cover image The Lily of Ludgate Hill

The Lily of Ludgate Hill

Mimi Matthews. Berkley, $17 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-33718-9

Grief and familial duty separate a couple, but a road trip brings them back together in Matthews’s sparkling third Belles of London Victorian romance (after The Belle of Belgrave Square). In December 1855, Lady Anne Deveril and rakish Felix “Hart” Hartford are on the cusp of engagement when Anne’s father dies and Anne, who fears Hart is frivolous and undependable, chooses to remain with her widowed mother over marriage. Six and a half years later, Anne is still too terrified of losing anyone else to let love into her life. Hart, meanwhile, is no longer a reckless youth, and when Anne comes to him to request he escort her and her superstitious mother to Yorkshire to check on a friend, he’s determined to win back her heart. Both face upheaval that strains their reunion; Hart is struggling under the weight of providing for a secret set of half siblings and balancing the needs of his mining company, while Anne is facing eviction from her home. Their beautifully fleshed out arcs offer a poignant portrait of the destabilizing effects of loss and the strength in forging a new life with the help of loved ones. The plot dovetails nicely with the previous two books while standing alone enough to be appreciated by newcomers. Historical romance fans are sure to be moved. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Jan.)