As a young man, Justin Wiley was banished by his father for mysterious reasons, but now his father is dead, and Justin has been Earl of Brandon for six years. A dark, dour man, he nonetheless takes it as his responsibility to care for his half-sister Maria when her mother dies. He travels to her home to fetch her back to the family seat at Everleigh Park.
Although she adored him once, Maria now loathes Justin, and her friend Lady Estelle Lamarr can see immediately how his very name upsets her. When Justin arrives and invites Estelle and her brother to accompany Maria to Everleigh Park to help with her distress, she begrudgingly agrees for Maria's sake.
As family secrets unravel in Maria's homecoming, Justin, too, uncovers his desire for a countess. And, while he may believe he's found an obvious candidate in the beautiful 25-year-old Lady Estelle, she is most certain that they could never make a match...
Once the Bridgertons all get their Netflix seasons as they justly deserve, I pray the next romance novel series that is brought to life is Balogh’s Westcott series. Not only do I want to see the Duke of Netherby brought to life (a younger Benedict Cumberbatch sort), I want a reason to finally get that family tree printout I’ve always wanted to keep all the characters straight. I love them. They’re meddling. They’re haughty. They defy convention. Shonda Rhimes would have a blast in reconstructing every wedding of the Westcotts, where each of them basically get out of a big wedding and do some sort of elopement on the fly. Except this one. Hurrah, fans, finally a big wedding!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. And I hope you don’t mind I gave away the happily ever after, but if you’ve read any Mary Balogh books, you know a HEA is in the offing, no matter how much on tenterhooks she might be keeping her readers. Instead, we start off the book with a beloved character–Lady Estelle–who is the twin daughter of the Marquess of Dorchester, who you might remember (if you too have a family tree printout) is married to Viola Kingsley, who we learned in the first book was bigamously married to the Earl of Riverdale, who died and ruined everyone’s lives, starting us on this grand adventure of a series. Of course, you don’t need to know all this or have read Viola’s book–or the ones before it–but much like the Bridgerton series, it’s more satisfying if you do because all the characters are beloved family members you know better than your own family.
Lady Estelle has agreed to accompany a friend, Maria, in order for her to get settled. Maria is being forced back home after several years of being estranged from her stepbrother, Justin, whom she believes wronged her mother and their family. Lady Estelle, not one to judge and willing to help her friend, also does not care for Justin from the few interactions they have had. Think Pride & Prejudice. There’s haughtiness. There’s stilted conversation. There’s a terrible proposal. Justin does not acquit himself well. I was delighted by it, wondering how the hero was going to win her over.
But slowly the truth begins to reveal itself. Slowly the real Justin emerges from the brittle hard man his sister and her friend see; and Estelle is confused who the real Justin is: the one her friend has told her horrible stories about or the one who shows true kindness in the most unexpected ways? Balogh does what she does best: she creates and mingles large, complicated yet kind families together to show the joy of the ties that bind. Yes, there are outbursts and Dramatic Scenes, but the family who stays together, talks it out and gives each other grace. It’s lovely to read and enjoy–and when the truth is actually revealed, we see that first impressions aren’t always true.
I think this book made a nice ending for the Westcott series (though of course, I wouldn’t say no to a book for Bertrand.) If I had one critique–I was a bit disappointed about Justin’s father. I think Balogh clearly motivated her character in why he behaved how he did. I can see it, but I didn’t like him for it. For other readers, they may also have an issue with how the father behaved and that aspect would keep it from being a truly satisfying book. As someone who realizes life doesn’t always allow do-overs or people to get everything right the first time, or how one’s virtue can also be their downfall, it made sense to me even though I was sad for the characters.
I enjoyed this book enough to garner it 5 stars (it would truly have to be a bad book indeed for me to do otherwise to a Balogh book) but I would say this wasn’t my favorite of the series. (Though that proposal will likely live on in my memory. Egads.) This may be because the Duke of Netherby didn’t have such a starring role as he’s had in other offshoots–and he is hilarious every time he enters the fray. But if I had to pick a favorite character here, Lady Maple is perhaps the most like Netherby: eccentric, unfiltered, confident. Still, this book is studded with lots of characters, all wonderful, real, and heart-warming. Highly recommend.
Are you a Mary Balogh fan? Have you been reading the Westcott series?
For what series would you most like "just one more book?"
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 6:00 PM (EST), December 25 will receive a print copy of Someone Perfect.
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited
She's a great author. I'm not a huge series reader but when I do, I always want more lol.ReplyDelete
Same. Sometimes when I'm intrigued by a book title and learn it's part of a series, I groan...but when it's with my autobuy authors, I'm like, "sign me up." *LOL*Delete
I haven’t read Mary analogy for a long time. I’m not sure why I’ve missed her recent work, maybe because every year there are so many new authors.ReplyDelete
I do love to follow series both historical romances and contemporary romances.
JillianHunter’s Boscastle family.
Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor, Heartbreaker, and Animal Magnetism series
Karen Hawkins’ macLean/ Hurst series
I hear you about the new authors (and great ones!) coming out every year! Hard to keep up. (I am laughing at the autocorrect elf in your phone...analogy for balogh. Cute.)Delete
Every novel which Mary Balogh writes is captivating and wonderful. Thanks for your lovely feature and giveaway. I have read many series which I would have liked one more book. It leaves me wanting more.ReplyDelete
Agree: so many series in which I was like "Oh, I wish there were one more!"Delete
I am a Mary Balogh fan, but I’m a bit behind in the Westcott series — I haven’t read the last two or three books, though they’ve been on my to-read list. Maybe I’ll use the holiday season to catch up!ReplyDelete
I couldn't think of a better way to enjoy the holiday! Except with a cup of cocoa...and perhaps a cookie. :)Delete
I am a Mary Balogh fan from way back. I look forward to every book and treasure them. A series is always appealing since I get involved and cannot let go. A series gives me great enjoyment.ReplyDelete
Yes, I love to treasure my series too. I have my bookshelves sectioned out by authors, then series...Delete
Mary Balogh is one of my very favorite authors. I've read many of her books including the Wescotts, but have fallen behind with the last couple in the series - I'll get back to them someday,ReplyDelete
Isn't it lovely to come back to an author and realize you have so much you can read and enjoy without waiting?Delete
I have read 4 of the Westcott books, and the others are on my wish list.ReplyDelete
As for a series that I would like to see one more(at least)book added, it would have to be Julie Garwood's Highlanders. I have always thought that some secondary characters deserved their own book.
YES! I adored Garwood's Highlander series...or any of her Scottish books. They were always so good.Delete
I adore Mary Balogh's books but have not yet started the Wescott books. There are way too many series that I would love one more book to be written. Maybe that's why I love Grace Burrowes' books so much - characters from previous books often show up.ReplyDelete
I am a fan of Ms Balogh. I have collected nearly every book she has ever written.ReplyDelete
I like the Westcott series. Like you, I fell in love with Netherby. He is such a perfect person.
I would love a final book in this series, or maybe just on and on with new books. Nah, I am sure that would not be a good thing for Ms Balogh nor her readers.
You know, I think you have inspired me to start in rereading some of her past series. What a lovely way to start the new year.
Thanks for this review. In fact, thanks for giving me a gift every time you write a post. You are a blessing in my life.
Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.
I made an error in my previous post. Hellie, you are a blessing, but I meant to say all of you are blessings.ReplyDelete
I know it is hard to be up and doing positive reviews on a regular basis. I used to write features for small town newspapers and it can be daunting. So, I admire what y'all do.
Take care and joyous holidays.
Don't include my name in the drawing since I ordered the book before it came out. Mary Balogh is truly one of the only authors I do that for; I've never been disappointed in one of her books. And while I've enjoyed the Westcott series very much, I also really loved The Survivors' Club and the Bedwyns, so I'd take more of any of them.ReplyDelete
I am a Mary Balogh fan from way back but have not read any recent books from her.ReplyDelete
I am a big Julie Anne Long fan and hated to see the Pennyroyal Green series come to an end even though she had run out of siblings to match up. LOL
This author is on my tbr list!ReplyDelete
I enjoy Mary Balogh books, but have fallen far behind in her series. There have been many series that have characters I wish had their own story or had it included in someone else's book. It is a bit like wanting to go back to the old neighborhood to see what has happened to everyone. I really need to read this series.ReplyDelete
I've read the entire series and look forward to reading the new one.ReplyDelete