.

The plot was entertaining, if a little implausible - rich families for all the orphans!

But, I read this straight through and very much enjoyed the experience so I am rounding up to four stars, although I doubt I will ever read this again.
Profile Image for Phoenix77.
347 reviews42 followers
February 9, 2017
Mary Balogh’s Westcott series revolves around an earl’s family discovering upon his death that he was a bigamist with a wife and child kept hidden from everyone. When the truth comes out there are devastating ramifications for the family left behind. Someone to Hold is the second book of the series but is the first story to take a closer look at how a person rebuilds after such an incredible upheaval.

The lies and betrayals of the late Earl of Riverdale have caused irreparable damage to his immediate family. Without the earl’s fortune to support them, the remaining Westcotts have scattered, with his son joining the military, his widow moving in with her brother and his two youngest daughters living with their maternal grandmother in Bath. Camille Westcott has taken her demotion from privileged eldest daughter to illegitimate middle daughter very badly, especially as her fiancé decided he could no longer honor their betrothal and broke the engagement. Sadly for Camille, his dismissal was just one of many; and her so-called friends were quick to abandon her to her fate. After weeks of sulking in her grandmother’s home, Camille understands that the future laid out for her almost from birth is no longer an option; however at twenty-two she’s unsure what she’s expected to do now.

Hoping to take control of her life for the first time Camille decides to walk a few miles in the shoes of her half-sister and applies for a teaching position at the orphanage in which Anna Snow – now the Duchess of Netherby – grew-up and taught. The headmistress is wary of Camille’s lack of teaching experience but needs to fill the post quickly. It’s a trial by fire for Camille, made even more difficult when she is introduced to Joel Cunningham, one of Anna’s closest friends and someone who knows just how poorly Camille treated her half-sister.

Please read the full review at All About Romance
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