Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The latest in the Westcott series (yes, you should read the others) and the basic understanding you need for this Balogh series is the Westcotts are a family shaken when a bigamist marriage and secret legitimate daughter turned a respected family topsy turvy. What is great about this story, and many of Balogh's stories, is that most folks involved are decent, understanding, kind people.
So! This story is about Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, a youngish widow, whose dead husband was an abusive alcoholic but only a few people knew. In the family, love and understanding; outside the family, what you'd expect (she drove him to drink, it's all her fault, etc.)
She doesn't want to be alone so decides she's back on the market; given her age and all, her options are limited, of course.
At the same time, she's developed a friendship with Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at a Christmas house party. (Balogh's Christmas House party books are awesome. Guaranteed romance! Always snow!)
So, yeah, these two belong together but the barrier? Colin is almost ten years younger than she is, and that is so not the done thing in Regency World. Also, his mother is a real terror. Yes, I said Balogh's characters are usually kind, etc., but sometimes some of them are wonderfully hateful. Wonderful because it's almost nice to be able to hate on such a terrible person. (That said, at certain times Balogh revisits characters from other books who are the bad guy and redeems them in a believable manner. That said, his mother is pretty awful.)
It's a romance, you know the ending, but it's a good journey to get there.
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