Review: A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
A Holiday by Gaslight
Mimi Matthews
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Links: Amazon Barnes & NobleGoodreadsStoryGraph
Rating:4 Stars

MY REVIEW

Did I read this book after Christmas? Yes. I don’t know why, but I always want to read holiday novels AFTER the holidays.

A Holiday by Gaslight was a super cute, light and fun holiday romance novel! Novellas can be very hit or miss for me as it’s hard to balance the plot, characters, and romance in such a small amount of space, but Mimi Matthews had no problems with that!

Sophie Appersett is willing to marry outside her class and without love to help her family. But Mr. Edward Sharpe, the self-made businessman who is courting her, seems to have shown little interest in her during their outings. After two months of courtship, she breaks things off with Edward as she’d like to marry a man with whom she at least has some things in common. While Mr. Sharpe accepts Sophie’s wishes, inside, he’s feeling anything but okay. Despite not showing much outward emotion, Mr. Sharpe is saddened by the end of his courtship. When Prince Albert dies, Sophie’s family needs to make up numbers at a holiday house party, and Sophie decides to invite Mr. Sharpe and give him another time as she fears she might have been too hasty in brushing him off. 

In her author’s note, Matthews states she was partially inspired by North & South. I’ve never read that, but I know enough about it from the BBC adaptation with Richard Armitage to see the influences on this story. If you’re a fan of that, you’ll love this novella, as Edward Sharpe definitely gives off Mr. Thornton vibes.

The romance stood out to me in the novella. This is very much a class-differences/opposites attract type of story. If you like a main male character with a stern exterior but a soft gooey interior, you’ll love Edward Sharpe. He holds his feelings close to his chest, is a bit stern and gruff, and is not great at expressing his feelings, but he still feels things very deeply. I loved getting his point of view as it helped to show that while he tries to brush off Sophie’s dismissal of their courtship as not a big deal, he’s hurt and upset by it. He was truly smitten by her, and she had no idea. Having Sophie’s point of view also helps the romance develop as we see her perspective on him change as she gets to know him better and starts to understand his feelings by watching how he interacts and treats others. 

Watching their relationship slowly develop throughout the novella was so sweet. There is a quiet intimacy to their conversations that I enjoyed as it helped show the progression of their relationship from relative strangers to two people who care deeply about each other. Mr. Sharpe can also really turn on the charm when he wants with his promise to kiss her “Under the mistletoe. Under the gaslight. Under the stars.” 

I really enjoyed our two main characters. Mr. Sharpe had so many layers to him, and I loved peeling back his stern exterior to see all the emotions he had inside. He’s a genuinely good guy, and he won me over when he stated how he’d be proud to have daughters and would treasure them as much as a son. Sophie was also a great female character, and I sympathized with her a lot. She’s been put in a tough situation because of her father and has to be a voice of reason for her family, plus support them. She wants to make her own choice but also wants to keep her family safe – balancing those two things is not always easy. I’m so glad she was willing to give Mr. Sharpe a second chance, as she realized she might have rushed to conclusions too quickly with her first impression of him. 

Meanwhile, I actively HATED Sophie’s father. My god, that man was so obsessed with modernization that he was bankrupting his family. I understand where he was coming from, with modernization being the way of the future, but he was so blinded and single-minded that he disregarded his family. He also seems to harbor a lot of resentment towards his two daughters because he has no son or heir. He even, at one point, said “what use are you to me” to Sophie, and I about near lost my mind. 

Sophie’s sister Emily was a bit hard to take as well since she’s very much like her father, with no concerns about how her actions or words impact others. I cannot say I liked her, but I appreciated her relationship with Sophie, as she genuinely cares for her. I also enjoyed Emily’s little secondary romance with Mr. Sharpe’s friend, as that was a bit unexpected and sweet. 

I also appreciated how Mimi Matthews seamlessly wove historical details into the story. You can tell she knows so much about this time period, but she doesn’t beat you over the head with the information. I honestly didn’t realize how gaslight worked until this book, and I found it fascinating! It fit perfectly into the narrative, and I liked walking away with knowledge of something new. 

Next time you find yourself in the holiday mood, you should grab A Holiday by Gaslight! It’s a charming, sweet, low-angst historical romance that will leave you feeling warm and fluffy inside – perfect for the holiday season and cold winter nights! 

Let me know what you think!

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