cover image The Belle of Belgrave Square

The Belle of Belgrave Square

Mimi Matthews. Berkley, $16 Trade Paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-33715-8

A grand cross-class romance, a twisty mystery, and emotional internal struggles combine to excellent effect in Matthews’s effervescent second Belles of London romance (after Siren of Sussex). Navigating Victorian high society is a necessary nightmare for anxious heiress Julia Wychwood, who prefers the company of a good novel or her horse to men, but longs to escape the clutches of her ailing and overbearing parents. Seeking a spouse is equally unpleasant for war hero Jasper Blunt, who needs a lady’s fortune to secure a life for his three children and repair the country estate where they reside. Jasper and Julia discover an unexpected mutual attraction and marry despite Julia’s parents’ objections to Jasper’s suit—and the threat that they will withhold her dowry. Jasper is prepared to sacrifice Julia’s money to keep her safe with him, but her family’s continued meddling endangers the couple’s blissful union—and could dig up secrets that Jasper is desperate to keep buried. Matthews expertly paces out the mystery of what Jasper is hiding; each twist brings Julia and the reader closer to the truth, but the final reveal still manages to be a surprise. Most delightful is the genuine feeling of joy between the newlyweds, who each grow into their own together. Matthews’s fans and new readers alike will root for this well-earned love story. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Oct.)