Book Talk: Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

I received this book for free from Library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Someone to Love by Mary BaloghSomeone to Love by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #1
Published by Berkley on November 8, 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 382
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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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.

Before this, I’d only read one other Mary Balogh novel, though she’d come to me highly recommend. I did end up being very impressed with A Matter of Class, one of few romance novels which I found really impressive in terms of plot (which isn’t a slam on romance novels, because the plots are meant to be on the simple side and often messing with that is a bad thing). Someone to Love is also quite unique based on all the historical romance I’ve read, and in a very good way.

That said, my only Goodreads friend who has read this didn’t like it, and I can actually see why readers of historical romance might not love this book. See, going into a historical romance, you generally expect something sexy, pretty fast-paced, and focused on the romance. Someone to Love doesn’t really do that. It’s rambling, like a walk along the lane. There’s sex in it, but the scenes tend to be short or even fade to black, and they’re not massively orgasmic, though the characters do have fun.

Balogh writes a more classic kind of romance, one that’s basically a blend between Jane Austen’s subtle romances with comedy of manners and a modern historical romance. Personally, I really love that, but I know readers who are less into classics will struggle with the rambling pace of the novel and the lack of hot sex.

The ship too is admittedly a bit strange, and often they’re not even really the focal point. I do love Avery and Anna, but they’re not a catnip ship, and neither falls into common romance character archetypes.

Anna grew up in an orphanage, and now, in her middle twenties, she works there. I love how much Anna loves her orphanage, and that it wasn’t a dreary Dickens-style place. Through a twist of fate, a lawyer discovers that Anna is in fact the sole legitimate heir of the Earl of Westcott, recently deceased, his three kids raised with him now bastards because it turns out his first wife didn’t die until after his second marriage. Obviously, much of this is tough on Anna, but she holds up so well under the changes, calm and kind, because she firmly believes that no one is better than she is and that she is better than no one. I love the way Anna defends her boundaries while remaining open to change and experience. She’s such a strong character in a way that you don’t often see in fiction.

Avery, meanwhile, is described as beautiful, feminine, and small. When he went to school, he was picked on mercilessly. He has an angelic type of beauty, and he’s very much the opposite of most romantic heroes. Determined not to be the target of bullies, her worked hard, and by happenstance discovered a Chinese martial artist with whom he studied, so he now has a lithe grace and air of danger. I have mixed feelings about that aspect, because there’s one scene that goes over the top and it does feel appropriation-y but it also acknowledges that Chinese people existed in the 1810s in England, which is awesome.

More than the couple, though, Someone to Love is about the whole Westcott clan. Initially, I was put off by this, because you’re introduced to so many people at once, and it was very overwhelming, though admittedly that dovetails nicely with how Anna was feeling. Ultimately, though, I felt very drawn into the Westcott family, and I have fond feelings for much of the cast. I’m looking forward to all of her siblings’ books, as well as Alexander Westcott’s and Elizabeth’s.

If you enjoy romance novels with a more classic pace and mien and a strong family focus, I strongly recommend Someone to Love. This book impressed me so much with its uniqueness and subtle humor.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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