Thursday, February 9, 2017

ARC Review: Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

Series:     Westcott #2
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:Berkley Jove
Length:400 pages

Someone to Hold is the second installment of Mary Balogh's new Westcott series, featuring a family up-heaved by a father's deceit and cowardice. I recommend that this series be read in order as (so far) the books take place consecutively and have a somewhat continuing storyline. This review may contain slight spoilers for the first book in the series, Someone to Love.

Lady Camille Wescott's life was turned upside down in Someone to Love when she learned that her father's marriage to her mother was bigamous, and that she had a previously unknown half-sister whose very life has disinherited Camille and her siblings. Camille was a horrible person in Someone to Love, she treated Anna cruelly, when Anna really only wanted to know her family. So I knew going into this book that it was going to be an uphill battle to redeem Camille... and it wasn't easy. Camille is not the warmest person, I would even go as far to say that she appears stiff and cold. However, I had to admire her for taking control of her life and really doing the soul searching to find out who she was. Her time at the orphanage helped to humanize Camille and made me open up to her character. I loved her interactions with Winifred and Baby Sara, and her unconventional teaching methods.

You will remember from the prior book that Joel Cunningham grew up with Anna Snow at the orphanage. He has earned some renown as an artist - and is earning more portrait commissions by the day. However he still makes time for his orphanage family, teaching art classes there twice per week. On his first few encounters with Camille - he is not sure what to make of her. He is confused as to what the children see in her when she maintains such a severe look and stiff bearing. But Joel is a genuinely good person and you cannot help but to like his character. I loved the details about his paintings and how he worked to paint a person from the inside out. Joel is not without his baggage, as which is not surprising as he grew up in the orphanage never really knowing who he was or where he came from. I liked that all the kids (current and past) seemed to see each other as family and gave back to the institution as adults.

The relationship between Joel and Camille was tenuous at first. Neither wanted to like the other... Camille resented Joel for his friendship and love for Anna, the sister she was determined to hate. And Joel resented Camille from barging in and trying to take Anna's place. But they developed a friendship and rapport, one that seemed natural and uplifting. So I would deem this another feel good love story - not just because of the romance, but also because of the interactions with the orphans which tugged on the old heart strings.

Favorite characters from the prior book had their own part in this installment... and I was happy to spend some time with the Duke and Duchess of Netherby. I am interested to see who our hero or heroine of the next book will be, however I think I am most intrigued by Alexander, Earl of Riverdale. Though Harry has been off fighting in the war for a while, so I am sure that his story will be fascinating as well. There were a few times where the story felt bogged down by too many details, or the pacing started to drag, but overall this was a solid HEA.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Berkley.

Westcott Series