Cover Image: The Winter Companion

The Winter Companion

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Member Reviews

I fell instantly in love with Mimi Matthews storytelling with her first Parish Orphans of Devon novel, The Matrimonial Advertisement, and I've been curious to see how she would craft a story for Neville Cross ever since. While Neville has been on the periphery of the preceding books, in The Winter Companion he takes center stage against a backdrop of the four friends and their families gathering at Greyfriar's Abbey for Christmas. 

Arriving as a lady's companion, Clara Hartwright quickly notices that Neville has difficulties with his speech. It is only as they slowly get to know each other that he opens up about the accident that changed his life as a child. Clara, however, keeps her past closer to her chest and as their attraction grows, it is her secrets and the precarious position of a young lady of no fortune in 1860's English society that help hold them apart.

This is a slow-burning romance, as Clara and Neville become friends and both must face challenges to their dreams of the future. As they bond over a wounded Dartmoor pony and the weather - nearly a character in its own right - helps to steer the plot, what unfolds is a lovely and heartwarming finale to a highly enjoyable series. 

Highly recommended for those who appreciate a tender romance in their Historical Fiction. As with each of the Parish Orphans of Devon series, The Winter Companion is destined for a reread. Best read in order, for maximum enjoyment, this is a series where each book has it's own distinct flavor.

This review refers to a digital galley I voluntarily read through NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. A positive review was not required and these are only my own, honest opinions.
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Clara, a ladies companion, is spending the Christmas holidays with her employer at a relative's home.  The home is large, well appointed & the other guests are pleasant company all around.  When Clara takes her pet bulldog Bertie to the stables, to discuss the arrangements for his care during her stay, she meets Neville.  Neville works in the stables but is also a close friend of several of the guests & resides in the main house.  The attraction is mutual but restrained, due in large part to a bad experience in Clara's past, which has left her very cautious around men.   The visit is a rather long one & during this time, Clara & Neville see each other frequently & when Clara leaves suddenly to check on her brother in Cambridge, Neville realizes he cannot let her walk out of his life.

This was a charming & well written novel.  It is part of a series, & I have not read the previous books but it was not a problem.  The author does a good job of inserting fragments of info related to the past.  I definitely recommend this book.

Than you to Netgalley, the author Mimi Matthews, and the publisher Perfectly Proper Press for the free ARC I received in exchange for an honest opinion.
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A light romance that was just what I needed for escapism right now. I haven't been able to focus enough to read much during this Pandemic, Partially because my kids need more attention while my husband works from home, but partially because my stressed brain is all over the place. So, I tried to force it a bit by picking something that seemed sweet, with tropes I like.

A companion heroine, a hero with disabilities, and a house party. These are tropes I generally enjoy, and they can get heavy, but this book manages to take their problems seriously while keeping it light entertainment, which I appreciate. I haven't read any previous books in this series, so the large group in the house party got a little confusing (they're often referred to by last names, and then in Neville's head by first names, so I had trouble connecting the two names, and who was married to who), but it didn't matter much to the plot, and I'm sure faithful readers would have been frustrated if they had to read larger introductions over and over.

Usually animals in romance novels can get too twee, but here the animals have a large role in Clara and Neville's connection and stay a bit on the sidelines and stay as animals (not magical creatures who want the humans to get together, a trope that always pisses me off). Bertie is sweet and the horses are realistically not domesticated.

All in all, it's what I needed right now, and I'd happily seek out the other books in this series, and the fact that there's likely a Teddy novella coming makes me happy.
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I adored Mimi Matthews's fourth installment from her Parish Orphans of Devon series, The Winter Companion. It deserves a five plus stars.
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Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Neville Cross is a little unconventional for a historical romance hero.  He's very kind and warm, if awkward because of a speech impediment brought about by an accident in his youth.  More comfortable around dogs and horses, he hides away from society.  He meets Clara Hartwright during the Winter holidays when she accompanies a friend's family as a paid companion.  There is no doubt that Clara is an extremely clever woman, who has made sacrifices for her family.  She also has secrets and scandal in her past.  She sends money to keep her brother at Cambridge to study - a degree he seems to be uninterested in and that Clara would have liked to study herself if Cambridge allowed female scholars.
This is the 4th book in the Parish Orphans series - all of which I have read.  In general the characters form a strong emotional bond but there is always a 'zing' of physical attraction which keeps the story from being bland.  
Unfortunately, I could not detect that 'zing' in this installment of the series - although I badly wanted to.  Neville's speech impediment is treated with sensitivity, which I really liked.  But Clara seemed a little mercenary and selfish, rather than independent and plucky, and I could not feel empathy for her.  In fact, I felt Neville deserved better.  Their physical attraction seemed a bit contrived as well.  I'm sorry to say that after the first 30% of the book, I skimmed to the end.  Although Clara seems to redeem herself towards the end, and the writing is excellent as always, I just didn't get into it.  I still love this author and will continue to read everything she writes. Not everything is everyone's cup of tea.
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A lovely conclusion to the series, following the last of four orphaned boys who have been the subject of the series. Neville Cross was something of a mysterious character, mentioned by the others but not really known. The victim of a childhood accident which was someone else's fault.

The accident left him with a speech impediment that caused him to want to cut himself off from most people. Neville is more comfortable with animals, especially horses and dogs. Although he's a man of means, he often chooses to work in stables. Clara has a secret from her past something that causes her to believe she's 'compromised' and eschew romance.

Its there he meets Clara Hartwright, a quiet and unassuming ladies companion, who has come with her employer to stay over Christmas with friends (the heroes of the last books and their wives) at the Abbey which was a feature of the first book in the series.

The romance and central story takes off from there. Like many of Mimi Matthews other books this is a slow burning romance between two unlikely/unconventional people. Neville and Clara are drawn together over their mutual love of animals and the natural world. There's also plenty of interesting details about the time period, this time its the budding scientific study of biology and naturalism.

Like most of the other books in the series its a clean romance. Most of the romantic 'action' is relegated to kissing and romantic poetry. Lord Tennyson makes it in, which is always a good thing.

I'd recommend it but suggest starting the series at the beginning. Although the books are standalone, I think it makes more sense that way.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for approving my request for this book. I was not required to write a review an all opinions expressed are my own.
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This is the first book that I’ve read by Mimi Matthews, and I was very impressed with this story.  The details of the time period were great and added much to the storyline.  The main characters, Neville and Clara, were perfect for each other.  I especially loved Neville, He suffered some speech limitations as the result of an accident, yet his kindness and compassion towards others made him a wonderful hero for Clara.  The storyline is compelling, and the ending to the book is perfect.  This author is terrific, and I will definitely be reading more of her books.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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#netgalley #thewintercompanion
Anything by Mimi Matthews is a page turner, she is quickly becoming an all time favorite of mine! This story didn't disappoint, I loved it!
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Beautifully written and tender romance with an atypical hero whose internal was thoroughly compelling. Each one of Ms. Matthews book has surprised me in a different way and keeps me hungry for the next.
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VERDICT Fans of the “Parish Orphans of Devon” series will adore this final installment, reuniting the orphans and their loves. Matthews (A Convenient Fiction) sensitively portrays a neuroatypical protagonist facing ingrained prejudices, even from friends, and how such preconceptions limits a person’s potential.
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Relatively new author to me. I was called upon to judge another book in this series. Enjoyed it so much when I saw this book up for review jumped at the chance to read.
Was glad for Mr. Cross story, and Clara was good for him.
I recommend reading other books in series first
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Absolutely amazing! I really loved both main characters. It was nice for Neville to finally get his own book. I loved getting to know him. 

Clara was amazing too. Her life wasn't easy but she was incredible. I really admired her spirit.

Words escape me to do this book justice!

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest review.
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When I first met Neville Cross in The Matrimonial Advertisement, I knew that, whenever his story came along, it would be wonderful. I was not mistaken. I think The Winter Companion is Mimi Matthews' best novel to date!

Neville is such a wonderful leading man—kind, considerate, and a good friend. Clara is also intrinsically likable. The two together are magic. I especially loved how they each pushed the other to better—to face their fears and reach for their dreams. And, I can now say that I have cried during one of Matthew's novels: the proposal scene at the end of this book is one of the best that I can remember reading, and it turned me into a puddle 😭.

I'm sad that I've now read all of the novels that Matthews has written because now I have to wait for her to write more! She has swiftly become one of my favorite writers, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.
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This was the perfect conclusion to one of my favorite Regency series of all time. Matthews has a way of drawing creating characters that draw you in and make you root for them. Neville’s story was satisfying and sweet.
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Review excerpted from my blog post over at FanSciHist (

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Library recommendation: Recommended for public library historical romance collections.

Warning: Hereafter, you chance spoilers. I will try never to reveal major plot points, but to review any book, you must reveal some parts of the story. 

Number of titles I have read by this author: 8

Love story speed: Slowish burn

Relationship dynamics: The Animal Whisperer (H) / The Lady’s Companion (h)

Sexual content: None. Kissing only.

Triggers: Ableism; victim blaming

Grammar/Editing: This ARC a lone typo. This was a very clean ARC.

Review: Regardless of the novel, Mimi Matthews always delivers. Though the pacing is quick, the story progresses naturally. The novel is set in 1860 Devonshire and Cambridgeshire. As always, the period and locales are well-researched and detail-rich. When it rains in this book, you’ll feel almost as wet as the characters stuck in it.

Neville and Clara are the main characters of this book. Neville has a brain injury that affects his speech and his confidence, but he is a gentle, intelligent, straightforward man. Clara is a companion out of a sense of obligation to her brother. She is also compassionate, fiercely intelligent, and wants more for herself than she has. Neville and Clara meet and become friends as a result of mutual interests, although they are instantly attracted to one another. Their relationship slowly blossoms into more and they both end up exactly where you will want them to be. Neville, particularly, finds more of himself than he had allowed himself to dream of. The supporting characters are primarily those found in the previous installments of the series. Reading the previous books before this one will greatly enrich the reading here, although it’s not strictly necessary. The newly introduced characters are not very deeply described, although they are still developed enough to evoke strong reactions in the reader. Bertie was a favourite for me, because who doesn’t like a snoring pug?

Dartmoor Pony version: This beast has a kind temperament, and is reliable, gentle, and calm. A sweet pony to revisit over and over again.


Full disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This was an excellent addition to this series and I really enjoyed it. It was sweet and tender and I'm so glad that the hero got an HEA. I definitely will be reading more from this author and can't wait for her next release.
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Perfection. Yes, that is exactly the descriptive word for Neville's story and to be truthful, this entire series.  I have read each book and then listened to the audible companion, which made my heart swell even more. Each story is a building block upon the other and made Mimi Matthews become one of the amazing authors that I knew my reading mind could never do without. Her descriptive prose, in depth character insight and flowing storyline are one of the best to be found.
Neville has been somewhat of a mystery from the beginning. He was the quiet man who did many jobs at the manor and took care of the stables and animals.  It was evident he was such a compassionate soul and that even though his speech was difficult, his mind was the opposite. It took the almost perfect/imperfect person to breach that gulf and Clara Hartwright was the perfect one.  Their souls were bound for each other and it was just a matter of time before they joined.
I am truly sad this series is at an end, but the revisit with all of the characters from each story warmed my heart.  Looking forward to the audible version and also the next story this fabulous author will write. Perfection.
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Oh, Neville Cross. You beautiful man. *sigh*

I have adored every single book in this series. Each time Mimi Matthews releases a new one I find myself wondering how she can possibly equal the ones that have come before, but somehow she does. Not only that, but each story has its own distinctive characters, tone, and atmosphere, despite being thoroughly Victorian, so that you almost feel as though you’re discovering her all over again each time you pick up her newest book. Reader, this is historical romance heaven!

Neville pretty much melted me like a pat of butter left in the sun. He’s a gentle giant—and a self-conscious one to boot—who’s tender-hearted and fiercely loyal, and from the moment he meets Clara he’s halfway smitten. Watching his regard deepen as their friendship grows is a treat no historical romance lover should deprive themselves of, complete with some oh-so-sweet moments of hesitant, budding affection.

Clara both contrasts and complements Neville in all the best ways. For example, she tends towards loquaciousness whereas he tends toward taciturnity (both by nature and as a result of his struggle to translate his thoughts into speech), but their mutual love of animals is not only their first point of contact; it plays a significant role in the development of their relationship. Best of all, they uncover each other’s strengths, encourage one another in their dreams, and support one another in their times of need, though the path to their HEA is, of course, not as smooth as that sounds!

On top of all that, Matthews’ writing is a dream, full of nuanced sensory details that bring both the romance and the setting to life. I’m really not sure what else you could ask for, except, “More, please?”
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Having read all the books in this marvellous series, I was curious as to how Mimi Matthews would bring love to the last of the Parish Orphans of Devon. Neville Cross was the last of the orphans, but his story is central to his friends’ lives. Having been injured in a fall off the cliffs near the Orphanage, Neville has since suffered difficulties in articulating his speech. Consequently, he finds himself reluctant to face the wider society, avoiding conversation and at times, finding himself lost in thought rather than conversing with others. Whilst his friends accept him, he finds that many dismiss his hesitancy in social situations, as a sign of intellectual impairment. That is, until he meets Clara Hartwright. Clara is working as the companion of a family member, attending the Christmas festivities at Greyfriars’s Abbey, where he works as a groom, and as the soon-to-be estate manager. With Clara and Neville spending more time together, the end of the festive season begins to draw to an end, and they realise how important the other has become in their lives.
This was such a sweet and beautifully told story. Their relationship is born of friendship, with a spark of romance. Yet it is time and hesitant conversations, that draw them together. I found it so endearing that Clara would finish Neville’s sentences, yet she also gave him time to think through his responses, when she sensed he needed to express his feelings. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing how all the couples from the previous books were fairing in their relationships. However, this story is a standalone story, but I would thoroughly recommend every book in this series, being read and savoured.
I so look forward to more books from Mimi Matthews. She is definitely in a class of her own.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Winter Companion is the final book in Mimi Matthews Orphan Quartet.  Our hero is affected by a traumatic brain injury and the heroine of the story is looking for more from life than being a paid companion.  Throw in an ancient pug and a pregnant moor pony and you will find a delightful Victorian romance.
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