(I purchased my copy of The Matrimonial Advertisement. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions are my own.)
It is hardly a secret that The Silver Petticoat Review celebrates old-fashioned romance. In many of our articles and lists, we have used the classic stories of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte Bronte as the standard by which we measure the best of old-fashioned romance. We love (secretly) strong heroines who refuse to allow the unfair social rules of their time to dictate their futures. Brave women such as Margaret Hale, Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre, and others continue to inspire modern women to be ladies of principle and character.
And even more so do we love the brooding heroes of these stories. Men of manners and refinement whose love for the heroine overrides their innate reserve and challenges them to become better men.
Related: Mariana Book Review by Susanna Kearsley – A Historical Love Story
If you are on the hunt for more of these men and women and their stories, then look no further than Mimi Andrews’ The Matrimonial Advertisement.
ABOUT THE MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENT
As a last resort, Helena Reynolds answers an advertisement for marriage to a complete stranger. She is desperate for the security of a husband’s name and the safety of living in a remote estate in Devon.
Justin Thornhill is a former soldier still recovering from the tragedy and torture of his last assignment in India. He didn’t place the ad for a wife but is drawn to Helena’s beauty and refinement. Something about her also draws out his protective instinct.
These two strangers marry, but their complicated pasts will prove a challenge they must overcome before they can find love.
THE MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENT REVIEW
Helena and Justin are opposites in just about every way. She comes from a background of wealth and privilege, he was born a “bastard” and raised an orphan. He is aggressive and blunt while she is reserved and well-mannered. But somehow they bring out the best in each other despite being strangers.
“She wanted him. It shouldn’t matter, but it did. She was his wife. The first person on earth to ever truly belong to him.”
Justin reminds me very much of men like Rochester, Darcy, and Thornton, though without the inherited wealth and bloodlines. I love how quickly he feels protective toward Helena who is obviously hiding secrets about herself. Though she is less than forthcoming, he remains very patient with the timid and frightened Helena. Justin has overcome a brutal past to become a man who is brusque in his speech but tender in his manner.
“It won’t be what you’re used to.”
“You’ve said that before. I hope you’re not still trying to warn me off.”
“Would it work this time?”
“We are married, sir. I am your wife.”
“Ah,” he said. “I thought I recognized you.”
It took me a little while longer to warm up to Helena Reynolds. She’s such a scared little mouse through the first half of the story, that I found myself a bit annoyed with her. But as the mystery of her past and her need to marry is revealed I found my opinion changing. She has endured enough trauma and injustice to break a lesser woman. Instead, she not only survives but makes deliberate choices to face the things she fears, even while she shakes from terror. Her strength and courage are subtle but absolutely admirable.
“Fear and anger shouldn’t be the guiding principles of one’s life.”
I’m a huge fan of marriage of convenience stories, especially when they take the time to develop the relationship before consummation as this one does. Justin and Helena both have reason to doubt each other. In fact, the mystery of their pasts is almost as interesting as the affection that slowly grows between them.
Justin’s attraction to Helena is immediate, but he acts like a gentleman towards her. Helena quickly learns to trust Justin to take care of her. But she fears that he will abandon her after learning why she married him. Still, there are many quiet, delicate romantic moments shared between the two. Their thoughts and opinions about each other are even more achingly romantic. It makes the reader yearn for these two sweet souls to finally confess their love for each other.
“But it wasn’t just any man at the King’s Arms,” she said softly. “It was you, Justin. It was you.”
Mimi Matthews writing style could almost trick one into believing her a contemporary of Austen, Bronte or Gaskell. Like these more famous authors, her historical setting comes alive with accurate detail and description. She tackles social issues of the time with sincerity and compassion, shining a light on the moral hypocrisy of some of the customs and institutions. Best of all, she writes a restrained love story while still conveying the deep respect and passion of the main characters.
I would absolutely love to see this story adapted for the big screen. Or even for a series by the BBC. It would fit nicely into their niche market of classic romances. According to the author’s Pinterest page, Rachel Weisz and Daniel Day-Lewis served as inspiration for Helena and Justin. Obviously, talent like that would make for an excellent production.
Fans of old-fashioned romance will adore The Matrimonial Advertisement. I whole-heartedly recommend this book. In fact, I am not just suggesting, but telling you to buy it and read it immediately. It’s that good. As for me, I’m eagerly counting down to the release of the sequel A Modest Independence in March.
Content Warning: This is considered a “clean” read in regards to physical intimacy. There are a few uses of mild swear words and some descriptions of violence.
To learn more about author Mimi Matthews and to purchase her books, visit her website here.
What are some of your favorite marriage of convenience stories? Have you read any of Mimi Matthews books, if so what are your thoughts?
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”
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1 thought on “The Matrimonial Advertisement: A Beautiful Old-Fashioned Romance”
Ooh, sounds good. Will have to see if I can get my hands on this! Thanks for the recommendation. I actually knew a woman, who responded to such an advert — for a housekeeper with the possibility for marriage, if suitable (-: This was in the 30’s/40’s in rural Canada. She came as a housekeeper and decided that marriage was suitable (-: