Each time I read a book by Mimi Matthews, I learn something about human nature that is both refreshing and comforting. Yes, she includes the negative in her stories too, like greed, arrogance, and ignorance. However, she also includes things like compassion, courage, and strength. What I loved most about this story was the lesson of overcoming fear and putting others ahead of yourself. It was rewarding to read about characters who had a difficult past, found each other, and overcame their insecurities to better their lives. Very moving and a great way to wrap up this series.
In a world where any infirmity, no matter how small, is looked upon with scorn and as a sign of stupidity, Neville Cross felt very isolated. After experiencing a head injury as a child, he has trouble concentrating for long periods of time, and his speech is stilted in a way that makes smooth conversation difficult. There's nothing wrong with his intelligence though, and it has become increasingly frustrating that he can't win the confidence of others beyond his close friends. He begins to see a future, though, when he meets Clara Hartwright during his family's Christmas celebration. Clara works as a companion, having been thrown into spinsterhood after a youthful indiscretion. Now in a life of penitence, constantly making up for the strain she has put on her mother and brother, she sends most of her earnings to her family. Meeting Neville is a breath of fresh air for her, because he doesn't judge her for her station, and his way of speech is no both in the slightest. Soon they begin spending more time together, but it won't last, for once Christmas passes, Clara will be gone, and Neville will be left alone once again.
Neville was a character who really tugged at my heart from the first meeting. It's awful how something as simple as a difference in speech can cause someone to be looked at as inferior or stupid, even if they are nothing of the kind. Neville loved animals, took care of them, and when he saw sadness in Clara, he wanted to do everything he could to make her happy. Hesitant at first, expecting her to treat him as poorly as others had, he became more confident as she began to return his affections. It was heartbreaking when Neville realized that he was trapped on the estate by society and his own fear of them, and so they had no future together. Clara loved Neville, saw only the good in him, and she let him go when she had to. But it was so painful for her, because she truly loved him and knew he loved her. Thankfully, as in most romance books that I read, there is a happy ending. The journey to get there is an emotional one but well worth it.
Mimi Matthews is an author to watch for anyone who wants an emotionally charged romance. It was a warm and welcoming read.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**