Monday, September 11, 2017

The Lost Letter - Review

The Lost Letter

By: Mimi Matthews

Published: September 19th 2017 by Perfectly Proper Press

204 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Retellings

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--England, 1860. An impoverished Victorian beauty is unexpectedly reunited with the now beastly earl who once broke her heart. Will they finally find their happily ever after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?

A PROUD BEAUTY

Society beauty Sylvia Stafford is far too pragmatic to pine. When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves her destitute and alone, she finds work as a governess in a merchant's household in Cheapside. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood until a mysterious visitor convinces her to temporarily return to her former life--and her former love.

A SCARRED BEAST

Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia fell in love with. Badly scarred during the Sepoy Rebellion, he has withdrawn to his estate in rural Hertfordshire where he lives in near complete seclusion. Brooding and tormented, he cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited--and even less for the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.

AN UNEXPECTED REUNION

A week together in the isolated Victorian countryside is the last thing either of them ever wanted. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily ever after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?

I was reluctant to request The Lost Letter for review because I was unfamiliar with the author. But the description ultimately won me over. It's a beauty and the beast retelling essentially. And I'm glad that I took a chance.

The Lost Letter jumps right into the story. And I suppose with only 204 pages this was necessary. But that had me basically interested and invested from the very beginning, and since I've been struggling through one of my worst reading slumps ever getting hooked early is essential.

The description basically tells you everything you need to know. Sylvia's father committed suicide. His suicide not only leaves her alone but unearths massive gambling debts. The whole thing is quite scandalous. She has no other real choice but to seek work as a governess. I admired her because Sylvia never really took on the victim mentality. After all that she's experienced, sure she grieved, yet she took action and made constant efforts to better her situation both physically and emotionally.

Sebastian thought he'd won Sylvia's affections before he was sent to war in India, but she never wrote to him (or at least he never received any of her letters) and his own letters were returned to him unopened. After receiving an injury that scars him brutally, he returns home a bitter and angry man. Despite Sebastian's tendency to play the victim with Sylvia and even his sister, I found him likeable. He's brutally honest and even at times mean. But I knew he wouldn't remain so.

One of my biggest...I don't know, not really frustrations, but struggles for lack of a better term with this time period while reading is that so much can often be cleared up by simple communication between the two parties. Yet because of the customs and what's considered inappropriate, so often characters dance around this misunderstanding with each other. I appreciated that Mimi Matthews chose not to really take this course. Because Sebastian is so angry, he chooses to be quite direct at times, and because Sylvia assumes that Sebastian has already been witness to her impropriety through the letters she wrote to him these two discover sooner than I expected that each never received the other's letters. However that being said, the author did go down this route with Sylvia misunderstanding Sebastian's current intentions toward her. So I went from applauding Mimi Matthews for this decision to dropping my head and letting out a sigh for that being the ultimate conflict that these two had to overcome.

I can't say that The Lost Letter completely blew me away, but it did hook me from early on. I connected to the characters and their feelings and struggles with each other. I even teared up (blaming it on the pregnancy hormones) at one point for Sylvia's sake. The ultimate conflict was one that wasn't surprised and consequently fairly easy to overcome. Yet, I found this book refreshing from some of the others I've read based on the same time period. In the end, The Lost Letter gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read The Lost Letter? What did you think? Let me know!

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