Finally, a romance I can approve of. Okay, okay, answering an ad in the paper and only meeting the person you’re going to marry a couple days before is not something I would recommend but, in fiction, it works out great! There is nothing I like better than a period romance and this one was definitely an interesting read. Let’s get to the review!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
She Wanted Sanctuary…
Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill–though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome–is anything but a romantic hero.
He Needed Redemption…
Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household–and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one.
Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena’s past threatens, will Justin’s burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?
Helena Reynolds is on the run. She has been mistreated too many times and now must get away from London and try to find a safe haven out in the country. But she doesn’t leave London without a plan. With the help of her companion, Jenny, they find and respond to an advertisement in the local paper that is asking for a suitable to marry a man in Devon.
So, Helena makes her way to Devon. Anxious and always looking over her shoulder, she ends up in a little pub and that’s where she first meets Justin Thornhill. At first, he pretends to be any other villager, but once his solicitor speaks to her, he reveals himself as the man she is meant to marry.
To say that both Helena and Justin are surprised by what they find in each other is perhaps an understatement.
Helena was not expecting her new husband to be handsome, but she also wasn’t expecting him to have burn scars down one side of his body.
Justin was not expecting his future bride to be beautiful, young, and well-mannered. He specifically asked for someone who was older, perhaps a widow, and who could take the harsh weather and the somewhat less-than-ideal conditions around his estate.
Justin wonders why Helena would have to answer an advertisement when it’s clear she could have anyone she wanted. But he soon understands that she’s clearly running from something and if nothing else, he is able to keep her safe.
So they get married. But what was supposed to solve all their problems, soon just brings on even more. Justin and Helena have many demons and they follow them into their marriage.
Helena’s abusers are relentless and follow her to Devon, even trying to convince Justin to give her over to them (as if!). Luckily, he’s not a man to be messed with. He’s an ex-soldier who’s been tortured and abused in a prison camp. A couple of well-to-do gentlemen are nothing compared to that.
Together, they fight each other’s demons and through many adventures, setbacks, and miscommunications, they do end up happily ever after.
I really enjoyed this book. While the couple had their issues, the author didn’t string us along for too many chapters before a problem was solved (I hate when that happens). While Helena does start off the book as a rather shy and timid character, through her own will and with Justin and Jenny’s help, she becomes the strongest character of them all.
Justin may be physically strong at the beginning of the book, but damn does the dude have some baggage. Helena, through her determination and love for him, helps Justin work through all that he’s been through, so he can eventually find acceptance. Acceptance of himself and acceptance that Helena does actually love him just the way he is.
The Matrimonial Advertisement is a lovely story and if you’re into romance and especially, period romances, I really think you’ll really enjoy these characters. Trigger warning for physical abuse. It is described pretty openly. There is also a scene where Helena describes what happened when she was forced to undergo treatment at a mental institution. Remember the time period: these “treatments” are not pretty.
I am giving The Matrimonial Advertisement 4 out of 5 stars. Call me crazy, but I love a semi-arranged marriage that turns into true love!
The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews came out September 4, 2018. Go get a copy romance fans!
Thank you to NetGalley and Perfectly Proper Press for the free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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