For Helena Reynolds, a matrimonial advertisement in the newspaper may be her salvation. Constantly looking over her shoulder to make sure she isn’t followed, she takes the train to Devon to meet Justin Thornhill, the former army captain who owns Greyfriars Abbey and has advertised for a wife. He may be a complete stranger, but the two things she knows about him are enough to settle the question: he is reputed to be kind and he has the ability to protect her.
Growing up as a parish orphan, Justin had to make his own way in the world, becoming an army captain, suffering torture in India at Cawnpore, and coming back to England to claim the property of the man he hates. Now he needs a wife to normalize his existence, but he never expected anyone as beautiful as Helena Reynolds to answer his advertisement. He has secrets of his own to hide, so it’s not fair to demand what hers are. As the day of their marriage dawns, he is destined to find them out, and then everyone will discover whether Helena’s hopes of him are well-founded….
This Gothic romance was a page turner of the first order. The Victorian world comes to life in all the outdated grandeur of steam engines, crinolines, and electrotherapy. Loosely inspired by the classic Jane Eyre, this novel turns many of Brontë’s tropes on their head and comes out with something wholly original, highly suspenseful, and desperately romantic. Helena’s plight is frightful in the extreme, and Justin is just the man she needs to see her through. Every time I read one of Mimi Matthews’ books, I think, “This is her best one yet!” But seriously, this one is it. Recommended.