About the Book:
Title: The Belle of Bellgrave Square
Author: Mimi Matthews
Series: Belles of London #2
Page Length: 432
Publication Date: Oct. 11, 2022
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Synopsis: A BookBub Best Romance of 2022
A London heiress rides out to the wilds of the English countryside to honor a marriage of convenience with a mysterious and reclusive stranger.
Tall, dark, and dour, the notorious Captain Jasper Blunt was once hailed a military hero, but tales abound of his bastard children and his haunted estate in Yorkshire. What he requires now is a rich wife to ornament his isolated ruin, and he has his sights set on the enchanting Julia Wychwood.
For Julia, an incurable romantic cursed with a crippling social anxiety, navigating a London ballroom is absolute torture. The only time Julia feels any degree of confidence is when she’s on her horse. Unfortunately, a young lady can’t spend the whole of her life in the saddle, so Julia makes an impetuous decision to take her future by the reins—she proposes to Captain Blunt.
In exchange for her dowry and her hand, Jasper must promise to grant her freedom to do as she pleases. To ride—and to read—as much as she likes without masculine interference. He readily agrees to her conditions, with one provision of his own: Julia is forbidden from going into the tower rooms of his estate and snooping around his affairs. But the more she learns of the beastly former hero, the more intrigued she becomes…
The Belle of Belgrave Square follows Julia, a wealthy wallflower, and Jasper, a war hero with a reputation for being brutal. Julia and Jasper are both layered and dynamic characters, and I enjoyed their stories. A romantic bluestocking who prefers books and horse riding to people, Julia is often whispered about because of her and her family’s poor health. Painfully shy, Julia has led a sheltered life consumed with caring for her wealthy, hypochondriac parents. A mysterious man of contradictions, Jasper is a war hero who has been intrigued by Julia since their first awkward meeting. Jasper is a good man determined to be honorable even when his choices contrast with societal expectations.
The romance between Julia and Jasper is slow-building swoon-tasticness! It’s clear from the start that they are drawn to each other, even though their introduction flopped. They’re like magnets. Whenever they’re in a room together, it’s like there’s something pulling them together. Julia and Jasper connect over a love of literature and share their passion for reading with each other. I love that! The scenes where they talk about books are lovely because you really see how their feelings change and deepen.
I also love how much they build each other up. Jasper’s influence and the safety he provides build Julia’s confidence and feelings of worth. He sees her and listens to her, and he shows her that she has value. Jasper gives her the courage to face her fears and stand up for herself. Julia’s support helps Jasper face his past and all of the secrets he’s afraid to share. They are such a wonderful match, and their romance is lovely. Of course, many obstacles stand in their way, including his mysterious past, his ruthless reputation, his unconventional life with his children and on a decaying estate, and Julia’s parents’ refusal to allow Julia to leave London. It’s interesting to see how these very different people handle all that life throws at them.
While reconciling their feelings for each other, both characters struggle with personal conflicts as well. Julia suffers from debilitating anxiety and soul-crushing expectations from her parents. And her parents are awful! Demanding and neglectful, their only interested in what their daughter can do for them. They never take Julia’s well-being into account and exacerbate her anxiety and lack of confidence. I like how Julia slowly gains the strength to stand up for herself and others. She is much stronger than she gives herself credit for. I think much of her change can be attributed to the new relationships she develops when not under her parents’ thumbs.
Jasper also goes through tremendous growth over the course of the story, and I love how the author slowly reveals little snippets, as well as some clever foreshadowing, into who Jasper really is. He’s an enigmatic man who doesn’t like talking about his past, and he has a lot of secrets. He is also in need of a wealthy wife to help care for his inherited estate and his three children. Jasper has a lot on his plate, and I don’t think he expected to fall for Julia the way he did.
The story has Beauty and the Beast vibes, as well as a mysterious and Gothic tone, which I really liked. You can never go wrong with the Beauty and the Beast trope, in my opinion, and Julia and Jasper’s story is unique while still reminiscent of the age-old tale. The creepy and decaying country estate and overgrown and wild landscape, as well as locked rooms no one but Jasper can enter, few people inhabiting the estate, and more add to the Gothic feel. There are also several twists and turns and surprising revelations, some of which totally caught me by surprise.
Mimi Matthews is becoming one of my favorite historical romance authors. Her stories are charming, entertaining, and layered, and the romances are always fantastic. The Belle of Belgrave Square is my favorite read by the author yet! It’s a great addition to the Belles of London series, and it is easily read as a standalone. Thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Books, and AustenProse PR for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
Books you’ve already read are like old friends. It’s comforting to revisit them.
I suffer from pangs of conscience. An unfortunate condition. I’m endeavoring to overcome it.
Old sins cast long shadows.
About Mimi Matthews:
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.
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READ AN EXCLSUIVE INTERVIEW WITH MIMI MATTHEWS: Discover intriguing insights into The Belle of Belgrave Square and Mimi’s writing life in this exclusive interview at austenprose.com.
- Giveaway period: October 3 – October 30
- Terms & Conditions: Giveaway hosted by Mimi Matthews. No Purchase Necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. All information will remain confidential and will not be sold or otherwise used, except to notify the winner and to facilitate postage of the book to the winner. Void where prohibited.
- Giveaway Details: 1 winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) receives a paperback copy of The Belle of Belgrave Square, signed and annotated by the author with personal comments, underlining of her favorite lines, and other highlights by Mimi Matthews.
- Giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 10/03/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 10/30/22.
- The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog on 10/31/22.