Mary Balogh is an amazing romance author whose books tend to have a different tone to them than most other popular authors, in that her books are a little more serious and a little less built on witty banter. (I find nothing wrong with either style and enjoy both depending on my mood, so this is not a statement intended to pass judgment on either writing style.) Someone to Wed is no different. It provides a serious, angst ridden adventure examining gender roles, and the very familiar marrying for money aspect of “love” in Regency England.
This book is the third book in the Westcott series and focuses on the new Earl of Riverdale. If you haven’t read the first two books, you may not know that Alexander is the new Earl because the former Earl married in secret and never got a divorce/his wife never died and so the society wedding and three children that he had afterward were all illegitimate, which meant they couldn’t inherit. So the title passed to Alexander while most of the wealth passed to Anna, the former Earl’s daughter from his first marriage.
Now, Alexander needs a rich wife and conveniently, Wren Hayden has invited him over to her home to propose that they marry because she wants to have children and he needs money. She has a birthmark on the left side of her face and has deep seeded insecurities (and trauma) that have convinced her that she’s not worth anything besides her money. She is prickly, but brave and always seeking to prove herself. Alex, meanwhile, is trying so hard not to be drawn in to Wren’s pain, and finds himself failing.
I really enjoyed this book, but I did have just a few qualms that I’ll mention here as well. First, I love Alex’s family. The Westcott family is the star, I think, of this book. His mother and his sister are wonderful and it was such a joy to get to know them better. I cannot wait for Lizzie’s book because she deserves happiness. I also adored the pacing of Alex and Wren finding love because it was such a slow burn and didn’t really fit into any trope. You would think it would be a marriage of convenience sort of thing, but it surprises you.
My main qualm with this book was Wren’s tragic backstory and how that was handled. I just felt like it got short shrift and wasn’t really wrapped up at all. But the thing that really got to me was that we had a scene in a 2017 release where the heroine of a romance novel feels like she’s FINALLY A WOMAN after losing her virginity. And I just… I’m sorry, but I cannot. It’s one of my least favorite concepts and I don’t care that this book is set a couple hundred years ago. I just… I’ll pass.
That said, I’m really excited for the next book, which features the former Earl’s not legitimate wife. Is that how you say that? No idea. Anyway, very excited to have an older heroine! I think that will be a really awesome reading experience.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book in advance of it’s publication. But you can all go get your copy today! I’ll be picking mine up soon–you know, post getting a job and having a paycheck.