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Someone to Care.

by Balogh, Mary

  Print book : Fiction

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Great character development   (2018-04-15)

Excellent

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by booksonthebeach

Viola Kingsley spent more than two decades as Viola Westcott, Countess of Riverdale. It was a loveless marriage, but she did come out of it with three children. As it turned out, that was ALL she got out of it--upon the death of the Earl, the entire Westcott family discovered that Viola and Humphrey had never been legally married, since his unknown first wife was still alive at the time of their wedding. Overnight Viola went from being a wealthy widow to a penniless pariah. The Earl's title transferred to a very reluctant Cousin Alexander; the Earl's money went to his sole legitimate heir: Anna, his daughter from his first marriage.

Several years later, Viola's life has stabilized: instead of being rejected by her family, the entire Westcott and Kingsley clans have gone out of their way to enfold and support her. Camille, her eldest daughter, has made her a grandmother. Anna is impossible to hate and absolutely insisted on giving Viola's home and dowry back to her and to her youngest daughter, Abigail. Viola worries constantly about her son Harry, back with his regiment and fighting Napoleon's forces, but he says he's having the time of his life. She should be content. And yet....

Just after her grandson's christening, Viola snaps. She has been suppressing her true self for a quarter of a century, and at 42 years of age, she no longer knows who she is and desperately needs to be alone to figure it out. She makes her escape in a hired carriage, which breaks down in a small village in the middle of nowhere, stranding her temporarily at the sole inn. Because Fate has a wicked sense of humor, she's not the only traveler stranded there that day. Marcel Lamarr, Marquess of Dorchester, the only man to ever tempt her to break her marriage vows, is already in the main dining room when she arrives. It's been fourteen years since she sent him away....

Marcel has a well-earned reputation as a gambler and cynic, a long list of former mistresses, and a history of avoiding family responsibility. He's in no hurry to return to his estate and deal with the various relatives living there, including his own children. In fact, he's successfully avoided dealing with them more than a few brief times a year since his wife's fatal accident almost 17 years ago. When he spies Viola, he makes the impulsive decision to send his brother away with his carriage, intending to test his powers of persuasion...and is delighted when she doesn't turn down his offer to escort her to the village fair. He's even more delighted when she agrees to spend the evening with him...and then to run away with him to his remote cottage.

What starts out as an impulsive fling evolves into a far more complicated relationship as the weeks go by, eventually becoming impossibly tangled once they are discovered by their respective families. For it turns out that responsibilities are not shed quite as easily nor permanently as Marcel had talked himself into believing, and to his astonishment, he's no longer sure he wants them to be.

This fourth book in the Westcott series is my favorite so far, and not just because the protagonists are only slightly younger than I am (a nice change from twenty-somethings who are magically as mature as people a decade older). Ms. Balogh is known for her character-driven romances, and this is one of her best, in my opinion. Viola and Marcel bring lots of baggage to their relationship, and the journey they make toward reconciliation and healing, particularly Marcel in his broken relationships with his children, is an absorbing story to read.

For readers' advisors: character doorway is primary, setting (1813 England) is secondary. There is no violence, but there are sex scenes (not overly explicit) and some mild swearing (mostly variations on "damn").

Many many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC ebook I received in exchange for my honest review.




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