The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews, is the fourth book in the Parish Orphans of Devon series, a series of books that tell the stories of four boys who grow up and despite their backgrounds, find their happily ever afters. Throughout the Parish Orphans of Devon series, you see and hear about Neville Cross. The boy in the group who had an unfortunate accident that affects his speech, but certainly not his mind. In The Winter Companion, Neville finally gets his time in the spotlight and a chance at his own happily ever after that his three friends have experienced in previous books.
You get to hear what the other parish orphans have been up to with their lives but they don’t play a central role. Neville gets this book for the most part to himself.
The story takes place during Christmas time. Christmas at the Abbey was never a fanfare until Justin Thornhill married Lady Helena. Now, Lady Helena is determined to have everyone together for Christmas and give them one to remember. Coming along for the ride includes Clara Hartright, lady companion to Mrs. Bainbridge. She wasn’t expecting anything much out of the holiday. Just another Christmas being ignored and only talking when talked to. She didn’t expect to find a tall, strong, blonde man that would give her butterflies and make her heart skip a few beats.
Neville wasn’t expecting much out of the holiday except more people than he was comfortable with which would lead to spending a lot of time with the horses and the two mastiff dogs. Despite having his speech impediment most of his life, Neville still feels insecure about himself and having a beautiful girl around for Christmas doesn’t help his nerves.
Over the course of a fortnight, Clara and Neville learn that they each have dreams bigger than their current situations. Unfortunately, something happens to pull Clara away last minute and Neville must decide if his fears of leaving Devon are bigger than his fear of losing the one person he’s ever loved.
Of all the Parish Orphans of Devon books, this one had me on the edge of my seat the most. Finally learning about Neville made even my heart skip a few beats and out of the gang of boys, he is my favorite. He might even be my favorite leading man ever. Clara’s story really shows the limitations put on women of the time and what was considered appropriate for their sex.
In the end, we get just enough drama, romance, and background storytelling to make for a perfect read. I dare say that Mimi Matthews has the recipe for a good romance story down and it’s a delicious one at that.
If you haven’t read any of the other Parish Orphans of Devon books, you don’t have to worry about it before jumping into this one, but if you want to appreciate the characters and the world that Mimi Matthews has created, start with book one (reading out of order also spoils the surprises of each boy’s story). Each one is an easy read at under 400 pages each. A Winter Companion had me so intrigued that I finished it in two days flat.
The Winter Companion is out February 11th, 2020 and it’s well worth picking up at your local bookstore or Amazon.
Disclaimer: GeekMom was given a review copy.