Author: Mary Balogh

Guest Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

Posted November 29, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 6 Comments

Guest Review: Someone to Wed by Mary BaloghReviewer: Tracy
Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott series #3
Also in this series: Someone to Love, Someone to Hold
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can't afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate-and oh-so-dashing-earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past . . .

Alexander Wescott arrives at Withington House for tea expecting that he would be meeting some of his new neighbors.  He’s surprised when it’s only the lady of the house, Miss Wren Heyden, and her maid.  He’s a bit put off by the situation and by Miss Heyden, and just wants to leave.  He is shocked when she proposes marriage to him out of the blue.  She had been sitting in shadow and when she reveals herself he sees a large purple mark on one side of her face that she had had since birth.  Alexander agrees to get to know Wren and they start a bit of a courtship that ends with Wren retracting her proposal.

Almost a month later Wren arrives in London.  When Alexander sees her again he knows that marrying her is the right thing to do.  He proposes, and she accepts.  Unfortunately Wren thought that once they were married that she would continue to live in obscurity – she couldn’t have been more wrong.  The reclusive Wren soon finds herself surrounded by Alexander’s accepting family and eventually going out in public without her veil.  The ghosts of her past, however, soon start to tear her apart from the inside and she’s not sure that marrying Alexander was the wisest thing to do as she considers herself a broken woman.

This was such a sweet book.  I have enjoyed the Wescott series so far and this is another good one.  I expected, after book 1, that the books would be strictly about the Wescott children who had found themselves illegitimate after thinking for most of their lives that they were legitimate.  I was wrong and I’m happy about that. 🙂  I didn’t realize that I wanted Alexander’s story until I started reading.  It was so very good and I was happy that Balogh went the direction she did.

Alexander was such a great character and a good man.  He was conscientious and thoughtful and genuinely cared about people.  When he inherited the Earldom he was shocked and overwhelmed.  He had inherited a home that had been completely neglected despite the former earl’s wealth.  Unfortunately that wealth hadn’t come with the title so Alexander was trying to do the best he could.  He knew he needed a rich wife but it was distasteful to him to marry for money – I can’t say I blame him.  Wren presented a perfect solution but he knew that she had many issues and the wall she put up between herself and people would cause problems.  He told himself when she broke things off that he was relieved, but he couldn’t decide if he was being honest with himself.  I was so happy that he made the decisions he did later in the book. He proved that he was the honorable man I thought him to be.  He took such good care with Wren and her sensitivities to people and I loved him for that.

Wren started off not being my favorite.  She was standoffish and caustic and it bothered me as I knew Alexander didn’t deserve it.  She tried to come out of her shell but after being a recluse for twenty years it was difficult, to say the least.  When she finally made it to London she seemed to become a different person and one I greatly admired. She could have so easily stayed in her rooms and continued to be the recluse but she made an effort to show herself despite her self-consciousness and I loved it.  Balogh did a wonderful job writing this heroine!  She had been through so much in her life that she could have folded up into herself and crumbled but she didn’t and loved her for it.

Balogh has become one of my go-to authors when it comes to historical romance.  She always provides a lovely story and wonderful romance and this was another great one.  The Wescotts are a lively family and I can’t wait to read more about them in the future.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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Guest Review: Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

Posted February 6, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Someone to Hold by Mary BaloghReviewer: Tracy
Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott series #2
Also in this series: Someone to Love, Someone to Wed

Publication Date: February 7th 2017
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery...

With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.

An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead...

Camille Westcott was once Lady Camille Westcott but now that her father has died and it’s been discovered that his marriage was bigamous, Camille is just Miss Camille Westcott.  Everything that she has striven for her entire life is now…gone.  She’s at loose ends to say the least and after leaving London and hiding in her maternal grandmother’s house for a while she finally decides that she needs to do something.  She decides to take a teaching position at the orphanage where her half-sister, Anna, grew up and taught as well.  She also takes Anna’s old room at the orphanage even though her grandmother lives not that far away.  She needs to do this on her own – be independent and learn how to live without all the comforts. Yes, it’s about changing from who she was but it’s also a bit of a punishment – at least that’s the way she thinks of it.

Joel Cunningham is a portrait artist that volunteers at the orphanage where he grew up.  He comes in and teaches art a couple of times a week.  When he sees that Camille is to be the new teacher he’s not happy at all.  Anna was his best friend and he even offered her marriage at one point and to see the sister that spurned Anna now taking her place makes him mad.  She’s all tied up and military efficient and after just having a teacher that wouldn’t let the kids be kids he thinks she’ll fail as a teacher.  Except when he first comes in he sees the kids engaged and happy and Joel starts to see Camille in a different light.  He is also commissioned by Camille’s grandmother to paint portraits of both Camille and her sister Abby so he is constantly observing Camille to find out who she truly is.  He finds that she’s so many different people all rolled into one and even she’s not sure who she is.

Joel and Camille start a friendship that soon turns to more but neither one of them is sure where it’s going, if anywhere.  When Camille’s large family descends upon Bath she gets an earful from a couple of different family members that give her a lot to think about.  Likewise, Joel, who grew up an orphan finds out who his family is which ends up changing his life forever.  The lives of both Camille and Joel are in such flux that neither one is sure where they’re going but they each know who they want with them as they go.

This was a wonderful romance that I very much enjoyed reading.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Camille’s in the last book as she was, let’s face it, a total bitch to Anna.  I can understand why that was but it didn’t endear me to her at all.  Despite that I knew that Balogh would show us another side of Camille and make me like her so I was excited to read her book.  I’m so glad I did.  It was an unusual romance but it was oh, so satisfying.

To say that Camille had no idea who she was after the big reveal of her illegitimacy would be putting it mildly.  She was at such loose ends but was determined to be independent.  She had turned down her half-sister’s offer of a quarter of her fortune but her grandmother had given her a large allowance.  Camille wanted none of it because she didn’t feel she deserved it.  She had tried her whole life to be perfect.  The perfect daughter, the perfect lady, the perfect everything.  Part of this was because of her father.  She wanted his love and figured if she did no wrong he would love her and forgive her for not being a boy (she was the oldest).  That didn’t end up happening and it certainly didn’t help her when her fiancé found out she was illegitimate.  He dumped her as well.  She needed to find out if she could be imperfect and still lead a good life.  With Joel she found a friend and confidante but it was still hard for her to let herself go and just…be.  He was also confusing in his affections so that turned her round and round.  I loved reading Camille’s transformation.  The realizations she came to and decisions she made about herself and her life were sometimes harsh but that made the end result so much more satisfying.  I ended up really liking her and who she had become by the end of the book.

Joel thought he knew exactly who he was – until the information about his family came to him.  He was then at loose ends himself because he thought he never cared to know about them but when he did he found he wanted more and more.  Unfortunately he didn’t have the opportunity to learn more after a while and that depressed him.  He found that he loved being with Camille despite his first impressions of her but he didn’t know how to handle his feelings towards her and made a mess of things.  Luckily he recovered in the end and got his HEA with Camille.  He took a little long, yes, but I thought he made up for it in the end.  He was in a state of flux too so I could cut him some slack.

The book told a lovely story about Joel and Camille finding themselves.  I loved the way Balogh brought them together and had them figuring it all out while falling in love.  It was an emotional book that I found to be sweet, tender, touching, funny and romantic – all the things I love. I can’t wait to see what Balogh brings us next in the Westcott series.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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Guest Review: Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

Posted November 23, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Someone to Love by Mary BaloghReviewer: Tracy
Someone to Love by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott series #1
Also in this series: Someone to Hold, Someone to Wed
Published by Signet
Publication Date: November 8th 2016
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had...

Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

Anna grew up in an orphanage in Bath and then eventually became a teacher in their schoolroom.  She didn’t have a bad life but she did always dream of having a family of her own.  When she gets a letter in the mail from a solicitor in London she’s confused as to why he wants her there.  She goes and gets the shock of her life.  She’s the legitimate daughter of an Earl!  She’s got half-sisters and a half-brother as well as many other relatives including a grandmother!  She is overwhelmed but feels that she needs to give this part of her life a chance.  She is kind and considerate and lets her female relatives guide her as they will.

While this is happening she finds herself intrigued with the Duke of Netherby.  He is standoffish and extravagant and she’s not sure what to make of him – except that he’s really never anything but nice to her (well except the first time he saw her and thought she was a servant).  For his part Avery, the duke, finds himself also intrigued with this orphan who has the dignity of a lady of the ton and is so very kind and nothing like other women he’s met.  He finds himself asking her out for walks and doing things for her that help her in the background of her life.  When she’s told she’ll probably marry by the end of the season, Avery steps up and asks but neither of them can figure out why.

This was a sweet story of Anna, a kind orphan who becomes all the rage in London.  She’s plain spoken and ordinary. She has scruples and a conscience and that’s something new and different in the ton. Avery is a bit bewitched by her but he can’t seem to keep himself away.  I liked that he couldn’t but it was a bit odd how Balogh went about getting the pair together. Yes, they had regard for each other but I didn’t see the love happening between them until later and even then it was…tepid.  IDK, Balogh usually bowls me over with her emotional love stories and this just didn’t.

It wasn’t a bad story at all and Avery’s sarcasm had me laughing a time or two, that’s for sure.   I liked a lot about this book and would recommend it but be warned that there is a bit of a disconnect in the romance, at least imho.  Despite my few reservations about this book I am curious to see what happens in the next book with Anna’s half-sister, Camille who was jilted in this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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Guest Review: Silent Melody by Mary Balogh

Posted February 25, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Silent Melody by Mary BaloghReviewer: Tracy
Silent Melody by Mary Balogh
Published by Signet
Publication Date: August 4th 2015
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Lady Emily Marlowe is beautiful, independent, and unspoiled. Deaf since childhood, she appreciates her family’s efforts to nurture her spirit, but the man they’ve chosen for her betrothal can never fulfill her. The only one Emily has ever desired is bold and reckless Lord Ashley Kendrick. Her childhood amour inspired her fantasies and vowed never to forget her—even as he left her for a new life in India and a new love.

Seven years and countless dreams later, Ashley has returned a desolate widower to Bowden Abbey and, true to his promise, to Emily. Yet his heedless proposal of marriage has left her unexpectedly conflicted. Though the heat of passion still burns, Emily fears that it’s only a sense of duty—not love—that has brought him to bended knee. And what is she to make of those seven lost years clouded in secrets too dark for Ashley to share?

For Emily, her greatest and only love now becomes one worth fighting for, one of startling revelations and second chances, and one, like a melody, too beautiful for words....

Emily came to live with her sister when she was 14 years old. She followed her brother-in-law’s brother around and he was her best friend. Ashley, however, is going to make his fortune in India and takes off for 7 years. Emily is heartbroken but as she’s only 15 by that time she knows that nothing could have come of the relationship at the time he left.

Emily takes blows to her heart when she finds out that Ashley has married and then when he has a son. She has decided that it’s time to move on with her life. She wants children and a husband and a household and she knows that putting herself out there is the only way that will happen. She allows her brother-in-law to vet men for her and she one in particular courts her with purpose. Apparently he doesn’t care that she is a deaf mute but the man does like to talk. Emily enjoys him but only catches about half of what he says with her lip reading as he talks so much and so fast. She’s exhausted after their conversations.

Emily is at a country ball at her brother-in-law’s house when Ashley returns. He is immediately smitten with Emily but he is burdened with heavy emotion. Emily can tell this and tries to comfort him but things go too far. Emily is then left with no wedding and no hope of ever having one as she refuses to marry Ashley just because he took her virginity. She wants him to love her as she loves him. She was willing to settle without love if she married someone other than Ashley but if it’s to be him then she needs his love. Ashley needs to work through his grief and come to terms with his feelings for Emily and decide exactly what those are but first he has to save Emily from someone who is trying to do her harm.

I have to say that I love books that have a deaf hero or heroine, especially historical romances. The troubles they have with communication just catch my interest and doesn’t let go. This book was no different. It was wonderful to see that Emily could read lips, but she spoke in so many different ways – with her body, with her painting, with her eyes. I really loved how Mary Balogh portrayed Emily and while her lack of hearing and speech was a definite impediment it didn’t stop her from doing what she wanted to do or even getting across to people what she wanted to say.

Ashely was a bit of a wreck, I must say. He was grieving over the death of his wife and child but as he didn’t get along with his wife he had guilt about those feelings as well. It was a mess but I enjoyed the way that Ashley finally got his head on straight and recognized what he had in front of him, Emily, and what she was worth – everything. It took him a while, and I feared his wouldn’t ever see it but he finally did and I got my HEA.

If you enjoy books like this then I highly recommend it. The writing was beautiful, the story was engaging and the romance definitely worth reading.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

(This book was originally released in 1997 but was reprinted and re-released on August 4, 2015.)


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Guest Review: Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh

Posted December 29, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Only Enchanting by Mary BaloghReviewer: Tracy
Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh
Series: Survivor's Club #4
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: October 28th 2014
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

;Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancée’s desertion after his return home. Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.

Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.

When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.

Tracy’s review of Only Enchanting (Survivors’ Club #4) by Mary Balogh.

Agnes is a widow who happens to be friends with a Viscountess. That Viscountess’s husband is a member of the Survivors’ Club – six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars. When Agnes attends her friend’s ball she’s very excited, especially when a very handsome Viscount, Lord Ponsonby, asks her to dance. She’s even happier when he asks her a second time to waltz and she falls a little bit in love with the man. He finds her enchanting and can’t quite forget her.

Five months later the Survivors’ Club is having their annual three week gathering and for once they are having it at her friend Sophia’s estate. This brings Lord Ponsonby back on the scene and that begins their courtship.

Flavian, Lord Ponsonby, was severely injured in the war and it was thought by all that he would not survive – he proved them wrong. Then it was thought that even though he would live he would be mad and have to be institutionalized – he proved everyone wrong again. He not only survived but he flourished. Ok, he has some memory issues and he does stutter a bit but he was shot in the head, among other injuries, so it’s understandable. His family is making noises about him getting back with his ex-fiance who abandoned him in his time of need and he wants nothing to do with it. Besides that, he’s infatuated with Agnes and can’t seem to figure out why. He manages to court her a bit, in his own strange way, and ends up marrying her.

Agnes is thrilled to be married to Flavian but when they return to London and find not only his family but his ex-fiance and her family lying in wait she’s not so thrilled. Agnes soon puts two and two together and figures out that Flavian married her to avoid having to marry Velma and she’s pissed. Flavian soothes her ruffled feathers but can the pair make a marriage that was made in haste work for the long term?

What a great story. I loved Agnes and Flavian together and their story was very touching. There weren’t any true villains here – just a spiteful ex-fiance – that would kidnap or physically harm anyone, and I loved that it mostly revolved around Agnes and Flavian working out their lives and their relationship.

Flavian had been manipulated a time or two in his life and he always managed to get himself out of it. He had been severely injured and then deserted by his fiancé and best friend. It hurt him horribly and he tried to hide that hurt behind a face of indifference. He also had had a brother whom he loved dearly. David was always physically weak and Flavian only inherited his title because David had died. He hated that he had to lose his brother in order to inherit and would have rather had David back with him. I loved this family connection and how strongly it was written. Though Flavian was a little off kilter at times because of his brain injury he was a kind man and I liked how he treated Agnes, especially after they were married.

Agnes was a woman who wasn’t going to let anything pull her down. She wanted nothing more than for her marriage to work but was quite pissed, and rightfully so, when she believed that Flavian had used her to get away from Velma. He couldn’t deny that that was a part of it but I loved that they could communicate enough that they worked it out without too much strife. Agnes had her own personal demons that haunted her and Flavian, who’d do anything for her, helped her with those as well.

I really enjoyed this story. A scarred hero (inner scars in this case) is always a big pull for me in books and this one didn’t let me down. It was a wonderful love story and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Series:

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This title is available from Signet. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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