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The Matrimonial Advertisement

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon) (2018) Mimi Matthews

Set in England in 1859.

Helena Reynolds has fled London. She’s in Devon responding to a matrimonial advertisement, but if this doesn’t work, she return to London.

Justin Thornhill was a captain in the British army who served in India, and returned home physically scarred. Raised in an orphanage, he has done everything possible to secure the dreams he had as a child, for himself and for his friends, but he is lonely and alone, and coerced into filing a matrimonial advertisement. He wants a solid spinster–he gets Helena.

Both Helena and Justin have secrets, and each feels that once other discovers those secrets are brought to light, what they have cobbled together will evaporate. They’re both broken in complicated ways.

“I dislike suffering for no purpose. Pain and sacrifice should come to something in the end. It should have meaning.”

Helena nodded slowly, her expression thoughtful. “Yes, it should. But I’m not convinced it ever does. Not really.”

Yet still care deeply about those around them.

She gave him a long, searching look. “Is that why we loathe the place?”

We.

Justin’s chest expanded on an almost painful surge of emotion. He couldn’t tell if it was relief or— worse— if it was gratitude. All she’d said was we. It was hardly a declaration of undying affection, but to him, in that moment, it was everything. “Yes. That’s the reason.”

And Justin is a good person, even if he’s cold and brusque and tries to force people away.

“I owe you everything, Justin.”

He frowned. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “No. That isn’t how any of this works. It isn’t a tabulation of debts and repayments.”

What I found both fascinating and horrifying was how that bad guy of the piece continued to believe that the world owed him–Helena owed him. He refuses to see that he has done anything wrong.

It’s awful, yet it rings unpleasantly true every time he attempts to justify his actions.

This story does go into some dark places, all of which are based on incidents of the time.

The editorial that Mr. Pelham writes for the fictional London Courant is a paraphrased version of an actual editorial which ran in The London Times on August 19, 1858. It addressed abuses in private asylums and revealed, among other disturbing facts, just how often sane people were committed by greedy relatives who were trying to gain control of their money.

Which really makes them all the darker and more horrifying.

But it’s a good story, and I enjoyed it, and I ordered the next in the series, due out next month.

Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Rating: 7.5/10

Categories: British, Historical, Romance     Comments (0)    



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