Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Romance FAIR AS A STAR by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Sandra, she blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading Fair As A Star by Mimi Matthews

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Set in Somerset in 1864, Fair as a Star is the first in the Victorian Romantics series by Mimi Matthews. Newly returned from a mysterious trip to Paris with her aunt, Beryl Burnham tries to pick up her life where she left off. She is engaged to Sir Henry Rivenhall, in a marriage of convenience, but has always been good friends with his brother, Mark, who is curate in the local church.

No one knows why she left for France so suddenly, and local gossip was rife, but she has to come clean to Mark when he accidentally finds her weeping in a secluded spot by the river. She is suffering from depression (or melancholy as it was known then) and does not want anyone to know, partly because of the extreme treatments advocated by her previous doctor.

Mark is very understanding, and does not belittle what she is going through. As a curate, he is a good listener and this is just what she needs. He does not suggest cures for her melancholy, does not even see her as damaged. The message here is to accept others for who they are as individuals, and not try to make them all fit into the same mould.

This is a romance novel, and the ending is obvious from the start, but it is how Mimi Matthews achieves this end that makes it so readable. Sir Henry is very full of his own importance and thinks he knows best, but does not love Beryl. She realises her affections lie elsewhere and behaves in a very bold fashion.

I read this in one sitting, and thought it dealt very sensitively with the difficult subject of depression. It was not really understood back then, and a lot of strange, harmful beliefs and so-called ‘cures’ were commonplace. Medicine was a very male-dominated profession, and women faced both the patronising attitude of old-school male doctors, and the ludicrous treatments they prescribed.

The period detail is convincing, and the characters come across as well rounded individuals; my favourite was Beryl’s horse-mad sister, Winnifred, whose story will no doubt feature in a later book. I will certainly be looking out for the next book in the Victorian Romantics series.

Book description

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?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Romance FAIR AS A STAR by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Fair As A Star by Mimi Matthews

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A violet by a mossy stone

Half hidden from the eye!

Fair as a star, when only one

Is shining in the sky.

Beryl Burnham is a more vulnerable heroine than Mimi Matthews’ previous main characters. She carries a burden which stops her from looking forward to her imminent marriage. Sir Henry Rivenhall is an eminently suitable fiancé whom she has known for some years, but will he be an understanding husband?  On the other hand, his brother Mark, the curate, is her best friend. He appreciates her subtle whitework embroidery, featuring the plants of the English countryside and she can talk to him about anything, well almost anything, but not her darkest secret. Mark Rivenhall has told his brother of his feelings for Beryl, but he knows he has no chance of gaining her heart. Perhaps it will be best if he leaves the parish of Shepton Worthy.

Meanwhile, Beryl’s spirited younger sister, Winnifred, is involved in a feud with Sir Henry, who intends to sell the magnificent steed she loves to ride. The ordinary people of the parish establish the surroundings and village problems for the reader and the stunning Paris wedding gown which arrives for Beryl emphasises the importance of her future life as a baronet’s wife.

I loved the sensitivity in which Beryl’s unhappiness is expressed and the hope that she finally achieves in this delightful first novel of a new romantic series.

Book description

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?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalRomance THE WINTER COMPANION by @MimiMatthewsEsq #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sandra, she blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews

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The Winter Companion is the fourth and final book in the Parish Orphans of Devon series. This is Neville’s story. I had only read the previous book, A Convenient Fiction, but will now go back and read the first two to get a more rounded picture. You could read this as a standalone but would be missing so much backstory.

Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville are together for the first time since they left the orphanage; back at Greyfriar’s Abbey (Justin’s home) in Devon for a traditional Victorian Christmas. The other three all have their wives with them so Neville is feeling a bit isolated. He prefers to be in the stables with the horses and dogs anyway; a childhood accident left him with a speech problem, and he prefers the company of animals.

Clara has come along as the companion of Mrs Bainbridge, the aunt of Alex Archer’s wife Laura. She is accustomed to blending into the background, but bonds with Neville over their mutual love of animals. She has an elderly pug called Bertie with her, and seeks out Neville to look after him before she knows whether he is welcome in the house or not. Because of his problem with speaking, especially among strangers, Neville is often wrongly thought to be a bit simple. Clara can see that he is actually very intelligent, and they slowly open up to each other; he explains about his childhood accident. She tells him how she is supporting her brother through university, and hopes to work as his secretary when he graduates. There is a secret in her past that we only discover much later in the book. Her desire to be educated, and frustration with the restrictions placed on women in Victorian times, makes her an unusual heroine, and highlights how women were only supposed to want marriage and children to fulfil them. It would be another few years yet before women were allowed to go to university.

The Devon landscape is vividly described, and the stormy weather plays a large part in this story; at times the rain and wind seem overwhelming, and there is a lot of mud! There is not a lot of humour which is a shame as it would have lightened the sometimes gloomy atmosphere. The Christmas traditions of gathering greenery to decorate the house, making homemade decorations, cutting down the huge tree and all of them helping to decorate it add authenticity; the period detail has obviously been well researched. The inclusion of the extract from Tennyson’s Ulysses is very moving (the same lines quoted by Judi Dench as M in Skyfall).

Without giving anything away, I loved the ending; it brings the whole series to a satisfying conclusion. Neville and Clara have come a long way and, in trusting and opening up to each other, have overcome their fears and can move forward confidently into the future together.

Thanks to Mimi Matthews for a copy of The Winter Companion that I review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT #thewintercompanion #mimimatthews

Book description

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?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview #Team #RBRT Victorian #Romance THE WINTER COMPANION by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews

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Mimi Matthews is, in my opinion, quite the best author of historical romance writing today.  The stories in the Parish Orphans of Devon, complement each other in the way that the friendship of the four young men also does.  Each has noble qualities and failings, with which their new partners will support them.  At first Neville Cross might seem a less dynamic hero than his former friends but his strong physique and gentle relationship with horses make him very attractive.  In contrast our heroine, Clara, seems confident and highly intelligent. But each have problems to deal with.  After a traumatic accident, Neville struggles with communication while Clara must earn a living to support her brother at university.

This novel unites all the Parish Orphans of the previous books at Greyfriar’s Abbey, the home of Justin Thornhill, for a Christmas celebration together.  As Clara is a lady’s companion and Neville, a groom they are slightly distanced from the other three orphans and their wives. Despite incredible chemistry between them, it seems unlikely that Clara and Neville could have a future together. Neville believes he cannot strike out on his own, while Clara feels duty bound to her brother because of a previous indiscretion.  While Neville does his best to care for a Dartmoor pony in foal, Clara becomes aware that her brother is in trouble but soon it appears that they will be cut off by bad weather.

This is an excellent conclusion to the series, showing us love overcoming personal difficulties and a new future which might not have been possible without their mutual commitment.

Book description

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?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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