Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed For the Sake of Elena, an Inspector Lynley mystery. Sim shared her visit to 84 Charing Cross Road and the surrounding area, along with reflections on the film. Becky reviewed two books, The Kings and Queens of England and Scotland and One Fun Day With Lewis Carroll. She also shared her recent experiences with BBC Radio shows. Tina reviewed White Teeth, a novel that explores the diversity of London.
Book: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh
Publication date: November, 2017
Source: borrowed as an e-book from the library
Summary: This is the third in the Westcott series by Mary Balogh, following the fall-out after the death of the Earl of Riverdale revealed that his marriage wasn’t legitimate and neither were his three children who expected to inherit his title and what remained of his fortune.
In Someone to Wed, we learn the story of the new Earl of Riverdale, Alexander Westcott. He had just settled into a small country estate, working to make it profitable and livable for his tenant farmers and the village, when he learned that he’d inherited the much larger Brambledean Court. This estate is in terrible shape. Since the money went to a previously unknown daughter of the former Earl of Riverdale, Alexander’s financial situation is desperate. In time-tested Regency fashion, it’s clear to everyone including, reluctantly, Alexander, that he will need to marry for money.
Wren Heyden has money. She’s inherited her uncle’s profitable glassworks and has the experience and gumption to continue running it well. She also has a port-wine birthmark on her face. She believes that her disfigurement makes her ineligible to compete on the marriage market, contending with the beautiful debutantes during the London Season. Due to some early traumatic experiences, she goes out into the world very seldom and always veiled. As a neighbor of Brambledean Court, she becomes aware of Alexander’s difficulties and proposes a marriage of practicality.
Both Alexander and Wren have to work out what role, if any, love has to play in their story. Of course, we romance readers know that it will figure more greatly than either anticipates.
Thoughts: I’m really enjoying this series and I liked this book, in particular, because of the unusual heroine. We don’t get many romance heroines who feel they can only go into public with a veil. With that as a starting point, it was really fun to watch the relationship develop. Even more than in most romance novels, Alexander and Wren did not look like a match made in heaven, at the beginning, and there was a long journey for the reader to witness.
The settings in this book are wonderful places to visit in fiction. About half of the story takes place near the country estate of Brambledean Court and the other half is in Regency London. We also get a glimpse of the glassworks — it’s somewhat unusual for Regency romances to show us the Industrial Revolution which is in full swing at that time. I’ve been very attracted to the Industrial Revolution since, as I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, we spent a lot of time exploring the development of the steam engine during our trip to England.
Appeal: If you’re going to enjoy this novel, a Regency historical romance with thematic depth, then you might as well start reading at the beginning of the series. Someone to Love is the story of an orphan who suddenly finds out that she’s an heiress. Someone to Hold is the story of an heiress who suddenly finds out that she’s the illegitimate daughter of a cheat. Two more books have been announced in this series. Book 4 will be about the woman who found out that she had never been legitimately married only after her husband died. I’m looking forward to that romance with an older heroine. Book 5, according to Mary Balogh’s web site, will be about the second illegitimate sister. I’m hoping for a Book 6 about the brother who expected to be the Earl of Riverdale and who has been mostly off-stage during these novels, fighting the Napoleonic Wars.
Challenges: Many of the historical romance novels that I read are set in Britain but written by American authors. I get to count this book, though, for the British Books Challenge, because Mary Balogh was born in Wales. After university, she moved to Canada, where she still lives, to teach high school English.
Have you read this book? What did you think?