Mimi Matthews' The Belles of London series is back with The Lily of Ludgate Hill! It's the third in the series and follows Lady Anne Deveril and Felix "Hart" Hartford. They don't like each other, to say the least, but as is the case with any good love story, their feelings for each other are much more complicated than that.
Anne and Felix have known each other since childhood and even had a relationship once upon a time. But then Felix had to leave and Anne's father died and they fell apart...quite dramatically. Now they see each other at a few social events, but Anne tries to keep as much distance between them as possible. That is...until she needs his help.
Anne has just learned that her best friend Julia has been whisked away by the dark Captain Blunt and she knows her friend must be in danger. So she needs Felix's help to convince her mother to make the trip. How? Well, she knows Felix writes one of the spiritual papers that her mother reads. If he writes the right words, she can convince her mother to make the trip to Julia to rescue her.
This mischief is as fun as you might expect. Because, of course, Felix wants something in return. What does he want? He wants Anne to wear a red dress! Anne and her mother have been wearing mourning clothes since her father's death and that was years ago. Felix believes Anne has allowed her light to be dimmed and wants to see her spark once again. Anne is desperate enough to agree.
The Lily of Ludgate Hill is a must-read historical romance for 2024
Everything goes as planned except now Felix is making the trip with Anne to visit Julia, and she never planned for that. Being in a confined space with Felix Hartford for long periods of time is more than Anne can take, but it's the start of something that Felix has yearned for, and Anne had thought was never possible.
This is easily one of my favorite Mimi Matthews novels. I love a complicated female character and Anne is that and more. She is strong but only to hide her strong emotions and her vulnerability, especially when it comes to Felix. She also hides behind her responsibility to her mother. I love nothing more than a character who has such a complex inner life.
And who better to call her out on hiding? Well, Felix Hartford, of course! He calls her out throughout the series, and while she hates it (and so would I), he is the one she needs to fully see her, flaws and all.
This couple could not be more suited. They both have secrets, they both feel very deeply, and they both can banter and throw insults at each other for days. They are delightful. They are all unrequited feelings, hurt, and love all wrapped up into a complex and beautiful couple.
I also really enjoyed seeing what we can expect in the next book. We get a view of Stella Hobhouse, the final Belle of the group. She is tired of being judged for her silver hair, but she also meets a man (someone we've met before) who could not be more enthralled with her hair and her. Waiting for this final book is going to be very difficult.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, headstrong female characters and men who love to spar with them, Victorian fashion, and highly-researched historical fiction, you need to read The Lily of Ludgate Hill (and all of Mimi Matthews' backlist).