Book Review, Blog Tour & Giveaway: “The Belle of Belgrave Square” by Mimi Matthews

It’s no secret around here that I love Mimi Matthews’ novels. Today I’m happy to be taking part in a blog tour for her new release, The Belle of Belgrave Square, the second book in her Belles of London series. Read on for more about the book + how to connect with Mimi, and stick around for my review and a fantastic tour-wide giveaway.

About the Book

A BookBub Best Romance of 2022

A London heiress rides out to the wilds of the English countryside to honor a marriage of convenience with a mysterious and reclusive stranger.

Tall, dark, and dour, the notorious Captain Jasper Blunt was once hailed a military hero, but tales abound of his bastard children and his haunted estate in Yorkshire. What he requires now is a rich wife to ornament his isolated ruin, and he has his sights set on the enchanting Julia Wychwood.

For Julia, an incurable romantic cursed with a crippling social anxiety, navigating a London ballroom is absolute torture. The only time Julia feels any degree of confidence is when she’s on her horse. Unfortunately, a young lady can’t spend the whole of her life in the saddle, so Julia makes an impetuous decision to take her future by the reins—she proposes to Captain Blunt.

In exchange for her dowry and her hand, Jasper must promise to grant her freedom to do as she pleases. To ride—and to read—as much as she likes without masculine interference. He readily agrees to her conditions, with one provision of his own: Julia is forbidden from going into the tower rooms of his estate and snooping around his affairs. But the more she learns of the beastly former hero, the more intrigued she becomes…

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

Review

I absolutely adore this novel! It’s an enchanting spin on a bit of a Beauty & the Beast situation with a little influence from another favorite classic, The Blue Castle (L. M. Montgomery). Matthews is a master at combining tropes and charms and spinning a story uniquely stamped with her style. This one shines with its marriage of convenience setup, a Victorian setting, the only-one-bed trope, a bit of flair from the aforementioned classics, three impish children, and character cameos from earlier books.

Julia and Jasper are a new favorite fictional couple of mine. Their romance is equal parts tender, swoony, and steadfast. Their journey to each other is not an idealized fairytale, though Julia’s bookish habits set off events for him to sweep her off her feet. Seeing her find agency, encouragement, and belonging with Jasper, and them both finding footing with his children, are things I particularly enjoyed.

Which brings me to Jasper. #swoon He’s a brooding, serious hero who is a romantic at heart and HE. FALLS. FIRST. He blushes and shows unflinching patience when it comes to romancing Julia. His backstory coming to light proves him all the more worthy of admiration for his integrity and of Julia’s affection. This is, perhaps, the most tender romance Matthews has written, skilfully balanced with a hint of sensuality that makes the reader swoon at the simple detail of a touch or endearment between Julia and Jasper.

I appreciate the slight unconventionaliity of this storycin its genre, especially the way the characters seek to give little weight to society’s opinions. In subtle ways, the issue of a female’s role and limited ability to make independent choices are a part of the story. So, too, are bigger themes of loyalty, honesty, and justice.

Content note for my usual blog audience: this is a general market romance with a few era-fitting mild expletives and a closed door romance.

Thank you to the publisher for the advance ebook copy. I purchased the paperback for my shelves. This is my honest review.

Mimi Matthews photo: Mimi standing next to a horse

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

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VICTORIAN READING ROOM

Join Mimi at her Victorian Reading Room Facebook Group for exclusive access as she shares her love of writing, historical romance, Victorian fashion, brooding heroes, independent heroines, and of course, her beloved pets!

READ AN EXCLSUIVE INTERVIEW WITH MIMI MATTHEWS

Discover intriguing insights into The Belle of Belgrave Square and Mimi’s writing life in this exclusive interview at austenprose.com.

Mimi has generously offered a fabulous giveaway for this book tour!

Giveaway period: October 3 – October 30

Terms & Conditions:

Giveaway hosted by Mimi Matthews. No Purchase Necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. All information will remain confidential and will not be sold or otherwise used, except to notify the winner and to facilitate postage of the book to the winner. Void where prohibited.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) receives a paperback copy of The Belle of Belgrave Square, signed and annotated by the author with personal comments, underlining of her favorite lines, and other highlights by Mimi Matthews.

Giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 10/03/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 10/30/22.

The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog on 10/31/22.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review: “The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie” by Rachel Linden

Thanks for stopping by for my review of Rachel Linden’s newest release, The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie. It’s a women’s fiction story with elements of romance and a little magical realism.

About the Book

An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she didn’t choose. . . . from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.

Lolly Blanchard’s life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother’s tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she’s lost.

As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift–three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she’s ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present. 

Goodreads |Amazon | BookBub

Review

I absolutely LOVED The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie! It has an engaging style, foodie elements (including the restaurant world, which Linden gets spot-on), tangible pacific northwest setting, plus a touch of wistful magical realism to explore life’s “what ifs” and regrets. I really enjoyed watching the heroine grow and learn through some introspective moments. I’d call this women’s fiction, but it does have a strong thread of a love story told through memories and a few chapters which flash back in the timeline. Of course this part made my romance-loving heart happy.

The deeper themes of the novel are explored with a good balance of hopefulness. I was rooting for Lolly’s happiness and closure through a rollercoaster of events and emotions she endured. Her plucky and inspiring Aunt Gert was a vivid side character whose influence made Lolly’s story happen in many ways. I was delighted each time she was on the page!

My favorite story element was the way Lolly’s experiences draw attention to the joys in the mundane of everyday life. Now I want to reread the novel, make a lemon pie, and grow a flower garden 🙂

Content note for my blog readers: this is a general fiction title (Linden has released previous books with inspirational publishers). The story does have a handful of very mild expletives and a vague mythical element which works as a plot device.

Thank you to Berkeley Publishing for the review copy. This is my honest review.