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A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews' USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series. She Needed to be Seen... As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to r A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews' USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series. She Needed to be Seen... As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to remain invisible. But when her new employer is invited to a month-long holiday at a remote coastal abbey, Clara discovers that she may not be as invisible as she'd hoped. At least, not as far as one gentleman is concerned. He Wanted to be Heard... Neville Cross has always been more comfortable with animals than people. An accident in his youth has left him with a brain injury that affects his speech. Forming the words to speak to his childhood friends is difficult enough. Finding the right things to say to a lovely young lady’s companion seems downright impossible. But Miss Hartwright is no ordinary companion. In fact, there may not be anything ordinary about her at all. During a bleak Devon winter, two sensitive souls forge an unexpected friendship. But when Clara needs him most, will Neville find the courage to face his fears? Or is saying goodbye to her the most heroic thing he can do?


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A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews' USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series. She Needed to be Seen... As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to r A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews' USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series. She Needed to be Seen... As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to remain invisible. But when her new employer is invited to a month-long holiday at a remote coastal abbey, Clara discovers that she may not be as invisible as she'd hoped. At least, not as far as one gentleman is concerned. He Wanted to be Heard... Neville Cross has always been more comfortable with animals than people. An accident in his youth has left him with a brain injury that affects his speech. Forming the words to speak to his childhood friends is difficult enough. Finding the right things to say to a lovely young lady’s companion seems downright impossible. But Miss Hartwright is no ordinary companion. In fact, there may not be anything ordinary about her at all. During a bleak Devon winter, two sensitive souls forge an unexpected friendship. But when Clara needs him most, will Neville find the courage to face his fears? Or is saying goodbye to her the most heroic thing he can do?

30 review for The Winter Companion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Clark

    I say Mimi Matthews should write all the Victorian romances forevermore. The Winter Companion is a FANTASTIC conclusion to this series! Once again, I was swept away by the romance, the atmosphere, and the wonderfully complex character development of the story. Clara’s character is one I have been anxious to “meet” on the page. The heroine finally worthy of Neville. I was instantly enamored with her care of a little elderly dog — as was Neville upon first meeting. Clara’s role shines a light on wom I say Mimi Matthews should write all the Victorian romances forevermore. The Winter Companion is a FANTASTIC conclusion to this series! Once again, I was swept away by the romance, the atmosphere, and the wonderfully complex character development of the story. Clara’s character is one I have been anxious to “meet” on the page. The heroine finally worthy of Neville. I was instantly enamored with her care of a little elderly dog — as was Neville upon first meeting. Clara’s role shines a light on women’s opportunities in the Victorian era: often constrictive and limited. However, the combined assertiveness and determination of ladies like Clara forged many paths for their contemporaries. I appreciate how all of the heroines in this series have drawn attention to such details of history in a fair manner. At the same time, their hero counterparts have always seen and encouraged their strength and individuality and acted the gallant heroes when the story calls for it without being portrayed as ideals. Perhaps that is what appeals to me most about Mimi’s books: the balance in the romantic relationships that transcends era and setting. Now. About Neville. He is a genuine good guy hero! (They don’t get enough credit.) This book finally affords the chance to be inside his head. It tugs at my heart to see how his speech limitations are frustrating while his intellect is fascinating. Reading between the lines, I see a slight thematic discourse on the gift and power of words — it is meaningful and timely. Neville and Clara are meant for each other. Their romance is unconventional by the era’s standards (complete with livestock!) but that makes it all the more beautiful. At the heart of this story is a tale of identity, the worth of dreams, and the courage it takes to overcome. I turned the last page with a happy smile and maybe a few tears. 🙂 Readers of the previous books in the series will appreciate the just-right updates on the other couples that show their contentment AND personalities. Like Jenny and her sugary tea 😉 . This final novel comes full circle in many ways. The setting has readers back at Greyfriar’s Abbey in Devon with Neville at the center. The last few missing pieces of these friends united by their childhoods fall in place properly, ending with a hopefulness and bright possibilities. Thank you to the author and HVBT for the review copy. It has in no way influenced my opinion. This is my honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was so excited to get this because she tells the most wonderful romantic tales! This was quite different from her others in the sense that, Mr Cross is a different man than the rest. Physically he’s big and beautifully handsome and probably the kindest of the four men, but he’s suffered a brain injury. Neville ended up being one of my favorites of the men. I swooned over his looks and kindness. The story was wonderful. I really enjoyed the fact that none of the “couples” could keep 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was so excited to get this because she tells the most wonderful romantic tales! This was quite different from her others in the sense that, Mr Cross is a different man than the rest. Physically he’s big and beautifully handsome and probably the kindest of the four men, but he’s suffered a brain injury. Neville ended up being one of my favorites of the men. I swooned over his looks and kindness. The story was wonderful. I really enjoyed the fact that none of the “couples” could keep their hands off each other. It was so sweet. Things I loved: • The chemistry • The romance • Their love of animals and books • Neville and his letter • The Christmas parts I just preordered Gentleman Jim! ♥️ This was a NETGALLEY gift and I already purchased this book on Amazon weeks ago and all opinions are my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Monzon

    If you need me, I’ll be in a pile of mush over here. I knew from the previous Parrish Orphans book that I would love Neville and I was not wrong. I honestly don’t think Matthews can write a hero that I don’t love, but Neville is special guys. You HAVE to meet him for yourself. That being said, I can’t believe the series is over. What am I going to do now? Need. More. Books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel McMillan

    GUESS WHAT it is Neville's turn!! Oh Neville, you bunny rabbit. Anyone who has followed the Parish Orphans of Devon quartet knows that Neville has played a strong and present role in each. Unofficial ward/friend/brother to Justin, a tragic accident has left him with a speech impediment despite the sharpness of his mind and ( most importantly) the tenderness of his heart. Neville's strong, silent and stable presence since book 1 has been a balm amidst the four very different childhood friends and GUESS WHAT it is Neville's turn!! Oh Neville, you bunny rabbit. Anyone who has followed the Parish Orphans of Devon quartet knows that Neville has played a strong and present role in each. Unofficial ward/friend/brother to Justin, a tragic accident has left him with a speech impediment despite the sharpness of his mind and ( most importantly) the tenderness of his heart. Neville's strong, silent and stable presence since book 1 has been a balm amidst the four very different childhood friends and sometimes presumed enemies who sew up this little world. And of course, Neville deserves a perfect romantic counterpart much as Alex found Laura, Tom found Jenny and Justin, Helena. Clara is a perfect addition. It is the way in which these two are able to see each other's strength, worth and value that makes it a perfectly contained romance. Neville, for one, delights in how he sees Clara --as if no one else can peel back the curtain of her unique special beauty in the same way "He had the queerest feeling that he was the only one who was privileged to see just how beautiful she as. As if it were a secret, locked up tight, to which only he held the key." Much as Clara knows that Neville is not a boy. That his sweetness does not emasculate him, rather that he is a man whose honour and courage exist in his steadfast loyalty and kindness. Her Galahad does not swing a a sword, nor stride like a Lord of the Manor late to war as Justin does. His armour is his compassion, his battle gear is his ability to tame and converse with animals. And his strength is in recognizing that the man he needs to be for Clara requires him not to dash after a man from her past who wronged her, rather to right the slight of other men in her life by encouraging her dreams, her passion and her education. Matthews' backlist supports similar women who are trying to live out their independence from the abject structure of their patriarchal world ( Jenny Finchley stands out as a perfect example). While Jenny and Tom travel the world, Neville offers Clara the world of imagination, of gardens and stable and all the books she wants. In this, he is far more a knight than the Tennyson that so lovingly sews up and enhances the book's themes of chivalry and pure romance: Each of Matthews' heroes embodies masculine characteristics that champion and differ from merely the alpha archetype. They are not shadows of an ideal model so renowned in fiction of this time period, rather rendered heroic and worthy because of the many small, distinguishing parts that sew up their heroism as a whole. Tom's inward scars to Justin's outward scars, Neville's counterbalance to Alex's staggering and rakish first impression. Matthews' series disseminates and advocates for a healthy masculinity of deep characterization and nuanced empathy so different from the archetype often pursued in the genre and the romanticism of her time period. The sense of forged family is a strong link in the chain of the four novels and readers will be delighted to see all of the characters together. This story can be read as a standalone in that it perfectly paints Neville and Clara's story independently, however the true brilliance of the quartet is the continued emotional resonance as well as the deft ways in which Matthews slowly sews up the mysteries and secrets of the past in order to embellish this carefully rendered tapestry. I would be remiss in my love of her deep art of characterization if I did not mention how brilliantly she paints her settings with enough descriptives to immerse the reader without overwhelming them. In short, the perfect balance of giving us just enough so that we can use our imagination to colour in the rest. The grand abbeys, the stone cottages and stables, the blurred line between horizon and sea reflect the poetry Neville and Clara steal into and that Lady Helena loves. This series is, in short, an ode to the Victorian era from all corners, stations and predicaments. While Matthews clearly owns this period as her home and romanticizes it for its humanity, charity, fashion and custom, she is not against pulling out the limitations especially in regards to the treatment of women. Matthews adores the period, but doesn't shy away from its restrictions. Perhaps it is her ability to paint it so wholly ---for all its good and bad--- that make the series one of the most addictive offerings in the genre in years. And of course I plan to read them all from the beginning... again and again and again

  5. 5 out of 5

    OLT

    (3.5 stars) I suppose a reader could jump right in to this story about Neville Cross, the last entry in Matthews' Victorian HR series about four men who grew up as parish orphans in Devon. Each one took a different path in life: Justin (of the first book) became a soldier; Tom, a lawyer; Alex, a world-traveling gambler/grifter. But Neville, who, when very young, suffered a traumatic brain injury when out playing by the cliffs with the other three, has a different kind of story. As I said, you cou (3.5 stars) I suppose a reader could jump right in to this story about Neville Cross, the last entry in Matthews' Victorian HR series about four men who grew up as parish orphans in Devon. Each one took a different path in life: Justin (of the first book) became a soldier; Tom, a lawyer; Alex, a world-traveling gambler/grifter. But Neville, who, when very young, suffered a traumatic brain injury when out playing by the cliffs with the other three, has a different kind of story. As I said, you could just jump right in here and enjoy this book as a standalone, but the backdrop provided by the previous three gives you more insight into Neville's issues and into the relationship of all four men. And you wouldn't have developed an acquaintance and fondness for all the couples as they gather here to celebrate Christmas at Justin's home. This has a slow-moving plot, with kind and thoughtful characters, and lots of interactions of family and friends. It's quite similar to the type of story Mary Balogh writes, even having a character with a disability, which is something Balogh often includes in her stories, whether it be a physical or emotional problem. Fortunately, this Matthews book does not have any of that awkward sex between H and h that Balogh somehow feels obligated to include and Matthews' story is all the better for it. Neville is such a gentle, kind, sweet man that it would have felt intrusive to see how he comports himself in bed. Neville's brain injury years ago has left him with what seems to be speech dyspraxia. His brain is normal, his thoughts are normal, even insightful, but the thoughts don't transfer smoothly into spoken words. And when he is nervous or stressed, his speech problem becomes even more severe. This causes some people (not his friends) to think his intelligence is subnormal and he is very self-conscious and has come to think of himself as less of a person. He is content to live at Justin's estate, taking outstanding care of the horses and other animals and training to take over as estate manager when the older man who serves now retires. He does his job well but interacts as little as possible with others. And then we have our heroine, Clara. She also suffers from feelings of low self-worth and the lack of a voice. The lack of a voice, in her case, is caused by circumstances in her past and her lowly place as a woman in Victorian society, not by any physical impediment. Something that happened to her as a young adult, which had repercussions on her family's reputation and welfare and which she was forced to take all responsibility for, changed her life dramatically, forcing her to seek employment as a lady's companion. And, as everyone knows, companions "were meant to be good listeners, not talkers. And they certainly weren't paid to speak their mind." So Clara is voiceless by force majeure but inside her soul she is looking forward to the day she can say what she thinks and feels, can be who she would like to be, can belong and not be alone. With Neville, she feels safe and at home. And Neville feels the same around her. But each has his/her own hangups and the feeling that they cannot have a future together. That's all I'll say. The plot is slight so it would be an unkindness to reveal more. Other than to note that if you are an animal lover, you'll have dogs and horses to your heart's content. And if you are a romance lover, this is a satisfying one. This is not a 5-star read for me because I found everyone to be too earnest and serious almost all the time. I would have appreciated a few more moments of humor and some snappier dialogue at times. Still, it's a feel-good story and something I appreciate at the moment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    5 STARS Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. -Tennyson, Ulysses Oh... what a beautiful ending to this incredible series. I'm so filled up with emotion for these characters. And I'm so happy that Ms. Matthews gave us this glimpse into Neville's world. His hopes and dr 5 STARS Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. -Tennyson, Ulysses Oh... what a beautiful ending to this incredible series. I'm so filled up with emotion for these characters. And I'm so happy that Ms. Matthews gave us this glimpse into Neville's world. His hopes and dreams, his tender affection. I'm all choked up. And the way she weaved the landscape of Devon itself into the story, was truly artfully done. (yes that was too many "ly's" but they were well deserved!) I loved the entire series. All of the characters and the gothic story that brought them all together. Matthews has captured my heart with her enchanting stories, her intriguing characters, and her writing in general. I'll read anything she she writes. PS- If you are thinking of reading this series, I must insist that you read them in order. The story is much more meaningful that way. Also, if you're a fan of audiobooks, I just heard that Alex Wyndham will be narrating this one... 🥰

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lu

    A man with a speech disability meets a woman in search of her place in the world. A lovely Victorian tale of love and fulfillment “The Winter Companion” brings Mimi Mathew’s Parish Orphans of Devon series to a sweet and thought-provoking close. The book is standalone, but the whole series is excellent and I recommend reading them all. Confined to an orphanage, friends Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville faced a traumatic childhood deprived of almost everything but found in each other strength to cope A man with a speech disability meets a woman in search of her place in the world. A lovely Victorian tale of love and fulfillment “The Winter Companion” brings Mimi Mathew’s Parish Orphans of Devon series to a sweet and thought-provoking close. The book is standalone, but the whole series is excellent and I recommend reading them all. Confined to an orphanage, friends Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville faced a traumatic childhood deprived of almost everything but found in each other strength to cope with life. They often sought adventure and mischief by climbing the treacherous cliffs of Greyfriar’s Abbey. One day, while climbing down, young Neville Cross lost his balance, crashed his head and fell into the ocean down below never to be the same person again. Now adults, the friends reunite in Greyfriar’s Abbey (currently owned by Justin) to celebrate Christmas. In the meantime, Neville is struck by the realization that, due to the speech issues that followed his accident, he stayed frozen in place with no future or perspectives while his friends lives moved on. Neville’s character is very complex and utterly adorable. He is vulnerable but at the same time strong. It is hard for him to communicate with words, but his actions speak for themselves, and show the unmistakable goodness of his heart. His mind is sound, and it is painful to see how the speech struggles change the perception other people have of him. The romance takes place when Clara Hartwright, the companion to one of the guests of the Christmas party, comes to the stables to ask Neville to take care of her old pug dog Bertie. Clara is strong and caring and has to work to maintain herself and also to pay for her brother’s studies. She has academic aspirations and, like Neville, a true love for animals. It is a slow burn romance, but it is so worth the wait. The reader is invited to witness their first meeting, their friendship, and how they slowly get to know each other and see each other’s true selves. Once again, Mimi Matthews crafts a beautiful tale of true love and the quest for a fulfilling life. Disclosure: I have received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jultri

    It was a terrible thing to be alone in the world. To be dismissed and discarded. To never belong anywhere. What was a dog to do in his old age if no one wanted him? More to the point, what was a woman to do? She becomes a lady's companion. Well actually, Clara is not quite over the hill yet, but she is certainly quite alone without a home to call her own and she knows how it feels to be dismissed and discarded. Arriving at an isolated abbey with her new employer for a winter house party, she It was a terrible thing to be alone in the world. To be dismissed and discarded. To never belong anywhere. What was a dog to do in his old age if no one wanted him? More to the point, what was a woman to do? She becomes a lady's companion. Well actually, Clara is not quite over the hill yet, but she is certainly quite alone without a home to call her own and she knows how it feels to be dismissed and discarded. Arriving at an isolated abbey with her new employer for a winter house party, she is armed with only a few modest belongings and a geriatric dog, rejected by its previous owner. Seeking shelter for her pet, she encounters the reticent and enigmatic Mr. Cross, who resides above the stables, but has the appearance of a gentleman and who is treated as a respected intimate friend of the owner of the abbey. For Neville, it is pretty much love at first sight. Much that Clara tries to practise the art of invisibility, he immediately sees the beauty dressed in modest, plain garments. Moreover, he is fascinated by her warmth and generosity of spirit and her immediate acceptance of him without judgement. His reserved manners and social avoidance stems from his childhood head injury which resulted in expressive language impairment. Where others might dismiss him as being slow in the head, Clara has no difficulty ascertaining his communication disability and differentiating it from his other sound intellectual capabilities. Language went to the heart of a person's humanity. It was the dividing line between men and beasts. Theirs is a slow and tentative friendship over the course of several weeks. The attraction is there from the beginning, and the respect and feelings soon follow. However, much stands in the way of a possible future for them both - her past transgression and ongoing penitence for this and his perceived lack of future. Mimi Matthews is a wonderful writer, making the most of two less glamorous protagonists. Her attention to historical details is quite remarkable and the language appears very authentic. Neville is a sweetheart, a true beta-hero who gradually grows in confidence as Clara encourages him to realise his full potentials beyond the boundaries of the abbey. Clara is likeable enough, but I must say her aspiration is a bit foolish to say the least. I can understand if she helped her brother out of misguided guilt and a sense of responsibility, but to do so in expectation of learning by secondary means in order to ultimately become his secretary, well that is just silly and neither here nor there. She thought herself his intellectual equal by learning alongside him, then why settle for being his secretary? And yes anything higher is unrealistic, but then to be an educated female secretary was not really realistic in those days, and if we're going to be ambitious, why not go all the way and work alongside her brother as his equal? Still it is a minor point and does not detract from the overall enjoyment of a well-told story. This is an ARC provided by NetGalley for an unbiased opinion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ♥Sharon♥

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. I loved Justin’s story as I did Tom’s and Alex’s. But I have to say that it was brilliant that Mimi Matthews saved Neville’s story for last. With each tidbit we got of Neville along the way you couldn’t help but fall in love with the guy. Neville was always the quiet one though he was big and bold. You never quite knew what was going on in his head. In The Winter Companion MM gave him his voice. And it was wonderful. ❤ These orphan boys, now men, share s I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. I loved Justin’s story as I did Tom’s and Alex’s. But I have to say that it was brilliant that Mimi Matthews saved Neville’s story for last. With each tidbit we got of Neville along the way you couldn’t help but fall in love with the guy. Neville was always the quiet one though he was big and bold. You never quite knew what was going on in his head. In The Winter Companion MM gave him his voice. And it was wonderful. ❤ These orphan boys, now men, share something that could never be broken. They along with the women they have come to love have forged an imperishable bond. Neville deserved his happiness even though he himself doubted it was possible. But with a stroke of fate sweet Clara Hartwright along with Bertie showed up at the Grey Friar’s Abbey stable. From there their journey begins. Loved every minute of this book and I hope you do too!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Clara Hartwright has spent the last few years working as a lady's companion, sending her wages to support her brother's education at Cambridge. But a life of keeping her opinions and observations to herself is not a position to which she is well suited. Clara wants a life spent enriching her education and feeling useful. In fact her greatest dream is to work as her brother's secretary when he begins his career as a natural scientist. Neville's life has been one of routine. A childhood head injury Clara Hartwright has spent the last few years working as a lady's companion, sending her wages to support her brother's education at Cambridge. But a life of keeping her opinions and observations to herself is not a position to which she is well suited. Clara wants a life spent enriching her education and feeling useful. In fact her greatest dream is to work as her brother's secretary when he begins his career as a natural scientist. Neville's life has been one of routine. A childhood head injury has left him with a speech impediment that makes it difficult to converse easily with others. As a result he feels most comfortable  in the company of animals and since moving from the convent to Greyfrair's Abbey with Justin four years ago he has filled his days by caring for the horses annd the dogs. And while Neville's life has remained very much the same, everyone dear to him has moved on to find love and happiness with their new wives. The two unexpectedly meet during the Christmas gathering at Greyfrair's and find a connection  and friendship in one another that will prompt changes in both of the plans for the furture. ___________________________ The Winter Companion is the fourth and final book in Mimi Matthews' Parish Orphans of Devon series. Although I am sad to see this series end, it was such a sweet book that I truly think it was the perfect way for the series to end. I am also very much looking forward to the novella(s) connected to this series that will be following. Mimi Matthews has a real talent for depicting her characters in a way that they are very human and relatable whilst we simply get to know them over the course of just few days of their daily life. But they display so much depth and heart that you forge a connection with the characters right at the start of each book. I just loved Clara and Neville, individually and together. Another gorgeous cover. I've said it about every book in the series, but I loved this book. I think this might actually be my favorite in the series. It's a toss up between this one and A Convenient Fiction for me. Simon absolutely infuriated me. I know that his views are not exacty novel for the time period, but to have to little appreciation for the work and sacrifice of others. He shocked me because he was not what I was expecting. I give her so much credit for keeping her composure. What an ungrateful and arrogant young man. Poor Clara! But I won't say anymore on that account because I don't wish to spoil. I love that neither of their dreams were compromised for a life with the other, but instead they morphed and grew into a dream that they could both realize together. I cannot express enough how much I recommend this series. This book, as well as the three that preceeed it, can serve as a stand-alone, but the series as a whole is best. As with the other books in this series, this is a clean romance. _____ I would like to thank the author, Mimi Matthews, for sending me an eARC of The Winter Companion. This is my honest opinion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aimee (Getting Your Read On)

    If you are following me on Facebook, Instagram or Goodreads, you will know that Mimi Matthews is my new author obsession. I started with the first book in this series and then worked my way forward and back. I have loved all the books. Did you know that this author does a serial novel- releasing a chapter at a time- in her newsletter? It's SO good and it's also driving me nuts because one chapter per month is a horrible way to read a novel by this author!! I lack patience. This is the fourth boo If you are following me on Facebook, Instagram or Goodreads, you will know that Mimi Matthews is my new author obsession. I started with the first book in this series and then worked my way forward and back. I have loved all the books. Did you know that this author does a serial novel- releasing a chapter at a time- in her newsletter? It's SO good and it's also driving me nuts because one chapter per month is a horrible way to read a novel by this author!! I lack patience. This is the fourth book in this series. I would recommend reading them in order for your best reading enjoyment. The characters from previous books play a large role in each book so it has a building feel to it. This book especially. All four friends are together for the Christmas holiday and knowing their backstories will really help. I've been waiting and dreaming of Neville's story. I knew there would be so much to learn with him. We've been getting bits and pieces of his childhood accident through the other characters and their stories but it was so nice to actually get the story from Neville himself. Neville is the most kind and gentle human. I found him utterly charming and endearing. I loved how Clara and Neville bond over the animals, each filling a need for the other in the most gentle and easy way. I also loved the quiet of the barn and how crucial that peace was for Neville as opposed to the gathering inside the house which was louder, more jovial and consequently more oppressive to Neville. Neville really stretches himself to be with Clara and wow, it is ever satisfying to read. I loved this book. I loved Neville. I love this series. I love this author. 💙 Don't hate me for using the L word too much. Content: there may have been a few instances of mild swearing and profanity (using God or Jesus as an exclamation) but I cannot remember exactly. There were in previous books so there's a good chance.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy Bruno

    Reading the last book in a series you love is always bittersweet. On one hand I am so sad to leave the world that Mimi Matthews created but I am grateful to have had the chance to experience it,and I know I will never forget them. I have loved every book in the Parish Orphans of Devon but this one is extra special to me because Neville finally gets his day in the sun. The clan is all together at Greyfriar's Abbey for Christmas. Tom, Alex, and Justin are all there with their wives and are prepari Reading the last book in a series you love is always bittersweet. On one hand I am so sad to leave the world that Mimi Matthews created but I am grateful to have had the chance to experience it,and I know I will never forget them. I have loved every book in the Parish Orphans of Devon but this one is extra special to me because Neville finally gets his day in the sun. The clan is all together at Greyfriar's Abbey for Christmas. Tom, Alex, and Justin are all there with their wives and are preparing the holiday festivities. After an injury as a youth Neville has a speech impediment and feels more comfortable among the animals in the stables than he does around people. Clara, a lady's maid to one of the guests, joins them for the month long celebration, along with her adorable but very old pup, Bertie. She would rather be away at school but women at that time weren't allowed to attend, so she tries to educate herself via her brother's school lessens that he sends to her. It's not ideal but it's all that is available to her. Neville and Clara both feel invisible to the world and find a kindred spirit in each other. I don't think I've come across two people in a fictional book that have ever deserved love more! I adored both of them and rooted for them the entire book! I will never stop shouting about this series. It's absolute perfection and I thank Mimi for the many hours of entertainment she provided to me. They are the perfect books to escape life and remind us that there is love and hope and good things in this world. Highly, highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)

    This author has such a skill at bringing her characters to life! I always pitied Neville in the previous books because of his limitations, but what he really needed was a champion- Clara sees him for who he really is and knows that he is capable. I loved being able to get into his head and seeing just how much he comprehends and what the effects of his head injury really were. Their friendship and romance is just so, so sweet! I have a soft spot for the strong silent type, and Clara's individual This author has such a skill at bringing her characters to life! I always pitied Neville in the previous books because of his limitations, but what he really needed was a champion- Clara sees him for who he really is and knows that he is capable. I loved being able to get into his head and seeing just how much he comprehends and what the effects of his head injury really were. Their friendship and romance is just so, so sweet! I have a soft spot for the strong silent type, and Clara's individuality and acceptance of him made them a perfect match. There is a bit of a mysterious subplot throughout the book that provides the impetus for the climax, and it was just right for this gentle romance with three-dimensional characters. It was also fun to revisit the couples from the previous books in the series, and it was an absolute joy to end this wonderful series with such a strong finish. Highly recommend all the books in the Parish Orphans of Devon series! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions expressed in this review are my own)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    Fourth and last instalment in this series, this time focusing on Neville Cross. Matthews always writes excellent historical romances, full of correct contemporary details that make the setting come to life. And of course, the excellent characters, which here take on an extra level. I always wondered how the author would deal with Neville and his ‘speech impediment’, caused by the accident he had in his youth that nearly killed him. His brain is functioning fine and you can see he is an intellige Fourth and last instalment in this series, this time focusing on Neville Cross. Matthews always writes excellent historical romances, full of correct contemporary details that make the setting come to life. And of course, the excellent characters, which here take on an extra level. I always wondered how the author would deal with Neville and his ‘speech impediment’, caused by the accident he had in his youth that nearly killed him. His brain is functioning fine and you can see he is an intelligent person, with needs and hopes like all of us - he just can’t get the words out. The narration deals with this extremely well, showing the frustrating condition and its effects on how the world sees him, and how he sees himself. And then, you have Clara, who is the perfect addition, with her thirst for education and knowledge. Both are looking for the same thing - a worthy self-fulfilment - and through their sense of kindness, they find it :O)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    My review is posted at: https://austenprose.com/2020/02/10/th... My review is posted at: https://austenprose.com/2020/02/10/th...

  16. 4 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    To say that I have been eager to read this final installment of the Parish Orphans of Devon series is a gross understatement. I absolutely loved all of Mimi Matthews books and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one! Of all the orphans, Neville was probably to most mysterious character for me and the one we never seemed to get to know, beyond the basic back story told by the other characters. I was excited to see how Neville’s love story as well as his character unfolded in this book. There wa To say that I have been eager to read this final installment of the Parish Orphans of Devon series is a gross understatement. I absolutely loved all of Mimi Matthews books and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one! Of all the orphans, Neville was probably to most mysterious character for me and the one we never seemed to get to know, beyond the basic back story told by the other characters. I was excited to see how Neville’s love story as well as his character unfolded in this book. There was so much discussion in the other books about how Neville’s accident as a child had left him ‘damaged’ and I was curious to see how that translated into a romance for him in this book. Neville’s accident left him with speech difficulties and as a result he felt shut off and isolated from life in many ways save for the friends he had since childhood. All of his friend have now moved on with their lives and married etc while Neville works with his animals in the stables. Though it is by choice, it is clear that he is longing for something more. Companionship, love…..a life. Enter Clara. Clara immediately puts Neville at ease with her gentle compassion and thus begins their romance. I thought their romance was tender and sweet but I was also hoping for a little more in the way of stolen kisses or moments. With the other characters in the series, there was plenty of chemistry and sexual tension but with this one the focus was more on friendship rather than passion or pure attraction. Their romance was more in the vein of friendship and mutual respect/admiration. I enjoyed the friendship element and thought it fit with Neville’s desires as well as Clara’s but I admittedly, had hoped for a little more romantic chemistry between the two that I have come to find in her books. But as always, Matthews writes a charming and consuming love story that consistently brought a smile to my face. Whenever I finish one of her books my husband always asks why I am smiling and I always say it’s because I am just so pleased and happy for the characters. Matthews has a way about writing the perfect love story to fit the characters personalities. Justin was more of a stormy brooding sort and that novel was definitely more turbulent, Tom was more studious and conflicted so his romance had a lot more inner conflict between the characters, Alex was a bit of a roguish bad boy with no one who happened to meet a sweet girl who grounded him and gave him a home—where as with Neville, his romance is more tentative and sweet as befitting his character. Her characters are all memorable in their own ways and all equally charming and dashing. For me personally, I liked Alex the most but then again I love the bad boys! If you are looking for historical romances that are sweet but also full of chemistry and romantic tension, this is the author for you. I have loved every single one of her books and I am looking forward to what the future holds for her. No one does Victorian romances like Mimi Matthews! See my full review here

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura J.

    Neville is one of four friends who grew up together in a harsh orphanage. Due to an accident as a child, Neville has a speech impediment which causes people to assume he is slow witted, which in turn, causes Neville to be anxious around strangers. Even his friends feel he needs protecting. However Neville is the best kind of hero: intelligent, kind, thoughtful (as well as handsome!). Clara is a paid companion to an elderly lady who is visiting, along with her family, the home of Neville’s friend Neville is one of four friends who grew up together in a harsh orphanage. Due to an accident as a child, Neville has a speech impediment which causes people to assume he is slow witted, which in turn, causes Neville to be anxious around strangers. Even his friends feel he needs protecting. However Neville is the best kind of hero: intelligent, kind, thoughtful (as well as handsome!). Clara is a paid companion to an elderly lady who is visiting, along with her family, the home of Neville’s friend where Neville works and lives. Right from the start, Clara is different. She’s been given an elderly pug to care for. Not only does she care for the old, snoring dog, but she loves him. Clara has dreams of being her brother’s secretary after he finishes his studies at Cambridge. Neville and Clara see each others’ beauty and worth which makes the transition from friendship to love heartwarming and sweet. The story also shows how society did not believe women capable or worthy of being scholars. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bon

    Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy for review! And here I was, thinking the third book would be my favorite of the Orphans series – I was mistaken! This takes a place among my favorites of Mimi’s books. A veritable giant of a man who treats animals kindly and is pretty to look at, and a studious, determined, progressive Victorian lady protagonist who just wants to catalog flora and fauna? I was so in. And interestingly enough, the afterword was one of the best parts of the book? I’m not sur Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy for review! And here I was, thinking the third book would be my favorite of the Orphans series – I was mistaken! This takes a place among my favorites of Mimi’s books. A veritable giant of a man who treats animals kindly and is pretty to look at, and a studious, determined, progressive Victorian lady protagonist who just wants to catalog flora and fauna? I was so in. And interestingly enough, the afterword was one of the best parts of the book? I’m not sure if I remarked upon it in my review of the last book, A Convenient Fiction, but Mimi has consistently gone above and beyond in inclusion, to feature progressive heroines and out-of-the-ordinary heroes (a scarred war hero, a morally-gray-at-times lawyer, a traumatized gambler), and tackling ableism and similar issues in male characters of her most recent books. In Fiction, we first met Laura’s brother, who is wheelchair-bound after a bad illness. Neville, the male lead of this book, we’ve seen and heard a bit from; he suffered a bad fall and head injury, from which he didn’t recover completely in terms of brain trauma, and it left him with a speech impediment that comes and goes, as well as periods of zoning out over monotonous tasks and losing time. I am so incredibly impressed with Mimi’s ability to give us fulfilling, swoon-worthy romances that nevertheless address serious societal issues and a full range of humanity in her romantic leads. I'm sad to see this series end. Her scholarship and compassion bleed off the page, and I love it. Her afterwords always rush to explain a real moment in history or Victorian trend she’s presented in the book, and I learn so much even as I’m enjoying a cute romance, it’s awesome. For example, in this book our lead Clara conducts a “shadow-studying” of her brother’s Cambridge courses, a cultural phenomenon where young women were sent back copies of notes and other learning material from their male relatives’ programs – and which her hard-earned wages pay for. I had never heard of this, and was delighted to hear of it. Clara herself, a heavy reader and devoted student, was simply a brilliant protagonist, relatable to modern times and yet set with this plausible, true-to-history situation. So well done. I think everyone can appreciate Mimi’s clarifying end remarks on dealing with a traumatic brain injury of her own, and how this influenced writing Neville, who is, regardless, utterly sweet and charming. Her disclaimer that every injury, reaction, treatment, and subsequent experience is different really covered her bases and as a result, Neville’s sometime-difficulties as a plot point never felt offensive. Clara is a compassionate counterpart who never babies him or makes it weird, and their relationship felt genuine. Overall, this was just…a fantastic book all around. Another enthusiastic recommendation from me!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for a fair review “«I don’t need things to be different. And I certainly don’t need you to be different. I love you exactly as you are.»” (Clara to Neville, quote from ARC) 4.5 stars. This is such a lovely, beautifully written historical novel about a wounded hero, afflicted by a seldom fictionalized condition, and the heroine whom he befriends and falls head over heels in love with. Neville is such a delight to read, his blond good looks and big size play Received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for a fair review “«I don’t need things to be different. And I certainly don’t need you to be different. I love you exactly as you are.»” (Clara to Neville, quote from ARC) 4.5 stars. This is such a lovely, beautifully written historical novel about a wounded hero, afflicted by a seldom fictionalized condition, and the heroine whom he befriends and falls head over heels in love with. Neville is such a delight to read, his blond good looks and big size playing with his “flaws” and insecurities, making him both sexy and adorably vulnerable. A teddy bear with compassion and kindness, the strength of a giant and the sense of honor of Galahad. Mimi Matthews’ characterization of a male character suffering the lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury is realistic, convincing and thorough. Never does the author forget her hero is living daily with this condition. What an amazing insight into its effects in speech, intellection and thought processes, language and attention! And the feelings of anxiety, inferiority, shame and inadequacy it brings. Neville is also attractive in a modern way because of the wild ponies’s cause. The same happens with Clara, the heroine, and her intellectual curiosity and hunger for knowledge. The author’s prose is great too, clear, concise, painting in brisk strokes and short sentences the enchanted landscapes of Devon or the slow, tentative meeting of two guarded souls. “The Winter Companion” (Perfectly Proper Press) was my favorite of the series and I’ve enjoyed meeting again the characters from the previous stories and hope to read about other characters, such as Teddy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dana Michael

    The Winter Companion is the fourth book in the series and unfortunately the last. I have devoured each page anticipating what happens next. This author is the best at writing romance. She knows how to evoke emotion from the characters and make the reader feel a part of the story. The hero, Neville is now my new book boyfriend. Oh how I loved how he treated and treasured the heroine, Clara. That first kiss was probably the sweetest and most precious kiss I have ever read. Sigh and swoon. This ser The Winter Companion is the fourth book in the series and unfortunately the last. I have devoured each page anticipating what happens next. This author is the best at writing romance. She knows how to evoke emotion from the characters and make the reader feel a part of the story. The hero, Neville is now my new book boyfriend. Oh how I loved how he treated and treasured the heroine, Clara. That first kiss was probably the sweetest and most precious kiss I have ever read. Sigh and swoon. This series is among the best books I have ever read and Matthews concluded the series beautifully with a wonderful happily ever after for all. *I was given a copy of this book by the author and this is my honest opinion.

  21. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Another fab read,

  22. 4 out of 5

    JP

    5⭐️ Love this Author, and loved the conclusion to this trilogy! Wonder writing and wonderful story. 💕

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lady Delacour

    The Winter Companion gently builds as you slip into the story and find yourself caring about this growing friendship between Clara and Neville. 3.9 Lovely Romantic Stars. Clean, with a little Slang.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Luli

    Puedes encontrar esta reseña en español al final. I know I sound like a broken record, but Ms. Matthews has become my favorite author of historical romance. Due as much for her slow and sweet romances as for her interesting and original characters as for her, almost millimeter, historical accuracy. If we add to all of the above that, in this series, The Orphans of Devon, only one MC belongs to the nobility, this is already the icing on the cake. Finding in historical-romancelandia a story that doe Puedes encontrar esta reseña en español al final. I know I sound like a broken record, but Ms. Matthews has become my favorite author of historical romance. Due as much for her slow and sweet romances as for her interesting and original characters as for her, almost millimeter, historical accuracy. If we add to all of the above that, in this series, The Orphans of Devon, only one MC belongs to the nobility, this is already the icing on the cake. Finding in historical-romancelandia a story that does not have a duke, an earl, a baron and the likes is difficult. Finding a series is impossible. Except, of course, this one. This is the last book in the series, and it is the only one in which all the previous characters make an appearance, I imagine that as a tribute or farewell, so, although the main story between Clara and Neville could be read as a stand-alone, there will be a compendium of secondary characters which will be difficult to enjoy if the previous stories have not been read. Neville has been my favorite character from the beginning. His story is somewhat dark, secret, the author has always made us understand that he was the most fragile of all the orphans, and although he has appeared in all the stories, he is the least known, so I was very interested in read more about him. As in the previous books, the romance is sweet, slow and full of nuances. This author always takes her MC´s out of their comfort zone and forces them to face their fears and take charge of their life. And she does it in a natural way, not forced and within the reality of the time. And despite the fact that this series is starred by the four orphans, I can't help thinking that it is the heroines that really manage the story, the ones that release the orphans from their past and give them a future that they didn´t dreamed of. And along the way, they (the heroines) get what they had wanted throughout all their lives, which is nothing other than being mistress of their own destiny. And doing so in such a subtle and realistic way in the Victorian era is a demonstration of Ms. Matthews' literary quality. By the way, the historical notes that the author gifts us at the end of each book, and which put the story in perspective, are priceless. They are simply wonderful. e-ARC kindly provided by Perfectly Proper Press via Netgalley. Ya sé que parezco un disco rayado, pero la señora Matthews se ha convertido en mi autora favorita de romance histórico. Tanto por sus romances lentos y dulces como por sus personajes tan interesantes y originales como por su precisión, casi milimétrica, histórica. Si a todo esto le añadimos que, en esta serie, Los Huérfanos de Devon, sólo una protagonista pertenece a la nobleza, esto ya es la guinda del pastel. Encontrar en romance-histórico-landia una historia que no tenga un duque, conde, barón (etc…) es difícil. Encontrar una serie es imposible. Salvo esta, claro. Este es el último libro de la serie, y es en el único en el que aparecen todos los personajes anteriores, imagino que, como homenaje o despedida, así que, aunque la historia principal entre Clara y Neville se podría leer sin problemas, sí que va a haber un compendio de secundarios difícil de entender si no se han leído las anteriores. Neville ha sido mi personaje favorito desde el principio. Su historia es un tanto oscura, secreta, la autora siempre nos ha dado a entender que era el más frágil de todos los huérfanos, y a pesar de que ha aparecido en todas las historias, es del que menos sabíamos, así que estaba muy interesada en leer más sobre él. Como en los libros anteriores, el romance es precioso, lento y lleno de matices. Esta autora siempre saca a sus protagonistas de su zona de confort y los obliga a hacer frente a sus miedos y a tomar las riendas de su vida. Y lo hace de una manera natural, nada forzada y dentro de la realidad de la época. Y a pesar de que esta serie la protagonizan los cuatro huérfanos, no puedo dejar de pensar que son las heroínas las que realmente manejan la historia, las que liberan a los huérfanos de su pasado y les dan un futuro con el que ninguno soñaba. Y por el camino, ellas consiguen lo que habían deseado durante toda su vida, que no es otra cosa que ser dueñas de su destino. Y hacerlo de una manera tan sutil y realista en la época victoriana es una demostración de la calidad literaria de la señora Matthews. Por cierto, las notas históricas que la autora nos regala al final de cada libro, y que ponen en perspectiva la historia, no tienen precio. Son, simplemente, maravillosas.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Jo

    I have slowly been falling in love with Neville since the first book in this series. In my opinion, he's the glue that holds these four friends together. I'm sure he holds a special place in all of our hearts. He's one of the most endearing characters I've ever encountered in my years of reading. Years ago, Neville was involved in an accident that resulted in a brain injury which has affected his speech. It hasn't been easy to deal with. People think he's slow and, for lack of a better word, dum I have slowly been falling in love with Neville since the first book in this series. In my opinion, he's the glue that holds these four friends together. I'm sure he holds a special place in all of our hearts. He's one of the most endearing characters I've ever encountered in my years of reading. Years ago, Neville was involved in an accident that resulted in a brain injury which has affected his speech. It hasn't been easy to deal with. People think he's slow and, for lack of a better word, dumb. But that's far from the case. Neville is actually pretty smart. He just has a hard time forming his thoughts into words and expressing them. His condition seems to get worse when he's in stressful situations, he's upset or... when he's around Clara. Clara lost her teaching position after a scandal involving her rocked her little village. She was forced into letting all her dreams go and become a lady's companion. If her past has taught her anything, it's to become invisible. She doesn't need another scandal derailing the only dream she has left, becoming a secretary to her brother once he completes his schooling. Meeting Neville was never in her plans. From the moment Neville and Clara meet, there's an instant connection that neither one of them can deny. However, they both know that nothing can ever happen between them. Neville can't leave the abbey and Clara is only visiting for a month with her new employer. But the more time they spend together, the closer they become and the more their feelings start to grow. As their time together comes to a close, Neville will need to decide if saying goodbye is what's best for both of them or if their love is strong enough to see them through whatever obstacles life may throw at them, together. *dreamy sigh* Oh how I loved Neville and Clara! If anyone deserved a HEA, it's these two! I loved watching their relationship grow from friendship into something more. Both of them had insecurities that were hard to face. But together they had all the love, courage, strength and determination they needed to face anything life had in store for them. What an amazing ending to a fantastic series! I have loved spending time with the Parish Orphans of Devon and their wives! This series will be a must read over and over again. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Victorian romance! I am seriously loving all the books of Ms. Matthews I have read. She has quickly become a favorite and an auto-buy author for me. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next! And of course I can't forget my casting. I absolutely adore these two! What do you think?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Denise Hershberger

    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.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    'All she'd known was that she wanted nothing more than the formidable safety of his arms.' Mimi Matthews brings us the last book in her 'Parish Orphans of Devon' series and now I am so sad that there aren't any more books in this series. A friend recommended Mimi Matthews to me last month and I quickly read the first three books in this series and found them absolutely wonderful. This one is Neville Cross's story. Sweet, strong Neville. We find all four men, former orphans who were treated so des 'All she'd known was that she wanted nothing more than the formidable safety of his arms.' Mimi Matthews brings us the last book in her 'Parish Orphans of Devon' series and now I am so sad that there aren't any more books in this series. A friend recommended Mimi Matthews to me last month and I quickly read the first three books in this series and found them absolutely wonderful. This one is Neville Cross's story. Sweet, strong Neville. We find all four men, former orphans who were treated so despicably by the orphanage director, together for a winter reunion. Justin, Thornhill, Tom Finchley, and Alex Archer are all married happily and Neville feels his life will always be what it is now: living on Justin's property caring for the horses and animals. He loves the animals and he loves his friends, but deep inside he yearns for more. Clara Hartwright is at the Thornhill's for the winter reunion, serving as a companion to Mrs. Bainbridge. Clara wants nothing but to remain invisible in order to keep her stormy past in the past. But she soon discovers that there is something about Neville that she is mightily touched by. As we watch Neville trying to back away from Clara, fearing he will be frowned upon because of his inability to speak everything on his heart because of a traumatic injury in his youth, we watch love unfold and blossom between these two sensitive souls, it is the most precious thing to behold. I wept several times during the reading of this book. Neville is a most wonderful hero, in this reader's opinion. His heart is enormous! It's as if God created these two especially for one another. And Mimi Matthews' weaving of this tale together is magnificent. I was captivated by her writing, as I was during the first three books in the series. She deftly moves through the story, carrying the reader along feeling every emotion in these characters' hearts. I dearly wished this series didn't have to end. I loved every single moment of these books. Well done! Highly recommended. *My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jayne Fresina

    Another charming, well-written Victorian romance from Mimi Matthews, with a unique hero and heroine who are made for each other. Her characters always draw me in, her knowledge of the period gives a genuine feel to the plots/situations, and the chemistry keeps me enthralled to the end. I enjoyed every book in the series and this is a great addition. Curl up with this book, by the fire on a chilly winter evening - it really is the perfect "companion".

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bookworman

    This was sweet. Not as compelling as Books 1 and 3 but still enjoyable. Definitely worth the time especially to see the next chapter in all the recurring characters’ lives. I would put it at the same level as Matthews’ earlier, shorter works.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lu

    A man with a speech disability meets a woman in search of her place in the world. A lovely Victorian tale of love and fulfillment “The Winter Companion” brings Mimi Mathew’s Parish Orphans of Devon series to a sweet and thought-provoking close. The book is standalone, but the whole series is excellent and I recommend reading them all. Confined to an orphanage, friends Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville faced a traumatic childhood deprived of almost everything but found in each other strength to cope wi A man with a speech disability meets a woman in search of her place in the world. A lovely Victorian tale of love and fulfillment “The Winter Companion” brings Mimi Mathew’s Parish Orphans of Devon series to a sweet and thought-provoking close. The book is standalone, but the whole series is excellent and I recommend reading them all. Confined to an orphanage, friends Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville faced a traumatic childhood deprived of almost everything but found in each other strength to cope with life. They often sought adventure and mischief by climbing the treacherous cliffs of Greyfriar’s Abbey. One day, while climbing down, young Neville Cross lost his balance, crashed his head and fell into the ocean down below never to be the same person again. Now adults, the friends reunite in Greyfriar’s Abbey (currently owned by Justin) to celebrate Christmas. In the meantime, Neville is struck by the realization that, due to the speech issues that followed his accident, he stayed frozen in place with no future or perspectives while his friends lives moved on. Neville’s character is very complex and utterly adorable. He is vulnerable but at the same time strong. It is hard for him to communicate with words, but his actions speak for themselves, and show the unmistakable goodness of his heart. His mind is sound, and it is painful to see how the speech struggles change the perception other people have of him. The romance takes place when Clara Hartwright, the companion to one of the guests of the Christmas party, comes to the stables to ask Neville to take care of her old pug dog Bertie. Clara is strong and caring and has to work to maintain herself and also to pay for her brother’s studies. She has academic aspirations and, like Neville, a true love for animals. It is a slow burn romance, but it is so worth the wait. The reader is invited to witness their first meeting, their friendship, and how they slowly get to know each other and see each other’s true selves. Once again, Mimi Mathews crafts a beautiful tale of true love and the quest for a fulfilling life. Disclosure: I have received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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