Title: A Holiday by Gaslight
Author: Mimi Matthews
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
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.
Okay, before I even get into this review can we please talk about this cover? That dress, that lettering, the mistletoe rimming the sides, the snowy, gas-lit background…
It’s only made better by the fact that every single detail on the cover plays a part in the story. I think I’m in love.
So, to be completely candid, Victorian Christmas stories are sort of my kryptonite. I work in a Victorian house that decorates to the hilt for a period-accurate Christmas, I wrote my final thesis for my bachelor’s degree on Victorian Christmas traditions… you get the idea. So when I saw this book on Netgalley I had it requested and loaded on my Kindle before I knew what was happening. I’m sooooo glad I broke my no ARC rule for October and snagged it because it was hands down one of my favorite reads of the year.
At risk of sounding like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Mimi Matthews did everything just right. The romance wasn’t too strong or too subtle and the side characters weren’t too involved or too obscure. Sophie, the main female character, was strong and confident without seeming to be from a different time period, but not so demure that she was boring and bland. I really, really enjoyed her personality and thought that it was a perfect fit for the time period and the situation she was in. Ned was just as likable, especially given the fact that the poor man was a fish out of water. I’m obviously a fan of dual perspectives, especially from romance, and I was thrilled when I hit chapter two and found myself reading from Ned’s perspective. It added so much depth to the story and made the dance the characters were doing around each other that much more enjoyable to read.
There was an interesting mix of Victorian Christmas traditions and current events happening in the background, and the author did a great job of using them to push the story along instead of info-dumping and then moving back to the story. Darwin, the spread of gaslighting, plumbing, and Prince Albert all make appearances, not including all the Christmas-y bits.
The thing I loved most about it was its length. Not because I was ready for it to end (I’m actually desperately hoping that Mimi Matthews writes more about these characters), but because it was just the right length for the story being told. It wasn’t stretched thin over 250 pages with a bunch of extra stuff bogging the story down. It was short, sweet, and perfectly innocent.
I’m planning on buying a few hard copies of this for my coworkers this Christmas. I know they’ll love it as much as I did!
ARC provided in exchange for an honest review