someone to hold book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Continuing the Westcott family story, Someone to Hold is number two of that series. The first, Someone to Love was a nearly perfect example of the traditional Regency; wonderful characters with flaws but also values; a terrific plot a bit out of the ordinary, and a true sense of ‘Regency’ as demanded by the genre’s many fans. There was wit in abundance, much poignancy and a Society setting as well as a less grand domicile. It was, to me, an entirely appropriate introduction to a newer generation of readers of the genre so beloved by many readers.

You’ll be happy to know that book two does not deviate from those rules. There is one incident with which some might find fault, but not this reader! It fit the story perfectly, and seemed an entirely appropriate behavior by the two principals. Furthermore, it precipitated the happy-ever-after ending so beloved and necessary to us all.

When the former Earl of Riverdale married and fathered three children, all was wonderful and splendid and grand…until the presence of a former wife was revealed after his death. A wife who was still alive (although separated from him) at the time of the second marriage, but who passed away not long after that wedding. Thus the second family lost everything – not just wealth, but also titles and Society rankings – they’d always taken for granted, while Anastasia, the girl-child of that first marriage was suddenly whisked from the orphanage where she’d grown up. Soon thereafter, as a Cinderella in her own right, she married a Duke and they lived happily ever after. Well, we can at least suppose they will, as it’s now only a year later.

The second family has not fared so well; the non-wife has removed herself from Society’s gaze, while the two daughters are now living quietly with their maternal Grandmother in Bath. The son is with Wellington’s troops in Europe. The older daughter, Camille, now miss nobody, decides to become a teacher at the orphanage. Perhaps she will thus be able to find herself and a purpose to her life.

A former art teacher, Joel Cunningham, who had been in love with the presumed orphan, has been commissioned by Camille’s Grandmother to paint a portrait of her and her younger sister. Joel is not at all what she’d been prepared for, but then, neither is the orphanage.

Having had little exposure to ‘ordinary’ people, Camille finds herself in a precarious position, but one she embraces with all her large heart. She is astonished by Joel’s kindness to her, not to mention his extraordinary skills as a painter. As an orphan, however, his outlook on life is not what she’d thought such people could even dream of, much less succeed at, by living large. But then, just as Anastasia’s dream came true, so does Joel’s as he discovers his ‘real’ family.

This book is a typical Mary Balogh tear-jerker. You will love it, but be sure to have the tissues handy! You’ll need them.

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.