Earlier this year, I adored The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews, the first in her Belles of London series. Ever since, I’d been looking forward to the next book, The Belle of Belgrave Square. Happily, I was able to read an advanced copy of the novel, and it not only lived up to my lofty expectations, it exceeded them!
Read on for my review of The Belle of Belgrave Square, and don’t miss the exciting giveaway for a signed and annotated copy of it.
Special thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose PR, Berkley Romance, and Mimi Matthews for the review copy of this book!
Julia Wychwood is a quiet and bookish young woman who has been around for a few seasons but remains unmarried. She has crippling social anxiety and poor health – or rather, uses feigned health issues as an excuse to avoid social functions – but living with her parents is becoming unsustainable. Not only are they bad for her emotional well-being, they may be harmful to her physical health. Julia longs for an escape, and securing a husband may be the only way to do so.
Captain Jasper Blunt is a war hero, but he has a dark past and questionable reputation. Rumors abound of his cruelty during war, his haunted Yorkshire mansion, and his brood of illegitimate children. His fearsome appearance doesn’t help matters. While there is some truth to the rumors – and many more secrets buried underneath – Jasper is in need of a wealthy wife. He has his sights set on the beguiling Julia, and that she’s an heiress only adds to her appeal.
Eventually, Julia and Jasper embark on a marriage of convenience to solve their respective issues, but Jasper’s secrets will have to come to light sooner or later. With some significant inspiration from Beauty and the Beast, this is a sweet and swoony historical romance about being your authentic self, securing your own happiness, and allowing love to set you free.
Right away, I loved The Belle of Belgrave Square, and I flew through the novel. I already loved the characters, having met both Julia Wychwood and Captain Jasper Blunt in the previous book, The Siren of Sussex. They were set up wonderfully there, and they are compelling leads here.
Julia, in particular, I found to be a relatable character. She has social anxiety and is a true introvert, preferring time alone with her books to time out with strangers at parties. While I don’t have social anxiety, I am both shy and introverted, and for me, reading at home is the perfect way to spend an evening. Julia is often uncomfortable around others, and she finds solace in riding her horse and in reading her novels. She’s been made to feel small by her parents for her whole life, and she continues to make herself small. Her parents and a horrible older man who is courting her ignore her feelings, thinking only of how she can serve them.
Captain Jasper Blunt is perhaps the perfect hero, even though he may not seem so at first. He strikes an imposing figure: tall, brooding, and with a scar on the right side of his face. And while he’s a celebrated war hero, rumors of his cruelty, haunted Yorkshire mansion, and brood of illegitimate children add to his bad reputation. Jasper admits to some of the worst rumors about him, yet it doesn’t add up to how he behaves now: He’s kind, considerate, generous, and respectful. Deep down, he’s a total cinnamon roll. On the hunt for an heiress bride, Jasper is falling for Julia, but he always puts her wishes first – a marked contrast to how nearly everyone else treats her.
Julia’s initial fear of Jasper quickly transforms into trust, friendship, and even the possible answer to her problems. Marrying him could be the best choice she ever makes, and it’s not long before a marriage of convenience is on the table.
In large part, Julia is trying to escape her horrible parents (and they truly are awful – selfish and inconsiderate, seeing their daughter as little more than a caretaker). Things have gone too far at home, and Julia’s safety is increasingly at risk. She may need rescuing… or to rescue herself. I love that she eventually takes the reins of the situation and proposes to Jasper. What a perfect way to flip the roles!
The latter half of the novel offers up numerous references to Beauty and the Beast, from the magnificent library to the forbidden tower to Jasper himself seeming so monstrous. Julia, so shrinking and shy in London, really comes into herself in the isolated Yorkshire mansion. She also starts demanding answers about Jasper’s secrets. He’s having a harder time keeping things under wraps, and eventually, all the skeletons in his closet will need to come out.
There are two major secrets that Jasper is keeping close to his chest. I’m pleased to say that I guessed both of them before they were revealed, and it was satisfying once the truth finally came out… even if it was in bits and pieces.
The Belle of Belgrave Square has so much about it to love: Relatable and sweet characters, a mesmerizing setting, thrilling secrets, and a genuine love of books, horses, and romance. Even though it’s a closed-door romance, the passion between Julia and Jasper is compelling and swoony.
I absolutely adored The Belle of Belgrave Square and will encourage everyone to read it. I also can hardly wait for the next two novels in the Belles of London series. In January 2024, The Lily of Ludgate Hill will follow Lady Anne Deveril and Mr. Felix Hartford in a second-chance, enemies-to-lovers romance. Then in fall 2024, the series will end with The Muse of Maiden Lane, about Stella Hobhouse and Teddy Hayes (the latter of whom was introduced in Mimi Matthews’s other series, the Parish Orphans of Devon). 2024 feels so far away, but I’m sure both books will be well worth the wait!
Get the Book
You can pre-order The Belle of Belgrave Square at the links below – on October 11th, it will be available as a paperback and ebook.
Mimi Matthews has generously offered a fabulous giveaway for The Belle of Belgrave Square – be sure to enter!
Giveaway period: October 3 – October 30
Terms & Conditions:
Giveaway hosted by Mimi Matthews. No Purchase Necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. All information will remain confidential and will not be sold or otherwise used, except to notify the winner and to facilitate postage of the book to the winner. Void where prohibited.
1 winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) receives a paperback copy of The Belle of Belgrave Square, signed and annotated by the author with personal comments, underlining of her favorite lines, and other highlights by Mimi Matthews.
Giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 10/03/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 10/30/22.
The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog on 10/31/22.
Enter the giveaway here by October 30, 2022.
|The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews|
|Series||Belles of London (#2)|
|Number of Pages||432|
|Format I Read||ebook (NetGalley)|
|Original Publication Date||October 11, 2022|
A London heiress rides out to the wilds of the English countryside to honor a marriage of convenience with a mysterious and reclusive stranger.
Tall, dark, and dour, the notorious Captain Jasper Blunt was once hailed a military hero, but tales abound of his bastard children and his haunted estate in Yorkshire. What he requires now is a rich wife to ornament his isolated ruin, and he has his sights set on the enchanting Julia Wychwood.
For Julia, an incurable romantic cursed with a crippling social anxiety, navigating a London ballroom is absolute torture. The only time Julia feels any degree of confidence is when she’s on her horse. Unfortunately, a young lady can’t spend the whole of her life in the saddle, so Julia makes an impetuous decision to take her future by the reins—she proposes to Captain Blunt.
In exchange for her dowry and her hand, Jasper must promise to grant her freedom to do as she pleases. To ride—and to read—as much as she likes without masculine interference. He readily agrees to her conditions, with one provision of his own: Julia is forbidden from going into the tower rooms of his estate and snooping around his affairs. But the more she learns of the beastly former hero, the more intrigued she becomes…
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.
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Read an Exclusive Interview With Mimi Matthews
Discover intriguing insights into The Belle of Belgrave Square and Mimi’s writing life in this exclusive interview at austenprose.com.