Cover Image: The Matchmaker's Lonely Heart

The Matchmaker's Lonely Heart

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Victorian; murder mystery; romance; Nancy Campbell Allen! Yes please!! I loved her Victorian steampunk series and based on this book I'm going to love this new series too. I've loved mysteries since I was a preteen and discovered Nancy Drew.

Amelie works for her Aunt Sally who runs The Marriage Gazette, giving advice on romance. Although single, she's successfully matched several couples. She sets up a young lady with a gentleman and spies on them from a distance to see how they're getting along. This leads to a fun run-in with Detective Michael Baker, who's also watching the couple but for completely different reasons. Detective Baker suspects the gentleman of killing his wife! It turns out the gentleman, a Mr. Harold Radcliffe, is a member of the book club Amelie attends, and a fairly recent widower. Amelie doesn't believe Mr. Radcliffe killed his wife and sets out to prove it to Detective Baker.

I loved this book. I love the Victorian era as women could have jobs other than housekeepers, maids and seamstresses; they could even have their own businesses. Amelie is spunky and doesn't always think things through before acting. I loved how close she is with her cousins she lives with in the boardinghouse. I liked Detective Baker and how he cared about his sister and her family since the death of her husband, his former partner who was killed in the line of duty. I liked the side characters who were just sketchy enough to make me wonder what they were up to, and if they were guilty.

This story had me pulled in from the beginning and kept my interest the entire time. I thoroughly enjoyed Amelie and Michael's story and can't wait to read more about Amelie's cousins, Charlotte and Evangeline. I love when I have books in a series to look forward to. I also listened to the audiobook on Deseret Bookshelf and thought the narrator was wonderful.

I received a complimentary digital copy from the publisher, Shadow Mountain, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.
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Normally, when I rate books like this one, a cozy historical mystery, I rely heavily on the lead protagonist's plotline to direct my rating. If I did that in case, I would have to deduct a star. The lead protagonist was extremely annoying, to begin with. Her entourage of cousins was better equipped to be the leading cast of this story than Amelie was. Amelie, a confused working woman when respectable work for women was few and far between, fancies herself a matchmaker/romantic and jumps in with both feet every time she thinks she knows what is happening. Even her naive infatuation was irritating, the way it simmered for too long a time. She should have been able to see the signs she herself was investigating!
There is no secret of the villain of this piece. What unfolds during the narrative is the antics he gets up to and how (and if) the evidence can be gathered against him. Amelie does partially redeem herself with the dedicated work she puts in to gather clues and find relevant information. The story was easy to read; the male lead Michael was a much more intriguing character to hear the thoughts of. 
Overall, despite my reaction to this story, I liked the author's writing and the way the story was narrated. There was some pretty enjoyable dialogues/banter amongst everyone present. I would pick up another book by the author if I get the chance.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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From the beginning of this story, sparks fly between Amelie and Michael. Though at first, the sparks at not the romantic kind. More like sparks cause by friction. Their first meeting, in the rain, while they are both spying on the same person, leads to less than ideal first impressions. But they agree to work together even if their goals do not align. While Amelie wants to prove Mr. Radcliffe is a good person, Michael feels he may be a murderer.

What follows is a story of discovery of personalities. While they both figure out who Mr. Radcliffe is, they also get to know each other. The romance is slow and comfortable.

Amelie, the heroine, is very young and a little naïve. So, not my favorite type of heroine. But she is a fast learner, so as the story progresses, she becomes more interesting.

The author used admirable restraint with Michael. She could easily have made the hero either more charming or more antagonistic. But the low key detective makes a great hero as a man of honor, intelligence and grace.

All through the story, the reader pretty much knows who the bad guy is. What keeps the reader interested is watching Michael and Amelie prove the guilt of someone who seems to be a just grieving widower. Mystery is woven into the story since you never know where the bad guy will strike next.

The Victorian England setting is light on historical details, so the mystery is the focus of the story. For avid readers, there is a book club in the story. The meeting and its members add interest and provide a little humor.

The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart is perfect for readers of historical fiction who like a little romance with their mysteries. Thanks to the publisher who provided a copy through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by @authornancycampbellallen was such a fantastic read! I loved the banter and characters development between Amelie and Michael. The mystery storyline captured my attention, and the sweet touch of romance mixed in was perfect too. It totally reminded me of the PBS Masterpiece show, Miss Scarlet & The Duke, which I also loved. If you haven’t read The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart I totally recommend it! I’ve really liked all of Allen’s books but I actually think this one might be my favorite!
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Amelie, the heroine, is a young orphan who wishes to become independent like the aunt who took her in. It seems the aunt comes from a wealthy family as it’s said the suspect is after her money. Amelie writes an advice column for young women in the magazine held by her aunt, and lives in a building owned by her aunt with two of her cousins, who also lost their parents (that’s a lot of orphans in this family…). I found her naïve and full of illusions about life and people, she also tends to talk a lot when she’s comfortable, and she can act without much thought, thus putting herself several time in danger to the hero’s (and the reader’s) great displeasure.

Michael in a Scotland Yard’s detective who’s emotionally closed off after the death of his partner and brother in law, and he has decided to never marry. Of course his meeting with the heroine will change his point of view, once the bewilderment and the annoyance she inspires him fade out. I must point out the enormous patience he shows toward the heroine lol. I liked that the author shows his strong link with his sister and brother, the latter probably having Down’s syndrome.

Between our main characters the feelings are slow to come, because at first Amelie is attracted by the suspect and needs time to change her mind, and Michael thinks she’s more an endearing strangeness. However we see their relationship evolve, and I finally found their couple cute.

As for the secondary characters, the one we see the most are the heroine’s cousins, who live in the same building and work with her at their aunt’s magazine. Each has a different personality highlighted in turns, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the author writes their stories in the future.

The plot is about the investigation on a woman’s death. Michael and his new partner have doubt it’s really an accident but they cannot find enough evidences to blame the husband. When the latter seems set on Amelie several months later, she convinces Michael that accepting his courting will allow them to learn the truth, even if she does it hoping to prove the innocence of the man she finds so beautiful and distinguished. Michael accepts reluctantly, amused by the fact what the heroine’s knows about investigation comes from the mystery novels she reads, but in fact the cousins will prove to be a precious help. The investigation is not really grabbing, we’re far for a Victorian thriller, but it’s a good excuse to force the protagonists together until the beginning of the feelings.

Besides this, the author talks about some subjects without deepening them, especially women’s position in life and search for independence, or how others see people with mental disabilities and the consequences. It’s too bad because those are interesting subjects but they’re just mentioned in passing. The other point that disturbed me was the autopsy: I’m not sure it was done as systematically at this time, or if they were able to see the differences between a drowning in a river and one in a bath, especially several months after the death.

However I had a good reading time with this book and I liked the couple’s story. I think I’ll follow the author to see if she really writes the cousins’ books.
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Nancy Allen Campbell is so great at penning creative, intriguing stories. Amelie has the privilege of writing for a matchmaking column, highly unusual during the Victoria Era, but also a detail that adds to the story’s charm. Detective Baker is just the sort of man to capture her heart and send sparks flying. The romance was compelling and clean. The story was well paced and held my attention. The writing is evidence of true talent and the ability to transport the reader into the story. I enjoyed the plot twists and supporting characters almost as much as the main characters. I am looking forward to more in this series. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are my own, freely given.
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London 1885.

Amelie is a hopeless romantic. Detective Michael Baker has vowed never to marry.

When the body of a woman is pulled from the Thames, Michael and Amelie’s paths cross but can romance bloom in the middle of a murder investigation?

Romance and mystery… perfect!

Amelie is a lovely character with the matchmaking interest of Emma Woodhouse, the sweetness of Jane Bennett and the sass of Lizzie Bennett and I loved her. She’s a strong character but at the same time, and like a lot of us, she wants to fall in love and this makes her a little naive when it comes to her own love life. Love can blind you.

Michael is a wonderfully flawed hero. He’s dealing with grief and loss and without realising it, it’s made him lonely and I believe this makes him very relatable. He certainly doesn’t count on meeting Amelie.

The supporting characters are great. Harold – well, I will let you read for yourself. Did he or didn’t he?

It is not easy to combine romance and a murder mystery. However, Nancy Campbell Allen does this effortlessly.

I loved the setting and could really see myself in Victorian London. The atmosphere that is created is so vivid.

There is not a lot more I can say without giving too much away and you know I don’t like doing that.

The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart combines the puzzles and mystery of Sherlock Holmes with the whimsical and romantic feeling of Austen.

It’s a lush, wonderful escape from the world and I couldn’t put it down. I loved it.
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Nancy Campbell Allen is a very versatile writer. This book is set in the Victorian Era. I have read books she has written that are steampunk, Historical (Civil War), Regency, and time travel. She excels at all of the genres.

This book is more of a murder mystery. Amelie Hampton and Michael Baker are on the case to solve the murder of Mrs. Radcliffe. The main suspect is her husband, who has also set his cap for Amelie. Can Amelie prove that Mr. Radcliffe is not the murderer or will Michael prove that he is?

The best part of the story is what happens between the beginning and the end! (I know, that is a very broad statement.) This story is character and mystery-driven. I loved getting to know the main characters. There are a few amazing secondary characters that I would love to read more about in future books. (Hint, hint) Amelie wants to prove that she can be an independent woman while Michael does not see a family in his future because of the precarious nature of his career.

Romance is a part of the book, but it is not the primary emphasis. I enjoyed the investigative process and how everything comes together.

Source: I received a complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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The Matchmaker's Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Story Notes

A delightful mystery story with plenty of good plot, excellent characters and lots of potential for future stories. 

This was my first book by Nancy but it will be no means be my last. My book club chose this as our monthly read and I had a wonderful time reading it. The first pages of the story draw you in and don't let you go until you finish the last page. Amelie was a fabulous character who's determination to solve a mystery was checked only by Detective Michael Baker, an excellent character foil for her. The two of them had the best conversations and I laughed at the way they tried to circumvent each other as they worked to figure things out. Their journey to love was also good but I did wish there had been a little more about that before they really got together. That seemed a bit of a stretch based on the rest of the story. But the story definitely redeemed itself with the ending, which was just perfect. Everything worked out well but there were also some loose ends mentioned that I'm positive will be worked out in the subsequent stories. You'll certainly want to add this one to your TBR so you can enjoy a witty and complex story that will leave you hoping the next book is out soon. 

I received this temporary complimentary E-book from Shadow Mountain Publishing via NetGalley. I am not required by anyone to write a positive review but am pleased to do so. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.
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This was a stunning story of romance, mystery, and intrigue. The writing style was engaging and very atmospheric of Victorian London. I must seek more of this author’s work. 
Many thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I wasn't sure I would like this book, as it seemed more of a romance than a mystery (my preferred genre). But, because I like historical novels, I decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did! Both the mystery and romance aspects are enough to satisfy fans of both genres, but are nicely balance. One does not overwhelm the other.  The mystery, while not overly complex, is intriguing enough to draw readers in.  The characters, especially the young females, are well drawn, incorporating the changing roles of women in society into the characters of these very modern misses. Amelie and her cousins represent well the young working women of 1885. I went from being unsure of the book to hoping for a sequel!
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This is a book that I'm going to issue a warning with. It's a warning that I've issued before with several other books, but it stands very true for this well as well... Don't read this book unless you have carved out time in your schedule to read it from cover to cover. You will not want to set it down. I'm not kidding here people! 100% serious. I couldn't put it down. Ok, well I did once or twice, but only for a couple minutes each time. Haha! It is really that good!

Nancy Campbell Allen is an author that I can't wait for her to announce new book releases! I've been eyeing this one since I first learned that it was going to be released and was so excited when I was finally able to clear my schedule and read it. See there, I knew I was going to need a day and I planned accordingly!

I loved this Victorian era novel. And can I just say, that cover, GORGEOUS!!!! It's just so creative. The newspaper ads and the coloring. All of it is just so eye catching for me. The cover designer did a fabulous job!

The characters were delightful as well. Especially Amelie, our intrepid report (well kind of), and our charmingly delightful (well kind of) Police detective Michael Baker. Hee hee! You'll have to read it to understand my little asides there. But in all seriousness, these two were truly fabulous characters. Well developed, and fabulous dialogue between them. I loved it all.

We have our devious characters as well. The ones we're not quite sure about. Are they good or not? And the sweet and lighthearted characters who add humor and comic relief. The timing of it all throughout the book was well written and delivered. I found myself holding my breath a couple times during some of the suspenseful moments. And then releasing that breath in relief and happiness that everything was working out as I had hoped.

Amelie is trying to find her place. She's a lovely character and just needs some wins in her corner. She has such a great support group that tag along with her escapades. Especially when she becomes "deputized." Hahahaha!!! Oh how I adore this book and these characters. I know I keep saying that, but it's true. Especially when I start to think about certain scenes or conversations. You're in for a real treat! This reminded me of a fun show I watched, Miss Scarlett and the Duke. Have you watched it yet? You should if you're a mystery/suspense/crime fighting fan. And DEFINITELY read this book!

Content: Clean. This is a mystery and suspense, so there are moments of mild peril as well as death and murder. But it is all done tastefully and not overly graphic. Some kisses but nothing further.

I received a copy from the publisher, Shadow Mountain, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.

Happy Reading!!!
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The Victorian era is so fascinating to me and when combined with a murder-mystery, why, what could be better?

The characters fit together so well and were a quirky mix of fun. I loved how each chapters began with a piece of advice. Amelie works for her aunt's newspaper and her role is intriguing, especially for her time. When she lands herself in the middle of Michael's murder investigation, the fun really begins and I couldn't get enough of their interactions and the trouble that ensued.

Allen is a talented writer in bringing together many threads of a somewhat simple, yet simultaneously complicated plot, and weaving together an entertaining story. The slow start quickly gave way to a delightful tale with a good pacing. I was wondering at the outcome all along. The characters were wonderful and I hope they each get a story of their own.

This book was very enjoyable and I'm hoping it's the start of a new series!

Content: mild violence/death; mild romance

*I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.*
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This is my first book by Ms. Allen and I do not think it will be my last. I really enjoyed the mystery, the little romance, and the characters. I also hope we get more books featuring the cousins. 

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book for an honest review.
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All the best things about mystery and romance combine in this book. It took me a minute to get to it, but it was worth the wait!
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Thank you NetGalley, author Nancy Campbell Allen, and Shadow Mountain publishing for giving me a free arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
5 stars
If you are looking for a story that has two strong sharp minded characters matching wits as they solve not just mysteries, but the mystery of their budding attraction to each other, then look no further than this book.
The Victorian setting for this story was so fun. It starts right at the time woman were just gaining their independence. This definitely qualifies as a Grumpy/Sunshine historical romantic suspense story. I feel completely in love with the main characters from their first meeting to the very satisfying HEA ending. I loved how both characters were so well matched not just in looks and chemistry, but also in brains and drive to solve the mystery! This book was not overly steamy, which was in step with the setting! The villain was very well developed and kept me guessing throughout most of the story due to the fact he was dashing and well spoken. The writing and the pacing held my interest until the very end. This was my first book by this author and it will not be my last! I would highly recommend this book to those who are looking to read a strong female sleuth romantic suspense with a dashing male lead.
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Nancy Campbell Allen tells a daring story of love, life, and murder in her newest novel. The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart contains strong female characters that make you fall in love with them. Plus, there is danger and intrigue around every corner. What’s not to love?

Amelie Hampton is a woman of independent means living in London. She works as a columnist at her aunt’s newspaper, The Marriage Gazette. Amelie always knew what she wanted in a husband and had lofty, romantic ideals. Ideals that Amelie freely shared with her readers. She knew that love would hit her one day like a lightning bolt. But when a certain detective runs her aground in the park, Amelie feels nothing but ire. However, Detective Baker needs her help with an investigation. Not long after, Amelie begins to doubt her thoughts on the subject of love.

Amelie, Charlotte, Eva, and Sally are a quartet of the strongest females I’ve come across in quite some time. Usually, there is one bold woman in a novel. But these women take independence to new heights. I loved each of them desperately. Each woman wants a different life apart from the Gazette. All three fear the fallout from their chosen professions. They are about to make waves in male-dominated fields, but none of them are looking for glory. They only want to do what makes them happy.

Then we have Harold Radcliffe and Detective Michael Baker. Harold is a handsome charmer, and Michael is a down-to-earth regular guy. Both have interesting pasts, but one is horrendous and the other tragic. My loathing of Harold started from the beginning. He was a royal jerk, but the detective had my heart early on. Michael is a bit gruff, but he’s a big teddy bear inside, and he has met his match in Amelie. Their story made me laugh and cry with joy.

Alexander is a complete delight. He isn’t a prominent character, but I loved him so much. I wanted to ruffle his hair and hug him. Clarissa and Mae are also adorable. This family is the one I want to belong to. They are sweet, and I felt right at home in their quaint abode.

I award The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart a full 5 out of 5 stars. There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about this novel. The writing is clear and easy to read, which is not always the case in historical London, at least for this American. This story will stick with me for quite some time. I recommend this book to all my historical romance fans. The mystery mixed with romance will leave you breathless.
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This book had some good things going for it. 
It was such an original tale, with a woman with being a matchmaker as her profession and a detective who goes undercover to solve a crime without his superior's permission. 
I liked that Amelie was strong female character. And how Michael's heart softened during the book.
I also liked Amelie's cousins and the possibility of future stories from them.

But it really  moved too slow for me. And then all of a sudden, the romance turned into love. 
The last part the book moved fast and was fun to read. 
But the book was not a favorite for me. 

Thank you to Net Galley for allowing me to read this book. The opinions are entirely my own.
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…she lost all desire for any further conversation 
𝐒𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬: Amelie Hampton is a hopeless romantic, which makes her the perfect columnist to answer lonely heart letters in The Marriage Gazette. When Amelie plays matchmaker with two anonymous lonely hearts, she also decides to secretly observe the couple’s blind date. To her surprise, the man who appears for the rendezvous is Harold Radcliffe—a grieving widower and a member of Amelie’s book club. Police detective Michael Baker has been struggling ever since his best friend and brother-in-law died in the line of fire. Because he knows the dangers of his job, he has vowed never to marry a wife and family to the uncertainty of his profession. But when he meets Miss Hampton, he is captured by her. The more time Amelie and Michael spend together, the more they trust each other, and the more they realize they are a good team, maybe the perfect match.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝: Amelie Hampton & Michael Baker’s story starts off a little messy (pun intended). I absolutely loved that they went from strangers, to a team, and now a perfect match. I definitely NEEDED more romantic/steamy moments! Definitely a page turner!
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Overall, I enjoyed this novel. Grateful to the publisher for the arc. All opinions are my own. 

I enjoyed getting to know the characters especially Michael but found Amelie to be a bit overly naive. Michael is a great protagonist and it was fun to get inside his head. His perspective and morals were intriguing to understand. And I loved his slow burning realizations that he has fallen in love with Amelie. However, Amelie was less likable for me. It's not an issue with her hopeless romanticism or innocence at the start of the novel. It's more that I didn't feel like she changes much during the story. She stays naive and frustratingly stubborn about going at it alone and trying to solve the mystery by herself. She doesn't listen to the wise advice of others and insists on doing what she wants. I admire her determination to solve the case and to be helpful. But a bit more self preservation would have been helpful. That being said, there is a well developed cast of characters surrounding the love interests and I would love to read more about Amelie's cousins and even get a backstory on her Aunt and Michael's detective partner.

I really enjoyed the romance between Michael and Amelie. It is a lovely, slow burning romance that develops with every page of the book. I enjoy the classic shift from begrudging colleagues to falling in love. They begin their relationship with very different opinions about each other and about love. And their feelings for each other sneak up on them in delightful ways. I absolutely love their first kiss and how intensely their feelings become in the heat of the the investigation. Michael is a fantastic hero and certain a man with high standards and deep rooted kindness. I love how her relationship with Michael changes everything Amelie thought she knew about love. I loved their happy ending.

Spoilers Ahead in this paragraph! The plot is fast paced and action driven. From the first pages, we are thrown into a murder investigation where everything does not add up quite right. Mr Radcliffe's shifty behavior is intriguing and I was nearly instantly invested in the story. It was very easy to get hooked by all the action and to read just one more chapter to see what happens next. The plot twists and turns throughout the novel. But I found the ending a bit underwhelming in it's reveal of the murderer. We are led right to the murderer from the first page of the book. I would have liked more nuance or surprise about that discovery. Perhaps an alternate suspect at the least. Additionally, I was surprised by how violent this book is. There are some rather graphic descriptions of murder victims, several descriptions of autopsies, and an extremely violent scene involving our heroine at the end (so violent that it was a bit far fetched that a happily ever after could occur!). I was a bit overwhelmed by that violence. Usually books in this collection are not quite that violent, and I wouldn't want my teenage kids reading this one without some discussion of the violence beforehand.

I enjoyed the Victorian setting but sometimes felt that the action didn't entirely fit the time period. Lately, I have been on a bit of a Victorian Era London kick so I was excited about this time period. Sometimes, the descriptions were quite lovely and I enjoyed the details. But at other moments, I felt that Allen left the Victorian Era completely. I was reminded of Thoroughly Modern Millie (which I love!) a lot while I read this book. Amelie's desire to be an "woman of independent means" was so reminiscent of Millie's opinions. Sometimes the conversation felt rather modern as well. While I understand that the Victorian Era was a time of changing ideas and opinions, there were moments when the book felt too modern and that was a disappointment. 

Overall, I enjoyed The Matchmaker's Lonely Heart. The love story is beautifully written. Many of the characters are well developed and I was easily caught in all the action. But this wasn't a stand out novel for me. The violence, main protagonist and sometimes Victorian setting were not as well done as I had hoped. Still, a fast paced and fun mystery/love story.
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