Mimi Matthews‘ newest title, The Siren of Sussex, published earlier this year, is a delight! This was my first time reading one of Matthews’ works, and it will not be my last. The Siren of Sussex is the first installment in Mimi Matthews’ Belles of London series, and I am now eagerly awaiting the next installments.
Set in Victorian England, we follow Evelyn Maltravers during her first season in London. She is a bluestocking in denial and on a mission to make a good match in order to take care of her sisters after her eldest sister scandalously left London with the man she loved. Evelyn does not believe in herself to win a suitor in the conventional way of balls and soirees. Instead, she hatches a plan to show off her prowess as an equestrienne while donned in the highest fashion.
This brings Evelyn to meet Ahmed Malik, a brilliant half-Indian tailor and a side character in an earlier work by Matthews, A Modest Independence. Ahmed needs someone who is part of the ton to show off his designs in order to buy the shop he works in and become a renowned dressmaker. Together, they help each other reach their goals. However, things begin to change as they develop feelings for each other. Her partnership with Ahmed Malik is, of course, the highlight of the book. They are a hesitant pair who are attracted to each other from the start. Both have a duty to their family that keeps them from giving in to the attraction between them.
Evelyn and Ahmed’s story was steamy at times but not explicit. They had a sweeter lover story that still had angst, longing, and the undeniable belief in each other, if not themselves. I love the trust they had in each other to share the parts of themselves that they hadn’t shared with others, leading them to have a solid foundation in their relationship.
Another highlight in the book is the friendships formed along the way. Stella, Julia, and Anne welcome Evelyn into their group, and they fit together wonderfully. We love supportive friendships here at Marvelous Geeks, and these girls are a perfect example of that. Matthews also does a great job introducing and setting them up for their own stories in the future.
Matthews masterfully weaves a lot of history into her work that I enjoyed learning about. I had never heard of Rotten Row’s Pretty Horsebreakers (courtesans who rode near Hyde Park) or knew much about Victorian spiritualism (many people were obsessed with connecting with those who had passed, namely Prince Albert, who had died the year before The Siren of Sussex takes place). While I did enjoy the extra historical details and their connection to the plot, there were times it dragged. Yet, whenever I felt it start to pull, Matthews moves along the story.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn’t wait to continue reading after putting it down every time. I am excited for the next installment to see Julia and Captain Blunt’s story unfold in the fall! And hopefully, we will get some glimpses at the married Evelyn and Ahmed.
The sequel, The Belle of Belgrave Square is now available.