Didn’t expect to read this whole thing in a day! But that is exactly what I did. I really, really like Mimi Matthews’s style. This is the second book of hers I’ve given 4.5 stars. I think I’ll have to look up her backlist sometime soon, especially since the last book in this series (Belles of London) has a character from a previous series (Parish Orphans of Devon) as the hero.
The Belle of Belgrave Square follows the second of our equestriennes, Julia Wychwood, who is stifled and abused by her infuriating, controlling (sort of Munchausen by proxy??) parents and who longs for a place and a person to make her feel safe.
*They subject her without her consent to barbaric medical treatments that are tantamount to torture, and hold her hostage to their own imagined ill-health. The doctor that treats her advises that she stop reading novels because many people believed at the time that they literally caused illness in women. I know this is history, but I just can’t. I can’t.
Enter Captain Jasper Blunt, “hero” of the Crimea. He is lauded publicly for his deeds, but feared and reviled behind his back for what he did in the war, and for choosing to have his “by-blows” (read: illegitimate children) running free and acknowledged on his crumbling estate. But you just know there is more to this Jasper guy than meets the eye, not least because he is the only person who is seemingly able to see past Julia’s exterior and give her the kindness she is looking for, and he does so easily. This is a marriage of convenience story. He needs her money to save his estate, and she needs to get the hell out of there, and craves the freedom he’s willing to give her. I was surprised by how long it took them to actually get married, so don’t go into this expecting it to happen right away like I did. It’s a bit of a slow burn; just enjoy the ride.
I did manage to predict two things that were meant to be surprises/plot twists, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. It actually alleviated a lot of my concern over Julia marrying this guy who really did some truly terrible, awful things that he was trying to atone for. You’ll see what I mean when/if (when!) you read this.
Anyway, book three is up in March, and I really do think, my library’s catalogue withstanding, I might be checking out her other stuff soon.