When I realized the sequel to The Matrimonial Advertisement was being released early this year, I immediately searched out an early copy and devoured it. Taking secondary characters from book one on a world-traveling adventure, A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews surpassed my expectations and earned a spot on my favorites list! Read on for my review, interview with Mimi, and an opportunity to win a copy of the novel courtesy of HFVBT tours.
A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
Perfectly Proper Press
He Needed Peace…
Attorney Tom Finchley has spent his life using his devious intellect to solve the problems of others. As for his own problems, they’re nothing that a bit of calculated vengeance can’t remedy. But that’s all over now. He’s finally ready to put the past behind him and settle down to a quiet, uncomplicated life. If only he could find an equally uncomplicated woman.
She Wanted Adventure…
Former lady’s companion Jenny Holloway has just been given a modest independence. Now, all she wants is a bit of adventure. A chance to see the world and experience life far outside the restrictive limits of Victorian England. If she can discover the fate of the missing Earl of Castleton while she’s at it, so much the better.
From the gaslit streets of London to the lush tea gardens of colonial India, Jenny and Tom embark on an epic quest—and an equally epic romance. But even at the farthest edges of the British Empire, the past has a way of catching up with you…
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Mimi Matthews balances charm, adventure, and romance amidst vividly painted exotic locales in this Victorian novel. It matches a spunky and daring heroine to her perfect complement of a hero whose thoughtful nature and intelligence make their story one of friendship and familiarity not often plumbed within such an era– and their romance all the more meaningful for its resilience and selfless nature.
There are so many things I love about this novel that make it one of my favorites in its Victorian niche: the layers of the story, the wonderful world travel, the smart friendship between Jenny and Tom, the important secondary characters, the romantic tension (that. is. always. there.), and the fact that their romance is apart from the course of their lives.
I love that Jenny’s sense of identity never changes. She is a strong character whose journey is not about “finding herself”, but about her dreams changing and how the surprise possibility of love makes her see herself and choices differently without diminishing the value of her initial stance. She and Tom face their romance head-on, which I also appreciated, fully sharing their feelings and doubts in a straightforward manner. Tom, in turn, grows and reconciles his childhood and some of his past choices because he bends to see life through Jenny’s eyes.
While I’m on the subject of Tom Finchley, let’s just talk about how his intelligence is SO attractive. I mean, his demeanor + the era make the simplicity of being on a first name basis just downright intimate. In various situations, he goes above and beyond to see after Jenny, all while respecting her abilities and wishes.
With A Modest Independence, Mimi Matthews has established herself as a must-read author when it comes to historical romance. Her practiced and timeless style is proves her to be a contemporary of a Victorian voice. I am eager for what’s next in this series!!!
Content note: overall a clean read, especially concerning the romance element, but there are some very mild expletives, mostly uttered by the characters in the company of gentlemen. 🙂
Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.
What inspired you to write A Modest Independence?
I knew early on that the second Parish Orphans of Devon book was going to be set, at least partially, in colonial India. I really wanted to do the country justice. I also wanted to write a heroine who struggles with some of the same issues women struggle with in relationships today; primarily, how much we’re willing to compromise of our own dreams—our own independence—in order to be with the ones we love.
What is the inspiration behind Jenny’s personality? Tom’s?
There was no one thing that went into either character. For Jenny, her adventurous spirit and determination to remain independent were as much inspired by adventurous women of the period as they were by my own experiences with travel and romance. As for Tom, he was partly inspired by Mr. Tulkinghorn in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. He’s also a bit modern in the sense that he truly respects women and is—ultimately—capable of introspection and change.
What message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?
Hmm. That’s a difficult one. Perhaps that dreams and goals can change in light of new experiences, and that a little compromise in life and love isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What was most challenging about writing a story set in the Victorian era with such varied locations?
The research. Definitely, the research. It was grueling.
Did anything you learned surprise you while researching for this book?
I wouldn’t say it surprised me, but I did love learning about the steamship and railway accommodations. Some of the ships were incredibly luxurious.
Which character was your favorite to write?
Just for fun:
Do you have any hobbies?
Binge reading. Binge watching a good series. Shopping for pretty things I don’t need.
If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?
I’d stay in this one, purely because at the moment women have the most rights they’ve ever had. We’re still nowhere near where we should be, but it’s a lot better than it was in the 19th century.
What are you currently reading?
Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood. It’s set in the Edwardian era. I highly recommend it (and the first book in the series, Impossible Saints).
Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to answer my questions, Mimi!!!! I appreciate you! (And I heartily agree 🙂 Clarissa Harwood’s books are wonderful.)
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.
Blog Tour Schedule
Wednesday, May 1 Review & Interview at Passages to the Past
Thursday, May 2 Interview at Bookish Rantings
Friday, May 3 Review at Based on a True Story
Sunday, May 5 Feature at Comet Readings
Monday, May 6 Review at Pursuing Stacie
Tuesday, May 7 Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, May 8 Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Thursday, May 9 Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
During the Blog Tour, we have two signed copies of A Modest Independence up for grabs! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.
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- The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.