Series: Westcotts #6
Published by Berkley on July 2, 2019
Genres: Historical Romance
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: Someone To Love, Someone to Hold
Also by this author: The Proposal, The Arrangement, The Escape, Only Enchanting, The Heart of Christmas, Christmas Gifts, Christmas Miracles, Only a Promise, Someone To Love, Someone to Hold
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.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
If I had to describe this book in a nutshell, I would call it a quiet romance… quiet, but full of real and even intense feeling, despite the main characters’ reserve. Both Abigail and Gil have learnt through adversity to hold their feelings inside, albeit in different ways. Abby comes across as gentle, calm, restrained and ladylike but not unfeeling. Gil’s mask is sterner, more like granite, and he can indeed come across as unfeeling; he’s certainly capable of expressing anger and frustration, but the softer emotions rarely show on his face. Yet he is surprisingly gentle with children and animals, and eventually with Abby, whose own calm demeanor hides a quiet inner strength.
The book moves slowly, with little romantic development during the first half. The unspoken, almost unrecognized attraction between Gil and Abigail simmers well under the surface; most of their time and attention are taken up with Abby’s brother Harry, finally returned nearly two years after suffering terrible injuries at Waterloo, and still recovering. Gil is Harry’s friend and fellow officer, who has put off his own pressing needs to accompany Harry home and set him on the road toward regaining his health. But Gil’s personal problems are indeed pressing; a conflict with his deceased wife’s parents threatens to destroy his dreams for the future.
In other hands, or with other main characters, this would be a dramatic story. And Balogh is more than capable of writing dramatic, passionate love stories, as her backlist can attest. But the Westcott family are much less flamboyant than, say, the Bedwyns (the Slightly series), despite the fact that each is dealing in their own way with having their world turned upside down. In the earlier books, Abigail seemed to have adjusted more readily to their changed family circumstances than the others have. Internally, however, she has experienced just as much upheaval and personal growth as her siblings and cousins, and it has left a profound mark on her. She is probably the most reserved and self-contained of all the Westcotts (with the possible exception of her cousin Alexander.) This quiet, understated, but deeply felt love story reflects Abby’s character—and Gil’s—far better than a more action-packed or dramatic tale would have done. She and Gil make a very good match, in personality and values if not in the world’s eyes.
That’s not to say there is no action or drama whatsoever. The second half of the book picks up the pace somewhat and allows the external tensions to come more to the fore, as Gil and Abigail face her family’s reaction to their relationship, and the conflict with his former in-laws comes to a head. The couple have internal tensions to deal with as well, both within themselves and in their relationship. Despite the developments of the second half, though, Balogh’s writing remains relatively restrained, the drama and passions understated, as befits Abby and Gil’s personalities.
It’s neither drama nor wild passion that makes Someone to Honor so appealing; instead, it’s the quiet, often unspoken but deeply-felt bonds of familial and romantic love. Like most of the families Balogh portrays in her novels, the Westcotts are above all a family. That family strength and loyalty, along with Abby and Gil’s developing relationship and Gil’s intense love for the child he hasn’t seen since infancy, make Someone to Honor a heartwarming and thoroughly satisfying novel.