As a whole, I enjoyed this second installment of Mary Balogh’s Wescott series better than I did its predecessor, though it was a decidedly slow build. My chief problem with Someone to Love was that I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters and the interchangeable use of their names and titles. Here, that wasn’t as much as an issue because the supporting cast was brought in more slowly, after the primary leads were well established. Add to that my familiarity with the players from book one, plus a (somewhat complicated) family tree drawn out at the beginning, and I think most people will be able to follow along.
This book features the unlikely pairing of Camille Wescott and Joel Cunningham. The author had her work set out for her to make Camille a sympathetic heroine. She grew up a lady of rank and privilege, who lost everything in the last book when it was revealed that her father’s marriage to her mother was invalid. At face value, it would be easy to empathize with that, but she was such a horrible, snobbish brat to her new sister, it was hard to wish anything for her except a raging case of diarrhea. As the story begins, she is still pretty much a snobby shrew. She refuses to socialize with the people of Bath. She still won’t talk to her sister, Anna. But for some reason, she’s decided to start teaching at the orphanage where Anna was raised.
Enter Joel. He was Anna’s childhood friend. He’s an artist and he teaches twice a week at the same school. He wasn’t disposed to like Camille because she’d been so horrible to Anna, but he has a grudging respect for how she connects with the children. And once Camille’s grandmother commissions him to paint Camille’s portrait, he becomes determined to know her better so he can capture her in his painting.
So like I said, it was slow at the beginning. And it was hard to root for Camille, even though Joel was another story. He was a good man. He cared about the kids. He was even kind to Camille and gave her credit for her work at the school, despite the way she behaved. She was so prickly.
But once these two started to connect, the book got so much better. For two people who are so different, they ended up with so much in common. I really enjoyed watching her realize her feelings and embracing her humanity. I loved watching her fall for a man she would have never chosen in her old life –and I loved watching her grow to care for the children she was teaching. There was even a scene in the Epilogue that made me tear up. By the time it was all said and done, I was 100% for Camille and Joel. (It just took me a little while to get there.)
If you give it a try, it’s worth sticking with it.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Someone to Hold
by Mary Balogh
Release Date: February 7, 2017