Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

Reviewed by Jen

I’ve enjoyed almost every book I’ve read by Mary Balogh, and this was no exception. One of the reasons I like her is how well she does characters with a tortured past. Most often, it’s the hero, but occasionally, she gives us a heroine who must overcome something horrible. In this case, it’s a burden that’s changed the woman’s entire life.

Wren has a purple birthmark that covers one side of her face. In many historical romances, that would be her obstacle to overcome. And it is here too, but only tangentially. The real problem is the psychological damage she has to overcome from a lifetime spent in isolation.

Wren was raised by her aunt and uncle from the time she was 10. What happened before that is a mystery, but it was clearly Very Bad. Anyway, her adopted parents are now dead and Wren is very wealthy, but very much alone. She hides behind a veil and lives as a virtual recluse. She decides to use her fortune to “buy” a husband. The lucky candidate? Alexander Wescott, the impoverished new earl of Riverdale. Alex never expected to be earl and is now faced with cleaning up the mess his uncle left of the entailment.

When Wren propositions him, it’s not her birthmark that gives him pause, but her thinly veiled brittleness and unhappiness. He has given up on his dream of marrying for love, but he needs at least a chance he could be happy with his new bride. He agrees to get to know one another before making a decision.

Putting herself out there is excruciating for Wren, but she refuses to give in to her fears. She keeps pushing her own limits, widening her horizons, no matter how much it hurts.

Wren’s trauma is real and deep. Alex is so patient and is truly such a good man. Though he struggles with her proposal, it’s never for superficial reasons, and though he has to marry for money, it’s not about greed, but for providing for the people his uncle neglected for so long. When these two finally decide to pursue a relationship, he is everything she needs him to be and more.

The relationship development is lovely, but the real transformation is the way Wren grows to value herself and see beyond the narrow vision she has of herself. The fantastic supporting characters really affect this as well, like the wonderful Wescott family, specifically Alex’s mom and sister, but also Wren’s brother. By the same token, her awful mother gave me shudders; the way Balogh constructed her character was just pitch perfect.

I really enjoyed this one.

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Someone to Wed
by Mary Balogh
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Berkley

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