From the desk of Katie Patchell:
Matchmaker: For me, this word conjures up frightening images of domineering great-aunts and nosy neighbors, all wagging their fingers in my unwed face to the beat of Fiddler on the Roof’s justly titled song, “Matchmaker Matchmaker.” While these dreams may have more to do with my unresolved issues (or a rich diet of too sharp cheese), I do have to say in my defense that the word “matchmaker” would be far less anxiety-inducing if the matchmaker in question was tall, dark, and handsome. That would make me, like Ashtyn Newbold’s irrepressible heroine of her latest addition to the Larkhall Letters series, The Matchmaker’s Request, much more willing to accept a matchmaker’s aid…or should I say, a matchmaker’s heart?
“Aunt Crauford had many expressions, but today the only one Matthew had seen was disapproval.
“Twenty-one,” she said with a huffed breath, kicking one foot against the floor to set her rocking chair in motion…“In the past month alone, I have heard you proclaim twenty-one times that you shall never marry and never produce an heir.”
Matthew drew a deep breath, letting his eyelids flutter closed. “Then you should see clearly just how earnest I am.” (5)
One Confirmed Bachelor
Matthew Northcott is, indeed, a bachelor in earnest. Having been burned by love once before, he has no intention of pursuing a wife. When his good friend asks him to seek out a husband for his 27-year-old sister, Cassandra, Matthew agrees. After all, he has much experience in the role of watchful older brother. A lifetime of it, in fact. Serving as Season guide and confidante is easy, as he soon finds; the difficulty is in not falling in love with a woman as unpredictable as she is hilarious. Chasing away rakish suitors has been a task he’s done as a brother, but it’s never been so stressful. Perhaps that’s because of the charming woman who keeps surprising him with her lively sense of humor, beautiful character, and…antelope jokes.
“A walk through Hyde Park would have been much more enjoyable without shoes. Or other people.” (91)
One Highly Original Woman
Despite her aunt’s unkind comments, Cassandra knows that, as a mature adult, she has much to offer to the world. When Matthew accepts Cassandra’s brother’s request to serve as chaperone and matchmaker in his stead, Cassandra steels her heart against any attachment. Matthew’s laughing blue eyes, kind nature, and humility make this an impossible task. As the Season progresses and her aunt’s coldness turns to cruelty, Cassandra knows that her choices are limited. This is only more evident when Matthew’s original love–now a widow–arrives on the scene. When Cassandra’s aunt issues an ultimatum regarding Matthew, Cassandra must decide if love–and rebellion–are worth the risk.
Oh, the Characters!
Alright, I confess: Cassandra is my new Regency icon and Matthew is (cue a happy sigh) my latest Regency crush. In The Matchmaker’s Request, Matthew shares the role of narrator. As many authors have done phenomenally with Pride and Prejudice, we get to see behind Matthew’s Mr. Darcy-esque exterior to the complex man underneath. His journey to letting himself feel love again was as magnetic as Cassandra’s tale of embracing what makes one stand out, which is already a strong story. Combining both Matthew’s and Cassandra’s perspectives created a fuller, richer novel.
“But I decided that if I am to abandon any of my convictions against dancing, it would not be for your cousin. It would only be for you.” (199)
Bright, vivid, passionate: Newbold’s prose is as beautiful as stained glass in afternoon sunlight. Each shard of The Matchmaker’s Request was colorful and perfectly designed. From the charged romantic dialogue to the small details of stockinged feet on grass, this was a captivating, well-crafted story. After reading and reviewing the previous book in the Larkhall Letters’ series, I’m put in the rare position of not being able to pick out a favorite in the series. All are lovely! If you’ve read one (or all) of the Larkhall Letters series, please share in the comments below which is your favorite and why.
Every Ashtyn Newbold Regency novel I’ve read has been a delight, and The Matchmaker’s Request is no exception. To read this romantic comedy of manners means that the hours will fly by at double-time until one arrives, breathless, at the satisfying denouement. This is one of my favorite reads of 2022, and I unreservedly recommend it to first time “visitors” of Larkhall as well as to those long familiar with its stately halls and equally magnificent inhabitants.
5 out of 5 Stars
- The Matchmaker’s Request: A Regency Romance (Larkhall Letters Book 4), by Ashtyn Newbold
- Three Leaf Publishing (January 28, 2022)
- Trade paperback & eBook (270) pages
- ISBN: 979-8409165208
- Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction
We purchased a copy of the book for our own enjoyment. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Three Leaf Publishing © 2022; text Katie Patchell © 2022, austenprose.com.
Hello Dear Readers,
Have you read any of the Larkhall Letters series, or other books by this author?
If you enjoy historical romance with witty dialogue, engaging plots, and endearing characters, Austenprose highly recommends them.
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Laurel Ann Nattress, editor