She Needed a Husband…
It’s been three years since Laura Hayes’s father died, leaving her and her invalid brother to subsist on the income from the family’s failing perfume business. But time is swiftly running out. What she needs is a husband, and fast. A noble gentleman who can rescue them all from penury. When a mysterious stranger arrives in the village, he seems a perfect candidate. But Alex Archer is no hero. In fact, he just might be the opposite.
He Wanted a Fortune…
Alex has no tolerance for sentiment. He’s returned to England for one reason only: to find a wealthy wife. A country-bred heiress in Surrey seems the perfect target. But somewhere between the village railway station and the manor house his mercenary plan begins to unravel. And it’s all the fault of Laura Hayes—a lady as unsuitable as she is enchanting.
From the beaches of Margate to the lavender fields of Provence, a grudging friendship slowly blossoms into something more. But when scandal threatens, can a man who has spent his entire life playing the villain, finally become a hero? Or will the lure of easy riches once again outweigh the demands of his heart?
Click on titles below for direct Amazon buy link for this book and previous books in the series: A Convenient Fiction (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 3) A Modest Independence (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 2) The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 1)
Alex Archer is an orphan, and has made his living by his wits and by gambling, which he’s very good at. Nothing has really seemed to satisfy that inexplicable longing in him, and he determines that what he needs is land – something he can belong to as much as it belongs to him. He has won a sizable fortune from George Wright, and is willing to forgive the debt if George will introduce him to, and encourage his acquaintance with heiress, Henrietta Talbot. Alex knows he is a fortune hunter, and makes no apology for it. He considers himself a black hearted villain, but is determined to win the lovely Miss Talbot, hoping that her wealth and property can fill that emptiness inside of him. His plans, which were set in stone, begin to crumble when he meets Laura Hayes, who has been acting as a sort of friend-companion to Henrietta.
The death of Laura’s father three years ago has left her remaining family in desperate straits. They formerly had a successful business of perfumes and scented waters, but now that is under the administration of her father’s attorney, who refuses to relinquish control, and provides them only a pittance to live on. Laura stretches every shilling to the best of her ability to provide for herself, her unwell younger brother, and her widowed aunt. She has plans to resurrect the family business, if only she could persuade the odious solicitor, Mr. Weatherwax.
There is a somewhat complicated history between Laura, Henrietta, and George, who all grew up together, as well as a perceived rivalry between Laura and Henrietta. The past affects Henrietta’s decision to allow Alex to court her, though she’s savvy enough to recognize him for exactly what he is. Alex should be jubilant that his plan is coming to fruition, but he’s finding that he’s having genuine feelings for Laura, and all feelings have ever brought him was pain. Laura, too, recognizes that Alex returns her affection, but accepts his determination to reject her and stay with his plan to wed Henrietta.
When a near tragic accident has Alex playing the hero to rescue Laura, his actions, while saving her life, also cause a scandal. He could save her good name by marrying her, but that means putting aside his own plans, as well as putting his heart in jeopardy. That’s something he never intends to do again. Besides – he’s a villain – he’s bound to only hurt Laura if he becomes part of her life. Or, is he?
Alex is an endearing, if misguided, man, one who let a tragic childhood skew his reasoning. He fails to see the good in himself, and carries the burden of guilt for a long ago transgression. I love this man, and how he soaked up Laura’s love and affection like a sponge. I adored watching him open up to her, and finally confess his own love and vulnerability. He shoulders Laura’s burdens as his own, finally giving this strong and resourceful woman someone to lean on and to love.
I couldn’t read A CONVENIENT FICTION quickly enough. I wanted to see how everything played out, while at the same time, not wanting this wonderfully written story to end. Everything I need in a book is here – characters I care about, an interesting story, and an emotional and heartfelt romance. The reunion of the four young orphan boys, now grown men, is brilliant, and I can’t wait for the final book, Neville’s story. Each book in the Parish Orphans of Devon series may easily be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend each and every one. It seems that I say each book Mimi Matthews pens is her best writing, but it appears to be true. She just gets better, and is rapidly becoming one of my very favorite authors. A CONVENIENT FICTION is a top favorite of books I’ve read this year, and I heartily give it my highest recommendation. ~Rose