It’s no secret that I have been a long time Mimi Matthews fan. I have loved all of her books but of course some more than others. Over the years I have seen her move from a smaller publisher company to the big time with Berkley publishing. It’s been so exciting to see her grow as an author and or course see other new readers discover her and see how amazing she really is as a writer! I read the first book in this series and liked it quite a bit but this was the story I was most eager to explore since meeting these characters in the first book.
Matthews writes wonderful romances that are more on the sweet side than the spicy side and I am absolutely ok with that. There is something more sensual and romantic about the sweet side of romance and she has a great way of hinting at simmering physical attraction between the characters without being crass. When I picked this book up I couldn’t put it down! I also took it with me on my trip to Cabo and basically read it in a day. I was absolutely hooked on the characters and loved my time with Jasper and Julia.
Personally I think this series should have started with this book and then went on to Evelyn’s story. I thought the chemistry and story of Julia was much better—-and that’s saying something because I loved Evelyn’s story too! But now that I have read this one, I feel like I would probably rate this one higher than the first on (Evelyn’s story). In this book Julia and Jasper had so much more chemistry and I just loved how their story came together, especially Jasper’s backstory!
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 (summary from Goodreads)
I loved how much fairytale went into this one! This book contained elements of Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard’s Wife, and some of my favorite classic literature references like Wuthering Heights and some other stories like knights tales and other adventure elements. I absolutely loved how familiar this book felt while at the same time feeling like it’s very own story. I really loved how this one unfolded and I don’t want to give too much away but just know that it had all the makings of a fairytale mixed with it’s own slightly darker content. It was truly a wonderful retelling that for uniquely its own. I adored it!
I thought that Jasper and Julia were so evenly matched and while Julia might have started off being more timid and unsure of herself in some ways, as the story went on we really saw her grow and evolve into a woman grown who had a mind of her own and who could articulate and express herself more boldly than I anticipated when I first started reading her. I loved that Julia’s character really struggled with social anxiety in the Book 1 of this series, and then it carried over into this book. I thought it made her interesting and having her be so timid really left the author with a lot of room to grow her character which is exactly what we see in the book. It was fun to see her grown into her character and also see how she grew into Jasper’s affection.
Jasper was a wonderful hero. Throughout the book there were plenty of times I was wondering how Matthews was going to justify or explain some of the elements of Jasper’s character and have readers still LIKE him. But as always she is an old hat at this and the way it resolved was perfect and I loved how she made it all come together. I also felt like this was one of her only books that really had a little more heat to it. Generally her books are more proper but in this book I definitely felt like there was a little more lust than she normally writes—-when I say lust I mean more heat and chemistry not necessarily sex. I liked it and I hope we see more sexual chemistry and tension in upcoming books!
As I mentioned earlier, I think this should have been the first book in the series. While I loved the first book, now that I have read this one I feel like this is the better book. The characters and attraction were stronger and the story more interesting. Not that the first book was bad (it was a 5 star for me!) but after reading this one I loved it A LOT more than the first book. It’s rare for me to have that happen so that’s why I mention it here in this review. Normally the second book rarely meets my expectations when the first book is a 5 star but in this case this book is superior in my opinion and I can’t wait to see what the next book holds!
Book Info and Rating
Paperback, 432 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2022 by Berkley
ISBN 0593337158 (ISBN13: 97805933371
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books in partnership with Austen Prose tours, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical romance, historical fiction