Desert Isle Keeper
Someone to Honor
My whole review of Someone to Honor can be summarized as follows: if you are a Balogh fan and have enjoyed the Westcott series so far, you will definitely enjoy this latest instalment. I am a devotee of the author’s and have thoroughly relished the drama of the Westcott Family! This is book six in the series, and I would not recommend reading it as a stand-alone. There are just too many Westcotts to catch up on and too much backstory to jump in this late in the game.
Someone to Honor features Abigail Westcott, illegitimate daughter of the late Earl of Riverton. Abby was on the verge of making her societal début when it was discovered that the late Earl had married Abby’s mother bigamously, throwing her life into disarray. Her brother Harry ran off and joined the Army and her sister Camille went to Bath to teach, but Abby quietly soldiered on through the scandal, supporting her mother and keeping herself busy with family. At the beginning of Someone to Honor, Harry is returning to England after a two-year convalescence in France accompanied by his good friend Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Bennington. Harry returns to Hinsford Manor to avoid the crowds of well-meaning Westcotts in London but he should have known better – the Westcotts come to him!
Abby’s first glimpse of Harry at Hinsford is dismaying – he has lost a great deal of weight and looks a little gray around the edges. She is too distraught to greet him and sneaks away behind the house where she encounters a large, enthusiastic dog and a shirtless male chopping wood. The dog and male discombobulate her and she puts on aristocratic airs, scolds the servant for his unseemliness and rushes back to the house. Only later that day, much to her embarrassment, does she realize that the ‘servant’ is really Gil Bennington, who has brought Harry safely home. Abigail is mortified (and still discombobulated).
Gil Bennington considers himself a “guttersnipe”. Hs mother was a washerwoman, his father an unknown aristocrat. He enlisted in the Army at fourteen and thanks to the unwelcome assistance of the unknown father and his own heroics, has risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. But although he acts and speaks like a gentleman, he doesn’t feel like or regard himself as one. He makes no apologies for himself but feels wildly out-of-place when the Westcott family descends en masse. He longs to escape Hinsford but has promised Harry he will stay to assist his recovery. And now Harry’s sister Abigail has made him feel even more of a misfit. He feels nothing but aversion for her.
She was beautiful, yes. But she looked cold and unappealing. Somehow unknowable behind that expressionless expression. Perhaps that… was the reason she was still unmarried. Perhaps other men found themselves as little attracted to her as he.
Abigail does wear a mask and is more than a little lost in life even though the Westcott family has stood beside her throughout her ordeal, encouraging her to re-engage with society. But that is not her path and, much to the dismay of her family, she decides to stay at Hinsford and help Harry.
I have explained to you time and again that I will never try to cobble together the tattered remnants of my old life. You have chosen to believe that eventually I must change my mind…I do not care to be in London or part of polite society. I need to live my own life on my own terms, and for the next while at least that is going to be done here.
No one is more dismayed by Abigail’s decision than Gil. He had looked forward to being in a bachelor house again and now Abby, of all people, is staying. Abby and Gil are forced to spend more time together as Harry’s helpmates and a truce emerges. Gil, without intent, opens up to Abby and shares his history with her – a poor childhood, a terrible first marriage, and a daughter of whom his in-laws have refused him custody. Abby slowly begins to see Gil as much more than the “deliciously, ferocious brute” her cousins dubbed him – he is a man of quiet honor.
Gil starts to see the true Abby – witty, kind, strong – and a friendship ensues. They are aware of each other but more aware that it is best not to be aware. Abby fears nothing more than making a marriage she would regret, and Gil has already experienced that and has no intention of remarrying. But then Gil’s custody lawyer informs him that his chances of winning his daughter back would be greatly improved should he remarry. Harry suggests he marries Abby, in both their company, horribly embarrassing the pair of them. However, the seed has been planted and neither can fully dismiss it.
Someone to Honor is classic Mary Balogh – the exquisite character development, the slow, romantic angst, the clever plot, the myriad of interesting characters. It is always fun to see the Westcott family reunited and this time Matilda (yes, Matilda!) plays a critical role in the outcome. Westcott fans – there is more to Matilda than we knew! Ms. Balogh takes us deep into the innermost thoughts of Gil and Abby and it is a delight to traverse this relationship with them. We see Abby fighting to exercise her will within a strong, opinionated family and we see her realize the blessing her illegitimacy is. We watch Gil learn to trust his heart again and fight for what matters most in life, even if he is the son of a washerwoman. I have honestly wondered if there was anything new Ms. Balogh could bring to this series, but bring it she does.
Fans of the Westcott series will be very happy with Gil and Abby’s story. I wholeheartedly recommend Someone to Honor.
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