Top Ten Tuesday: Bespectacled Book Boyfriends

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is a FREEBIE! This concept has been sitting in my drafts for a while, and I’ve added to it along the way. I’m talking here about bespectacled book boyfriends! I know this is a superficial way to categorize a hero, but it’s just so darn fun to recognize glasses as a little everyday accessory that add a bit of intelligence to any face (I say this as I wear them myself 😉 ). So, welcome to my new fan club.

The Bespectacled Book Boyfriends Club

Tom Finchley from A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

Titus from Jane By the Book by Pepper Basham

Nate from Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Peter from When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

Will from Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Zivon from A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White

Simon from The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan AND Oliver Thorne in Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan (shoutout to Hamish from her Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries!)

From my TBR

I have been told these are wonderful heroes, who also happen to be bespectacled

Quin from The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

Ray from The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Amos from Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Have you “met” any of these book boyfriends? Do you have any bespectacled characters I need to add to my list? What did you feature for this week’s TTT?

Review: “The Siren of Sussex” by Mimi Matthews

I’m very excited to be sharing my review today of Mimi Matthews’ The Siren of Sussex, the first in her Belles of London series and her first traditionally published novel. It also happens to be release day for this Victorian romance!

About the Book

Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

cover image of The Siren of Sussex, heroine riding a horse

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Siren of Sussex is a romance with resilient characters, swoony chemistry, and a historical setting that features equestriennes and the Victorians’ obsession with the spiritual realm.

A thoughtful look at race and colonialism through the eyes of the half-British, half-Indian (and fully attractive) hero, Ahmad, adds further depth to the complications of the love story and a subtle assessment of the roles of gentlemen vs the working class. Evelyn, the heroine, possesses a determination to better her prospects in a selfless move to support her family which endears her to Ahmad and the reader instantly. Wholly feminine and untried, she shirks the label of bluestocking and instead embraces the complexities of her person even as she embodies a progressively feministic view of her role and the capabilities of others.

The slow-burn romance is born of friendship and a partnership to display Ahmad’s fabric artistry – a situation which allows for some wonderfully romantic moments with fittings and one quite swoony gesture involving a pocket. Like Matthews’ beloved characters often exhibit, the best part of the romance is when the leads realize, as recipients of the others’ affections and respect, their place of belonging and acceptance is finally found.

Thank you to the publisher for the early review copy. This is my honest review. 

Recommended Reading: Historical Fiction with Gothic and Mystery Elements

Since autumn is my favorite time to read historical fiction that falls in the gothic, mystery, or otherwise atmospheric storytelling category, I thought I would share some recommendations of this kind!

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright | Review

This split time mystery and suspense novel takes readers to a manor on the shores of Lake Superior in contemporary times and the post-Civil War era with a haunted quality and a search for missing treasure.

Lost in Darkness by Michellle Griep | Goodreads

This Regency story combines elements of a Frankenstein-like tale with that of a romance as siblings contend with life-changing choices. I’m currently reading this one — expect a review soon!

A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber | Goodreads

The third novel in Huber’s Lady Darby Mystery series, this one finds the heroine and her inquiry agent counterpart contending with folklore and grave robbers in 1830 Scotland.

John Eyre by Mimi Matthews | Review

A retelling of the classic Jane Eyre, this one *slight spoiler* also combines elements of Dracula with a spooky and SMART gender flipped twist like only Matthews could pen.

The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood | Goodreads

This is a Victorian mystery full of suspense and a formidable heroine who comes into her own with agency and an unexpected romance. It considers the scenario of the classic The Secret Garden with grown-up leads and draws out themes of loyalty and sacrifice with some influence by Brontë’s Jane Eyre. (Review coming here on the blog next week!)

Top Ten Tuesday: A Tour of the British Isles in Fiction

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is “Favorite Book Settings”. I could go SO MANY directions with this topic, because setting is a very important part of story to me. A well written, immersive setting is like an armchair adventure to a place (or time) the reader has never been. I’ve decided to keep my choices to the UK and Ireland, or the British Isles as those islands are collectively known.

A Tour of the British Isles in Fiction

Scotland

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano | Contemporary adventure and love story (with a chef!), and an exploration of the Isle of Skye. My Review

Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski | An estate in the idyllic Scottish Lowlands is the setting for this WWI mystery and romance. My Review

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz | This heart-deep story begins on the Isle of Kerrera, an island in the Scottish Hebrides, during the 18th century. My Review

England

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan | Historical romance that explores the architecture of the city — and of a relationship — in post-WWII London. My Review

The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews | Historical romance set on the coast and rambling moors of Devonshire, complete with a Dartmoor pony. My Review

Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham | A witty romance unfolds between an Appalachian single mom and an English actor, with a healthy dose of humor and a family mystery, too. My Review

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay | A contemporary story of self-discovery sees the heroine, Lucy, travel to England and the Brontë’s ancestral town of Haworth — with plentiful literary references! My Review

Wales

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White | A little suspense and beautiful music combine in this WWI-era romance set mostly in Wales. My Review

Ireland

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson | This contemporary romance finds the characters in an unlikely pairing while on a tour of Ireland. Beautiful sights and comical mishaps combine with depth in this adventurous story.

As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber | This enthralling historical tale finds newlywed investigators trekking from England to Dublin to solve a mystery. My Review

Did you share a TTT post this week? What is your favorite setting? Have you read any of these books?

Book & Film Pairings, Edition 5

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! Today’s post features an absolute FAVORITE Victorian miniseries and three books with similar themes or settings. I’m talking about North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and the ultimate BBC miniseries adaptation from 2004 starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Like the novel by Gaskell, each of these books I’ve chosen have an English setting, romance thread, and similarities to the classic, yet I would recommend them as unique stories with vibrant characters of their own.

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

North and South series by BBC, original novel by Elizabeth Gaskell

This work contrasts society, economics, and family bonds through the eyes of its hero and heroine. More than just a romance, I appreciate how the novel and series dive deeper into social problems of the times and the difference one person, or one business owner, can make in the lives of even a small group of people. The romance progresses slowly as outside factors bring the hero and heroine together, begrudgingly at times, then to finally see through each other’s eyes the world around them. I especially love the book’s POV of Mr. Thornton, as I feel he is better understood in that context than his brooding persona in the series.

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson

This Victorian story is mostly set in Manchester and its hero is the owner of a successful cotton mill, much like Mr. Thornton. The backgrounds and contrasts of the protagonists are similar, too, but beyond that, it paints a poignant story of healing and purpose. The couple are married for most of the story, so that makes for emotional glimpses into their life and challenges, and, a unexpectedly sweet romance.

Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind by Carla Kelly

This Regency story has parallels in the name “Milton” and in the societal clash of the hero and heroine. Like Margaret of N&S, Miss Milton has a demanding family that pulls her in many directions. My favorite aspect of this story is how her friendship with the hero is very encouraging. She learns courage and standing up for herself as the story progresses yet doesn’t waver from her initial character.

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight cover

I couldn’t leave this last Christmas novella off the list! A Holiday by Gaslight ticks all the boxes for a Victorian Christmas story: decorating the country estate, plenty of mistletoe, a cozy library, and a sparkling romance. The initial misconceptions of the hero and heroine are nods to N&S, as are the ways they find common values and intellect once they look past superficiality. Author Mimi Matthews is a pro and this novella is a fantastic introduction to her stories!

Are you a fan of North and South? Do you have book recommendations similar to this classic? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Review & Blog Tour: “John Eyre” by Mimi Matthews

Thank you for visiting my blog today! I’m sharing a review & blog tour information on Mimi Matthews’ new novel, John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow. It is a supernatural gothic retelling of the classic Jane Eyre and one other Victorian novel (to reveal it would mean SPOILERS, so I shall keep it quiet!). While it differs from Matthews’ typical engaging Victorian romances, it bears her skill and prowess in retelling two gothic classics into a unique story all its own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.

Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn’t on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she’s powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all.

From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLEBOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Bertha Mason Rochester shines, dominating her scenes with vitality and strength. The style, too, is spot-on, reprising the spirit of 19th-century Gothic prose without descending into mimicry.”— Publishers Weekly

“An entertaining spin on a classic with thrilling twists and turns…Matthews skillfully transforms a well-known story into a truly original tale.”— Kirkus

“[Matthews] retells Charlotte Bronte’s classic story in a way that will keep fans of the original novel totally gripped from cover to cover… Fresh and dynamic… Fast-paced and spellbinding…a book you will have a hard time putting down.”— Readers Favorite

“One of the most moving, suspenseful, innovative and remarkable retellings of a classic in the history of, well, ever… Every page is sheer rapture as [Matthews] moulds popular source material into a spell-binding creation so wholly her own.”— Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration

“[A] captivating and ingenious retelling of Jane Eyre with a supernatural twist. Smart, suspenseful, and deliciously spooky, JOHN EYRE is a must-read; I loved everything about it!”— Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames Mysteries and the Electra McDonnell series

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Regency and Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, 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 Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

REVIEW

Readers will delight with John Eyre‘s gothic Victorian drama, gender-swapped roles tangled with romance, and prominent thread of light. It vacillates between mystery and riveting thriller while the tentative connection forming between Mr. Eyre and Mrs. Rochester solidifies into a formidable and complimentary partnership. The brilliant telling of this tale is further proof of Matthews’ mind for story: dissecting and letting classics influence the characters and framework yet telling a unique story all its own.

The epistolary elements of Bertha Rochester’s journal interspersed with the “present” story are a smart choice that lends her personal perspective and greater emotion to the story. John Eyre is a compassionate character, too, whose own backstory prepares him to be the ally Bertha needs. Their romance is as tumultuous as Brontë’s couple with a few twists on the classic that make me root for their happiness even more. Bertha is a strong heroine, and this story is more her own than John’s even as the title bears his name.

The supernatural and gothic influences of this retelling are vastly different from Matthews’ previous books — and bravely so. The tone of this novel is more foreboding and chilling at times, but these affects only heighten the drama and stakes for the characters of John and Bertha as they grapple with the threat of evil and the hope of light. In particular, I am impressed with the way Brontë’s Rochester’s more mercurial nature is exposed in this telling through both Mr. Rochester and Bertha — Mr. Rochester’s with more sinister tones and Bertha’s through her passionate determination. This novel will have appeal to new readers who appreciate its source books and, hopefully, draw readers to look into Matthews’ backlist of romances.

I had the privilege of reading this novel in one of its early drafts as a beta reader. I happily reread the final version, and was riveted all over again (and ecstatic about the epilogue!). Many thanks to Mimi for the shoutout in the acknowledgements! It made me smile!

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

TOUR INFO & SCHEDULE

Join the virtual book tour of JOHN EYRE: A TALE OF DARKNESS AND SHADOW, Mimi Matthews’ highly acclaimed Bronte-inspired Gothic romance, July 12-25, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical fiction, Gothic romance, and paranormal fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpt, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in Yorkshire, England.

July 12: The Caffeinated Bibliophile (review) | Syrie James (review) | Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (review) 

July 13: Bronte Blog (interview) | Laura’s Reviews (review) | All-of-a-Kind Mom (spotlight)

July 14: Gwendalyn’s Books (review) | Austenesque Reviews (review) 

July 15: Bookworm Lisa (review) | Nurse Bookie (review)      

July 16: Savvy Verse and Wit (excerpt) | The Lit Bitch (review)       

July 17: My Bookish Bliss (review) | From the TBR Pile (review)         

July 18: Rosanne E. Lortz (review) | Books, Teacups, & Reviews (review)   

July 19: The Secret Victorianist (review) | Christian Chick’s Thoughts (review) | The Gothic Library (review)        

July 20: Getting Your Read On (review) | The Silver Petticoat Review (review) | Lu Reviews Books (review)        

July 21: Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (spotlight) | The Green Mockingbird (review)           

July 22: Unabridged Chick (review) | A Darn Good Read (review)

July 23: Kathleen Flynn (review) | So Little Time… (review) | The Calico Critic (review)

July 24: The Bronte Babe (review) | Probably at the Library (review) | Impressions in Ink (review)

July 25: From Pemberley to Milton (review) | Vesper’s Place (review) | Cup of Tea with that Book Please (review)    

Review & Blog Tour: “Gentleman Jim” by Mimi Matthews

Welcome to my review for the blog tour of Mimi Matthews’ newest standalone novel, Gentleman Jim! I have loved each and every one of Mimi’s novels. This one, especially, deserves ALL THE STARS and a place on my favorites list!

Join the virtual blog tour of GENTLEMAN JIM: A TALE OF ROMANCE AND REVENGE, Mimi Matthews’s highly acclaimed new historical romance novel, November 9 – December 6, 2020. Forty-five popular blogs specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, and Austenesque fiction will join in the celebration of its release with exclusive excerpts, interviews, spotlights, or reviews of this new Regency-era novel set in Somerset, England.

About the Book

She Couldn’t Forget…

Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nick is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nick escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nick never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He Wouldn’t Forgive…

After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful–and entirely convinced he’s someone else.

As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain other? Or, with a little daring, will he find a way to have them both?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Tartly elegant. . . A vigorous, sparkling, and entertaining love story with plenty of Austen-ite wit.”— Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Matthews ups the ante with a wildly suspenseful romance…”— Library Journal, starred review

“Equally passionate and powerful…Mimi Matthews proves once again that she is a master of historical fiction in Gentleman Jim.”— Readers’ Favorite

“Rollicking and romantic, passionate and intriguing…Regency romance does not get any better than Gentleman Jim.”— Relz Reviewz

Review

Gentleman Jim is a thrilling Regency adventure that’s one part hope, one part daring, and one part hopelessly romantic. This twist on a tale of revenge spins a Count of Monte Cristo-esque trope of secret identities and the clash of formidable adversaries with true love in the balance.

my copy of gentleman jim

The hero, St. Clare, is at once capable, bold, and swoon worthy with a deep well of unabashed emotion he reveals only to the heroine. Likewise, Maggie fulfills her role as heroine with a balance of spunk, femininity, and a daring personality as she holds her own in the drawing room and brandishing a pistol. Their romance is full of spark and undercurrents of tension, born of their fantastic chemistry and the many layers of history each character brings to the story. It’s the kind of story you wish you could read again for the first time, discovering the surprises and enjoying the beautiful turns of phrase along the way.

I enjoyed Matthews’ return to the Regency setting for this novel, where duels, waltzes, and horseback riding abound with surprising twists of action and challenges to inheritance. Naturally threaded in this story are important themes of hope, home, and the power of truth leading to justice. But I’d recommend reading it for the clean-yet-amazingly-sexy friends-to-more romance alone 😉

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

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library JournalPublishers Weekly, 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. Her next romance, The Siren of Sussex, will be out in 2022 from Berkley/Penguin Random House.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | BOOKBUB  | GOODREADS

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

Nov 09           Relz Reviewz (Character Spotlight)

Nov 09           Life of Literature (Review)

Nov 09           Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

Nov 10           Savvy Verse and Wit (Interview)

Nov 10           Greenish Bookshelf (Review)

Nov 11           Library of Clean Reads (Review)

Nov 11           Silver Petticoat Reviews (Excerpt)

Nov 12           Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Nov 12           Heidi Reads (Review)

Nov 13           Lu’s Reviews (Review)

Nov 14           The Green Mockingbird (Review)

Nov 15           Bookish Rantings (Review)

Nov 15           The Lit Bitch (Review)

Nov 16           The Historical Fiction Reader (Review)

Nov 16           Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Nov 17           Inkwell Inspirations (Review)

Nov 17           Robin Loves Reading (Review)

Nov 18           Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)

Nov 18           My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)

Nov 19           Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Nov 20           Jorie Loves a Story (Spotlight)

Nov 20           Foxes and Fairy Tales (Review)

Nov 21           Gwendalyn’s Books (Excerpt)

Nov 22           Romantically Inclined Reviews (Review)

Nov 22           Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Nov 22           Vesper’s Place (Spotlight)

Nov 23           Fiction Aficionado (Review)

Nov 23           Historical Fiction with Spirit (Review)

Nov 24           Let Them Read Books (Interview)

Nov 25           The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Review)

Nov 25           So Little Time… (Spotlight)

Nov 27           Among the Reads (Review)

Nov 28           Chicks, Rogues and Scandals (Review)

Nov 29           Book Bustle (Review)

Nov 30           Cup of Tea with that Book Please (Review)

Dec 01           Nurse Bookie (Review)

Dec 02           Confessions of a Book Addict (Review)

Dec 02           Impressions in Ink (Review)

Dec 03           From Pemberley to Milton (Review)

Dec 04           Relz Reviewz (Review)

Dec 04           Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)

Dec 05           Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review)

Dec 05           Probably at the Library (Review)

Dec 06           The Calico Critic (Excerpt)

Review + Blog Tour: “Fair as a Star” by Mimi Matthews

 

I’m happy to be participating in a blog tour today for Mimi Matthews’ latest historical romance novella, Fair as a Star! Read on for my thoughts plus a chance to enter the giveaway with HFVBT tours…

About the Book

Fair as a Star_webFair as a Star
by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Perfectly Proper Press

Series: Victorian Romantics, Book One
Genre: Historical Romance

 

 

A Secret Burden…

After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy—or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes.

A Longstanding Love…

As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago.

During an idyllic Victorian summer, friends and family gather in anticipation of Beryl and Sir Henry’s wedding. But in her darkest moment, it’s Mark who comes to Beryl’s aid. Can he help her without revealing his feelings—or betraying his brother?

Available on Amazon


USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, 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.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Review

I adored this sweet Victorian romance! It has a steady curate for a hero, a brave heroine, and the depth I’ve come to expect from a Mimi Matthews story. Slight moments of humor, a lush Victorian country setting, and an adorable dog named Ernest round out this novella.

I am always pleasantly surprised by the unexpected themes and facets of humanity depicted in Mimi Matthews’ stories. In this instance, she sensitively delves into a tough one: mental illness and depression. With delicate care, Beryl’s melancholy (the Victorian term) is revealed in subtle ways. As Beryl struggles not to be defined by her unexplainable issues, her bravery and caring nature shine through. Much like her hobby of embroidery and her personal struggles, she keeps these things concealed to all but her best friend Mark, the hero who truly knows her.

Now let’s talk about Mark Rivenhall! His compassionate strength is admirable, with an uncompromising character in moments when he could lash out or declare his true feelings for Beryl. I especially appreciate the way he takes his role as curate seriously, as he does his role as brother to Henry and friend to Beryl. He is a friend to her first and foremost. It is touching that when Beryl sees flaws in herself, Mark sees only HER and answers her needs with his steady love and support. The romance in this story unfurls with HOPE, while the history already shared between Mark and Beryl makes it all the sweeter.

I’m thrilled this is the first in a new “Victorian Romantics” novella series by Mimi Matthews! I’m hopeful we’ll see some of the characters from this story again — especially Dr. Black!

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

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 14
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 15
Interview at Austenprose
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Feature at I’m All About Books
Review at Probably at the Library

Thursday, July 16
Review at Library of Clean Reads

Friday, July 17
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, July 18
Review at The Green Mockingbird

Sunday, July 19
Review at Robin Loves Reading

Monday, July 20
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, July 21
Review at Book Bustle

Wednesday, July 22
Review at Bookish Rantings

Thursday, July 23
Review at Heidi Reads

Friday, July 24
Review at The Lit Bitch

Saturday, July 25
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, July 27
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Tuesday, July 28
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

~Enter the Gleam giveaway here!~

 

Recommended Reading: Series to Binge

In light of all the craziness happening in the world right now, you might find yourself with extra time to read that book or series you’ve had on your shelf for forever. If you’ve read all the books in your house (Go you! I commend you!), and you’re looking to discover more great stories, I have compiled a list of 11 series you can binge-read NOW!

In my reading opinion, nothing is better than getting to breeze through a series back to back with NO WAITING until the next book is released!

I’ve listed these in order of historical era and genre, with Goodreads links to the series and some links to my reviews. And, confession time, all of these have some element of romance 😉

Parish Orphans of Devon series by Mimi Matthews | Victorian Era England + abroad

Delightful and deep Victorian romances, each of these couples have unique appeal (brooding, bookish, assertive, sweet, and redeemed rogue in the mix). I will reread these forever. The audio versions are wonderful, too!

The Matrimonial Advertisement | A Modest Independence | A Convenient Fiction | The Winter Companion

Timber Ridge Reflections series by Tamera Alexander | Post-Civil War American West

I remember loving each of these historical romances for different reasons, the first one being the subject of photography in book From a Distance.

Price of Privilege series by Jessica Dotta | Mystery and Intrigue in Victorian England

My favorite EVER historical series — and I don’t say this lightly! All three books encompass one of the most transformative arcs of the heroine. The allegorical symbolism of redemption deeply embedded in this series blows me away every time I think about it.

Born of Persuasion | Series feature: Price of Privilege

The Everstone Chronicles series by Dawn Crandall | Gilded Age New England

Four novels + 1 novella all with unique 1st person point-of-view heroines. Plus the Adirondack and coastal settings are detailed and idyllic!

The Hesitant Heiress | The Bound Heart | The Captive Imposter | The Cautious Maiden

Herringford & Watts Mysteries by Rachel McMillan | Pre-WWI Toronto

Trouser-wearing lady detectives solve crime in Toronto on the cusp of world war with a colorful cast of secondary characters, and two (or three!) valiant love interests. Three full length novels, two novellas, and a short story offer pages of fun with these friends!

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder | A Lesson in Love and Murder | The White Feather Murders

Penned in Time series by Pepper Basham | WWI England & America

From the front lines to English hospitals and the US treatment of German residents, this romance series explores many facets of the era. Most outstanding, though, it its stories of love and redemption. Book 2 is my favorite!

The Thorn Bearer | The Thorn Keeper | The Thorn Healer

Sunrise at Normandy series by Sarah Sundin | WWII & Battle of Normandy

This series shows how the Allied forces approached and carried out the Battle of Normandy, each by the sea, air, and land. Three estranged brothers find reconciliation and romance while serving in each branch during this pivotal battle. Oh, and each one references and reflects a Biblical story!

The Sea Before Us

Tox Files series by Ronie Kendig | Paramilitary Thrillers

This series needs a seatbelt warning! The prequel novella and three novels follow a covert team around the globe as they work to eliminate a threat and save the day. Besides the kick-butt heroines, the team camaraderie is fun! Oh, and the slight supernatural elements are super cool!

Conspiracy of Silence | Crown of Souls | Thirst of Steel

Two Blue Doors series by Hillary Manton Lodge | Family, Food, & Romance in the PNW

Basically love letters to food and romance, this series courts identity and family as well as a perfect romance between imperfect people. The included recipes will make your mouth water, as will the heritage threads and few “trips” abroad.

A Table by the Window | Reservations for Two | Together at the Table

Chesapeake Valor series by Dani Pettrey | Romantic Suspense

Investigator and law enforcement friends find love amidst the chaos of solving crimes and puzzles in the Chesapeake Bay area and beyond. Fast-paced and memorable, a thread of a story ties all four books together to culminate in a final gripping tale.

Cold Shot | Still Life | Blind Spot | Dead Drift

A Bradford Sisters Romance series by Becky Wade | Contemporary Romance

This series has it all: romance, sisters, family, romance, books, mystery, romance, humor, chocolate, and a hint of suspense. Reading it will make you fall in love with the characters! The epistolary prequel novella and the midpoint Christmas novella are fully-developed and sweet, too!

Falling for You | True to You | Falling for You | Sweet On You

Do you have any recommendations for series I should read ASAP?

Seriously, ya’ll. Stay safe and wash your hands.

Review & Interview + Blog Tour: “The Winter Companion” by Mimi Matthews

I have the privilege of sharing an author interview today along with my review for one of my go-to authors of historical fiction: Mimi Matthews. Her last novel in the “Parish Orphans of Devon” series, The Winter Companion, released this week.

Be sure to check out the giveaway Historical Fiction Book Tours is hosting for this tour!

About the Book

Publication Date: February 11, 2020

Perfectly Proper Press

Series: Parish Orphans of Devon, Book Four

Genre: Historical Romance

A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews’ USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.

She Needed to be Seen… As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to remain invisible. But when her new employer is invited to a month-long holiday at a remote coastal abbey, Clara discovers that she may not be as invisible as she’d hoped. At least, not as far as one gentleman is concerned.

He Wanted to be Heard… Neville Cross has always been more comfortable with animals than people. An accident in his youth has left him with a brain injury that affects his speech. Forming the words to speak to his childhood friends is difficult enough. Finding the right things to say to a lovely young lady’s companion seems downright impossible. But Miss Hartwright is no ordinary companion. In fact, there may not be anything ordinary about her at all.

During a bleak Devon winter, two sensitive souls forge an unexpected friendship. But when Clara needs him most, will Neville find the courage to face his fears? Or is saying goodbye to her the most heroic thing he can do?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Review

I say Mimi Matthews should write all the Victorian romances forevermore.

The Winter Companion is a FANTASTIC conclusion to this series! Once again, I was swept away by the romance, the atmosphere, and the wonderfully complex character development of the story.

Clara’s character is one I have been anxious to “meet” on the page. The heroine finally worthy of Neville. I was instantly enamored with her care of a little elderly dog — as was Neville upon first meeting. Clara’s role shines a light on women’s opportunities in the Victorian era: often constrictive and limited. However, the combined assertiveness and determination of ladies like Clara forged many paths for their contemporaries. I appreciate how all of the heroines in this series have drawn attention to such details of history in a fair manner. At the same time, their hero counterparts have always seen and encouraged their strength and individuality and acted the gallant heroes when the story calls for it without being portrayed as ideals. Perhaps that is what appeals to me most about Mimi’s books: the balance in the romantic relationships that transcends era and setting.

Now. About Neville. He is a genuine good guy hero! (They don’t get enough credit.) This book finally affords the chance to be inside his head. It tugs at my heart to see how his speech limitations are frustrating while his intellect is fascinating. Reading between the lines, I see a slight thematic discourse on the gift and power of words — it is meaningful and timely.

Neville and Clara are meant for each other. Their romance is unconventional by the era’s standards (complete with livestock!) but that makes it all the more beautiful. At the heart of this story is a tale of identity, the worth of dreams, and the courage it takes to overcome. I turned the last page with a happy smile and maybe a few tears. 🙂

Readers of the previous books in the series will appreciate the just-right updates on the other couples that show their contentment AND personalities. Like Jenny and her sugary tea 😉 . This final novel comes full circle in many ways. The setting has readers back at Greyfriar’s Abbey in Devon with Neville at the center. The last few missing pieces of these friends united by their childhoods fall in place properly, ending with a hopefulness and bright possibilities.

Thank you to the author and HVBT for the review copy. It has in no way influenced my opinion. This is my honest review.

See my thoughts on books 1-3: The Matrimonial Advertisement | A Modest Independence | A Convenient Fiction

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. For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Interview with Mimi Matthews

Mimi has graciously answered my questions in an interview!

What is the best quality of the hero, Neville? The heroine, Clara?

Neville Cross has so many admirable qualities (in my opinion!), but his best quality is his kindness and protectiveness toward weaker creatures. Clara Hartwright’s best quality is that she’s compassionate. This comes into play with animals, as well as with people. 

How did these characters surprise you as you wrote the series? Did they all behave as planned from one book to the next?

The four orphans changed a lot as the books progressed. That’s probably what surprised me the most. They all came from the same place, and experienced many of the same hardships and cruelties, but they had such different ways of dealing with the trauma of their collective past. And when they each met their soul mate, they grew into such different kinds of heroes—but heroes, nonetheless!

Do you have a personal favorite character or couple in this series? (Or is that like asking someone about a favorite child?)

Not so much a favorite, as one that I most enjoyed writing. Alex Archer [of A Convenient Fiction] was a delight. I just loved his roguishness, his daring, and the way he fell so hard for Laura Hayes. 

Animals make an appearance in all of your novels — and they play a special role in The Winter Companion. Were any inspired by your own pets? How do you decide what animals or pets to “give” your characters?

My own animals are a constant inspiration to me. Several dogs in my books—Bertie in The Winter Companion, and Fox in The Work of Art—were inspired by a very elderly rescue chihuahua I used to have named John. He was very frail in his old age and had to be carried a lot. Also, in The Winter Companion, Neville’s big gray horse, Adventurer, was inspired by own big gray Andalusian, Centelleo. 

Some characters really lend themselves to having a lot of pets. Others—like Jenny and Tom in A Modest Independence—don’t have the right sort of lifestyle for animals. I just couldn’t imagine them leaving a beloved cat or dog behind while they went off and traveled the world.

For fun: Do you have a favorite (or three) classic movie?

It’s very hard to narrow it down to three! I’ll go with Gilda, Double Indemnity, and Laura. I love 1940s film noir, and if age has made some of the lines a little campy, all the better.

What are you currently reading?

I have a few things on the go at the moment. I’m currently reading Sonya Heaney’s debut The Landowner’s Secret. I’m also reading an advance copy of Alissa Baxter’s upcoming novel The Earl and the Lady Geologist. And finally, I just got an advance copy of an upcoming anthology (which hasn’t even been announced yet). Now, I just need a little time to finish them all!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! I’m inspired to watch a few more classic movies now 😉 I haven’t seen all of the ones you mentioned!

Praise for the Parish Orphans of Devon series

“For this impressive Victorian romance, Matthews crafts a tale that sparkles with chemistry and impresses with strong character development… an excellent series launch that will appeal to fans of Loretta Chase and Stephanie Laurens.” -Publishers Weekly (The Matrimonial Advertisement)

“Matthews has a knack for creating slow-building chemistry and an intriguing plot with a social history twist.” -Library Journal (The Matrimonial Advertisement)

“As always, Matthews’ attention to historical accuracy is impeccable.” -Kirkus Reviews (A Modest Independence)

“Mimi Matthews is an exceptional story-teller.” -Passages to the Past (The Matrimonial Advertisement)

“Matthews is a bright, shining star in historical romance…” -Austenprose (A Modest Independence)

Blog Tour Schedule

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of The Winter Companion! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The Winter Companion GLEAM form for GIVEAWAY

Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Paperback giveaway is to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.