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. He’s 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 these two seem to embody what the other most despises, they will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearance of the once grand lady and once humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one find love.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program. I did end up purchasing my own audiobook version, which I would highly recommend.
This was a lovely romance story that highlighted family dynamics, courtship, and the coming of age of characters during the time period of the 19th century with a somewhat modern thought. I will say that the beginning did read more like a perpetual prologue, like a never ending overture, taking quite a while to get going. However I did come to appreciate it as it set up the groundwork for me being a first time reader of this series, especially as the later peaking plot arc paid off.
So hang in there early readers, also consider the audiobook version, it made all the difference for me personally. Once I got the audiobook version I ended up quite enjoying listening to the details of the family tree, interpersonal connections, internal conflict, and the direction it was going. It all tied in and became a very solid story.
I would have liked to have seen more integration of 19th century verbiage/slang and perceptive forethought in the writing, but perhaps the lack thereof was intentional, giving it that more modern feel which could prove more likely relatable to today’s reader. This is especially because I did not feel that the circumstances were unique to the time or to how such a character may perceive and respond to such fall out today. As in the bastardization, the fear of abandonment, grief, being a widow, changes in social caste, a less than desirable surname, etc…
All in all, I really liked the expression, the setting, and character traits that were presented. The growth and maturity of the characters were captured quite nicely and I will be looking forward to going back to the start of the series and then continuing on after this book.