Mary Balogh’s fabulous Westcott series boasts some of the most memorable characters in her oeuvre and her latest installment, Someone Perfect, is a fitting addition. Despite coming from very disparate backgrounds, two people connect at an unanticipated and deeply emotional level in this historical romance.
Lady Estelle Lamarr was horrified when her close confidant, Maria, was banished to a smaller estate upon the death of her father and her estranged half-brother, Justin Wiley, inherited his title and property. Maria was brought up to view Justin as a despicable ogre, a thief and a liar by her mother, a reputation Estelle accepts as fact.
Brought up in love as the apple of his parents’ eyes, Justin was shocked when, after his mother passed away, his beloved father remarried a much younger woman. For reasons Balogh does not at first reveal, Justin left home at the age of 22 and had to earn a living. His accent and background earned him rough words and rougher treatment, but he survived and thrived and made friends for life, with whom he still keeps in touch even after becoming an earl.
When Justin returns to the estate after his stepmother’s death and invites Maria to live with him, Estelle accompanies her for companionship. Estelle and Justin come from dissimilar backgrounds: he, a stone quarry laborer; she, a gently reared lady. She finds him huge and intimidating. (Even his dog is huge and intimidating.) He finds her far above his touch. What could they possibly have in common? And out of this, Balogh crafts a masterful romance.
Someone Perfect is a wonderful example of a connection based on trust, fairness and honesty. There is certainly an attraction between Estelle and Justin, but more importantly, there is a meeting of minds. Their relationship develops through frank, heart-to-heart conversations, a good example of which is when, early on in the book, Justin proposes to Estelle, thinking she would make a suitable countess, and she refuses. As their relationship moves along, they open up their hearts to each other, revealing things from their pasts they have never shared with another soul. They want to believe the best of each other, both realizing that kindness and thoughtfulness lie underneath their hard, protective exteriors.
Even beyond its well-drawn main couple, Someone Perfect hums with joy, with the feeling of life unfolding on the page. It is an intimate tale, rich in detail and images, the sort of book to be read in one long, breathless sitting.