Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh
Second book in the Westcott series
“What I set as my primary goal in life was all a mirage in a vast, empty desert.”
Westcott has lost everything. Her life has been turned upside down
since finding out that her father’s marriage to his mother was a sham
and her and her siblings are illegitimate. She finds herself in Bath at
the orphanage where her half-sister lived and becomes a teacher to the
orphans without any knowledge of children. Joel Cunningham is a renowned
artist known for capturing self-portraits that bring out a person’s
personality. Joel is no stranger the orphanage that Camille finds
herself teaching at as he lived there as a child and teaches art to the
orphans. Camille’s demeanor is stiff and cold and he finds nothing
tasteful about her since her rejection of his dear friend (Camille’s
half-sister), Anna, but when Camille’s grandmother commissions him to
paint a portrait of her, he finds himself becoming attracted to her.
This book is bland. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a HR novel that
didn’t have me speed reading through (even my least favorite one I read
quickly), but this one was so easy to put down. There are quite a few
issues I have with this novel, but it also isn’t horrible because when
it was fun to read I wasn’t bored and I found myself squealing at the
Balogh’s writing style is impassion and
cold. It’s hard to make a connection to her when her character match her
writing style at the beginning of the novel. Another con to Balogh’s
writing style is her tendency to have really long mental interjections
before starting a conversation. It gets really easy to lose interest
when I’m reading a conversation that last several pages because there
are so much unnecessary anecdotes that lack in humor and are filled with
existential drama. This story didn’t entrance me and in my opinion,
that’s a bad sign in a HR. HR romance should make me want to never stop
reading and I should gobble it the story up because it’s just so swoony
and fun. This novel lacks just that.
Whimsical Writing Scale: 2
“Life has kick us in the teeth, Abby, and I am about to kick back. Hard.”
main female character is Camille. Camille has the personality of a bag
of bones, even then I’m sure skeletons are more fun than her.
is a very refined character and her thoughts don’t feel real for a very
long time. My interactions with Camille were not off to a good start at
the beginning of the novel and I couldn’t find myself wanting to
connect to her cold, whiny inner monologues. Camille is also incredibly
selfish. Her mind is all woe-is-me my life is over and ruined. Waah waah
The funny thing is that Camille does grow on the
reader. I’m studying to teach high school English and I loved her
interactions with teaching the children. It made my soul so happy.
Camille’s interactions with baby Sarah are her saving grace. It’s those
interactions that made her human and I could see that Camille wasn’t a
cold-hearted aristocrat no longer in high society, but a woman who
didn’t know love and wanted to give it to someone small.
also made a complete 180 out of nowhere from being cold to shoving
tongue happily into Joel’s mouth, which is great, but a little out of
left field for her personality. Then she became cold and stiff again
then she randomly jumps into bed him with. I was proud of Balogh for
allowing Camille to have a true first sexual experience. She doesn’t
have an orgasm and it’s refreshing and believable. Then Balogh ruins it
with that annoying trope of fuck and run while calling herself a naïve
idiot for putting her love in someone who may not love her.
please, can we stop with this trope? Why can’t we have a heroine who
has sex and doesn’t feel ashamed by her actions just because affections
may not be returned.
Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2.5
main male character is Joel. Joel is so bland. He is boring and I
couldn’t find myself falling for him. He is not the type of HR hero that
makes me swoon and it made story pretty boring. An orphaned painter
shouldn’t be such an uninteresting character, but Balogh somehow managed
to make his character dull. He does grow into a more interesting and
fleshed character as the story progresses, but by the last page I still
found myself unimpressed by his comments and I just didn’t really care
all that much for him.
Swoon Worthy Scale: 2
haven’t read the first novel in this series, so I hadn’t met Anna prior
to reading this novel. I can’t say I’m impressed with Balogh by her
introduction to a beloved character because it left a sour taste in my
mouth. I’m introduced to her in a POV after a tense interaction with
Camille and it results in her and Camille’s cousin, Lizzie, making snide
judgmental comments about Camille’s state of dress and her personality.
I understand from reviews that people didn’t like Camille, but I
honestly didn’t like Anna very much because of this at first. The first
time I'm introduced to a character in a book, POV wise, shouldn't be
them judging another woman while also saying "I so want to like her, but
I don't know if I can because of how she treated me in the past"
(paraphrased). Anna did grow on me as the story went on, but I still
can’t get over my first introduction being a catty bitching session
about a woman.
I did enjoy seeing a huge family like the
Westcotts in a HR because most families are quite small, but this family
was huge. I couldn’t keep track of all of them and it reminded me of
how big my family dinners are because I come from a large family as
well. I enjoyed Abigail, Camille’s sister, and Avery, Anna’s husband,
but besides them no one really stuck out to me. The connection to Joel’s
family is quite interesting and I really felt for him for his new
knowledge and sudden loss. It’s too bad the character wasn’t around more
because I found his dry humor hilarious.
Character Scale: 2.75
I don’t know if I would recommend this. It’s not my favorite HR and
it’s definitely the best. There are much better ones out there and I
would recommend Lisa Kleypas, Sarah MacLean, and many more before I
would recommend picking this one up just because it’s not very fun and
the characters are bland. The novel remains at a stagnant pace for a
long time and I almost DNFed because of how bored I was. I’m glad I
finished though because I found the ending to be sweet. SPOILER I wish
that there were more adoption endings in HRs because I think it’s so
beautiful to welcome unwanted children into the lives of those who are
willing and able to provide for them.SPOILER If you do decide to pick
this one up, I hope you enjoy it more than I did.
Plotastic Scale: 2.25
Cover Thoughts: I love the cover for this one. It’s stunning!
Thank you, Netgalley and Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Are you interested in picking up Someone to Hold? Have you read Mary Balogh? Any recommendations as to what other books I should pick up? I know she is beloved and I just think this one was a miss for me. Let me know down below in the comments!