The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon #1) by Mimi Matthews
Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill—though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome—is anything but a romantic hero.
Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena’s past threatens, will Justin’s burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?
—Perfectly Proper Press, 2018
When first introduced, Helena is direct and more than capable of schooling her emotions to reach her goal, which was the protection of marriage. The ghosts of her past quickly catch up with her, but instead of invoking the protection of her marriage to her unknowing husband, she cowards, and continues to for the remainder of the story. What happened to the woman on a mission we were first introduced to?!
Justin does a 180 0f his own, starting off gruff and rude, the anti-hero we were promised in the synopsis, only to declare, “He’ll go the ends of the Earth,” for a woman he’d known for three days and who lied to him about the trouble she was in. Not only does Justin give Helena unconditional support, but he never holds her to task for her deception and doesn’t demand she perform a single one of her marital duties. So no steamy love scenes, but the couple does have an enjoyable banter, that will make you root for them.
Any tension, sexual or life-threatening, is short-lived. All of Justin’s ghosts are in his head and never threaten the couple, except for his own self-sabotage. The more options you realize Helena had to get out of her situation the more grating her damsel in distress acts becomes. So you can contact a lawyer to arrange a marriage to a stranger but couldn’t hire one for the issue that’s threatening your life? Oh, you didn’t think to contact all these other people who could have spoken out on your behalf? Really trick?! But then again, if Helena continued to be the determined, strong-willed woman we were first introduced to, there would be no one for Justin to rescue. –Borrow it.