The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon, # 1)
By: Mimi Matthews
Publication: September 4th 2018 by Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Kindle Library
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Goodreads description--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?
I first read Mimi Matthew's The Lost Letter. While I did devour it, I wasn't sure about her as an author yet. That book certainly entertained me, but I didn't feel like it had too much depth. Then I read a novella, A Holiday by Gaslight that pulled me in and left me wanting for more. I was so impressed that I could be so invested and hooked into a short story that I knew I wanted to check out more of Mimi Matthews. A Modest Independence was available for review and I snagged it, but there was only one problem. I hadn't read the prior book in the series, The Matrimonial Advertisement, so I bought it on Amazon for $0.99.
You guys, I blew through this book. In a day. And these days that's unheard of. Granted, this was a day when Grammy had the kids and I chose to do nothing around the house. But still. I didn't want to stop. The kids were back. I had to cook dinner, give baths, and clean the kitchen, but as soon as I had the chance I was back to this book and devouring it until I finally finished just minutes before 11 pm (my bedtime). Mimi Matthews certainly knows how to draw the reader in and keep them interested.
I've read a couple of books within the last year about mail order brides or something similar so the topic wasn't completely original. As a matter of fact, there were a lot of pieces that reminded me of Healing Hearts by Sarah M Eden. The women's rights versus being the property of their closest male relatives aspect. The insane asylum and virtually the torture methods that were used on patients that were in fact very sane. The misunderstanding of so many medical conditions that we now know even exists even if we don't fully understand them. All of that was similar but the two stories were worlds apart (literally and figuratively).
Helena basically needs a new "closest male relative". Her current one has her running terrified for her life. And she's determined to do whatever she has to do to escape her situation. Thus she answered a matrimonial advertisement. All she hopes for is safety and a little kindness. Helena learns a strength she didn't know she possessed with the help of her new husband and a very few close friends.
Justin just needs a wife for a little companionship and to soften his image with the community. He was hoping for a middle-aged widow or spinster. But Helena is so much more than he could have hoped. She's young and beautiful. And she's intelligent. He knows right off that she's hiding something. But he never expected it to matter to him. He never expected her to matter to him.
I always find myself intrigued by these stories where a couple is married before they've built a strong relationship foundation. It's interesting to me to see them go about the building. How will they maneuver and which blocks will they establish first in their foundations. I'm a sucker for them. And this one was no different. I will say that I usually abhor stories where the big conflict is centered around one party attempting some noble self-sacrifice for the good of the other party. Yet for some reason, I didn't mind it as much in The Matrimonial Advertisement. That's probably because this is one of the few situations where it honestly felt genuine and not forced.
I also loved Finchley and can't wait to read his story in A Modest Independence. I assume we'll see more of the other orphans in that book as Justin and Tom (Finchley) were the main ones present in this book despite the others being mentioned. Well, I guess Neville was pretty included but we still don't know a ton about him. I'm already beyond intrigued to see if Archer gets his own book considering he's been missing (or at least hasn't had contact with the others in years). I will be diving into book 2 as soon as I finish this review.
The Matrimonial Advertisement was a fast read for me. It was the perfect follow up to Brentwood's Ward by Michelle Griep (review coming soon) and largely instrumental in breaking my reading slump of the previous month. I loved the characters and the unique storylines (even the pieces that weren't entirely unique). The Matrimonial Advertisement gets 4 Stars. Have you read The Matrimonial Advertisement? What did you think? Let me know!
Side note: I hate this book cover and hope they do a redesign in the future. And I hate the cover for A Modest Independence even more. Please don't let these book covers deter you from picking up this book!