Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott Series #2
Publication Date: February 7th 2017
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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