Title: A Holiday By Gaslight
Author: Mimi Matthews
Genre: Historical romance
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 17/12/2019
I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t 100% this novella would be my cup of tea going in, but I’m so glad I picked it up because my holiday reading this season has been a mixed bag and this one finally pulled me out of the dumps.
Sophie Ampersett is used to making sacrifices for the happiness and security of her family, but she hopes that when she marries, it might be someone she at least likes.
Ned Sharpe, a wealthy tradesman, is smitten with Sophie the first time he lays eyes on her, but after following the advise in a gentleman’s ettiquette guide, he doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere, and Sophie is about to call the courtship off.
But Sophie decides their courtship is worth one last chance, so she invites Ned and his family to her family home in Derbyshire for Christmas, with the hope of finally finding love.
This was such a sweet book! In such a short book, it can be hard to really flesh out your characters, but Matthews has really done just that, not just for the two leads, but the supporting characters as well. There are so many different attitudes from the characters, which leads to misunderstandings and conflict. I loved it.
I loved Ned and Sophie, and how their relationship developed once they agreed to be candid with one another. I loved Ned’s awkwardness. As a tradesman, he was trying so hard to fit in with the upper classes and floundering. Sophie was strong and independent without being anachronistic. I loved the stolen moments they shared in secret alcoves around the house. Secret kisses under mistletoe! Things never felt lusty or steamy; it suited the period and the tone of the writing perfectly.
I found myself getting frustrated and angry at Sophie’s father, who has spent the entire family fortune, including his two daughters’ dowries, on upgrades to their home, such as gaslight and eventually indoor plumbing.
There is a side plot with Ned’s friend and business partner and Sophie’s sister which felt less well-developed. I was taken a bit by surprise with that one, though its outcome did lead to more misunderstandings and moved the Sophie and Ned’s story into its final stages.
I hadn’t come across Mimi Matthews before, but I am definitely going to check out her other historical romances when I am in the mood for this kind of thing.