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Posts Tagged ‘Read in Sept 2021’

Genre: Historical Romance

Blurb (Amazon):

She couldn’t forget
Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nicholas is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nicholas escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nicholas never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He wouldn’t forgive
After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful—and entirely convinced he’s someone else.

As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain the other? Or with a little luck—and a lot of daring—will he find a way to have them both?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I have loved every one of Mimi Matthews’ books I have read, and GENTLEMAN JIM is no exception. She skillfully blends an exciting story of mystery, revenge and intrigue with an emotionally charged second-chance love story.

The way that Ms. Matthews conveys the inseparable bond between the young Maggie and Nicholas in the Prologue is so beautifully done. I loved Nicholas’ gentle teasing:

“…I never do what?”
“Stare at my bosom.”
Heat rose in his cheeks. He looked at her a moment, dumbstruck, before giving her a crooked smile. “What bosom?”

and Maggie’s fiery temper:

“The blackguard!” Maggie’s low voice trembled with fury. “The confounded coward!…”

It was heart-breaking to see Maggie and Nicholas torn apart by Fred’s evil machinations, but it compelled me to read on, desperate to know what happened to them.

Ten years have passed, and I was sad to notice the change in Maggie. A bout of influenza and two periods of mourning for her father and aunt have left her in a fragile state of health. As executor of her father’s will, I hated how much control Fred exerted over Maggie’s life and how she had no choice but to marry him if she wished to retain her beloved home, Beasley Park. Despite everything, Maggie’s spirit has never been broken and this is clearly seen later on in the story.

…what she lacked in physical stamina, she more than made up for in spirit. In heart.

John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare, the Earl of Allendale’s grandson, has recently returned to England after spending many years on the continent. His whole bearing proclaims him as someone of wealth and privilege since birth. He is known for his coldness – a man who ‘never lets his emotions get the better of his reason’. His grandfather is eager for him to find a wife to secure the survival of the family line.

When Maggie goes to London to stay with her friend, Jane Trumble, she discovers that Fred is to fight a duel with Viscount St. Clare. Fearful of what would happen to Beasley Park should Fred be killed, Maggie goes to see St. Clare in the hope of stopping the duel. She is shocked to see that he bears an uncanny resemblance to her beloved Nicholas!

I knew in my heart of hearts that St.Clare and Nicholas Seaton must be one and the same person, but Ms. Matthews certainly kept me in suspense. How on earth could an illegitimate, lowly groom become a well-educated and much travelled viscount? Even Maggie has her doubts at first, but the clues are there – the eyes, the smile, the way he says her name, and the one thing that ultimately proclaims, beyond a shadow of a doubt, his true identity.

“Great God, I knew it.” Her eyes found his, a glimmer of triumph shining in their liquid sapphire depths. “It really is you.”

The romance is so beautifully written, and I could feel the depth of their love for each other – both willing to give up on their dreams to be together. I think this is definitely the most sensual book Ms. Matthews has written, and she succeeds in making a single kiss or a look far more effective than any number of tedious sex scenes.

Their happiness is threatened by Fred who is always scheming to drive them apart, and Cousin Lionel and his mother who are spreading rumours to cast doubt on St. Clare’s legitimacy. I’m delighted to say that they all get their just deserts.

At first, I disliked Clare’s grandfather. It seemed that all he cared about was securing the family title, and St. Clare meant nothing to him other than a means to an end. However, his actions later in the story reveal how much he truly cares for his grandson. I liked Maggie’s friend, Jane Trumble, and her maid, Bessie, who showed such loyalty. Jane’s Aunt Harriet, their supposed chaperone, made me smile with her habit of falling asleep the minute she sits down and her inability to hear anything without her ear trumpet!

Although deceased, Gentleman Jim has a strong presence in the book and the mystery surrounding his true identity and his relevance to the characters and events in the story was intriguing.

The icing on the cake was a truly charming Epilogue.

Another wonderful book by one of my favourite authors. Highly recommended.

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