A scoop of vanilla ice cream. Dripping hot fudge, fresh whipped cream, a maraschino cherry. Actually, if we’re going to do this, let’s be all in. Let’s drop two cherries on top and pour hot coffee to go with it.
We may not be able to survive on it, but we can enjoy this rare indulgence. First, a short synopsis of The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews.
When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves Sylvia Stafford destitute and alone, she finds work as a governess. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood until a new friend convinces her to visit her former love.
Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia once fell in love with. Wounded in military service, he has withdrawn to his country estate and cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited—or the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.
A week together in the remote Victorian countryside is the last thing Sylvia and Sebastian want. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily-ever-after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?
Reader, you might remember that I practically gushed over the first book I read by Mimi Matthews. (Read my review of The Work of Art). While I don’t think The Lost Letter delivered the entire package like The Work of Art did, there is much to love about this story. Plus, it’s just plain fun reading!
Written in traditional romance style, The Lost Letter goes back and forth between the two viewpoints of the heroine and the hero. One of my favorite things about this story was the constant misunderstandings between Sylvia and Sebastian. What’s more entertaining than watching two lovebirds squabble over things you know they’re going to resolve sooner or later?
This story also includes a third key character, Sebastian’s sister Julia, and I enjoyed watching Julia grow and become more endearing throughout the story.
It’s a quick read—perfect for a couple of cozy evenings by the fire. And it’s a clean read. There are no sex scenes, and no implied sex. The entire story is working toward Sylvia and Sebastian realizing and admitting that they love each other and want to be married and committed to each other. There’s no offensive language—unless you consider Sebastian’s tame Victorian-era “swearing” to be a problem.
(By the way, the frequent use of the term batman in this book sent me researching. Apparently, the Victorian-era military batman, not to be confused with Gotham City’s Batman, was an orderly assigned to a commissioned officer as a personal servant. He was also in charge of the officer’s horses.)
When I read a few reviews by other readers about this book, I found an interesting theme: “I don’t usually like [Victorian romance, clean romance, romance in general, Beauty and the Beast retellings], but … ” These reviewers went on to say how much they loved The Lost Letter as an exception to the norm. I think this is a tribute to Matthews’s talented writing style.
Readers are guided beautifully and creatively through a classic story. Subtle details and description are always dropped at just the right moment, and never detract from the story’s forward movement.
One word of caution, though. The story is full of cringe-worthy clichés. Our heroine has a tiny waist, small hands, and cascading ringlets of hair. Our hero is tall and dark, brooding and intense. Reading friends who know about Victorian Romance tell me that some of these clichés must be in place. They are part of what defines the genre.
And, at first, I found myself wondering how reading this “fluff” could be good for me. How could it help me learn, grow, or become? How could it improve my life at all?
Eating an ice cream sundae once in a long while is a moment of celebration. Reading a book like The Lost Letter can be a special occasion, too.
Sometimes it’s worth reading a book just because it’s fun and sweet. Because it makes us feel lighter, or it nudges us to hug hubby a little tighter, or it gives us another opportunity to rest in thanks for all the ways love fills our lives.
Reader, I’d love to know your thoughts about this book, too.
Here with you,