Reviewed by me for Reader’s Favorite.
The first book in Parish Orphans of Devon Series of Mimi Matthews, The Matrimonial Advertisement is a Victorian Romance in all its glory. With the carefully chosen words and formal conversations among the characters, this is a delightful treat for Jane Austen fans. Justin Thornhill has known only the language of vengeance throughout his life. As he served as a captain during the uprise in India, he has been more in touch with violence than romance. He has become a gruff and grim man who has neither time nor interest, mostly interest, to woo a woman. However, his wellwishers suggest that he requires a woman in his life. Since the time he possessed the ownership of Greyfriar’s Abbey, his reputation with the villagers has not been something to boast about. Moreover, his household seems to work like a repellant of servants. The only logical solution to these problems appears to be the presence of a woman in the abbey. Considering the fact that he is not willing to put any effort in romance, his steward and his lawyer, who also happens to be his good friend, decide to place a matrimonial advertisement in the newspapers. This marriage, to Justin, is only a business deal and there has to be no scope of romance on any level; however, when Helena Reynolds responds to the ad and makes an appearance for the interview, he knows she is too good to be with him. Helena, on the other hand, knows that marrying Justin is her only chance of quitting her unkind life in London.
The author has done an outstanding job of weaving a significant historical incident and unjust admission of sane people into the asylums for greed or other reason with Victorian romance. During British rule in India, something very tragic occurred in Cawnpore in ’57 that affected many lives forever. The talent with which the author has included that part in the plot is praiseworthy, to say the least. Mimi Matthews definitely knows how to present historical facts effectively and without sounding bookish. I do not find history very amusing but if I could get Mimi Matthews to write fiction based on different events of history, then I would read all of it in no time.
Coming back to The Matrimonial Advertisement, the gradual shift of grumpy Justin to a kind man has been an engaging read. Helena is more than just a damsel in distress. She makes plans to end her misery and does not waiver from them. Although she is seeking a kind man who would keep her safe, she is not entirely dependant on any man. All she needs is a little push from her loved ones and then she is ready to face her tormenter. The plot is filled with twists that kept me glued to the seat. I enjoyed every second spent reading The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews.