Narrated 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.
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.