SOMEONE TO HOLD – Mary Balogh
A Westcott Novel , Book 2
England – Early 18th Century
Miss. Camille Westcott has endured a life-altering occurrence. She learned at the reading of the will of her deceased father, the Earl of Riverdale, that he had been previously married, and before his first wife died, he had married Camille's mother, Viola Kingsley. Now the half-sister, Anastasia (SOMEONE TO HOLD), whom Camille had thought illegitimate, was now the only legitimate heir, and she, Camille, whose only purpose had been to become the ‘perfect' lady, was the illegitimate half-sister. They had literally traded places. Now she is living with her sister Abigail at their Grandmother Kingsley's home in Bath. The orphanage where her father had abandoned Anastasia, although he sent monthly stipends to the place, is located in Bath, and somehow her mind compels her to apply for the teaching position at the orphanage. The position her half-sister held until she became the Duchess of Netherby.
Joel Cunningham is the Duchess of Netherby's best friend, and has been since they both grew up in the same orphanage. They have corresponded regularly since she went to London, and now he circumspectly watches her sisters for her. After aging out of the orphanage, Joel went to art school and now has become a portrait artist of some repute in Bath. He also teaches art classes at the orphanage twice a week. At first he doesn't like the new teacher, nor she him. Things change when her grandmother hires him to do a portrait of both Abigail and Camille. He doesn't know if he can ever find the real person behind the proper, impervious ‘lady' image Camille hides behind, yet he sees intriguing glimpses of the real Camille in her interactions with the orphan children and eventually with him.
Reading between the lines of SOMEONE TO HOLD, the orphanage at Bath, which has many stipends and contributions sent monthly for many of the children and where the children are loved, protected, and educated, is where the upper class sends their mistakes to be hidden. While Joel has an inner hole where he feels his lack of family, he soon realizes Camille does, too. She tried to earn the love and respect of a father who had none for his wife or children. Readers will enjoy Camille's undefeatable outlook and courage as she faces an overwhelming public humiliation, falling from the heights of privileged society to its bottom. She becomes a far better person in the sense she learns to show her love for others as well as her as own life and the family who never gives her up. The story has many surprises and dramatic moments, and a strong moral message along with its fascinating romance . . . excellent reading.