Review by Christina Boyd.
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?
I loved every single moment in The Winter Companion. EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. A perfect balance of Victorian-era romance and narrative, an unlikely hero and a likable heroine meet at a Christmas gathering full of newlyweds and happily marrieds at Greyfriar Abbey...and amongst so much obvious affection, a growing theme begins to intrude in their private thoughts: “Why not me?”
A young woman with a secret past, Miss Clara Hartwright is the new companion to an elderly lady. When she receives curious correspondence from her brother studying at Cambridge, his change in tone makes her worry—adding anxiety for her own future.
Neville Cross, who we met in Matthews’s first book of the “Parish Orphans of Devon” series, is the resident horse whisperer who struggles with a speech impediment from a traumatic brain injury incurred as a child—yet there is much more behind his silent and even sullen demeanor. Could he be a Sir Galahad in the making?
As the pair become better acaquainted, they discover how well suited they are—despite the personal obstacles each contrives. And yet:
“My dreams, then.” She fell quiet a moment. Her face heated with a self-conscious blush. “I suppose—if everything were perfect, and there were no concerns about money or propriety—I’d want this. This moment.”
The last pages are equally swoonworthy and a perfect way to end this superb series. Like all she writes, Matthews’s prose is gorgeous, painstakingly researched, thoughtful, and poignant, making The Winter Companion another MUST READ.