FAIR AS A STAR
SERIES: Victorian Romantics #1
GENRE: Historical Romance (clean)
PUBLISHER: Perfectly Proper Press
RELEASE DATE: July 14, 2020
From USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews comes a Victorian tale of love and longing in a quaint English village.
A Secret Burden…
After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy—or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes.
A Longstanding Love…
As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago.
During an idyllic Victorian summer, friends and family gather in anticipation of Beryl and Sir Henry’s wedding. But in her darkest moment, it’s Mark who comes to Beryl’s aid. Can he help her without revealing his feelings—or betraying his brother?
Mimi Matthews has quickly become one of my very favorite authors! Her stories grab you from the very first page, her words pitch perfect as is her sense of time and place. The characters are readily relatable and engaging, despite the centuries that separate us, and you will easily long to spend more time with them when your reading is complete.
Fair as a Star is no exception, and I’m thrilled that it’s the start of a new series of Victorian romance novellas from Matthews. (I also already have strong opinions on which supporting characters in this 1st novella should get their own stories in future installments of the series, too. 😉 )
Though by definition, Fair as a Star may be a novella, it will leave your reader sensibilities just as satisfied as if you’d read a longer novel. Beryl & Mark are smartly drawn and well-layered, their longstanding friendship heartwarming, their romance breathtaking. I loved their shared love of Dickens’ and the way that manifested in some of the more tender moments in their relationship. Mark’s integrity, compassion, faith, and honor make him an excellent clergyman, brother, friend, and romantic hero – in fact, setting him a cut above most depictions of all of the above for that era. (He’s super swoony, too! That first kiss! I still haven’t recovered.) Beryl is a quietly courageous heroine with an inner strong will that many don’t notice but that, in fact, has saved both her life and her own compassionate heart.
Speaking of Beryl’s bravery, the focus on what we now know as clinical depression (‘melancholia’) & the stigma associated with it in Victorian times (and sadly still today, in many ways) hits a spot in my soul that many books do not. Beryl is a character I understand on a personal level, and her fight to overcome the melancholia that seemingly overtakes her without rhyme or reason – and to rise above the pain of others’ lack of understanding & sometimes harmful opinions on the matter – is written with great compassion & insight. Mark’s instinctive decision to not try to ‘fix her’ (“He gave her a brief, lopsided smile. “Of course not,” he said. “You’re not broken.”) but instead educating himself on her condition, supporting her as needed, and loving her no matter what endeared him even further to me. And oh please say that Dr. Black has a story coming up soon! 🙂
Bottom Line: Fair as a Star is another winner from author Mimi Matthews! Beautiful writing, vivid & engaging characters, and swoony romance share the pages with wit, compassion, and authenticity. The look at depression, living with it as well as loving someone who suffers from it, is done with great sensitivity and empathy, and yet the book still avoids becoming either too heavy or too trite. You will smile, you will swoon, and you will even probably laugh a little. If you haven’t yet read a Mimi Matthews book, this is the perfect one to start with!
(I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book which I purchased for my own collection. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / in a class by itself
KissingBook Level: 4 / keep those fans & fainting couches handy!
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.
Other Books by Mimi Matthews
What about you? What makes you want to read Fair as a Star?