on November 27, 2018
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During a rare white Christmas at Brambledean Court, the widow Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, defies convention by falling in love with a younger man in the latest novel in the Westcott series.
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. Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snow bank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them for she is nine years older than he.
They return to London the following season, both committed to finding other, more suitable matches. Still they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love...
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
It seems that in many historical novels, the heroine is flawlessly beautiful, sweet, naïve, and young. What about the women over 30 who find themselves looking for someone to love? What about those who have experienced marriage once and are looking for a second chance? Someone to Trust, #5 in Mary Balogh’s Westcott series gives us just such a heroine. With most romance readers being between the ages of 30-54, she’s definitely someone readers can identify with.
Elizabeth Overfield and Colin Handrich, Lord Hughes meet at a Christmas gathering of family and friends. Elizabeth is the sister of the host and Colin is the brother of the hostess. Knowing Colin may feel awkward at a celebration consisting of virtual strangers to him, Elizabeth, always one to make people comfortable, makes a special effort to ensure he feels welcome. Through the Christmas celebrations, the two quickly become at ease with one another. Elizabeth is enchanted by Colin’s quiet charm and he finds her poised, serene, and lovely. They fast became good friends, laughing and talking throughout the festivities. Both were looking to wed. Elizabeth had been widowed for some time and knew she needed to marry again. Now that Colin had become Baron, he knew he should look for a wife. Both had possible matches but none that appealed. When Colin suggested “Perhaps we should put ourselves out of misery and marry each other”, Elizabeth knew surely he was teasing. After all, she was 9 years older than he. She did agree though that while in London looking for suitable matches, they would dance one waltz together at each ball.
And they did just that. There was total comfort between them. They could forget about the rest of the world and just enjoy. They were easily able to talk on any subject. Elizabeth opened up to him about the ugliness of her marriage and Colin shared the bleakness of his childhood with her. Things they’d never shared with anyone. Soon they found themselves attending balls solely for the desire of dancing with each other. Though each had possible suitors, none made them feel as they did when together. Did they want to settle for a match with someone society deemed suitable or were they willing to choose with their hearts?
This was a charming, sweet story. Personally, I would have preferred a little more passion and sizzle but it was a lovely and well-written story and followed the social rules of the time. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the English countryside and the London balls. The family dynamic was excellent. A wonderful contrast between a loving, close family and the most dysfunctional family you’ll ever read. And I found the characters intriguing. Even the “bad” ones. Elizabeth was the kind of woman that can hide a lot behind a calm façade. No one would know the horrors she’d endured in her marriage or how lonely she was. She had a serene countenance but she was a lovely and lively woman. And strong. Colin was teasing and fun and someone she had an instant affinity with. Though she was developing feelings for him, she was uncertain. She’d thought herself in love before and that had ended badly. She worried that their age difference would be frowned upon. As much as she wanted him for her own, she was a friend to him first and wanted him to find happiness. I felt for Colin. He’d not had the loving family Elizabeth had. His family had never shown affection. Quite the opposite in fact. They chose to hurt and manipulate. He was burdened by his new responsibilities. And he was torn between what was expected and what he wanted. Though society and his mother wanted him to choose a young beauty, “he yearned for Elizabeth’s friendship, her approval, her smiles, her jokes, her exuberance, her serenity”. He yearned for her. I enjoyed how Colin and Elizabeth’s relationship slowly developed and I enjoyed seeing them question their own feelings. Knowing their uncertainties made me nervous they would choose the match expected of them. It did feel slow at times though with the characters rehashing the same worries repeatedly. Still, Mary Balogh is adept at decoding every little detail of the duties, worries, and obligations that go along with human relationships. I understood their doubts and fears, especially those of Colin in regard to his family.
As I mentioned before, I enjoyed the family dynamic of the Westcott family. What a loving and supportive group. There were many to meet as this was a new series to me. The author did give a brief history of each character as they appeared but there were so many that the descriptions tended to get in the way of the story. There was a family tree chart at the front of the book that would have been sufficient for me. I wish more authors would include those.
Fans of the Regency era and all the customs and rules involved will enjoy this story. A must read for Mary Balogh fans and fans of this series though I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a stand- alone.