Someone to Love
Mary Balogh     

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: A Westcott Novel
Book: 1

Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had...
Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…
Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

Little did the widowed Countess of Riverdale know what a can of worms she was opening when she instructed the family solicitor to locate her late husband's bastard daughter.  Her husband, the recently deceased earl, had been supporting the girl for many years, and assumed his wife was unaware of her existence.  The countess was very aware, and now wants to make one final payment and ensure the girl never has any contact with the family.  Anna Snow, as the young lady is known, was raised in an orphanage in Bath, and is now content being a teacher there.  She is anxious and puzzled when she is summoned to London, but decides to make the trip.

The family solicitor uncovered a bombshell when he began searching for Anna.  It seems that not only is Anna legitimate, the earl was a bigamist, marrying his second wife before the first wife, Anna's mother had died.  Not only is the second marriage invalid, but the three children of that marriage, including the presumed heir, are illegitimate.  Anna, whose real name is Anastasia, is shocked, and upon learning of the great wealth she's inherited, wants to share with her half-siblings.  The bulk of her new family rejects her and her offer and immediately vacates their home and leave town.  The remainder of her extended family decides to accept her and help her adjust to her new role in society. 

I was overwhelmed at the beginning of this story by the sheer volume of family members introduced, and confess that all the relationships were very confusing.  Two characters who stood out from the crowd were Alexander, Anna's second cousin and the new earl, and Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby, not a blood relation, but guardian to Anna's half brother.  Netherby is an interesting character - he has the qualities that one might expect in a duke - he is fastidious in how he dresses, he intimidates by looking at people through his quizzing glass, and  he takes delicate pinches from his snuffbox.  He gives off an aura of arrogance, yet he's a short gentleman, with beautiful golden looks, and a slight build.  I was trying to form a mental picture of him, and wondering if I could imagine him as the hero.  Underneath it all, Netherby is a good man, and his demeanor today was developed to not let anyone get too close, and also  a product of the bullying he endured as a child  due to his looks.  He also became an expert in a form of martial arts which he learned as a young man .

Netherby is more impressed with Anna the more he spends time with her.  His initial disdain turns to admiration, and when the family suggests that Anna and Alexander would make a good match, Netherby surprises everyone, including himself, by offering himself up as a marriage prospect instead.  Anna is a lovely and wonderful character.  She exhibits poise and dignity, even when facing scorn and rejection.  She's generous, intelligent, kind, and I adored her.  Netherby proved to me that he is definite hero material, and I grew to see that he was indeed Anna's perfect match.  Someone To Love is a warm, satisfying and beautifully written love story.  As with most of Mary Balogh's books, its strength is in the characters and their relationships, rather than suspense or high drama.  This is the first book in the new Westcott family series, and I enjoyed it greatly.  I also admit that I'm really looking forward to Alexander's story, which will be told in Book 3, coming out next year.  Recommended.

~ Bonnie