Someone to Wed

Written by Mary Balogh
Review by Ray Thompson

“I am twenty-nine years old… and I would like someone to wed.”

A blunt offer of marriage was not what Alexander Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, expected when he accepted an invitation to visit a distant neighbor. But though Miss Wren Heyden believes her disfiguring facial birthmark would deter suitors, she is wealthy and she has decided to purchase a husband. Alex is offended, but the neglected estate he recently inherited needs substantial investment, he takes his obligations seriously, and a rich wife is his best hope. And so the dance begins, though not promisingly, for Wren has lived as a recluse, avoiding social interaction because of her appearance. Despite her initiative, the prospect of change is terrifying, particularly after the psychological damage wrought in the first ten years of her life.

This is a version of the ugly duckling story, and since it is a Regency, a happy ending awaits. The healing journey is not an easy one, but Balogh weaves the tale with wonderful skill: impressive structure, delicious irony, a fascinating array of likeable (and some not so likeable) characters, and sympathetic protagonists—her courage, his compassion, mutual self-honesty. Regency romance at its best. Highly recommended.