Someone to Honor
By Mary Balogh
The Westcott Series #6
Category: Historical Romance | Regency Romance
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE | Berkley Imprint
Ebook/ Paperback / Hardcover/ Audio
Jul 02, 2019 | 400 Pages
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
First appearances deceive in the newest charming and heartwarming Regency romance in the Westcott series from beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.
Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.
But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother, Harry, home from the wars with Napoleon. Gil has come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to–secretly because of his own humble beginnings.
If at first Gil and Abigail seem to embody what the other most despises, each will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearances of the once-grand lady and the once-humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one find love. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/598079/someone-to-honor-by-mary-balogh/
Someone to to Honor follows the general format of this series, one or more of the love interests was born out of wedlock. Actually, this entire series is an examination of illegitimacy during the Regency/Georgian periods. The great disruption in the Westcott family, that is, the discovery that Abigail and her siblings are illegitimate due to her father’s bigamy comes to light when Abigail is a teen. Each of her siblings and her mother handle the effects differently, but in previous books Abigail has seems imperturbable.
In this book her ultimate response seems to be an understanding that her illegitimacy has freed her from the constraints of being the daughter of an aristocratic family.
For Gil, her brother’s friend and fellow officer, illegitimacy is a prison for his self-esteem; because of how he believes other’s see him. He is large and has a scar from his face to his torso, he doesn’t think of himself as a gentleman although he has taught himself manners in order to fit in with other officers. It’s interesting that Abigail, who was an aristocrat, does not bemoan her loss of status. And in the hamlet of her youth is still loved and admired. Gil’s father is also an aristocrat, but they never met. His marriage into her family increases his resentment. Not all of England is as lenient about whether one was born in, or out of wedlock while at the same time members of the aristocracy are the cause of these “by-blows.” At least for Gil, the degree of illegitimacy is important. Non-aristocratic illegitimacy is not discussed in this one.
And, except for two books in the series it is entirely about illegitimacy, and how it was borne by those born “on the wrong side of the blanket.”
Gil, is also dealing the aftermath of his marriage to the late Caroline, who sought him out for some rough fun, but who decamped when he was posted and she left in a small manor house in a rural area. After he was sent away she dropped the baby off with her parent’s claiming abuse and then she took off. They have taken custody of his daughter and want to keep her. He is distraught by this and wants her back.
This marriage to the daughter of a baron and general to a “bastard” did not make her parents happy; nor were Gil and his first (now late) wife filed with bliss. But Gil loves his daughter. Abigail’s parent’s had an unhappy and tragic marriage. This left both with a not terribly positive view of matrimony.
While the two people are together on her brother’s estate they, at first misjudge each other. As they both respect each other’s decision to stay and facilitate Abigail’s bother’s recovery fro his war wounds (Gil helped Harry survive and get home) they become friends and develop a mutual affection. And though the relationship changes over a few weeks, I felt a step was missing from the friends to lovers scenario. Of course it doesn’t actually go from friends to lovers in-love at first. So, the marriage starts off as one of interest and convenience.
Abigail and Gil, in their understanding of marriage, affection and sex are very interesting. Abigail is an innocent in bed, and Gil had a wife whose wildness he did not enjoy. But while Abigail is very introspective seems to have a sense of herself, Gil is very bottled up. He wants his daughter back, but he doesn’t believe in his own worthiness. One thing that cannot be denied is his kindness to animals and children. This is obvious with his big shaggy dog, Beauty and how he and she help a little boy. Beauty adores him and is very obedient, and she plays an important part in the story.
I’ve always found Balogh’s novels to be filled with sweet and steamy romance, but this is just slightly steamy with a lot of euphemisms for penetration and very little foreplay. There seems to be a little modern language inserted in the book, perhaps to make it more accessible. One example was “visitation;” I do not know if it was a term in use in the legal parlance of the time.
And, I enjoy Balogh’s novels — the characters who have get an HEA, always seem to be deserving and “good.” Their happiness seems a reparation for some suffering. This story is no different, and I enjoyed the twists on parental custody and the way family comes together make a nice book.
This book in the series comes out in early July so it is a great time to pre-order!