Someone to Wed

Someone to Wed

by Mary Balogh

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Overview

Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.


When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life...

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399586064
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/07/2017
Series: Westcott Family Series , #3
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 49,878
Product dimensions: 4.13(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mary Balogh has written more than one hundred historical novels and novellas, more than thirty of which have been New York Times bestsellers. They include the Bedwyn saga, the Simply quartet, the Huxtable quintet, the seven-part Survivors’ Club series, and most recently, the Westcott series, including Someone to Hold and Someone to Love.

Read an Excerpt

One

"The Earl of Riverdale," the butler announced after opening wide the double doors of the drawing room as though to admit a regiment and then standing to one side so that the gentleman named could stride past him.

The announcement was not strictly necessary. Wren had heard the arrival of his vehicle, and guessed it was a curricle rather than a traveling carriage, although she had not got to her feet to look. And he was almost exactly on time. She liked that. The two gentlemen who had come before him had been late, one by all of half an hour. Those two had been sent on their way as soon as was decently possible, though not only because of their tardiness. Mr. Sweeney, who had come a week ago, had bad teeth and a way of stretching his mouth to expose them at disconcertingly frequent intervals even when he was not actually smiling. Mr. Richman, who had come four days ago, had had no discernible personality, a fact that had been quite as disconcerting as Mr. Sweeney's teeth. Now here came the third.

He strode forward a few paces before coming to an abrupt halt as the butler closed the doors behind him. He looked about the room with apparent surprise at the discovery that it was occupied only by two women, one of whom-Maude, Wren's maid-was seated off in a corner, her head bent over some needlework, in the role of chaperon. His eyes came to rest upon Wren and he bowed.

"Miss Heyden?" It was a question.

Her first reaction after her initial approval of his punctuality was acute dismay. One glance told her he was not at all what she wanted.

He was tall, well formed, immaculately, elegantly tailored, dark haired, and impossibly handsome. And young-in his late twenties or early thirties, at a guess. If she were to dream up the perfect hero for the perfect romantic fairy tale, she could not do better than the very real man standing halfway across the room, waiting for her to confirm that she was indeed the lady who had invited him to take tea at Withington House.

But this was no fairy tale, and the sheer perfection of him alarmed her and caused her to lean back farther in her chair and deeper into the shade provided by the curtains drawn across the window on her side of the fireplace. She had not wanted a handsome man or even a particularly young man. She had hoped for someone older, more ordinary, perhaps balding or acquiring a bit of a paunch, pleasant-looking but basically . . . well, ordinary. With decent teeth and at least something of a personality. But she could hardly deny her identity and dismiss him without further ado.

"Yes," she said. "How do you do, Lord Riverdale? Do have a seat." She gestured to the chair across the hearth from her own. She knew something of social manners and ought, of course, to have risen to greet him, but she had good reason to keep to the shadows, at least for now.

He eyed the chair as he approached it and sat with obvious reluctance. "I do beg your pardon," he said. "I appear to be early. Punctuality is one of my besetting sins, I am afraid. I always make the mistake of assuming that when I am invited somewhere for half past two, I am expected to arrive at half past two. I hope some of your other guests will be here soon, including a few ladies."

She was further alarmed when he smiled. If it was possible to look more handsome than handsome, he was looking it. He had perfect teeth, and his eyes crinkled attractively at the corners when he smiled. And his eyes were very blue. Oh, this was wretched. Who was number four on her list?

"Punctuality is a virtue as far as I am concerned, Lord Riverdale," she said. "I am a businesswoman, as perhaps you are aware. To run a successful business, one must respect other people's time as well as one's own. You are on time. You see?" She swept one hand toward the clock ticking on the mantel. "It is twenty-five minutes to three. And I am not expecting any other guests."

His smile disappeared and he glanced at Maude before looking back at Wren. "I see," he said. "Perhaps you had not realized, Miss Heyden, that neither my mother nor my sister came into the country with me. Or perhaps you did not realize I have no wife to accompany me. I beg your pardon. I have no wish to cause you any embarrassment or to compromise you in any way." His hands closed about the arms of his chair in a signal that he was about to rise.

"But my invitation was addressed to you alone," she said. "I am no young girl to need to be hedged about with relatives to protect me from the dangerous company of single gentlemen. And I do have Maude for propriety's sake. We are neighbors of sorts, Lord Riverdale, though more than eight miles separate Withington House from Brambledean Court and I am not always here and you are not always there. Nevertheless, now that I am owner of Withington and have completed my year of mourning for my aunt and uncle, I have taken it upon myself to become acquainted with some of my neighbors. I entertained Mr. Sweeney here last week and Mr. Richman a few days after. Do you know them?"

He was frowning, and he had not removed his hands from the arms of his chair. He still looked uncomfortable and ready to spring to his feet at the earliest excuse. "I have an acquaintance with both gentlemen," he said, "though I cannot claim to know either one. I have been in possession of my title and property for only a year and have not spent much time here yet."

"Then I am fortunate you are here now," she said as the drawing room doors opened and the tea tray was carried in and set before her. She moved to the edge of her chair, turning without conscious intent slightly to her left as she did so, and poured the tea. Maude came silently across the room to hand the earl his cup and saucer and then to offer the plate of cakes.

"I did not know Mr. and Mrs. Heyden, your aunt and uncle," he said, nodding his thanks to Maude. "I am sorry for your loss. I understand they died within a very short while of each other."

"Yes," she said. "My aunt died a few days after taking to her bed with a severe headache, and my uncle died less than a week later. His health had been failing for some time, and I believe he simply gave up the struggle after she had gone. He doted upon her." And Aunt Megan upon him despite the thirty-year gap in their ages and the hurried nature of their marriage almost twenty years ago.

"I am sorry," he said again. "They raised you?"

"Yes," she said. "They could not have done better by me if they had been my parents. Your predecessor did not live at Brambledean, I understand, or visit often. I speak of the late Earl of Riverdale, not his unfortunate son. Do you intend to take up permanent residence there?"

The unfortunate son, Wren had learned, had succeeded to the title until it was discovered that his father had contracted a secret marriage as a very young man and that the secret wife had still been alive when he married the mother of his three children. Those children, already adult, had suddenly found themselves to be illegitimate, and the new earl had lost the title to the man now seated on the other side of the hearth. The late earl's first marriage had produced one legitimate child, a daughter, who had grown up at an orphanage in Bath, knowing nothing of her identity. All this and more Wren had learned before adding the earl to her list. The story had been sensational news last year and had kept the gossip mills grinding for weeks. The details had not been difficult to unearth when there were servants and tradespeople only too eager to share what came their way.

One never knew quite where truth ended and exaggeration or misunderstanding or speculation or downright falsehood began, of course, but Wren did know a surprising amount about her neighbors, considering the fact that she had absolutely no social dealings with them. She knew, for example, that both Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Richman were respectable but impoverished gentlemen. And she knew that Brambledean had been almost totally neglected by the late earl, who had left it to be mismanaged almost to the point of total ruin by a lazy steward who graced the taproom of his local inn more often than his office. By now the house and estate needed the infusion of a vast sum of money.

Wren had heard that the new earl was a conscientious gentleman of comfortable means, but that he was not nearly wealthy enough to cope with the enormity of the disaster he had inherited so unexpectedly. The late earl had not been a poor man. Far from it, in fact. But his fortune had gone to his legitimate daughter. She might have saved the day by marrying the new earl and so reuniting the entailed property with the fortune, but she had married the Duke of Netherby instead. Wren could well understand why the many-faceted story had so dominated conversation both above and below stairs last year.

"I do intend to live at Brambledean," the Earl of Riverdale said. He was frowning into his cup. "I have another home in Kent, of which I am dearly fond, but I am needed here, and an absentee landlord is rarely a good landlord. The people dependent upon me here deserve better."

He looked every bit as handsome when he was frowning as he did when he smiled. Wren hesitated. It was not too late to send him on his way, as she had done with his two predecessors. She had given a plausible reason for inviting him and had plied him with tea and cakes. He would doubtless go away thinking her eccentric. He would probably disapprove of her inviting him alone when she was a single lady with only the flimsy chaperonage of a maid. But he would shrug off the encounter soon enough and forget about her. And she did not really care what he might think or say about her anyway.

But now she remembered that number four on her list, a man in his late fifties, had always professed himself to be a confirmed bachelor, and number five was reputed to complain almost constantly of ailments both real and imagined. She had added them only because the list had looked pathetically short with just three names.

"I understand, Lord Riverdale," she said, "that you are not a wealthy man." Now perhaps it was too late-or very nearly so. If she sent him away now, he would think her vulgar as well as eccentric and careless of her reputation.

He took his time about setting his cup and saucer down on the table beside him before turning his eyes upon her. Only the slight flaring of his nostrils warned her that she had angered him. "Do you indeed?" he said, a distinct note of hauteur in his voice. "I thank you for the tea, Miss Heyden. I will take no more of your time." He stood up.

"I could offer a solution," she said, and now it was very definitely too late to retreat. "To your relatively impoverished state, that is. You need money to undo the neglect of years at Brambledean and to fulfill your duty to the people dependent upon you there. It might take you years, perhaps even the rest of your life, if you do it only through careful management. It is unfortunately necessary to put a great deal of money into a business before one can get money out of it. Perhaps you are considering taking out a loan or a mortgage if the property is not already mortgaged. Or perhaps you intend to marry a rich wife."

He stood very straight and tall, and his jaw had set into a hard line. His nostrils were still flared. He looked magnificent and even slightly menacing, and for a moment Wren regretted the words she had already spoken. But it was too late now to unsay them.

"I beg to inform you, Miss Heyden," he said curtly, "that I find your curiosity offensive. Good day to you."

"You are perhaps aware," she said, "that my uncle was enormously rich, much of his wealth deriving from the glassworks he owned in Staffordshire. He left everything to me, my aunt having predeceased him. He taught me a great deal about the business, which I helped him run during his last years and now run myself. The business has lost none of its momentum in the last year, and is, indeed, gradually expanding. And there are properties and investments even apart from that. I am a very wealthy woman, Lord Riverdale. But my life lacks something, just as yours lacks ready money. I am twenty-nine years old, very nearly thirty, and I would like . . . someone to wed. In my own person I am not marriageable, but I do have money. And you do not."

She paused to see if he had something to say, but he looked as though he were rooted to the spot, his eyes fixed upon her, his jaw like granite. She was suddenly very glad Maude was in the room, though her presence was also embarrassing. Maude did not approve of any of this and did not scruple to say so when they were alone.

"Perhaps we could combine forces and each acquire what we want," Wren said.

"You are offering me . . . marriage?" he asked.

Had she not made herself clear? "Yes," she said. He continued to stare at her, and she became uncomfortably aware of the ticking of the clock.

"Miss Heyden," he said at last, "I have not even seen your face."

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Someone to Wed 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Using a twist on the beauty and the beast tale, Ms Balough has given an appealing depth to the wealth of loveable characters in this extended family. The plot is tightly focused and the whole is well-constructed and memorable. You will enjoy it.
LEH0644 8 months ago
A wealthy heiress is searching for a husband. Due to a large birthmark on her face, Wren Heyden has shut herself away as a recluse and does not think she has anything to offer in a marriage except her money. She interviews various prospects and likes the third man but thinks he is far too handsome for her. Alexander Westcott has inherited a nearby estate which is in sad shape and needs an influx of money which he does not have. He is interested in her proposal and they begin an unlikely friendship. She tells him he could do better than her and sets him free. Weeks later, he sees her in London and realizes she is the woman he wants for his wife and asks her to marry him. He realizes she had a painful past but finds Wren is strong and capable and is the perfect woman to be by his side.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice one
ReadingInPajamas More than 1 year ago
Review: SOMEONE TO WED (A Westcott Novel, Book 3) by Mary Balogh Publication Date: November 7, 2017 Genre: Historical Romance Reviewed by: Reading in Pajamas/ Cori Rated 4 Stars I enjoyed SOMEONE TO WED. It’s a Historical Regency romance that makes a great winter read to snuggle up with and get swept away in for a while. SOMEONE TO WED is the third book in Mary Barlogh’s Westcott Series. I haven’t read the series but the hero is in previous books so I’m planning to go back and read them. This book grew on and surprised me. I didn’t like the heroine at first and almost set the book aside, but the more I learned about her the more I grew to understand and like her. Alex and Wren had a practical agreement for marriage and there wasn’t much steamy romance in this book. I thought their relationship grew slowly. I enjoy Mary Barlogh’s writing style and she creates characters readers can relate to. I recommend this book for historical romance lovers looking for a good regency romance. *Review copy provided by Penguin in exchange for an honest review.
Bambi_Unbridled More than 1 year ago
I have been so pleasantly surprised by this series. I don't know why I've been surprised, Mary Balogh is an excellent writer. But I feel like each book has caught me off guard with how much I enjoyed it. I think this one caught me off guard with a sort of reverse Beauty and the Beast theme, with a beautiful hero and a tortured heroine. It was quite refreshing. I urge you to read the earlier books so you have the complete back story, but if you have not, there are enough tidbits in this story to give you the gist of what has happened in the past. So our heroine is Alexander Westcott, the new Earl of Riverdale. Alexander earned his title when the fraudulent marriage of the late earl was revealed, and his children were dispossessed of their legitimacy. It wasn't something Alexander wanted, but now he feels an obligation to the neglected tenants and estate that suffered under the hands of the prior earl. Alexander's sense of duty conflicted with his wish for an affectionate marriage, given that he was afraid he would have to marry solely for money to save the estate. But Alex wasn't quite prepared for our heroine's proposal and treating his marriage as a strict business arrangement. I admired Alex's determination to go through a period of courtship and understand the heroine's pain and past. And I liked his quiet strength, he maintained composure and calm in the face of most everything, but people certainly learned that they should not mess with his family. "I was itching for a fight, but all they could do was dangle." The heroine of this installment is a newly introduced character, Miss Wren Hayden, business woman and recluse. Wren is a tortured heroine who has been isolated most of her life due to a birthmark covering half of her face. Despite her seclusion, Wren is an intelligent and successful business woman who was straightforward and blunt. I loved this about Wren, and my heart hurt for the pain she held inside. I enjoyed watching Wren challenge herself to come out of her shell, and I thought her encounters with the closeknit Westcott were endearing. There was not much plot conflict with this story, but I felt like it did not need a huge drama. It was a feel good story in that we see a broken woman learn to live and love and accept herself. Wren's journey was inspiring and uplifting, and I got pulled into a great emotional connection with her character. I liked how the story and relationship were paced and continue to enjoy all the family connections and relationships. I didn't quite like how Wren was referred to as "more of a person than a woman" because she intelligent and straightforward, intimating that one could not possess these qualities and still be feminine. But, it was in keeping with the times and it made sense with the story, so I didn't feel that it detracted from my enjoyment. I recommend this series to all fans of Mary Balogh and historical romance in general. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Berkley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A tender story that affirms our humanity as many veils are removed via courage and love. I cannot wait for Miss Kingsley's story to hear, once again, Mary Balogh inspirational voice...
jerilyn17 More than 1 year ago
She's done it again! I am one of those avid readers that is standing at the door of the local Barnes & Noble on the release day of Mary Balogh's newest title (whichever one is coming out). This one was definitely worth the wait. The strength of both the H and h is incredible. Their story - learning to overcome what life had thrown at them, learning to come together - was one of my favorite of her stories so far. (And I have read EVERYTHING that has come out - new or re-release - in the last 10 years.)
Barb-TRC More than 1 year ago
Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh is the 3rd book in her wonderful Regency Westcott series. I enjoyed the first two books in this series, and Someone to Wed is as equal or even better. I like some regency or historical romances on occasion, but I will not miss a book from the Westcott series. Mary Balogh amazes me how she gives us wonderful romances with unlikely couples, and we totally fall in love with them, as well as the fantastic family group. In Someone to Wed, Alexander Westcott is our hero, whom we met in the earlier books. Alex is the Earl of Riverdale, which he inherited from the deceased Earl, whose children would have been heirs, but because he was a bigamist, Alexander becomes the legitimate heir. Alex loves his own estate, and is not thrilled to now have to take over the Riverdale estate that is in ruins, since he cannot afford the big repair expenses. To better understand all of this, I suggest you read my reviews of the first book or better yet, go buy book 1 & 2. You will not regret it. Wren Heyden, our heroine, is a modern woman, who excels in her business holdings and is very wealthy. Wren, who has a purple birthmark on almost half of her face, has been a recluse for twenty years. With her aunt and uncle now deceased, Wren wants to find someone to wed, to have children and some semblance of a life, and plans on buying a husband. Enter Alex, who as the Earl of Riverdale was called to visit the unknown Ms. Heyden. He is shocked when he meets Wren, who wears a veil to cover her face, and hears her proposal. When she explains that she is considering him to become her husband, and will help him with the expenses to restore Riverdale. Alex becomes insulted, but he asks her to remove the veil, and sees her birthmark. Alex is not disturbed by it, much to Wren’s surprise, but he leaves and says if she is serious, he will invite her to a tea he will have for neighbors. Can she find the courage to attend? Alexander finds himself a bit curious about Wren, and sees under her surface about her past hardships, lack of confidence and her fears that made her a recluse. Wren is very independent and tends to be cold and unsocial, as she has never experienced dealings with people other than in business . When Alex tries to get her to open up more, and meet his family, he is surprised when she accepts, but her fears will force her to turn him away. But Alex has a wonderful mother and sister, who make friends with Wren, and she becomes comfortable with them, allowing her to learn more about Alex. What follows is a slow build romance that will at first be friendship, and slowly they will both find love. What I really loved about this story was watching Wren begin to change and see those she has come to know not paying attention to her blemish. She begins to open up and have fun, and Alex slowly helps her build her confidence removing her veil completely and attend events. I also loved this family that we have met over these three books, which was so insurmountable in changing Wren, as well as healing the family ties that had been broken by previous Earl of Riverdale’s death. The romance between Alex and Wren was wonderful to watch, with so many emotions, both sad and sweet. I can’t say enough about Mary Balogh’s writing, as the Westcott series is a ‘do not miss’. If you enjoy a pure romance, even if you don’t like historical/regency, you should be reading this one. Someone to Wed is a wonderful heartwarming story, g