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Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

Someone to Love by Mary BaloghNarrated by Rosalyn Landor

I had high hopes for Someone to Love, the debut novel in Mary Balogh’s Wescott series. Interestingly while I was engrossed and invested in the story, I found myself strongly disliking the hero throughout most of the book, which makes this a difficult story for me to rate. Usually when I dislike a character, I find myself losing interest in the story too. As that was not the case here, I must give credit to Ms. Balogh for writing a complex and multi-dimensional story. That said, I also did not feel the romance in the book. In fact, it almost felt as if there was no romance at all to this book. Instead the story seems more like that of an unexpected friendship. The hero and heroine eventually label this relationship as love. However, their backgrounds (which were full of an utter lack of love) and their actions towards one another throughout most of the book, left me somewhat at a loss as to whether the characters themselves even truly knew what they found. The one aspect of this book that was definitely solid, however, is the narration – making at least the format choice of audiobook an easy pick.

Anna Snow has always longed for family. Growing up in an orphanage, even if it was a well-run one, was not easy for her. Anna, however, made the best with what she had. Her stay at the orphanage was funded by an anonymous source, whose only stipulation was that she remain at the orphanage to continue receiving the funds. So, Anna stays well beyond the normal tenure and eventually becomes a teacher at the orphanage. She has found peace in her existence and enjoys teaching, when she receives a letter (calling for her attendance in London at once) that completely changes the course of her life.

Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby, has been appointed the guardian of the underage, new Earl of Riverdale, following the passing of his father. A seemingly uneventful task, like most of the tasks in his life which he generally considers to be boring. However, this soon changes when Netherby learns from the new Earl’s mother that the new Earl has an illegitimate sister who the late Earl had been maintaining – a maintenance she would like stopped, with a lump-sum pay-off, without the new Earl’s knowledge.

However, at the reading of the late Earl of Riverdale’s will, quite to everyone’s stunned surprise, the family learns that not only did the late Earl of Riverdale have another daughter, but she is actually his only legitimate heir. As you can imagine, this becomes the topic du jour with the ton and changes the destinies of all the Earl’s children, including Anna, who now inherits a vast wealth of non-entailed property, and is overnight thrust into the world of the ton. With practically no experience or relevant education, Anna (who now learns her full name is Anastasia), embarks on a whirlwind education of what is “expected” and how a Lady of her station should act. Interestingly this journey is the first thing that we see the Duke of Netherby take more than a passing interest in, and thus ensues the somewhat contentious, somewhat reserved friendship between the Duke of Netherby and Lady Anastasia.

Rosalyn Landor is a splendidly talented narrator. Her attention to detail and ability to enact a scene is first rate. Moreover, she creates distinguishable voices for both the female and male characters so that you never have to rely on dialogue tags, and is adept at timing her delivery of both the narratives and dialogues to effect maximum understanding and impact.

I must admit that while I absolutely loved her voices for the female characters in this book, particularly the heroine’s, her voice for Netherby was not my favorite. However, it may just be that my general dislike of his character bled into my association with his voice. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed Anna/Anastasia’s dialogues and felt that Ms. Landor really brought this lonely but independent heroine’s personality to life.

All in all, I enjoyed Someone to Love, but perhaps not as much as I had hoped. My main issue with this story was that I didn’t particularly like the aloof, conceited style of the hero (the disdainful way he treats the heroine in the very beginning of the story – confusing her for a governess and telling her she’d gone through the wrong door – really turned me off to his character). This general seeming indifference continues throughout most of the book. Interestingly, his actions sometimes are at odds with his words and perhaps that’s what the heroine falls in love with. I understand why Ms. Balogh wrote his character this way (which is tied to his past) and how her plot ultimately ties this character trait to love at the end of the story, but for me it was a little bit too late. Moreover, it made the romantic connection between the hero and heroine hard for me to accept. However, while I may not have been the hero’s biggest fan, I still did find the story entertaining. Therefore, whether you are a Balogh fan or not, Someone to Love is definitely worth a listen.

BJ


Narration: B+

Book Content: B-

Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in

Violence Rating: Minimal/Fighting (some martial arts descriptions and one scene with a duel where the weapon of choice is fists)

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Recorded Books

Someone to Love was provided to AudioGals by Recorded Books for a review.

AudioGals earns commissions on purchases made through links to Amazon.com in this post.

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  1. Aryn

    I think to those who didn’t have much ‘love’ as children, this would reflect accurately a view of love. Much as children raised in a violent household think one needs something else as a show of love. Just a thought.

    1. BJ

      Thanks Aryn. Yes, I agree this played into the story. I guess after the heroine had spent her childhood/teen years in an orphanage, away from any family whatsoever, I just wanted more for her. In the end, I think they both learn what love truly is, I just felt bad for the heroine that she accepted his initial indifferent treatment of her almost as if, like you say, the fact that she was raised without family made it acceptable.

      At the end of the day though, while the hero wasn’t my favorite, the story did hold my interest; and there were a number of secondary characters that intrigued me and who I’m sure will make great primary characters for future books in this series. Therefore, I definitely plan to continue with the series.

  2. Wendy Loveridge

    I agree that Avery is difficult to like, BJ, but he did grow on me. He’s a real sweetie in Someone to Hold and his love for Anna Is very obvious. I think that he’s a character who will really grow through out the series. I had the honour of meeting Mary Balogh last September and as I was reading an ARC of this book at the time we had a long discussion on her reasons behind the series and Avery in particular. So I have a bit of a soft spot for him. A great review by the way.

    1. BJ

      Thank you Wendy. I’m glad to hear that you have enjoyed the subsequent book, Someone to Hold. Avery definitely turned a corner towards the end of the book, so I can definitely see how his character, and particularly his ability to show love towards Anna, would continue to grow throughout the series. I’m on the waiting list at my library for Someone to Hold, so I definitely plan to continue with the series. It must have been a great experience to get to talk with Ms. Balogh about the series by the way!

  3. Caz

    I really liked Avery from the start – for one thing, he stands out among all those tall, dark, well-muscled heroes because he’s wiry, fair and slight, and I loved that he is so utterly urbane and confident – it obviously took a lot of work for him to achieve such presence.

    As for Anna accepting his initial treatment of her, I don’t think it was necessarily to do with her having no family; I think it was more to do with her own sense of self-possession and self-worth. She is a very dignified young woman who, as is shown in the scenes where the other ladies are trying to get her to change her mode of dress and hairstyle – is fully able to hold her own with whoever else is in the room. Plus a duke could get away with just about anything, and a woman of her station would probably have been used to being dismissed as insignificant by those of his class. I suspect her acceptance was a combination of being aware of her status but also being fully aware of her own worth and not feeling like she needed anything from him.

    But there’s no question Avery’s hauteur and extravagance in dress are a veneer which he can assume and drop at will, which he does when he begins to fall for Anna. I do think there are perhaps too many family members introduced, because this is a first book and Ms. Balogh spends quite a lot of time on the set up.

    1. BJ

      Thanks Caz. It’s always interesting to hear other perspectives. I will say that the one thing that I really did like about the hero, and which I thought was somewhat unique in romancelandia, is what you point out in the first paragraph of your reply. In the romance genre, the hero is nearly always the epitome of a sex god– tall, dark, and muscled. These characteristics nearly always are part of the romance hero’s description (query why there is no typical mold for a heroine, perhaps because romance is always focused on the woman’s perspective as women are more likely to be both the writers and the readers, but then that’s a question for another day). I really liked that Ms. Balogh bucked the typical hero mold and built a story in Someone to Love that showed that the hero nonetheless was strong, successful, and attractive anyway.

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