Review – A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

About the Book:

He Needed Peace…

Solicitor Tom Finchley has spent his life using his devious intellect to solve the problems of others. As for his own problems, they’re nothing that a bit of calculated vengeance can’t remedy. But that’s all over now. He’s finally ready to put the past behind him and settle down to a quiet, uncomplicated life. If only he could find an equally uncomplicated woman.

She Wanted Adventure…

Former lady’s companion Jenny Holloway has just been given a modest independence. Now, all she wants is a bit of adventure. A chance to see the world and experience life far outside the restrictive limits of Victorian England. If she can discover the fate of the missing Earl of Castleton while she’s at it, so much the better.

From the gaslit streets of London to the lush tea gardens of colonial India, Jenny and Tom embark on an epic quest—and an equally epic romance. But even at the farthest edges of the British Empire, the past has a way of catching up with you…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                       A Modest Independence (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 2)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Jenny Holloway is the daughter of a vicar who is also an alcoholic.  When she was presented the opportunity to be a companion to Helena, a distant cousin, she jumped at the chance.  Now that Helena has married and has been left a large fortune, she generously settles a small endowment on Jenny, who has never before had the ability to pursue any of her dreams.  At twenty-eight years old, she doesn’t dream of marriage and a family – quite the opposite.  Jenny is determined to never give anyone control over her or her fortune.  She longs for adventure and to travel the world, starting with a trip to India.  Unfortunately, Helena has stipulated that attorney Tom Finchley be trustee for Jenny’s funds, and Jenny has to approach him about her proposed trip.

Tom Finchley and Jenny have somewhat of a history.  Last year, as Helena battled her uncle for control of her fortune, Tom played a significant role.  (Helena’s story is told in THE MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENT.)  Tom and Jenny were very much in each other’s company during that process, and they seemed to be developing a regard for each other.  Yet, when Helena’s situation was resolved, Tom simply returned to town and his law practice.  They both feel an awkwardness at this meeting, while also feeling the undercurrents of the attraction that neither of them acted upon.  Tom is concerned about Jenny traveling on her own to India, and he impulsively makes arrangements to travel along, only letting Jenny know at the last minute so that she can’t try to convince him not to go.

Tom has hired servants to accompany them, and has concocted a story of Jenny being his sister, in hopes of avoiding any gossip about their traveling together.  Jenny is torn between being outraged that Tom blatantly inveigled himself into her plans without her permission, and thrilled that he seemingly cares enough for her that he wants to protect her.

The journey to India is a long and difficult one.  During the extended trip, Tom and Jenny become even closer, share confidences, and fall in love.  Romance, however, doesn’t mean happy ever after.  Neither Jenny nor Tom ever intended to marry, and, even if their feelings changed about marriage, their life goals are polar opposites.  For the first time, Jenny has freedom to make her own choices.  All her life she was at the mercy of others, and she’s not about to relinquish her new found independence and fortune to the control of a man, even one she loves.  Tom’s only vocation is back in London.  He can’t give up his career and his responsibilities to flit around on one adventure after another.

The love, the longing, the yearning, and the hopelessness fairly oozed off the pages as I read A MODEST INDEPENDENCE.  I adore Tom, who was not perfect, but was honorable, and never engineered a situation where a marriage could have been necessary, though he was certainly clever enough to do so.  He showed his genuine love for Jenny by abiding by her wishes, and leaving her to pursue her dreams, though it broke his heart.  I did understand Jenny’s need to make a stand, and I certainly sympathized with how she had been under someone else’s authority for all her life.  Traveling and adventure was a burning desire of hers, not just a passing fancy.

This star-crossed couple’s heartbreak is so vividly portrayed, that it brought me to tears.  I love that Tom and Jenny didn’t lie to each other – they confessed their love and talked through why it could never work.  They each had some soul searching to do, as well.  Tom took a long, hard look at his career, and realized how ruthless he had become and the kind of people he represented.  Jenny had to face the fact that as strong and determined as she was, she was really afraid of trusting.  Author Mimi Matthews has produced her best writing to date with A MODEST INDEPENDENCE, as it is beautifully written, vivid, emotional, honest, and totally captivating from beginning to the awesome conclusion.     ~Rose

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