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?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Romance A Holiday By Gaslight by @MimiMatthewsEsq

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

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Sophie Appersett, the heroine of A Holiday by Gaslight, is the kind of girl I would love to have as a friend. Frank and honest, she speaks her mind and is determined to find the best in other people.  Accepting that she will have no love match, she is prepared to make a marriage of convenience to a man beneath her in rank but possessing a fortune, in order to save her family from ruin. Her profligate father has spent her dowry on modern gas lighting and has further expensive plans.

Ned Sharpe may be presentable, but he fails to converse properly. His stiff, abrupt approach is at odds with Sophie’s loquacious chat, so she finally decides that, they “don’t suit.”  However, his response to her termination of their potential betrothal, surprises her so she decides to give him one last chance at the Christmas party at Appersett House deep in the countryside.

Although set 50 years after the world of Jane Austen, Sophie reminds me of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, prepared to put her family first but feeling affection for a man who seems unable to communicate with her.  But here we are in a mid-Victorian world looking to the future, where love matches can be achieved, and modern technology is embraced. A wonderful feel good read for the Christmas holiday.

Book description

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.

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#NewRelease The Viscount And The Vicar’s Daughter by @MimiMatthewsEsq #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Viscount And The Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews

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The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter – A Victorian Romance – is a tender and sweet romance novel. It is not the first by this author, who has clearly developed her style. Romance is not a genre I truly appreciate, but the historical aspect appealed, and I was not disappointed.

Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton, is wallowing in melancholy and decides to attend a Christmas house party in wilds of Yorkshire, hosted by a woman renowned for her orgiastic feasts. He has admitted to himself that after years of debauchery and spending, he has hit rock bottom. What does he have to lose?

On his way there, he is distracted by the sobbing of a woman in the woods and discovers Valentine March, a prim and upright vicar’s daughter who has come on hard times. With the death of her father, she has had to find employment and is currently a companion to Lady Brightwell, an old crone with a vicious temper and pension for abusing and discarding companions.

Tristan discovers he has fallen in love with Valentine at first sight, and she is initially attracted to him – until she learns that he is a most infamous rake. Tristan pursues her with charm, wit and warmth, and not surprisingly, she eventually surrenders. But theirs is a doomed relationship, a scandalous liaison in a house of poor repute between a wealthy lord with a repugnant reputation and a woman not only from a poor background, but also born on the other side of the blanket. Her mother was pregnant with another man’s child when the vicar, out of the kindness of his heart, married her.

There is more to Valentine’s background than meets the eye, and it is not clear whether their fragile romance will survive the continuing revelations of their true characters and the outside pressures brought to bear by virtually everyone around them.

This is truly a romance in every sense of the genre. The characters are colorfully fleshed out, the dialogue is believable and witty. Ms. Matthews has created a believable Victorian world from her studies of 19th century style, fashion and history. The historical detail is just enough to set the scene but does not overwhelm. I was not surprised to find the typical romantic themes permeating the story. Even with my limited (but growing) background in romance literature, I find they can be over-used, and their predictability of outcome can create a sense of ennui. However, this author has managed to infuse a freshness in these tropes and keeps the story moving at a good pace, so that the reader keeps turning the pages.

I am certain fans of this genre will find The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter a satisfying read.

Book description

England, 1861. A world-weary rake and a prim vicar’s daughter are thrown together during a holiday house party. Will they discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

A WORLD-WEARY RAKE

After years of unbridled debauchery, Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton has hit proverbial rock bottom. Seeking to escape his melancholy, he takes refuge at one of Victorian society’s most notorious house parties. As the Christmas season approaches, he prepares to settle in for a month of heavy drinking…until an unexpected encounter changes his plans—and threatens his heart.

A PRIM VICAR’S DAUGHTER

Valentine March is not the drab little spinster she appears to be. When her new job as a lady’s companion lands her smack in the middle of Yorkshire with England’s most infamous rake, she resolves to keep her head down and her eyes fixed firmly on her future—a future which most definitely does not include a sinfully handsome viscount.

A MATCH MADE IN SCANDAL

A friendship is impossible. An affair out of the question. But when one reckless act binds them together, will two star-crossed souls discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

About the author

Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Pen & Sword Books, November 2017) and A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty (Pen & Sword Books, July 2018). 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. When not writing historical non-fiction, Mimi authors exquisitely proper Victorian romance novels with dark, brooding heroes and intelligent, pragmatic heroines. Her debut Victorian romance The Lost Letter was released in September 2017.

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