I have read a handful of books lately that I have enjoyed, but The Matrimonial Advertisement is the first one I’ve read in a while that I kept putting off finishing. Not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I didn’t want it to end! I sort of a have a problem with letting characters go.
The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews has two main characters and goes back and forth to tell the story from their point of view – all the while moving forward with the story, never retelling the story. Helena Reynolds is the daughter of the late Earl of Castleton. Upon her brother’s death or disappearance while fighting in India, she inherited the estate and money of her family. A greedy uncle tries to force her in to signing over her inheritance. In an attempt to escape her abusive uncle and save herself and her family’s money she answers a matrimonial advertisement. Captain Justin Thornhill is an ex-soldier who was tortured in India. A loyal and somewhat brooding man, Justin is devastatingly handsome despite his scars from his time fighting.
A marriage that was meant to be a form of protection for Helena and convenience for Justin turns in to true love and admiration for one another, naturally.
I loved this book so much! I became so invested in the characters and there wasn’t a character I disliked, got annoyed with, or anything like that. I could understand the actions and feelings of both Helena and Justin. Parts of the book left my heart aching and as weird as that sounds – I actually love that feeling. That feeling when your heart aches for characters, but you know it’s going to work out for them in the end. I always relate it to the feeling I get every time I watch The Sound of Music. My heart always aches when Maria leaves and then when she comes back. Enter ugly cry. Anyway, I had that feeling in this novel, which means it’s a good one.
When I think about it, there isn’t actually a ton of action going on in this novel, but I think what I loved is just the characters and the development of their relationship and love for one another. It’s a romance novel, but not overly done or cheesy and graphic. It’s much more of a slow burn, if you will.
I also enjoyed the little bits of history sprinkled in that I connected with the tv show, Victoria (the exhibition in The Crystal Palace and the scandal of trying to institutionalize women as a punishment). But I like history, so that was interesting to me.
A few quotes, I loved that won’t give away key parts of the story:
“Then I don’t see what the man’s argument is. The law’s the law.”
Yes, it was, Helena thought bitterly, but only for men, and even then, only for the most powerful. For women, and for the poor, the infirm, and the friendless, the law rarely provided any comfort or protection.
When this was all over, he was going to have to let her go. It was the only thing he could do. When you cared for someone, you made the sacrifice. They didn’t have to ask for it. You made it regardless. Even if it left you desolate. Even if it broke your heart.
The book reminds of me old novels like Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre, but a little lighter and quicker to read. I highly recommend The Matrimonial Advertisement if you like period/historical fiction, love stories, romance stories, etc. Also, just putting it out there that I’d like a sequel so I can see what happens next! (Sidenote: I know there is a another book in the series but I believe it follows some of the side characters from this novel.)
*I received this novel complimentary, but all opinions are my own. This post also contains an affiliate link.*