Review: Mimi Matthews’s RETURN TO SATTERTHWAITE COURT (Somerset Stories #3)

Return_to_Satterthwaite_CourtI am happy to say that, with Return to Satterthwaite Court, I’m still of the mind that Mimi Matthews can’t write a bad romance. I am not damning with faint praise, merely noting how adept, how moving, how delightful I found Satterthwaite Court, no less for being the cute-meeting, courtship, and HEA to the progeny of two of Matthews’s most angst-ridden and, for this reader, most beloved romance couples, in The Work of Art and Gentleman Jim. And how lovely to see those two couples, who endured so much to win the right to be together, now grown old still in love, still happy, and wonderful parents. These are the charms of Satterthwaite Court, and while you may enjoy it without having read the first two, you may achieve greater reading pleasure by returning to the series’ first two romances and enjoying the series’s breadth. As for Satterthwaite Court, let’s go with the blurbish bits to orient us: 

Lieutenant Charles Heywood has had his fill of adventure. Battle-weary and disillusioned, he returns to England, resolved to settle down to a quiet, uneventful life on an estate of his own. But arranging to purchase the property he desires is more difficult than Charles ever imagined. The place is mired in secrets, some of which may prove deadly. If he’s going to unravel them, he’ll need the assistance of someone as daring as he is.

At only twenty, Lady Katherine Beresford has already earned a scandalous reputation. As skilled with pistols as she is on horseback, she’s never met an obstacle she can’t surmount—or a man she can’t win. That is, until she encounters the infuriatingly somber Lieutenant Heywood. But Kate refuses to be deterred by the raven-haired soldier’s strong, silent facade. After all, faint heart never won handsome gentleman.

From the wilds of rural Somersetshire to the glittering ballrooms of early-Victorian London, Charles and Kate embark on a cross-country quest to solve a decades’ old mystery. Will the greatest danger be to their hearts—or to their lives?

While the blurb suggests the mystery surrounding the estate is the romance’s centre, it is Charles and Kate (and their wonderful families) who dominate and make the romance a joy to read. A droll scene opens the novel when Charles, in pursuit of a doggie gone amok, snatches him from wreaking havoc with a lady’s skirts. The lady, Kate, doesn’t escape unscathed, as pooch takes a nip of her finger. And the meet-cute is complete as Kate sparkles with wit and beauty and Charles is annoyed, dour, and darkly handsome. I was like the cat with the cream reading: yes, I like this much. As “much” as Kate likes Charles, the fact of which, for me, makes Matthews’s romance an “original”, a lovely little twist on the conventional romance hero pursuing the heroine to its delightful reverse; Kate sets her heart on Charles and wins him: “Charles Heywood wasn’t just any man. He was the fellow she’d chosen all on her own. The one she’d pursued and was very near to catching.” And this sets the romance’s lighter tone (lighter that is than the angst-o-rama of the first two books; Charles thinks he’s returned from the maelstrom of battle “to settle down to a quiet, uneventful life.” And runs smack into the maelstrom that is Kate Beresford, “…her season at an end, Kate was still unmarried. Still ungovernable.” She dances him a merry tune of antics and humour and banter. He’s a grump to her light, but cannot help but be, at first, charmed, and then, won over, heart-on-sleeve smitten. Dee-light-ful.

Satterthwaite Court doesn’t have the scope of the Work of Art or Gentleman Jim: yes, Charles and Kate do tackle the mystery of the court and, in so doing, resolve some threads left from the first book. There’s a villain, but he’s foiled, not easily, but well and truly and not with too much heart-stopping danger to our hero and heroine. It is a “slighter” book, but as wide and engaging a romance. Charles, reticent and upright, meets Kate, kind and generous, lively and confident. As opposites, yet attracted, it takes a wonderful push-and-pull to bring Charles to Kate and then, to see Charles bring his love and honour and a beautiful ring to Kate. I was never worried for them, but it didn’t make me any less interested in their romance, thanks also to the part played by the secondary characters. And those secondary characters are The Work of Art‘s Philly and Arthur and Gentleman Jim‘s Beresford and Maggie: and how can Charles and Kate experience an angst-o-rama on their way to the HEA when they have the love, advice, and support of their wonderful, loving parents? I’m going to add some love for Charles’s sister, Hannah, and Kate’s brothers, James, Ivo, and Jack. I hope Matthews gives us romances for them too. The interactions and conversations among the characters make this romance novel. In a nutshell, though, read the whole series: Matthews is a wonderful writer and she never fails to move and delight. With Miss Austen, we agree Return to Satterthwaite Court offers “real comfort,” Emma.

Mimi Matthews’s Return to Satterthwaite Court is self-published and was released on April 11. I received an e-ARC, via Netgalley, which doesn’t impede the honest expression of my opinion.

4 thoughts on “Review: Mimi Matthews’s RETURN TO SATTERTHWAITE COURT (Somerset Stories #3)

  1. I loved The Work of Art, but haven’t read Gentleman Jim yet, which I want to do before tackling this one. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed every Mimi Matthews book, but GJ seemed like it was going to be particularly angsty.


    1. Gosh, yes, GJ is an true angst-o-rama, but it’s soooo good. And the hero is problematic and I wanted to hate him, but I couldn’t. And it’s sooo worth reading: it’ll make this one even richer for you. Maybe save it for a very relaxed, happy summer week??!!

      Liked by 1 person

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