Happy Saturday, everyone! I’ve stocked the fridge and ensured a plenteous tea supply, getting ready for a winter storm chez MissB. I’m reading a wonderful book and will be posting a review soon. For today, I have a treat for you: Janet Webb’s review of Mary Balogh’s Someone To Trust (Westcott #5). Read Janet’s review below!
Mary Balogh writes books that once you start, sleep is optional until you utter a happy sigh at the end. I’m invested in the Westcotts, a close, intertwined family who invite readers into their charmed circle.
Balogh does widows who’ve had a crummy first marriage very well. Some causes are abuse, be it emotional and/or physical, or the consequences of dealing with a husband’s mental illness. Lizzie aka Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, is the latest widow-with-a-troubled-past. She shares characteristics that reoccur in Balogh’s depiction of widows, like a stiff upper lip, an almost preternatural serenity, and a tendency to be self-effacing.
Another trope Balogh occasionally revisits is love between an older woman and younger
man. Been there too. Am I suggesting readers take a pass on Someone to Trust? No, indeed, because Balogh makes every trope fresh and new.
In Balogh’s world, Christmas is a time when conventions are ignored and everyone comes together to celebrate Christ’s birth, surrounded by friends and family. If they’re very lucky, they make merry surrounded by glorious newly-fallen snow:
After her husband’s passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides that she must enter into
another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she
meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She
simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home
from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight
in the afternoon.
They discuss their expectations of marriage—Colin wonders, “why would she marry for
any other reason than love?” In his opinion, Elizabeth deserves to be adored and loved for the rest of her life. Why would she settle for less?
“Perhaps I am a little too old for romantic love. Or perhaps I do not trust it as much
as once I did.”
“Now, that sounds purely sad,” he said. And he meant it. I do not trust … ? Had love
let her down? Perhaps because it had let her husband die? “And too old for
romance? Tell that to those two.”
He nodded ahead to the Marquess and Marchioness of Dorchester.
Someone to Care, the fourth Westcott book, is the story of the Marquess of Dorchester and his bride but we have established that the Westcott clan is close-knit. Elizabeth agrees with Colin’s assessment.
“They do look happy,” Elizabeth agreed, “after all of twenty-five hours of marriage.
And yes, they are both over forty.”
“I have always thought that I need not consider anything so drastic as marriage for
years yet,” he said. “I have only recently turned twenty-six, after all.”
Elizabeth tells him she’s thirty-five and makes the obvious point that, “no one would even remark upon it if it were the other way around—if you were nine years older that I, that is.”
It’s a shame because they feel “an instant affinity, a total comfort” in each other’s company. Still, there’s much to enjoy during their time together. What would put a cherry on this confection of Christmas cheer? How about an accidental tumble into a snowbank and a stolen kiss? And such a kiss.
But this was not a brief kiss, or at least not very brief. And there was nothing
brotherly about it. It was indeed on the lips, or rather, it was all heat and moisture
and mouths more than just lips, and for a fraction of a moment—or forever, he was
not sure which—he felt as though someone had wrapped him in a large blanket that
had been heated before a roaring fire.
Kiss notwithstanding, Elizabeth and Colin leave the Christmas party, not as a couple, but as two individuals with marriage on their minds with a spouse to be named later. But first they waltz, that most romantic of dances. Avery, Duke of Netherby, comments on how well they frolic together, and Colin admits to Avery’s wife, “that Lady Overfield has probably spoiled me for all other waltzing partners.”
“Oh dear,” she said, “Well, you must get her to promise to reserve a waltz for you at
every ball during the coming Season.”
“What a splendid idea,” he said.
It is a splendid idea. Watching Elizabeth and Colin deepen their undeniable attraction to
each other and navigate the obstacles in their path is an unalloyed pleasure. Trust me, Mary Balogh has given us another deeply satisfying story with Someone to Trust.