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?
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 Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, Pinterest, Google+, 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
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.