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Westcott #7

Someone to Romance

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Love comes when you least expect it in this captivating new novel in the Westcott Regency romance series from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.

Lady Jessica Archer lost her own interest in the glittering excitement of romance after her cousin and dearest friend, Abigail Westcott, was rejected by the ton when her father was revealed to be a bigamist. Ever practical, however, once she's twenty-five, she decides it's time to wed. Though she no longer believes she will find true love, she is still very eligible. She is, after all, the sister of Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby.

Jessica considers the many qualified gentlemen who court her. But when she meets the mysterious Gabriel Thorne, who has returned to England from the New World to claim an equally mysterious inheritance, Jessica considers him completely unsuitable, because he had the audacity, when he first met her, to announce his intention to wed her.

When Jessica guesses who Gabriel really is, however, and watches the lengths to which he will go in order to protect those who rely upon him, she is drawn to his cause—and to the man.

336 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 25, 2020

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About the author

Mary Balogh

209 books5,511 followers
Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling 'Slightly' sextet and 'Simply' quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 467 reviews
Profile Image for Julie .
3,998 reviews58.9k followers
October 16, 2021
Someone to Romance by Mary Balogh is a 2020 Berkley publication.

Another beautiful love story by Mary Balogh!

When her cousin, Abigail, who is more like a sister to her, got married, Lady Jane Steel felt a little let down. Although, she no longer believes she will find true love for herself, she feels it is time for her to get married, regardless.

While considering her options, Lady Jane encounters Gabriel Thorne, a mystery man who has returned to his home country after spending many years in America. Gabriel, as it so happens, is looking for a wife- no love match required. Learning of Lady Jane’s heritage, he decides she will fit his needs exactly, and intends to pursue her.

He finds himself in competition with the very man who hopes to steal Gabriel’s inheritance. Not only that, but Lady Jane puts up more resistance to his plans than he anticipated, by insisting she be ‘romanced’!!

Time is of the essence for Gabriel, but he ultimately decides Lady Jane is worth the extra time and effort. Will she accept his proposal or fall under the spell of his more charismatic nemesis?

This is the lone Historical Romance series I try to keep up with. I may fall a few chapters behind- but I never totally lose track of this author or whatever series she is currently writing. While I will admit the series was initially hard to get into, I slowly fell in love with it, more and more as it went along. This one, though, is exceptionally good!! I loved the setup, which includes a mystery, and a tender story about a special relative of Gabriel’s.

The romance is also delightful, as Lady Jane realizes how her experience and class would be a huge asset to Gabriel, but also wishes to be appreciated for the woman behind the title and her public persona.

Overall, this was just wonderful story all the way around. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in this lovely series.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,897 reviews1,503 followers
September 14, 2020
This is seventh in a series and you can probably pick up most of the needed context in situ. That said, the Westcott family that is at the center of the series is rather widely spread and has a lot of moving parts. I think it's probably best to build up a tolerance and the earlier books are less crowded and help give you the framework to hang everything on for subsequent stories. So I highly recommend reading in order.

I doubt I've had a series I've rated so highly before. Seriously, this is nearly a record with only one full-length book and the shorter one coming in at under five stars. Jessica has been interesting from the beginning as we see her plans for a shared come-out with her best friend and cousin yanked out from under them all in one go. And you can see how that trauma has shaped her as she came in and out of focus in the stories leading up to this one. She has had an odd survivor's guilt so she hasn't taken relationships seriously and is now 25 and having to reevaluate a little now that Abigail has found her happiness in the last book. She's independent, has great family support, knows her mind, and is very capable in her world, so who would make an adequate match for her?

I'm so glad to say that Gabriel does quite well. He, too, knows his mind and place and is perfectly capable of ordering his world to suit him. He's been yanked from his path by a threat to someone he cares about, though, so he's a little out of his element and looking for support. And Jessica would work perfectly in that capacity, so he decides very quickly that he will marry her. And tells her so, to his credit and consternation.

What follows is them getting to know one another as two strong personalities work out who they are, who they want to be, and who they want to be with. I loved the growth arc for both characters and I really loved seeing them learn to know and trust each other.

I worried that the plot would devolve into melodrama, but needn't have as Balogh had it well in-hand. It drives just enough of the action and has just enough complexity to draw on the strengths of the Westcott tribe to slay dragons. I still love the clan and their willingness to be there for each other, even when that means staying away while others handle a piece or two of the puzzle. And I really love that Balogh is willing to show the things that don't work and the schemes that are wrong-headed even though hatched out of love and caring. Also, I love more than a little how well they wrapped up Gabriel's troubles in the end and how both main characters handled the hard parts. Plus, because Jessica is the lead, we see a lot of her brother, Avery, and that's always a win in my book.

So this is another five star showing and I can't wait for the next. It's finally Harry's turn and I can't wait to get to know him better.

A note about Steamy: There are two explicit sex scenes putting this, barely, in the middle of my steam tolerance. I really liked how well they worked, frankly, and how well we saw Jessica's personality imprinted there with all her curiosity and attention and trust.
Profile Image for Jan.
867 reviews163 followers
August 29, 2020
3 to 3.5 stars. I liked but didn't love this book. I enjoyed it more than some others I've read in this series, but it still felt a little slow and flat, which for me has been a common thread through the series. I absolutely 5 star love some of Ms Balogh's books, but in this particular series the writing style and some of the characters just don't seem to connect with me as much.

I quite liked Jessica and Gabriel. Jessica seemed a bit like a snobby ice maiden at first, but beneath her aristocratic surface lies a real woman with real insecurities and a desire to be loved. Gabriel showed himself to be an honourable man who really cared about others.

Unfortunately there was something missing, and I think for me it was that real zing of attraction between them. There were some scenes of lovemaking, but for too much of the book, both of them were uncertain of their own feelings and of each other. For me this marred the read. I didn't *feel* their attraction the way I wanted to :(

The pacing of the book felt slow. The plot was fine, except that I would have liked the romance to be more intense sooner. It felt as if there was too much 'telling' in this book - slightly tedious explanations of people or events that were sometimes repetitive when relayed in detail to yet another person or group.

And as in other books in the series, there were way too many secondary characters. After reading several of the books, I'm getting to know the cast of thousands (it feels like LOL), but I still had whole paragraphs I just skipped over that seemed to be merely listing all of those present at an afternoon tea or a breakfast etc etc. I don't need to know every person who is sitting in the room and who they are related to. Overkill.

So, nice leads, a decent plot, but overall a little slow, and for me, missing that spark, that deep emotion which draws you in to a read. So, not totally satisfying. Will I read the next one? Probably. Harry's story is next :)

Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,823 reviews834 followers
September 25, 2020
Mary Balogh treats us to the lives and romances of the Westcott’s and family in this newest installment with Lady Jessica Archer as our heroine. It isn’t necessary to read the previous books in the series, Jessica’s situation and past is mostly explained, but it won’t have the same impact as you’d have reading the books in order.

Jessica hasn’t selected a husband. As the sister of the Duke of Netherby and with wealth of her own she hasn’t lacked opportunity, but guilt at her best friend’s tragic set down held her back. But now that her best friend has a husband and baby to love, Jessica can’t help but feel a little resentful that she’s now alone. She can’t help longing to have the happiness Abigail so clearly has. The new season is about to begin in London and Jessica decides she’s going to find a husband and marry. Gabriel Thorne sets her hackles up with his assumptions, but his presence lights her up every time.

Gabriel Thorne is back in England after years away to claim his title, but it won’t be easy. His uncle is a piece of work, and the reason he left thirteen years ago. He needs a wife at his side to help manage the difficulties ahead. Lady Jessica Archer fits the bill perfectly, born and bred to manage a household and navigate the societal complexities that come with being and Earl, and she’s beautiful. He’s not sure he even likes her, though, Jessica seems cold and arrogant, typical titled lady. Still, it seems no other woman will do for him.

I loved the push and pull between them; they clashed, and sparks flew! They had chemistry! One of my favorite things about this series is how the Westcott family really comes through for anyone they’ve deemed their own, and it was no different this time, and it made my heart swell! I’ve loved the Westcott series from the beginning. Mary Balogh writes complex, relatable characters, and I felt for both Jessica and Gabriel and was invested in their HEA!

A copy was kindly provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books328 followers
August 24, 2020
I discovered Mary Balogh’s tender, relationship-driven historical romances by browsing a book shop about a decade ago. The cover of her book merely depicted a landscape, but I recognized the possibilities of a new to me Regency era author who did indeed pay attention to the details of the historical background of her stories, the social mores of the day, and could still deliver engaging characters and romances.

Someone to Romance is the eighth of the series. This is Lady Jessica Archer’s story. Jessica watches her cousin Abby with her newborn, a daughter, loving husband, and lovely home. She is ashamed of the envy that stabs her especially when Abby had to go through so much to have this. Jessica is determined to participate in the London Season and choose a husband so she need not feel left out as others get married and have their own lives. Her loved ones want her to choose for love, but she doesn’t believe love is for her. No man has ever stirred more than mild interest in her. But, at a coaching inn, a bold-eyed man, looking like he is far beneath her, rouses her ire and confounds her at every turn. When other more eligible men come around, it is Mr. Thorne who sparks her interest and she feels a burning curiosity for the mystery surrounding him.

Gabriel Thorne is unhappy that he must return to England after thirteen years away. A terrible, dark event happened and he was forced to flee his uncle’s home who had taken him in after the death of his parents. He lands in Boston with his mother’s cousin and builds a rewarding new life. Thirteen years later, duty forces him to return. It occurs to him when he is ousted from the private parlor at a coaching inn for an arrogant duke’s sister that she is just the type of woman he will have to marry now that he is taking the family title and lands back. Only, he doesn’t want ‘a’ wife, he wants Lady Jessica Archer. She boldly dares him to romance her and so he will.

Jessica was a character I had mixed feelings about from the first book even into the early pages of Someone to Romance. She had several spoiled, rich girl moments and had some pretty naïve notions. Her motivations at the beginning of the book reflected those notions and I wasn’t sure I was going to like her or even care if she found her way to romance. But, getting her perspective and seeing her stumble, become confused, and then start along a new path was worth it. She wasn’t only that spoilt woman and her good points came out as well as a shrewdness that stood her well. Besides, it wasn’t Jessica who naively under-estimates an enemy there near the end.

The hero played a large part in my enjoyment, too. It was humorous from the get-go between this pair. She bristled up and had no idea what to make of his directness or the fact that Gabriel didn’t fall all over himself trying to flirt and he had a novel approach to romance. On his part, Gabriel had no idea how to ‘romance’ Jessica, but he gets it right much to her consternation. He has personal issues and business that he must give top priority, but it was great watching him with Jessica and slowly draw the respect of her family. As an orphan who lost almost all those who he loved including his mother’s cousin who adopted him as a son, he sees the true wealth of the Westcott family in how connected, loyal and loving they are with each other including their strong interest in Jessica’s future and her happiness.

With each book, Mary Balogh, tackles a different historical issue and makes it part of the story’s conflict. This book drives home just how dependent the serving classes were on competent estate lords who cared about their welfare. The aristocracy held all the power and the wealth and could do with it as they pleased to a large extent so the people on the estates were helpless if the master ran the estates into the ground, or were forced to endure worse like rape and murder which the lower classes had few ways of getting justice. Gabriel is a true hero because he returns from America to reverse just such ill-fortunes on his family estate.

I only had one niggle about this story. I love the Westcott family so much- so, so much. And, I love that they are a strong feature in each succeeding book. That said, there are times when this bustling, large family can be overwhelming and even distracting.

In summary, it was another engaging, heartwarming, and slightly spicy Regency Romance from an author who writes such stories so well. I have no idea which Westcott relation will be next to get his or her story, but I will happily read it. I can heartily recommend this series to those who enjoy historical romance with a slow-burn romance and strong family element.

My thanks to Berkley Romance for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jen Davis.
Author 7 books695 followers
August 16, 2020
3.5 stars
Although I find I enjoy this series in a comfortable kind of way, after the next book (which should be Harry's) I think Mary Balogh needs to move on to something new. It's getting to the point where it all kind of feels the same and I am seriously struggling to remember who all of these characters are and why I care about them. The cast is huge, unwieldy, and frankly unnecessary. It's particularly a problem because of the author's penchant to begin so many names with the letter A: Avery, Anna, Abby, Alexander... Archer. Even if I wanted to keep consulting the huge family chart at the beginning of the book, what's the point if I don't get the spark of excitement from truly remembering their books?

Anyway, this is Jessica Archer's story. She is best friends with one of the Westcotts who lost their legitimacy from the events of the first book. She is rich and noble and unmarried despite her 25 years of age, having chosen to eschew marriage early on when her BFF Abby had no prospects. Now that Abby is married, Jessica is ready to settle down. Fortunately, she is beautiful and sister of a duke, so every man wants her.

Including Gabriel, a secret long lost earl who has spent the past 13 years in America. He is about to be declared dead, and would be happy to give up his title, but the guy who is inheriting in his place is a tool and is mistreating the tenants and his aunt. So Gabriel is back to marry and reclaim his inheritance.

When he first sees Jessica, he thinks she is a spoiled snot. He doesn't like her, but he... wants her anyway? He decides he has to have her, basically for no discernible reason and tells her so. She demands to be romanced. He sends her a single rose every day and that somehow suffices. She accepts his suit as he works to clear his name from some bogus charges against him and reclaim his birthright.

It was...okay. Balogh uses a lot of exposition in her writing and I found myself skimming to get to the action. The connection between the hero and heroine was kind of weak, and I think it was more the formula of Balogh's storytelling pulled me through to the end more than any specific thing I liked about it.

I also didn't really understand the setup for the climax. (What was Gabriel really going to do to the villain if he wasn't going to duel him?) I felt like it was just a setup for the deus ex machina that gave us "justice."

Eh. I know there's a lot of complaining here, but it wasn't bad. It just wasn't a big hit for me. Your mileage may vary.

*ARC provided by Berkley
Profile Image for Sometime.
1,676 reviews116 followers
October 23, 2020
Jessica and Gabriel are both looking to get married soon but neither really understands what love is. They almost have a love/hate relationship to start out. Jessica is the daughter of a Duke and comes off as cold and haughty at times. Gabriel has been living in America for the past 13 years and is at times bold and to the point. He declares that he intends to marry her and she demands that he romance her if he thinks he can. He does an excellent job at the romancing without even realizing he's doing it, which makes it all the more sweet.

Gabriel only sees the Duke's daughter and Jessica wants him to see her. The way their romance slowly develops was beautifully written. The plot with Gabriel being the long-lost Earl in disguise was interesting and never felt like a secret to be kept. The main players guessed what was going on early, so we didn't have to sit through pages of secrets.

The pacing was a little slow for this book. There were also way too many relatives to keep track of. Grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, on and on. I mostly just skipped a lot of the paragraphs that were bogged down with relatives.

Over all, this was a beautiful story that was a true romance, like the title says.

Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,037 reviews
August 28, 2020
Mary Balogh has such a unique, distinctive writing voice. I only have to read a few sentences to know I am reading one of her books. To me, they are always a joy to read. And, this one was another great addition to the Westcott's saga. Oh, how far the Westcott family has come. Another happy reading experience for me thanks to one of my long-time favorite authors, Mary Balogh. Looks like Harry is the last book set for next year. Should be a good one. Poor Harry deserves it. ;)
Profile Image for Cassandra.
392 reviews
August 3, 2020
Thank you to Berkley and edelweiss for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars for a smart and engaging installment in the Westcott series.

Full disclosure here: I requested an eARC because I've fallen off the Westcott series lately and wanted to get back on. I've been reading Mary Balogh since the Signet Regency romance days and her series are generally excellent with two of them, the Bedwyns and the Survivors, being at the top of my favorites lists. She has a talent for highly emotional stories which are also somehow comforting because you just know her characters will find a way to work through all the angst and hurt. And I appreciate her willingness to center older heroines. But after the first 3 installments of the series, my interest began to wane somewhat. There are a bewildering number of characters in this series and it appears that every book has to name drop each and every one of them, and their spouses, and their children, and the ages of their children, and their cousins and so on... It's a lot especially at the start of a new story. The name dropping seemed to go a little faster in Someone to Romance, but I did wish that some of the Westcotts had stayed in the country and off stage for a tighter cast of characters.

Having said that, I really did enjoy this romance between Lady Jessica Archer and Gabriel Thorne and I think it strengthened the book that we spend so much time in Gabriel's POV. Gabriel is returning from America after a long absence due to family circumstances and needs a wife to help him straighten out both his inheritance and his identity. He takes one look at Lady Jessica Archer and decides she is "IT". And he promptly lets her know it too. A hero who knows what he wants and going after it is a trope I can get behind and Gabriel is delightful. He's witty, charismatic and he doesn't lie even when it might be to his advantage to do so.
Lady Jessica has decided at 25 that it is time to get married but she isn't prepared for Gabriel's directness. She insists on being "romanced". Gabriel is happy to do that once he figures out what that means. He isn't even sure it's a verb. Both characters are smart (Jessica figures out what is up with his identity pretty quickly and he doesn't lie to her once she has), fundamentally decent, and extremely capable. I approve.

The Duke of Netherby, Jessica's brother from book 1, has a big role here and it's nice to see his quiet authority and wit coming into play in the inheritance plot and he's also very supportive of whatever his sister wants. All in all, a strong installment in this series. I read it in one sitting and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Profile Image for Debby *BabyDee*.
1,137 reviews58 followers
November 23, 2020
I've had some 5-Stars to 3-Stars with this Westcott series by Mary Balogh, however what I do love is the narration by Rosalyn Landor that pushes those low to high ratings. This was a 3.5 Star rating rounded to 4-Stars.

I love how Ms. Balogh brings out the warm nature of her characters in her writing and this one was an enjoyable listen for me. It was a bit slow and stale in some parts but but the Family Westcott brood somehow make up for some of the lag with their comical and heartwarming love for one another. I like the "all for one and one for all" cohesiveness of the family. At times I was a little frustrated with the heroine, Lady Jessica. She came off to much of having the air of aristocracy that I wasnt sure why Gabriel even bothered. His caring nature is what I truly believed melted that high and mighty resolve of Jessica and in the end, they seemed like a normal couple.

Here's looking to Harry's story in Book #8.😊

This as with the others in the series, had its fair share of romance and intimacy...not overpowering one or the other and I think that is what I love about Mary Balogh as an author. Having Rosalyn Landor as narrator only solidified why I am rating 4-Stars.
Profile Image for Melissa.
1,288 reviews67 followers
January 18, 2021
This may be one of my favorite stories in the Westcott series. It's hard for my sieve of a mind to remember all of the others, but this one did a couple of things that really made it stand out to me. First of all, I ended up loving some of the characters from previous stories so much in this story that I wanted to go back and re-read their stories. Especially Avery. There are a gazillion family and extended family members in this series. Each book introduces a whole new set of characters, and they show up all the time in this story. Usually the past books of the series have included a handy chart to help remind readers how everyone relates to each other. I'm not sure if this one had a chart or not, but it really needed one. But whether I totally remembered how everyone was related or not, I still loved each and every character and the love they had for one another.

But I really think that the thing I loved most about this story was the unconventional romance that was probably more true to how a marriage union might take place in the aristocracy in those days. Normally in historical romances a couple finds a love and a passion that overrules any sort of societal conventions. Their love will conquer all. In this story Gabriel and Jessica have a more practical arrangement. Gabriel returns to England after living in America for years, coming to reclaim a title which is rightfully his. He needs a strong aristocratic woman to stand by his side as he takes his place in society. Jessica fits the bill. He decides that she is the one he will marry. Jessica is older and has spent many years happily entertaining the men of the ton without any intention of marrying. But this year she is determined to marry. Gabriel seems good enough. So she decides to marry him. Very practical. Not all that romantic. There aren't a ton of stolen kisses or passionate longing going on here. It is pretty cold and calculating. At first. I loved seeing the love between Gabriel and Jessica grow throughout the book. It was practically perfect. They may have chosen to marry for practical reasons, but their feelings eventually overtake their practicality in what feels like a natural sort of progression.

The pacing of this romance was wonderful. Too often writers are quick to throw their relationships together very fast. We are dying to see the main couple together, so they grant our wishes with lots of kissing and passion from the beginning, a good dose of angst to keep them apart and lengthen the story, and finally a HEA ending. But in this book Mary Balogh trusts her characters and her story enough to let them simmer a bit. And I loved these characters enough to be patient and wait for things to happen. I trusted the plot enough to be patient with it as well. And I feel like I was rewarded for my patience. Despite what may have been a too convenient end to the main crisis of the story, I finished this book with the sort of sigh you get when you finish a lovely romantic story. Total contentment. I give this four strong stars. I really liked it.
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,363 reviews44 followers
August 24, 2020
Mystery and romance! A 5 star plus read!

Ahh Mary Balogh! You've done it to me again! With a turn of a few pages some of my 'just read' recently historical romances have completely faded into the background by comparison. This was so a five plus star read. I was completely enthralled with this fabulous story with its reluctant return of a lost heir, a reigning beauty contemplating marriage, and the confusion of a dark past.
Brimming with anticipation, romance, roses and humor this was a masterful entry into the numerous stories of the Westcott menagerie.
Lady Jessica Archer's story, the sister of the Duke of Netherby, is a page turner.
And just like that I fell in love with Avery Netherby all over again. The man is so finely tuned, so droll, so deadly and so much more. I adore him.
And the family! The way it gathers together and protects its own is priceless, even if sometimes more than a tad interfering.
Jessica had turned her back on marriage after the ton's treatment of her cousin Abigail, content to hold court, but never be involved with anyone gentleman. This year Jessica's decided to take the plunge. The rather dazzling Mr. Rochford, heir to the earldom of Lyndale is a likely contender.
Gabriel Thorne has returned to England from Boston looking to decide on whether he'll move to claim an inheritance he doesn't want. And then he meets Jessica.

A Berkley Group ARC via NetGalley
Profile Image for 1-Click Addict Support Group.
3,749 reviews441 followers
August 31, 2020
There was mystery afoot!

A handsome newcomer with mystery surrounding him caught the eye of Jessica and soon the Westcott and their entire clans were embroiled in a dangerous situation…

This instalment of the Westcott series had everything I’ve grown to love about this series. Intriguing characters, close family ties and now, a huge shot of suspense as well. Gabriel’s past was a murky one but all was slowly revealed as he and Jessica, whether by design or not, fell in love…

This was my latest favourite (aren’t they all) as Jessica waded through the emotions she’d been wrestling with for years. To marry or not was the question and she made a decision that coincided with Gabriel’s future. From not quite liking each other to admiration, respect and yes, love, was a journey full of witty conversations, intrigue and a whole lot of tight-knit family. Witty banter was everywhere, and so were a lot of questions, as their romance played out amidst regency formality…

Another great read! ~Diane, 4 stars
Profile Image for Olga Godim.
Author 12 books70 followers
September 6, 2020
This mediocre historical romance would’ve read much better if the author didn’t spend so much time and page-space on the heroine’s extended family. Every member of this family is so sugary-sweet and helpful, I got a toothache. Otherwise, the protagonists are a decent pair of regency lovers, the villain is sufficiently wicked, and the writing is professional.
And I LOVED the cover (the Berkley cover with the girl in a red cloak, not the other one). Although I like romance novels and read many of them, I’m usually indifferent to their covers. They all look the same to me, but somehow, this one is different. It ticks all the boxes in my mind about what a romance cover should be. It is tasteful and charming, perhaps a bit underrated, without flashing any bare skin. There a story in this cover. Furthermore, the model’s face isn’t cut off, as in so many other romances. Instead, she looks at the readers with an enigmatic expression in her large eyes, as if inviting us to enter her book and enjoy her story. This cover makes me want to look and look and not take my eyes away even for a moment.
Profile Image for Barbara Rogers.
1,480 reviews137 followers
August 18, 2020
Series: Westcott #8
Publication Date: 8/25/20
Number of Pages: 336

Wow! This is a perfect book – It had everything I want in a book. The main characters are delightful, the supporting characters are wonderful, there was a HEA (but it was a pretty slow slog getting there), and the very best part – the villain got his appropriate punishment and everybody helped to make it so. Loved it! This book is part of a series, but it can be read as a standalone if you like.

Lady Jessica Archer, sister to Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, gave up on love, marriage, and romance eight years ago when her cousin and best friend, Abigail Westcott, lost everything. Abigail has since married for love, but Jessica still hasn’t found it within herself to want that yet. She’s just spent some time visiting with Abigail and has decided that this will be the season she marries. She won’t look for love – just a convenient marriage to a good man. It’s too bad she doesn’t know any.

Gabriel Thorne fled England thirteen years ago under dire circumstances. He’s lived in America since then and loved his life there. He had made his fortune and certainly didn’t miss anything in England – other than his aunt’s (by marriage) sister, Mary. Mary is a kind soul who sees only the best in everyone, so when she writes to Gabriel asking him to return home and assume the title he inherited almost seven years ago, he can hardly refuse her. It seems his malicious cousin is on the brink of having Gabriel declared dead and assuming the title himself. He’s even taken over the estate already and is evicting Mary from her small cottage. Mary couldn’t survive on her own because she has several deformities and she has no family to care for her. As much as he doesn’t want to be, Gabriel is back in England.

Gabriel knows that one of the first things he must do is marry and begat an heir – otherwise, his cousin would still inherit if anything happened to Gabriel. He has to have someone who knows the ways of the ton and whose reputation is spotless. The first night he is back on English soil, on his way to London, he is requested to give up his private parlor for an unexpected lady guest. His nose is a bit out of joint, but when he sees that haughty, aristocratic woman, he immediately decides she is the one he’ll marry.

In London, Gabriel pursues Jessica in his own inimitable way. He certainly does the unexpected as far as Jessica is concerned. But there is competition for Jessica’s attention – a newcomer in town – Anthony Rochford – heir to Manley Rochford who is soon to inherit the title of Earl of Lyndale. Anthony is a handsome devil – can he win Jessica?

Once Gabriel shares his whole story with Jessica – and subsequently, with her entire family, they all band together to clear Gabriel’s name, claim his title, and save Mary from eviction. I loved that Gabriel was such a giving, caring, loving man though he claimed to know nothing of romance.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written, well-plotted story and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Tracy Emro.
1,755 reviews44 followers
August 17, 2020
Lady Jessica Archer, daughter of the late and sister to the current Duke of Netherby, has decided that this will be the year she finally marries. At 25, she has had many opportunities, but when her dearest friend and cousin Abby’s life was upended by scandal, Jessica stood by her in solidarity, but Abby married two years ago and Jessica realizes romance is probably not in the cards for her. She decides that she will make a practical match, much to Abby’s dismay. But little does she know that fate has something else in store for her!

Gabriel Thorne first sees Jessica at a small inn in the middle of nowhere and immediately dislikes her, as she is the reason he has to give up the private parlor he paid handsomely for! Gabriel is back in England not by choice, he left 13 years ago under a cloud of suspicion and made a new life for himself in America. His mother’s cousin adopted him and took him under his wing, leaving Gabriel a prosperous shipping business, that Gabriel turned into an even more prosperous shipping empire. But when the past comes back to haunt him and the fate of someone he loves is caught in the balance, Gabriel leaves Boston and returns to England to claim his birthright. Gabriel is actually Gabriel Rochford, the Earl of Lyndale and is soon to be declared dead. Gabriel was happy to let the title pass on to his cousin Manley Rochford, despite their past, but when Manley starts making changes that hurt people Gabriel loves, he will do his duty. Part of that duty will be to marry and he decides that haughty Lady Jessica is perfect for the job! He goes to London and meets with his godfather Sir Trevor Vickers, due to the accusations leveled against Gabriel when he left, they decide to keep his identity a secret until Gabriel can clear his name. But they do sponsor him and introduce him to the ton.

Jessica begins the season hoping that there will be some new prospective suitors in town and is surprised (and intrigued) to see Gabriel, but he is not the only new face, she is also impressed and attracted to the soon-to-be Earl of Lyndale’s son, Anthony Rochford. When Gabriel tells Jessica he intends to marry her, she is annoyed and tells Gabriel that if he wants to marry her, he will have to romance her! They spend more time together and it is not long before Jessica figures out who Gabriel really is and vows to help him claim his title and clear his name.

This was a well written, slow paced love story with a dash of mystery. The book chock full of betrayal, lies, murder, secrets, likeable characters, mild to warmish love scenes, a bit of intrigue, a vile villain, the entire Westcott family and lots of my personal favorite AVERY! I enjoyed the story, but I really didn’t feel the “romance”, it was definitely an unstated, slow burn type of love story – I did believe they loved each other – but that love did not leap off the page at me. This book is the eighth book in the series, but it can easily be read as a standalone title, I really enjoyed the story and would happily recommend it!

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by the publisher*
Profile Image for Candace.
865 reviews
October 21, 2020
Lady Jessica Archer, at the age of twenty-five, has finally decided it is time to find a husband. Since the marriage of her dear friend Abigail, Jessica feels some resentment that her friend did not choose to stay single with her. She also realizes she wants what Abigail possesses -- a loving husband and child. Jessica doubts she will find love, but she is still a good catch. Afterall, she is the sister of the Duke of Netherby.

Gabriel Thorne has returned to England from America to claim a mysterious inheritance. Mary, a family member, has asked Gabriel to return to save her from homelessness. Gabriel realizes he will need a wife to help maneuver through the societal changes. A chance meeting in a traveling inn brings him face-to-face with Lady Jessica Archer. He's not even sure he likes her, but he knows she will be his wife.

I liked the characters of Gabriel and Jessica. I enjoyed watching them come to know and yes, love each other. Their story resonated with me and I was able to embrace them in all their uncertainties and growing affection. The plot was well thought out. It followed soundly with the characterization and I enjoyed the journey to the end. The dialogue was realistic and fit each character to a tee. I have read these books out of order. This novel can stand on its own, though reading them in order probably adds to depth of characterization. There were times I felt the story became bogged down in the number of characters included, but I loved the support of the Wescott family for each other. Overall, a delightful read.
Profile Image for Katie.
2,647 reviews143 followers
May 8, 2022
This series finally broke me. I had actually been keeping up fairly well with all the various family members, but I am finally lost, LOL.

Still! This was just NICE.
Profile Image for Lu.
745 reviews25 followers
August 25, 2020
A woman determined to make her own choices. A man torn between his chosen home and his duty.

Gabriel Thorne left for America, intending never to come back. Not even the fact that he succeeded to his uncle’s title was temptation enough to return home.

But a single letter from a beloved aunt changed everything.

Once in London, Gabriel had until the end of summer to fix things and return to America incognito, or present himself and claim the title, becoming the new Earl of Lyndale.

He was torn between the desire to return to America, and his duty to his aunt and tenants.

To complicate things, the very haughty and beautiful Lady Jessica Archer was being courted by his cousin’s son, and she was not precisely the practical and cold aristocrat he had imagined.

Jessica was strong and determined to live her life on her own terms.

Both Gabriel and Jessica were very layered characters. I love how their relationship evolved through the story. How their views and feelings became more complicated as they got to know one another.

The side characters were charming, especially Avery, Jessica’s brother, and the Duke of Netherby. His love and respect for Jessica’s wishes were very endearing. For those following the series, Avery’s happily-ever-after is told in Someone to Love, the book that opens the set.

Mary Balogh is my favorite historical romance author because of her exceptional talent in translating emotion into words. The characters feel real, their feelings believable and relatable.

Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Reviews Published

Profile Image for Mel.
897 reviews14 followers
August 27, 2020
I imagine it was challenging to write Lady Jessica's book because she is such an annoying spoiled brat throughout the first seven books and has the personality of a bag of hair. Alas she had nothing to offer in this book either and is probably the most unlikable and boring heroine of them all.
The plot of this book has been done a million times in romance "the hero is forced to return to England after a long absence due to some alleged dodgy shenanigans in his youth and has to wrench his inheritance away from some nasty relative that has been plotting behind the hero's back since forever AND he must needs a wife!". Our hero's perceived past is particularly nasty and hard to take, it bothered me that she chose that situation for her hero and then completely bungled the unraveling of the false accusations.

Jessica first comes across Gabriel in an Inn while traveling and they find each other rather lacking, but Gabe decides that he will marry her, she's perfect and just what he needs in a wife, even though he thinks she's an uptight snob. She is pretty cute! Oy vey.
They meet again in London at a ball during the beginning of the Season and blah, blah, blah blah.....

I was bored out of my mind.

There were so many Westcotts clamoring about the book that it gave me a headache.

Basically, Gabriel and Jessica have no charisma as a couple. There is no warmth and none of the loveliness or emotional vulnerability I am used to in her books and it did not feel like Mary Balogh's voice behind the narrative. The writing seemed off kilter to me and a few days later I'm still baffled by it. Seriously....
My biggest complaint about Balogh is that she lets her "bad guys" off the hook all the time and in this book the circumstances of "the comeuppance" is stupidly contrived and even though I saw it coming a mile away it still irked me. So much of this tale is full of exposition and has very little action, but I have to say my disappointment was expected, the last few books in the Westcott series have not been enjoyable at all.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alvina.
406 reviews18 followers
August 30, 2020
Well, this was disappointing. I didnt have expectations for this novel since Jessica never really made an impact on me but I put this on my tbr because Mary Balogh is consistent. Unfortunately, I felt no emotional connection to this novel.

New readers will absolutely be confused since this novel has an oversaturation of Westcotts. Each of their appearances accompanied a backstory—I read the series relatively recently and even I could care less about each Westcott and their n number of children and extended cousins, etc etc. It feels like this novel is just a set up for Estelle and the next generation.

The progress in the h/h’s relationship felt like a series of tick marks on a checklist. Their meeting wasnt charming nor did it show them in a flattering light. I think if the heroine’s Duke brother Avery is meant to echo Wulfric with his quizzing glass and all, Jessica is supposed to be Freyja. Unfortunately neither Jessica nor the hero Gabriel have the presence or sassy charm of Freyja or Joshua.

Gabriel’s circumstances were pretty unique in a Balogh novel and his observations were relatable but something about him...He was an orphaned ward, bumped around from family member to member, falsely accused of a crime, spent years in America as a businessman. His story shouldve driven me to tears but I’m sitting here dry eyed and unimpressed. This wasnt quite a revenge story and it wholly lacked in passion. Even Gabriel’s motivation for returning to England didnt ring true.

Jessica on the otherhand was a total wash for me. Its not that I disliked her, I just didnt care for her. Jessica’s weird insistence that she was also just as harmed by the Westcott scandal made me side-eye her character.

This is a nice little ode to the aristocracy but as a romance, a total dud.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,137 reviews110 followers
December 27, 2021
This was a book about two decent, likable people. I liked Jessica from this moment:
“I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Rochford,” she said, inclining her head to him. She did not curtsy to any man below the age of fifty or below the rank of earl.
I cackled at that.

And I loved that they were both honest, and communicative, and adults: they felt like decent, warm, recognizable human beings, and it was so comforting to read about them.

It occurred to me that this was a Freyja 2.0 storyline, only blunted - less dramatic, less unconventional - another Balogh storyline about a slightly older, extremely eligible member of the nobility marrying someone who turned out to have a title and who was also threatened by relatives over that title. It was formula, if that’s the word not only for employed tropes of a genre but also for the writing of a single author. And yet it worked. Everyone should listen to Steph and read this.

PS: let’s remake all romance novels in this image:
But he had been asked a question. And a lie was pointless. Lies usually were.
Profile Image for Sharon.
481 reviews16 followers
April 4, 2022
Very fun. The usual well written slow burn romance but this one had a dash of intrigue in the form of a long lost earl who was run off under false pretenses, having been informed by his dastardly uncle that he was about to be dragged off to jail for rape and murder.

He returns after thirteen years because of course the dastardly uncle is mistreating everyone and the long lost earl hatches a plan to put the dastardly uncle in his place and resume his rightful title.

This is the seventh book in this series, and the first to feature a wedding night orgasm!! These are the only romance books I’ve ever read with very realistic descriptions of wedding night deflowering. It makes me laugh out loud every time.

I have gotten far enough into this series where I’ve started to skim the very lengthy descriptions of what family members are attending each dinner, breakfast or family planning session. Much more enjoyable that way.
Profile Image for Ana.
481 reviews81 followers
March 1, 2023
Gosto muito desta série, e da família Westcott, mas à medida que vão passando os anos, e se vão somando os casamentos, as descrições dos ajuntamentos familiares demoram cada vez mais tempo a descrever. Percebo que sejam necessárias para recordar os eventos dos livros anteriores, e para os leitores que chegam À série a meio da mesma, mas acaba por se tornar um bocado repetitivo para quem já segue a família desde o início.
Ainda assim, a história mantém-se agradável de ler e entretém, apesar de não ser de todo o casal mais interessante.
Profile Image for Amarilli 73 .
2,162 reviews69 followers
November 22, 2022
Non ho mai nascosto di ritenere la serie Wescott una ciambellina riuscita a metà (destino a cui vanno spesso incontro, peraltro, le saghe troppo lunghe o troppo affollate di personaggi).
Così, in ogni volume di questa famiglia, l'autrice si sente in dovere di aggiornarci su chi è morto, su chi si è sposato e a quanti figli è arrivato, a partire dall'evento iniziale (accaduto ormai un decennio prima).
Accade un po' come quando, alle riunioni annuali, arriva la zia sorda e tutti fanno a gara per ripeterle il resoconto. I lettori sono trattati in modo simile dalla Balogh: c'è l'introduzione della nuova coppia, un po' di riscaldamento, gli immancabili tre o quattro capitoli in cui riappare di prepotenza l'intero parentado, e poi - toh - giri pagina e i due vanno già a nozze.

Riconosco che a volte il gioco riesce, altre no. Soprattutto qui assistiamo a una storia forzata a livello di "tempo", per usare un eufemismo, con un passaggio da freddezza reciproca e primo appuntamento di conoscenza a matrimonio e passione in poco più di un paio di settimane.
Mi viene quasi da dire che i fidanzamenti nei matrimoni combinati a tavolino riescono ad essere addirittura più lunghi.
Di conseguenza, Jessica, che è la sorella del duca di Netherby, inizialmente algida e rassegnata al suo rango, e Gabriel, inizialmente entusiasta del suo destino "americano" e ugualmente rassegnato a farsi carico degli obblighi del titolo, mi hanno coinvolta sino a un certo punto, in quanto è stato difficile percepire un vero sentimento.
I due sono bravi ragazzi, ma sembrava sempre che stesse per scadere qualcosa... quindi è stato tutto fatto di corsa.

Un libro rasserenante, ma non stimolante. Oserei aggiungere in puro stile camomilla-Balogh (talvolta lo gradisco, come detto, ma talvolta vorrei una scossetta in più).
Profile Image for steph .
1,197 reviews70 followers
September 8, 2020
The fact that this is book seven (yes, SEVEN) and I am yet again giving a title in this series five stars just really shows how talented a writer Balogh is and how it is possible to still love a series multiple books in. I should probably try and explain why I love this book so much but I really can't. Jessica and Gabriel just worked well together in more than one way and it made my heart so happy to see them merge and grow and learn alongside each other. There was a moment when Jessica told Gabriel that she wanted to be romanced (hence the title) and known for her, for Jessica, instead of the daughter/sister of a Duke that really got to me. Because I've often wondered if I could be known for who I am as a person and not merely what I bring to a relationship so that struck a personal chord with me and is probably what bumped this from four to five stars.

At this point I still get a bit confused with how all the characters are related to each other especially when it comes to numerous cousins but it really doesn't matter. You can still enjoy this series even if you cannot remember who is married to who or who is the brother/daughter/niece of, etc. All you need to know is that the Westcott's are a very large and loving family who have each other's backs through thick and thin and in every book they have come out in full force to support the newer members of the family which is always a plus in my eyes. It's actually really nice to read about a family that doesn't fight or bicker. I can pick up any Westcott book knowing it will have a satisfying story/ending and that is a relief to me in these 2020 times.
Profile Image for Jenn (The Book Refuge).
1,622 reviews2,360 followers
May 27, 2021
As always, Balogh writes a sweeping story. It is elegant and lovely and has some soothing aspects to it as well. When I step into one of her books it's a breath of fresh air.

It does require a bit of concentration on my part however, it can drag a bit at parts sometimes.

I did really love Jessica and Gabriel and I look forward to the next release about Harry!

4/5 stars
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