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…
As a fan of Mimi Matthews’ fiction, I eagerly looked forward to the next in the Belles of London Series, The Belle of Belgrave Square, after so enjoying The Siren of Sussex. After all, I’m basically an auto-buy fan of Ms. Matthews.
And, before I go further, I admit to being an exclusive audiobook ‘reader’. To me, nothing beats being read to while I relax, drive, or do mindless work (aka housework or quilting). Good narrators are so important to a story and when a publisher goes the extra step and provides two excellent narrators to a romance, it’s so much more enjoyable.
All that said… Ms. Matthews’ heroine in The Belle of Belgrade Square was almost a risky choice. Julia came on scene sweet, kind, and a pushover, dominated by her parents to her own detriment, and she suffered social anxiety (okay, that we really do understand!). I say ‘almost’ risky, because done well, as WAS accomplished here, Julia represented readers that don’t always have the clever come back, the social ease, or headstrong boldness that is almost demanded by the publishing industry for fictional heroines. As gentle as she was, our hero was gruff and uninterested in anyone’s good opinion, other than Julia’s.
Julia and her mysterious suitor, Jasper Blunt, made an excellent pairing. The romance wasn’t forced, but full of emotion and longing. (This is a 'clean' romance full of passion but readable by any age and sensitivity.) Jasper had secrets that continued throughout the story but we just knew there’d be reason to overlook all the hinted darkness until that satisfying ending.
Regardless of plot or characters (certainly a huge factor in a book’s success), there is the bonus—known to Ms. Matthew’s fans—that sinking into one of her stories will always bring a complete change of virtual address. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she’d hung out in her 19th century settings just to provide such pleasant immersion.
I’d definitely recommend The Belle of Belgrave Square. But don’t stop there. Ms. Matthews has a deep backlist of ‘carry-me-away’ historical romances with not-your-ordinary heroines and heroes!
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.
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.