Mimi Matthews’ new installment of her Belles of London series, The Belle of Belgrave Square, has made its way to my top historical romance novels. It follows The Siren of Sussex, which introduced all the Belles brilliantly and solidified their friendship. This novel focuses more on romance than the previous installment.
While I enjoyed the plot and the friendships in the first, I did want a little more romance, and my wish was granted in the Belle of Belgrave Square! I would have liked to see more of the girls in the second installment, but you still feel the friendship even with Julia Wychwood separated from her friends for most of the novel. It was essential for Julia’s development to be on her own and have herself in unfamiliar territory after she had been sheltered for most of her life.
Throughout The Belle of Belgrave Square, we follow the love story of Julia and Captain Jasper Blunt. Julia is a hopeless romantic who loves to get lost in a good book. Julia reminds me a little of Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey with her wild imagination fueled by the books she reads. The heiress is stifled and manipulated by her parents. When put into an impossible situation because of her parents’ schemes, Julia has only one person to turn to that can help while her friends are out of town.
Captain Blunt comes to London for the season, aware that his history would be a deterrent. He is notorious in London for his scared face, heroism, barbarism in the Crimean war, and the illegitimate children he has openly taken in since his return from war. Captain Blunt comes to London in search of an heiress to repair his crumbling estate and take proper care of his children.
The story is a fresh take on Beauty and the Beast with great twists that kept me engaged. Captain Blunt’s past is incredibly intriguing. And even while I could guess the truth as the crumbs were dropped, Matthews paved the way for a compelling hero. Julia and Jasper’s development was lovely throughout their journey. They started on the wrong foot, but with a mutual interest and a marriage of convenience, they learned to love and accept each other.
I also love their conversations about the novels they’ve read; it helped ground their connection and showed how they could easily be friends. Julia struggles with some truths she learns as Jasper opens up, but it feels natural. Not too easy, and not a shut-out. While some people can’t change, some can. Julia wrestles with who she knows Jasper to be and the haunted tales of his past.
The Belle of Belgrave Square has much of what makes a historical romance a joy to read! The tropes are there and wonderfully executed, looking at you, “only one bed,” and “hurt and comfort.” there is a taste of the London season, a journey to the countryside, an estate in disrepair, and a single father looking for an heiress. I cannot wait for the next two novels in the Belles of London series!