THE MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENT
SERIES: Parish Orphans of Devon #1
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Historical Romance, Victorian
She Wanted Sanctuary…
Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill–though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome–is anything but a romantic hero.
He Needed Redemption…
Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household–and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one.
Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena’s past threatens, will Justin’s burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?
This is the second book I’ve read by Mimi Matthews — the first being A Holiday by Gaslight, my review of which you can read here — and I’m fairly convinced already that she’s going to become a real favourite. This is the first in a series and the last book I read was a novella, so I thought this might be a little more bogged down in set-up, but that’s definitely not the case. The intrigue starts from page one and the whole story is well-paced and full of excitement.
I don’t really read much Romance as a genre but Matthews completely sells me. Her characters are so well-written and developed that I’m really invested in their struggles. She’s wonderful at the Historical side of Historical Romance too. I’m a bit of a history nerd, and I just adore the deft touch with which she weaves all sorts of details into the stories. You can tell this is a writer with a really in-depth knowledge of the time-period, but she doesn’t bog us down with details — she knows how to pick and choose interesting and relevant details really well. I really like the sort of ‘bigger picture’ history that gets worked in too, things which don’t generally come up but are really fascinating. With A Holiday by Gaslight it was improving technologies, the introduction of gas, The Origin of the Species and money-poor nobility. In The Matrimonial Advertisement, we explore returning soldiers, treatment of mental illness (and the way it could be manipulated for gain) and the complexities of London societies reputation and gossip structure.
But all of this aside, I just loved reading about Helena and Justin, and all the other characters.
There was a sort of Beauty and the Beast vibe at first, with touches of Jane Eyre or Crimson Peak, before revelling in the glamour of London nightlife. A fantastic, marriage-of-convenience, Victorian romance!
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