I have recently discovered Mimi Matthews novels and have been reading through her library. She writes in a “new” style of historical romance where not everything is perfect, not all hero’s are Dukes, and historical London is filled with different class levels and races. I am in love. The Belle of Belgrave Square is the second book in the Belles of London series and follows a very good first novel. Julia Wychwood considers herself a wallflower. Her parents constant health issues puts her in the invalid category and despite her large inheritance she has received no offers. Captain Jasper Blunt is a Crimean war hero with a dour countenance and a scarred face. He is also looking for a moneyed wife who will be a mother to bastard children. After running into Julia riding alone in the park and seeing her fine horsemanship he is intrigued by the contrast between her reputation and the healthy young woman who sits a horse so well. He is also intrigued by her money. When he speaks to Julia he see’s a shy but kind-hearted woman who may not be all that society thinks she is, just needing help out of her prison-like existence. He is just the man for the job.
The plot doesn’t seem too out of the norm for a historical romance. What is different is the depth built into the back story and life of both our hero and heroine. From Julia’s awareness of wrongdoing by her parents making all of their male servants to go by the name Jenkins so that they wouldn’t have to remember names to Capt. James Blunt’s “heroic” efforts actually being horrific in the Crimea. These kinds of details makes you feel like you’re reading a historical fiction novel instead of a historical romance. This is one of the reasons why Mimi Matthews has quickly become a favorite author in this genre. She creates the scenery and through details makes that scene real.
I enjoyed the building romance between Jasper and Julia. Despite a small bit of feeling like Julia was a woman in jeopardy, she didn’t wait for a man to dig her out of a situation, she came up with her own plan and instituted it. For a shy woman she got things done. Jasper was also a contradiction. His exterior and manner were gruff but he very intently listened to Julia, knew who she was as a person, and became her biggest champion- despite having children out of wedlock and a violent past. VERY interesting characters make for a great novel, regardless of a been-there done-that plot.
If you love reading historical novels and are enjoying the new style of realism in these novels, please pick up a Mimi Matthews novel. She pays attention to what is relevant now and fills her historical novels with realism that engage the reader and make them think along with allowing them to fall in love with the characters and buy into their own love story. The Belle of Belgrave Square was a solid romance that delivered on it’s promise and can be read as a stand-alone novel, but I’d start with The Siren of Sussex the first novel in the series. It is fabulous and will set you up for ‘Belle’ and the wonderful journey these characters will take you through in their realistic historical London.
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest.
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