Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

A Modest Independence

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Modest Independence (2019) Mimi Matthews (Parish Orphans of Devon)

Set in England, Egypt, and India in 1860

Solicitor Tom Finchley has worked his way up from nothing. He craves security, which is why he puts up with a job that often leaves him feeling uncomfortable, since the men he represents aren’t always good people.

Jenny Holloway became a companion for her cousin, to escape her life in a small town, where she was expected to look after her alcoholic father (since she hadn’t married). After her cousin’s marriage, she has received a modest independence, and plans to spend her life traveling, to escape the rules and strictures of society.

“Come. You can’t expect me to believe that you’ve never dreamed of marrying and having a family.”

“And giving up all of my rights? Not only over my money and property, but over my body? No thank you.”

At the end of the previous book, Jenny remained angry with Tom, who didn’t tell her the whole truth about his best friend (and client’s) history and plans. But Justin and Lady Helena know that they care about each other, and so force them to deal with each other.

Because of his history, Tom trusts almost no one.

Even Justin, his best friend and the closest thing he had to a brother, was not privy to all of his secrets. Tom didn’t wish to burden him— or disappoint him.

He also lives his life in a way so as to keep himself secure financially, which keeps him safe in body, but has left him lonely, all but married to his job.

“When a boy spends his childhood never knowing from one day to the next whether he’ll have food to eat or a roof over his head, the prospect of steady work and dependable wages is something to dream about.

Not that Jenny is quick to trust either.

I have only your best interest at heart, you know.”

“Said every man to every woman since the beginning of time.”

Tom and Jenny go to India, to search for Helena’s brother, who was believed killed during an uprising.

This story attempts to be historically accurate, which means that there is a LOT of racism and other awfulness by the British towards the “natives”.

“I don’t believe,” he said, “that one can accurately be called a savage if one is inhabiting one’s own country.”

Mrs. Plank’s smile turned thin. “It is not their country, sir. It is ours.

Aside from the casual racism (historically accurate, as she notes) this is a sweet story, and there is NO BOINKING. It’s a romance, so of course Jenny and Tom are going to end up together, but their desires and needs were so far apart, I didn’t see how they could have their HEAs without having to give up some important part of themselves.

This was actually a concern for me as I was reading, because both of them had beliefs based upon their needs: Tom’s need for financial security and Jenny’s need to see the world and not lose her rights and independence. And they both needed to learn to trust.

The ending reads as if there will be another book in the series, but it was a perfectly satisfactory ending, and if I didn’t get another book, I’d be fine with it.

So an enjoyable story, with lovely characters, and although there was drama, it wasn’t ridiculous drama.

Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Romance

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