ABOUT THE BOOK:
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...
READ AN EXCERPT:
Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh is a 2017 Jove publication.
This second installment in the Westcott series centers around Camille Westcott, Anna’s half-sister. When Anna inherited her fortune and social status, it came at the expense of Camille and her family.
Now Camille, whose very identity was wrapped up in her father’s title, her place in society, the fortune she has never lived without, and the life she had expected to forge with her former fiancé, is struggling to find herself, to discover who she is and what she wants to do with her life.
Deciding to channel Anna’s previous life, Camille begins teaching at the orphanage where Anna came from. This puts her in direct contact with Anna’s old friend, Joel.
Joel is still nursing a broken heart, when Camille barges into his life. The fact she is Anna’s half-sister and has caused Anna great distress by refusing to accept her overtures, Joel is initially resentful of Camille.
But as time goes by, the two begin to form a grudging respect for one another as they gain a better understanding of themselves and each other.
But, can this newfound relationship lead to something more?
What I love the most about Mary Balogh’s writing is the depth she gives her stories, by drawing realistic characters who are flawed in some ways, but who always learn life lessons that leads to self improvement which enriches theirs and the lives of others.
This book explores the way one might handle a stunning reversal of fortune like Camille experienced. Sometimes, believe it or not, the worst thing that ever happened to us can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. Camille took her time coming to that conclusion and it was a hard fought battle, but I think Joel was very instrumental in showing her what she had missed out on in life and how that is far more important than anything she may have lost.
But, Joel also takes life lessons from Camille, as he finds himself drawn to her and her courage and determination as he watches her slowly begin to blossom. At first, I thought he was a little hard on Camille, even though I did concede his points at times. I liked the way Joel uses his art to reflect the inner depth of his subjects and how his own identity crisis seemed to parallel Camille's, which gave them something in common after all.
On its own, these intersections give the reader a lot to chew on, and the character growth is quite satisfying. However, the romance angle was a little wobbly.
The banter and dialogue between Camille and Joel was sharp and well written, and the friendship development works quite well, but as far as romantic chemistry or sexual tension goes, I wasn’t as moved by it as I normally am when reading Bologh’s novels. The intimacy felt forced, was ill timed, and lacked real passion.
The way family dynamics worked themselves out and the comeuppance of some villainous characters, and the underlying Karma, makes up for the underwhelming romantic elements though.
Overall, this was a satisfying addition to the series. This installment reminds me of some older classic novels set in this era of time that are ageless and timeless.
Mary Balogh always delivers in one way or another and she continues to be one of the very few historical romance authors I go out of my way to read.
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