RogerBW's Blog

A Convenient Fiction, Mimi Matthews 04 August 2023

2019 Victorian romance. Laura Hayes' father died of the same fever that left her brother an invalid, and what was left of the family business and land is tied up by a grasping lawyer. Alex Archer, professional card sharp, is trading in the thousands of pounds owed to him by his latest victim for an introduction to an heiress, who happens to be Laura's neighbour…

This is a rather calmer book than some of the earlier ones in this series. Alex has lived his life knowing he's a Bad Man, so when he does start to fall in love he doesn't want to involve the object of his affections in all that. Laura is in a bad situation, but while marriage is one possible answer, it's certainly not her only one. Where some romances make the marriage of convenience a thing that happens early, with the principals learning to love each other afterwards (as in The Matrimonial Advertisement in the same series), here by the time it's suggested each of already them knows they're in love with the other – but doesn't want to scare them off by offering a "real" marriage instead.

The best thing, though, is that these are characters who talk to each other, rather than misinterpreting a casual phrase and then going off in a snit. Alex does go missing for a while, but there's an actual reason for it. Perhaps Laura's psychoanalysis of what Alex really wants is a bit pat, but it's a pretty obvious answer too.

Not perhaps the most sophisticated leads or plot, but the book manages to maintain a sense of fun, and comes up with some interestingly complex side characters too.

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See also:
The Matrimonial Advertisement, Mimi Matthews

Previous in series: A Modest Independence | Series: Parish Orphans of Devon | Next in series: The Winter Companion

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