Ok I need to read more Mary Balogh! Wowie she pens such good historical romance! And I mean ACTUAL historical romance- like you know stuff like Austen! I never knew! Where have I been all this time?!?! Living under a bookshelf instead of in it, that’s where! As you can probably tell this is my first Balogh! Probably not the best one to start off with I know, but, I’m still in awe of her writing style- her mastery of the Regency period really shines through in her style of writing and she’s just such a pleasure to read!
The Westcott family are steeped in scandal as the real truth behind the late Earl of Riverdale’s legal will comes out- he has had a secret wife and child in the past, making his current children illegitimate and the marriage bigamous! Miss Anna Snow, an orphan, and a teacher at the orphanage where she grew up, finds out all her dreams have come true when she finds herself the sole legitimate heir to the title and fortune of Riverdale! And suddenly she has a family! Not just a few relatives but a whole squadron of them! Avery Archer is the guardian to Anna’s illegitimate half brother and not closely related to the Westcott family at all and stays out of tedious family affairs. But as he watches Anna transition from a quite dignified orphan to a lady of the Ton, he can’t help but be intrigued by her stoic strength, confidence and air of dignity she wears around herself.
Lots to talk about in this book in terms of likes and dislikes…I’ll start off with the smaller bits and expand into the characters as they were my main interests. First off, this “Chinese Gentleman” scandal. I found the mention of this character very very random- no explanation at all at what the heck he was doing in Regency England practicing martial arts in the middle of a park. Nothing else other than he teaches Avery a style of martial arts. I didn’t find this racist at all (I’m coloured myself), as mentioned in some book reviews, just really random without any further explanation. Secondly, the introduction to the Westcott family was so TEDIOUS! Omg there were just too many names and too many introductions and I got such a headache, I had to find my smelling salts…This happened especially heavily when Anna was introduced to the Westcott family at the beginning and it was just such a bore to get through. I do appreciate that this is the first book in a series but I just felt like it was something that could have been condensed slightly as not to loose some readers. Hence why I stop-started this book and forced myself to continue, but I’m glad I stuck it through, though, because obviously as you became better acquainted with the characters it got easier to remember who was who. Again on the topic of tedious, some of later letters to Joel also came close to blah mainly because it felt repeated to what we read 3 pages ago. Lastly some major nitpicking here- so please forgive me! I found the word “legalese” mentioned which annoyed me. There! I got that out of my system! Now I feel better haha. These were the smaller things that niggled at me throughout the book and now onto the characters.
Overall, I did come really close to disliking “Someone to Love”. I think it was mainly due to the characters being so different and unique, particularly our hero. Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby is short, small statured, blond and pretty- almost girlish and practices martial arts? Say what? Aren’t Dukes meant to be tall, handsome, roguish, dangerous, scandalous and all that other broody stuff? And since when did martial arts make an appearance with The Quality? Avery is a tough nut to crack. Even as a reader, we are not privy to much and are only allowed a proper glance into the depths of his soul within the last chapter of the book, when he opens up to Anna. I also didn’t like the whole perpetually bored, overly flamboyant persona of Avery. Anna our heroine, does not have a big personality. She is a quiet study indeed and a thoroughly composed and confident character. Again, very different to the louder, rebellious, sassy and sensual heroines you read about. I liked Anna. She had strength and continues to have strength throughout the book, which serves her very nicely. I didn’t have much trouble liking her but it was Avery I really didn’t take to initially.
Sooooooo, I didn’t really like Avery throughout most of the book, Anna is great but really not what I’m used to as a heroine….but what’s this I’m feeling? An emotional connection to these two? Shedding a few tears because they are fell in love? Where the heck did these emotions come from? How did Mary Balogh manage to wrest those emotions out of me, despite all the other bits going on that I didn’t like? After some thought, I think it’s because she really got to the essence of a romance. She demonstrated to us a slow, simple and sweet love between two very different characters. She portrays Avery as an illusion of someone unlikeable and gives us the real Avery later-someone we actually really did like deep down. Avery really is a sweet hero despite everything else and he is truly wonderful to Anna.
Towards the end of the novel, Mary Balogh gave me what I wanted despite my misgivings and my preconceived notions and that’s why I loved “Someone To Love” much more than I expected to. Despite all the odds against it, this book really is well written and I daresay will provide more enjoyment on a second re-read! Fans of Mary Balogh don’t be afraid to pick this up as I’m sure your favourite author will deliver!
*Thank-you Mary Balogh, Netgalley & Piatkus for the ARC.