Book Talk: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

I received this book for free from NetGalley 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 Wed by Mary BaloghSomeone to Wed by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #3
Published by Berkley on November 7, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 361
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . .

One thing I’ve lamented in romance novels is the lack of practically-minded marriages. I realize how unromantic that sounds, but consider the fact that there are a bajillion romances where a couple is trapped into marriage only to fall in love later. Why not have a couple marry for money or station only to fall in love? To me, the concept seems just as romantic in theory than many other common romance novel tropes. In Someone to Wed, Balogh does this beautifully.

From the moment I met Alexander Westcott, I was anticipating his romance novel. He’s handsome and pure of heart and honest af. While physically he fits the romance hero stereotypes, his demeanor isn’t one often seen. In the first book, Alexander was made Earl of Riverdale when his cousins were disinherited by nature of their bastardy. Most would be thrilled at such a windfall, but Alexander mourned, both because of his love for his cousins and because the title came without the money to fix a country estate in poor shape.

Alexander could ignore the country estate like the prior earl did, but he knows how many people depend on the earl for livelihood. To be able to afford repairs and enhance farming, he either has to take dangerous loans or marry well, something which saddens both Alex and his mother and sister.

Enter Wren Hayden, a local heiress, with an offer of marriage. She seeks companionship and a source of children, and she’s willing to offer up a fair chunk of her fortune to get it. Wren breaks my heart tbh, because she feels like all she has to offer to anyone is money, because of the port wine stain on the left half of her face.

Initially, Wren’s a difficult heroine to particularly esteem, distant and blunt. Alexander doesn’t know what to make of her, and he insists that they get to know one another before he will decide how to respond to her offer. While needing to make a mercenary decision, he at least hopes for a marriage of mutual respect.

Once Wren starts to open up, she basically ripped my heart apart. For one thing, she’s a deeply introverted person who has become used to rarely leaving the house except for work and only ever in an obscuring veil. Introvert heroines abound, but they’re not this introverted. Wren comes across as rude any time she attempts to respond to small talk, and she feels deeply overwhelmed by even small social interaction. I love that, even as she learns to be a bit more socially adept and comfortable, it’s emphasized that she will always be happiest out of society.

Alex and Wren bond first over mutual admiration of intelligence and character in a slow, slow burn. It’s kind of fun that Alex, even when he first kisses her, still truly isn’t sure whether he really could desire her sexually. The romantic aspect of their relationship slowly burgeons as their emotional connection builds.

Again, I do feel that many romance readers wouldn’t be a fan of the slower pace and lack of traditional tropes, but I find these books nigh perfect. Balogh builds these relationships so slowly and realistically. Even when, as in this case, I’m skeptical of the ship at the start, I have fierce feelings by the time I get to the end.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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