Published by Perfectly Proper Press on November 13, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
A Courtship of Convenience
Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.
A Last Chance for Love
But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.
~~Review by Monique~~
Sophie Appersett’s father has squandered nearly all the family fortune, and he needs Sophie to marry a wealthy man. Edward Sharpe is precisely that, although he is in trade, the horrors, beggars can’t be choosers. Edward and Sophie had met previously, they did not dislike each other, but after two months of courtship, Sophie just can’t bear Edward’s lack of conversation any longer: she doesn’t know him any better than when they met, and she asks him to end things. However, it’s not so simple. Edward had formally asked Sophie’s father to court her, he has been handed an invitation to the Appersetts’ Christmas festivities in Derbyshire, so they decide to wait until Christmas to see if they suit or not.
What an enchanting and utterly charming Christmas novella! Mimi Matthews’ prose is bright, smooth as silk, and wonderfully evocative that I don’t believe I have ever seen a Victorian-era Holiday season so well described. A HOLIDAY BY GASLIGHT is also a rare thing: it is all about communication, which is something that is often sorely lacking in romance. The dialogues are spectacular in their honesty, their realism, and to illustrate the different ways of thinking, whether about the class differences or how to navigate a world grappling with the rapidly evolving society in 1861, and even how to express oneself to a loved one. I actually gasped aloud at one character’s rude remark about those not of gentle birth.
Ms. Matthews’ knowledge of the period is remarkable; the historical accuracy of every detail is stunning and does not detract from the romance, which is absolutely lovely. How refreshing it was not to read about Edward’s female conquests, and not have to endure anachronistic sexual interludes. Ms. Matthews’ characterisations are stellar, from Edward who is sometimes hard to read, to the more transparent Sophie, as well as both protagonists’ parents. A HOLIDAY BY GASLIGHT is smart and clever, very romantic, quite illuminating in so many respects, and one of the best historical Christmas stories I have ever read; a treat not to be missed by historical romance aficionados.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.