A fantastic new series by Mary Balogh has me in raptures. As beginning stories go, this one had my interest from the beginning only to grow stronger as the book progressed. The main couple were incredible as individuals and their sweet passionate slow-burn romance was delectable. Historical Romance fans will delight and swoon over His Grace the Duke of Netherby and cheer on quietly courageous Miss Anna Snow aka the new Lady Anastasia Westcott.
The tale of a woman who was raised in obscurity only to be plucked from everything she knows to be dropped into the lap of her newly discovered shocked and distressed family is riveting but juxtaposed against the story of a cynical and jaded aristocratic man who leads fashion and the fashionable giving the impression that he just can’t be brought to care about anything or anybody, the story is miles deep in a story that I will treasure as one of the best of the year and a certain re-read on my shelf.
Anna Snow spent the last twenty-one years of her life as an orphan and then teacher in a Bath orphanage. Her life was not hard, but it was not full of comfort. She loves her students and what’s more, understands them. Her best friend was former fellow orphan, Joel. Joel is a promising artist in the city.
But her whole life is upended when a letter from a London lawyer requests her presence, now she is caught between two worlds. Her life has been a lie because she is really the legitimate daughter of an earl and his only legal heir. She actually has a whole family, the aristocratic Westcotts.
Though her dream was to someday find family, it now tastes like ashes in her mouth because by her existence becoming know, it makes her half siblings and their mother now the scandalous Westcotts because her father married a lady while already wed. Her new-found family detests her on sight.
Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby, finds everything a shocking bore. He’s an exquisite and dandy of the first stare. Men and women admire him, but he is the unknowable. His own family don’t know what to make of him. He is right there when Miss Anna Snow’s bedraggled and poor appearance outrage them all, but his eyes are on the woman trying to remain steady and calm under the on-slot of pain, outrage, shock, and distaste. Not ever one to get involved or care, he inexplicably quietly stands pat for Anna. He helps her find her legs in London society and the family and struggles to remain aloof the more he knows her. Her simple need to know that her half brother and sisters are safe and well and her passionate anger at the man who hurt her sister draw him in further.
Someone to Love was a tension-filled story of family and what it means to be family. The author used conflict built on the law and societal norms of the day when it came inheritance rights, legitimacy, and bigamy to craft a heartwarming and passionate tale.
This is the beginning of a new series and the author introduces all the primary players that will carry through the series. The events of this book are the catalyst for what will come afterward in future stories. Now, this could have made the story ponderous and slow moving, but it did not. Multiple points of view and scenes are presented, but the characters, the dialogue and the plotting make it work.
The central story, that of Anna and Avery, has depth and strong development. I enjoyed their individual stories as people and their story together of a courtship that is happening when not even those involved in the courtship even realize it. Their romance is subtle particularly in the beginning, but the author allows the reader to see it when they each take the narration. They are fascinating to each other, then friendly, and finally are startled to know that they share a romantic love. Avery and Anna rival some of my most esteemed couples in classic Regency Romance and that is the highest praise I can offer.
And with many of her historicals, the author demonstrates a dazzling and authentic attention to time and setting- the inclusion of life in a Regency era orphanage, a Pygmalion theme, Avery’s following of the Eastern Martial Arts and Meditation, and a truly Gothic villain who does his work while never present in a single scene.
So, in summary, yes I thought this was magnificent and one of the best this author has written and further, it will probably be one of my top five historical romance reads for the year. And YES, do experience this wonder for yourselves.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.