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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
A Convenient Fiction (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 3) takes us back to the genteel, class-ridden society of mid-1800 England, the early Victorian years when ladies were ladies, gentlemen were gentlemen and cads were damned bounders. Author Mimi Matthews' romance of manners takes us inside the genteel world of the wealthy landowners and all those who aspired to be one. Alex Archer had a terrible start to life as an abandoned orphan in a Devon orphanage, where he and his three best friends (brothers-in-arms) were there for each other against the cruelty and mistreatment of the orphanage manager. When Alex betrays his friends and runs away at thirteen, he begins a lifelong search for money, power and, most important, position and land. His gambling prowess allows him to strike a deal with the drunken wastrel son of an English vicar who, to wipe out his debts to Alex, will introduce him to his childhood friend and wealthy heiress, Henrietta. Alex will woo and marry Henrietta and finally have the place and position he has been seeking for some twenty years. Alex, however, does not plan on meeting another one of Henrietta’s childhood friends, Laura Hayes who is down on her luck, let alone falling in love with her.
This was a fantastically easy read. I am an enormous fan of historical fiction anyway, but author Mimi Matthews' accurate and telling portrayal of life for women and men of some privilege in the early Victorian age was wonderful and compelling. A Convenient Fiction is beautifully written and flows incredibly well. I found some of the scenes, especially the depiction of bathing at Margate, to be hilarious and couldn’t help marveling at how on earth the participants of the time managed to actually get some enjoyment from the escapade. The romance and obvious electric connection between Alex and Laura was the centerpiece of this novel and I loved how their motivations changed over time. Although I suspect I’m far from the author’s target audience, I really believe this type of story appeals to everyone. I think the highest compliment I can pay any author, especially one who has written a series, is to say that this work has inspired me to read more of the series. This is a wonderfully relaxing read of a gentler time and I can highly recommend it to all.