I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.
Mary Balogh is a Regency Romance writer whose novels I consistently enjoy. A couple of months ago I read the first book in her new Westcott series: Someone to Love. The second book, Someone to Hold, will be released next month and I was very pleased to receive a copy from Netgalley.
Now, Camille and Abby, her younger sister, are living in Bath with their still respectable grandmother. While Abby tries to make the best of the situation, Camille has retreated from society. But Camille is no quitter. She answers an advertisement for a teacher in the local orphanage, the same orphanage where Anna grew up and later taught. Her motivations for doing so are mixed, but primarily she wants to do something. And she needs to discover, if she is no longer Lady Camille, who is she?
On her first day at the new job, Camille meets Joel Cunningham, a local portrait painter of some renown, who was and is Anna’s best friend. He also grew up in the orphanage and teaches there part time. He was also in love with Anna, but knows he has to put that love aside. He’s aware of how badly Camille treated Anna in the past, and he has no desire to see her step into Anna’s old teaching position. The two are predisposed to dislike each other.
Naturally, their initial dislike turns to grudging respect to love. Again, what makes Balogh’s novels shine is the characterizations of her protagonists. They are warm, intelligent people who deal with their problems in a mature, reasonable way. They have misunderstandings but don’t let them get ridiculously out of hand. They are frank, honest, and amusing.
It’s wonderful how Balogh can take the nastiest of characters from book one and show her in a different light—the same person, but with a believable change of heart and emotional growth. I don’t know who will be the focus of the third Wescott book, but I’m sure I’ll read it!