I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh
Published by Berkley Books on November 7, 2017
Source: the library
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Also by this author: Simply Unforgettable, The Proposal, The Arrangement, Only Enchanting, Only a Promise, Only a Kiss, Only Beloved, Someone to Love, Someone to Hold, Someone to Care
Third in the Westcott historical romance series set in Regency England and revolving around the extended Westcott family. The couple focus is on Wren Heyden and Alexander Westcott, the new Earl of Riverdale.
A tale that’s character-driven in a unique start with the disfigured Wren shopping for a husband. She’s a most forthright, up-front woman, especially for her time period. And, while it’s sad to think of how wasted her secluded life has been, it probably was for the best considering how cruel people still are today.
Now Alex, he’s a man of ethics unwilling to judge a book by its cover. Yet he’s so unwilling to enrich and yet saddle himself. For it would be a burden, dealing with these insecurities all his life.
I do love Balogh’s assessments of people, including this comment:
“Eccentrics are often admirable people because they are not afraid to stand alone rather than huddle with the masses … Eccentrics at their best listen to the music at the heart of themselves and let it fill them as they dance to its melody while other people who cannot hear it gawk and frown in disapproval and mutter about straitjackets and insane asylums.”
The whole Westcott family are eccentrics in that they support their illegitimate family members…they’re still family no matter what. And I do love that about them. Take Eugenia and her comments about Miss Heyden’s disfigurement as proof.
That Balogh really digs deep into people, presenting their thoughts and insecurities as they process their way through their issues. It does help that Balogh uses a third person global subjective point-of-view to present it all, even though it’s mostly from Alex’s and Wren’s perspectives. The author also includes several interesting info dumps that were nicely integrated.
It is a rough time for the very independent Wren, the perfect example of nature versus nurture. Brought up in isolation as she was until she was ten years old and then the rest of her life with parents who were a little too supportive. She is not used to exposing herself, and Alex does want her to be herself with his family. As noted above, Eugenia agrees.
Lady Hodges is a nasty bitch for whom I feel a bit sad, but only a bit.
The story is mostly slow going, somewhat like Alex’s courtship of Wren, and the family relationships can be quite confusing, as they are so intertwined. But you can’t help but love this family. They go against the grain of their society, their class, and are supportive of their family and friends.
Alexander Westcott may have succeeded to this “prestigious” title, but it comes with a very much neglected estate, one for which he’s desperate for money to bring it back to prosperity. Not just for himself but for the people who rely on the estate for their livelihood.
As for Wren Heyden, she 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. . .
Wren Heyden, a hermit, is the only heir to Aunt Megan and Uncle Reggie‘s fortune and lives in Withington House in Wiltshire with Maude as Wren’s maid, formerly Aunt Megan’s. The fortune was derived from a glassworks in Staffordshire where Philip Croft is the manager. Mrs Briggs had been her governess.
Brambledean Court is…
…the country seat for the Earl of Riverdale. He’s a new one — Alexander Westcott — and head of the Westcott family. Elizabeth “Lizzie”, the widowed Lady Overfield, is his sister; Desmond had been her abusive husband. Althea Westcott is their mother. Riddings Park, Kent, had been Alex’s original home, and it’s taken years for Alex to bring it back from the ruin his father had left it in. Uncle Richard and Aunt Lilian Radley have children: Susan who is married to Alvin Cole, and a son, Sidney.
The staff at Brambledean include William Bufford, who is Alexander’s new steward; Mr and Mrs Dearing are the butler and housekeeper; and, Mrs Mathers is the cook. Lifford is the butler at the London mansion.
The rest of the Westcotts
Lieutenant Harry Westcott is fighting Napoleon with the 95th Foot Regiment, a.k.a., the Rifles. His sisters are Camille who married Joel Cunningham in Someone to Hold, 2 (they adopted Sarah and Winifred), and Abigail who lives at Hinsford Manor with her mother, Miss Viola Kingsley. They have a maternal grandmother, Mrs Kingsley, who lives in Bath. Humphrey is the now-deceased Earl of Riverdale, their father, who screwed the family royally. Anna, Duchess of Netherby, and now Anastasia, is their half-sister. Josephine is Anna and Avery’s new baby daughter. Her husband, Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby had a father who married again: Louise Westcott, now the Dowager Duchess and sister to Eugenia, Dowager Countess of Riverdale, which is how Netherby is involved. Lady Jessica Archer is Avery’s hysterical half-sister, who is best friends with Abigail. Lady Mildred Westcott is an annoying spinster who harasses her mother, Eugenia, with her idea of care. The Reverend Michael Kingsley is Viola’s brother.
Hetty Littlewood is interested in a title. Oswald Littlewood, her father, is the younger son of a baron who made his fortune and is married to the ambitious Mrs Littlewood. Mr Doheny is not in good shape. Lord Garand is in better shape. Miss Parmiter is a shy young thing in whom Colin is taking an interest.
Lady Hodges is a narcissistic sociopath who notices no one but herself and who has made her beauty her only pursuit in life. Her husband had been Baron Hodges. Blanche, Lady Elwood, is their oldest daughter and married to Sir Nelson Elwood. Justin Handrich was the heir. Ruby is now married to Sean Murphy and living in Ireland. Rowena Handrich had been their second youngest child while Colin was the youngest who adored Roe. Mr Wragley and Mr Tobin are idiots and part of her court.
Mr Sweeney has bad teeth and Mr Richman is quite dull.
The Cover and Title
The cover is bright in its parkland greens and cheery yellow sunshine that highlights the meadow, a yellow reflected in the daffodils Wren so loves. Part of the glow from the meadow highlights Wren’s beautiful profile, standing with her back to us, loose tendrils trailing along her cheek and the rest coiled on the back of her head encircled in flowers, wearing a white dress with short puffed sleeves, wielding that fan of security in her left hand. A testimonial in white is at the very top with a yellow info blurb below that. The author’s name is large and in the same yellow to the left of Wren’s face. The title is a mix of script and serif in white to the left of Wren’s knee with the series info at the very bottom in white.
The title is all about Wren’s hunt for Someone to Wed.