- Paperback: 316 pages
- Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press (11 February 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1733056955
- ISBN-13: 978-1733056953
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 331 g
- Customer Reviews: 128 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Winter Companion (4) Paperback – 11 February 2020
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"Fans of the 'Parish Orphans of Devon' series will adore this final installment, reuniting the orphans and their loves. Matthews (A Convenient Fiction) sensitively portrays a neuroatypical protagonist facing ingrained prejudices, even from friends, and how such preconceptions limits a person's potential." -Library Journal, starred review
"Matthews once again delivers in her latest Victorian novel. Her love story is sweet and chaste, the characters well developed, and their relationship beautifully rendered." -Kirkus Reviews
"Yet another stellar romance from Mimi Matthews, whose talent for writing heartfelt stories with fully developed characters is awesome." -The Romance Reviews, top pick
"An ode to the Victorian era from all corners, stations and predicaments...Matthews adores the period, but doesn't shy away from its restrictions. Perhaps it is her ability to paint it so wholly--for all its good and bad--that make the series one of the most addictive offerings in the genre in years." -Rachel McMillan, author of The London Restoration
"There are few things more satisfying than curling up with a Mimi Matthews' novel. Deeply-felt and heart-lifting, The Winter Companion is no exception. Its sweet romance and generous spirit linger in the mind long after the last word is read." -Stephanie Barron, author of The Jane Austen Mysteries
"Mimi Matthews writes so beautifully I'll happily follow her imagination anywhere." -Kate Pearce, New York Times bestselling author
"I teared up reading, and held my breath near the end...highly recommended!" -Jane Porter, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
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I have adored every single book in this series. Each time Mimi Matthews releases a new one I find myself wondering how she can possibly equal the ones that have come before, but somehow she does. Not only that, but each story has its own distinctive characters, tone, and atmosphere, despite being thoroughly Victorian, so that you almost feel as though you’re discovering her all over again each time you pick up her newest book. Reader, this is historical romance heaven!
Neville pretty much melted me like a pat of butter left in the sun. He’s a gentle giant—and a self-conscious one to boot—who’s tender-hearted and fiercely loyal, and from the moment he meets Clara he’s halfway smitten. Watching his regard deepen as their friendship grows is a treat no historical romance lover should deprive themselves of, complete with some oh-so-sweet moments of hesitant, budding affection.
Clara both contrasts and complements Neville in all the best ways. For example, she tends towards loquaciousness whereas he tends toward taciturnity (both by nature and as a result of his struggle to translate his thoughts into speech), but their mutual love of animals is not only their first point of contact; it plays a significant role in the development of their relationship. Best of all, they uncover each other’s strengths, encourage one another in their dreams, and support one another in their times of need, though the path to their HEA is, of course, not as smooth as that sounds!
On top of all that, Matthews’ writing is a dream, full of nuanced sensory details that bring both the romance and the setting to life. I’m really not sure what else you could ask for, except, “More, please?”
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
I've been looking forward to Neville's story ever since he was introduced in book 1, and it's great to see him finally get his happy ending (or to finally get a happy start in life?). Once again, the author has produced a clean, well-written book with characters I enjoy getting to know and a storyline that feels real. My only problem was - what happened to Bertie? All in all, a great read, though I must admit to having slightly mixed feelings about this book: It is a very satisfying end to the series (each of which can be read on its own, though the four friends from the orphanage are each in each book), but I have enjoyed the series so much that I'm sorry to see it end! Regardless, I'm looking forward to whatever she writes next because I know I'll enjoy it. Highly recommended.
Note that I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and this is my considered opinion of the book.
Top international reviews
Neville is quite literally a gentle giant and the woman he falls for, Clara Hartwright, is petite. She too is someone who is quite shy and will not always put herself forward. As their story unfolds, we learn more about both the hero and heroine's pasts and how it's affected their present situations. Over the course of the novel, both of them have to learn to express their feelings and stick up for themselves and each other.
Of course, the feelings that begin to develop between them are central to the plot of the novel, but as with all of Mimi's heroes and heroines, their story is unique and they are very different from all of the rest. Their characters, especially Neville's, are intriguing. He has to decide what he wants and make a brave decision, one that will affect the rest of his life. For her part, Clara has to confront the demons from her past and recognise that what has happened to her isn't all her fault. She has to learn to see the past in a different light and Neville helps her to do that.
As mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it's the fourth in a series, it can be enjoyed as a standalone story. But I would recommend reading all the others as they're such beautiful, satisfying stories with wonderfully sweet, memorable characters whose stories will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
This novel unites all the Parish Orphans of the previous books at Greyfriar’s Abbey, the home of Justin Thornhill, for a Christmas celebration together. As Clara is a lady’s companion and Neville, a groom they are slightly distanced from the other three orphans and their wives. Despite incredible chemistry between them, it seems unlikely that Clara and Neville could have a future together. Neville believes he cannot strike out on his own, while Clara feels duty bound to her brother because of a previous indiscretion. While Neville does his best to care for a Dartmoor pony in foal, Clara becomes aware that her brother is in trouble but soon it appears that they will be cut off by bad weather.
This is an excellent conclusion to the series, showing us love overcoming personal difficulties and a new future which might not have been possible without their mutual commitment.
As I said, you could just jump right in here and enjoy this book as a standalone, but the backdrop provided by the previous three gives you more insight into Neville's issues and into the relationship of all four men. And you wouldn't have developed an acquaintance and fondness for all the couples as they gather here to celebrate Christmas at Justin's home.
This has a slow-moving plot, with kind and thoughtful characters, and lots of interactions of family and friends. It's quite similar to the type of story Mary Balogh writes, even having a character with a disability, which is something Balogh often includes in her stories, whether it be a physical or emotional problem. Fortunately, this Matthews book does not have any of that awkward sex between H and h that Balogh somehow feels obligated to include and Matthews' story is all the better for it. Neville is such a gentle, kind, sweet man that it would have felt intrusive to see how he comports himself in bed.
Neville's brain injury years ago has left him with what seems to be speech dyspraxia. His brain is normal, his thoughts are normal, even insightful, but the thoughts don't transfer smoothly into spoken words. And when he is nervous or stressed, his speech problem becomes even more severe. This causes some people (not his friends) to think his intelligence is subnormal and he is very self-conscious and has come to think of himself as less of a person.
He is content to live at Justin's estate, taking outstanding care of the horses and other animals and training to take over as estate manager when the older man who serves now retires. He does his job well but interacts as little as possible with others.
And then we have our heroine, Clara. She also suffers from feeling of low self-worth and the lack of a voice. The lack of a voice, in her case, is caused by circumstances in her past and her lowly place as a woman in Victorian society, not by any physical impediment. Something that happened to her as a young adult,, which had repercussions on her family's reputation and welfare and which she was forced to take all responsibility for, changed her life dramatically, forcing her to seek employment as a lady's companion. And, as everyone knows, companions "were meant to be good listeners, not talkers. And they certainly weren't paid to speak their mind."
So Clara is voiceless by force majeure but inside her soul she is looking forward to the day she can say what she thinks and feels, can be who she would like to be, can belong and not be alone. With Neville, she feels safe and at home. And Neville feels the same around her. But each has his/her own hangups and the feeling that they cannot have a future together. That's all I'll say. The plot is slight so it would be an unkindness to reveal more. Other than to note that if you are an animal lover, you'll have dogs and horses to your heart's content. And if you are a romance lover, this is a satisfying one.
This is not a 5-star read for me because I found everyone to be too earnest and serious almost all the time. I would have appreciated a few more moments of humor and some snappier dialogue at times. Still, it's a feel-good story and something I appreciate at the moment.
Clara Hartwright has come as Mrs Bainbridge's companion, the aunt to the now married Laura Archer. While hiding her past, Clara financially supports, with the help of her mother, her brother Simon at University.
Meanwhile the last of the unmarried orphans is more comfortable spending time with animals, but then he meets Clara. Can both overcome their pasts or will their courage fail them.
Another very enjoyable and well-written Victorian romance. With its cast of very lovable characters. Certainly a delightful end to the series.
Although it can easily be read as a standalone story I would highly recommend the whole series.
Received an ARC from the author
I was so excited to get this because she tells the most wonderful romantic tales!
This was quite different from her others in the sense that, Mr Cross is a different man than the rest. Physically he’s big and beautifully handsome and probably the kindest of the four men, but he’s suffered a brain injury. Neville ended up being one of my favorites of the men. I swooned over his looks and kindness. The story was wonderful.
I really enjoyed the fact that none of the “couples” could keep their hands off each other. It was so sweet.
Things I loved:
• The chemistry
• The romance
• Their love of animals and books
• Neville and his letter
• The Christmas parts
I just preordered Gentleman Jim! ♥️
This was a NETGALLEY gift and I already purchased this book on Amazon weeks ago and all opinions are my own.
This is the fourth book in this series. I would recommend reading them in order for your best reading enjoyment. The characters from previous books play a large role in each book so it has a building feel to it. This book especially. All four friends are together for the Christmas holiday and knowing their backstories will really help.
I've been waiting and dreaming of Neville's story. I knew there would be so much to learn with him. We've been getting bits and pieces of his childhood accident through the other characters and their stories but it was so nice to actually get the story from Neville himself. Neville is the most kind and gentle human. I found him utterly charming and endearing. I loved how Clara and Neville bond over the animals, each filling a need for the other in the most gentle and easy way. I also loved the quiet of the barn and how crucial that peace was for Neville as opposed to the gathering inside the house which was louder, more jovial and consequently more oppressive to Neville. Neville really stretches himself to be with Clara and wow, it is ever satisfying to read.
I loved this book. I loved Neville. I love this series. I love this author. 💙 Don't hate me for using the L word too much.
Content: there may have been a few instances of mild swearing and profanity (using God or Jesus as an exclamation) but I cannot remember exactly. There were in previous books so there's a good chance.
As in all her books Mimi Matthews’s knowledge of the Victorian era and her gift for description are evident. The story is set during Christmas, and the traditions are beautifully described. She also conveys the challenges of the weather and the terrain; I almost felt that if I looked outside my window I would see the rain and mud that the inhabitants had to deal with.
The inclusion of the final lines of Tennyson’s “Ulysses” was a masterful touch. I shed a few tears along with Clara in reading the poem, one that I have always loved.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher, Perfectly Proper Press, for the ARC. I also preordered the book to support this wonderful author; she is an auto-buy for me.
Clara’s character is one I have been anxious to “meet” on the page. The heroine finally worthy of Neville. I was instantly enamored with her care of a little elderly dog — as was Neville upon first meeting. Clara’s role shines a light on women’s opportunities in the Victorian era: often constrictive and limited. However, the combined assertiveness and determination of ladies like Clara forged many paths for their contemporaries. I appreciate how all of the heroines in this series have drawn attention to such details of history in a fair manner. At the same time, their hero counterparts have always seen and encouraged their strength and individuality and acted the gallant heroes when the story calls for it without being portrayed as ideals. Perhaps that is what appeals to me most about Mimi’s books: the balance in the romantic relationships that transcends era and setting.
Now. About Neville. He is a genuine good guy hero! (They don’t get enough credit.) This book finally affords the chance to be inside his head. It tugs at my heart to see how his speech limitations are frustrating while his intellect is fascinating. Reading between the lines, I see a slight thematic discourse on the gift and power of words — it is meaningful and timely.
Neville and Clara are meant for each other. Their romance is unconventional by the era’s standards (complete with livestock!) but that makes it all the more beautiful. At the heart of this story is a tale of identity, the worth of dreams, and the courage it takes to overcome. I turned the last page with a happy smile and maybe a few tears. 🙂
Readers of the previous books in the series will appreciate the just-right updates on the other couples that show their contentment AND personalities. Like Jenny and her sugary tea 😉 . This final novel comes full circle in many ways. The setting has readers back at Greyfriar’s Abbey in Devon with Neville at the center. The last few missing pieces of these friends united by their childhoods fall in place properly, ending with a hopefulness and bright possibilities.
I don't recommend reading this as a stand alone or out of order, much of Neville's back-story is explained in the previous books. Another reason is that it is a Christmas party reunion of all the characters and you will deny yourself the joy of having everyone together for the finale 😉
Where many novels leave you craving the next one, Ms Matthews did a great job in closing the series. What this book did though, was make me want a spin off series in the style of Anne of Green Gables. The stories of perfect lovers on the perfect farm with their adorable children and ponies. Argh! could it be more ideal for a 10 book series? I don't think so.
The protagonists are honest and open with each other, a trope I truly adore. The h is very insightful and whip-smart, and the H soaks that up with relish!
Ms Matthews writes clean novels, there are sexy scenes without on page sex. I didn't even realize that was the case until I read another review and it was mentioned. I find that I like that a lot.
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for my review and I treasured it as a Christmas gift from the author. The timing was just perfect for that!
The more I read Mrs Mimi Matthews, the more I love her magic brush with words and her easiness at painting larger than life characters.
I read the previous book in this series, and now I have the two firsts waiting on my shelves.
While reading Alex and Laura, I had a glimpse of the four orphans’ life and how life made them part ways.
And now, they are all reunited under the same roof some decades later.
Except Neville, all have found love along their route. But he has accepted it might not be for him, his disability preventing him to see himself as worthy of love.
In some way, they were at a time lucky as fate intervened and saved them from a worst destiny.
But when they moved in their life, Neville is still struck in the same place where it all started.
Clara’s past gullibility put her in this place, having to leave everything behind and trade her romantic old self for a more pragmatic one, with few dreams and only acceptable expectancies.
While her past is very slowly revealed, the true Clara is also not far away, but she fights her old hopes and tries to find contentment in her new fabricated attentes.
Mrs Mimi Matthews brings together two people life has broken in the inside. Why they are wary of going out of their comfort zone or expecting more for themselves.
She gives them time to reflect on their past and the future awaiting them, so when life catches up with them, while Clara follows the flow, but as a woman she has few other options, It is up to Neville to take his future in his hands, leave the safe road and have faith he will fall upon the right path.
This wondrous tale deserves no less than five stars, Mrs Mimi Matthews offers with this last in a series, a condensate of the power of love and friendship as it makes people alters their life’s course to fight for their bonds.
I was granted an advance copy by the publisher through Netgalley and prior to it I preordered my own.
Here is my true and unbiased opinion.