I am excited to participate in the blog tour for The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen. I have loved participating in so many blog tours this year, many of which are novels part of the Proper Romance Collection. This is an intriguing mystery that adds a new twist to Victorian love stories.
Why I chose to participate in this blog tour:
- Intriguing plot with the matchmaker and police investigation elements
- I enjoyed Nancy Campbell Allen’s The Secret of the India Orchid
- Part of the Proper Romance Collection so I knew it would be a clean and beautiful love story
I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
London, 1885 Amelie Hampton is a hopeless romantic, which makes her the perfect columnist to answer lonely heart letters in The Marriage Gazette. When Amelie plays matchmaker with two anonymous lonely hearts, she also decides to secretly observe the couple’s blind date. To her surprise, the man who appears for the rendezvous is Harold Radcliffe―a grieving widower and a member of Amelie’s book club.
Police detective Michael Baker has been struggling ever since his best friend and brother-in-law died in the line of fire. Because he knows the dangers of his job, he has vowed never to marry and subject a wife and family to the uncertainty of his profession. But when he meets Miss Hampton, he is captured by her innocence, beauty, and her quick mind.
When a woman’s body is pulled from the river, Michael suspects the woman’s husband―Harold Radcliffe―of foul play. Amelie refuses to believe that Harold is capable of such violence but agrees to help, imagining it will be like one of her favorite mystery novels. Her social connections and clever observations prove an asset to the case, and Amelie is determined to prove Mr. Radcliffe’s innocence. But the more time Amelie and Michael spend together, the more they trust each other, and the more they realize they are a good team, maybe the perfect match.
They also realize that Mr. Radcliffe is hiding more than one secret, and when his attention turns toward Amelie, Michael knows he must put an end to this case before the woman he loves comes to harm.
I enjoyed getting to know the characters especially Michael but found Amelie to be a bit overly naive. Michael is a great protagonist and it was fun to get inside his head. His perspective and morals were intriguing to understand. And I loved his slow burning realizations that he has fallen in love with Amelie. However, Amelie was less likable for me. It’s not an issue with her hopeless romanticism or innocence at the start of the novel. It’s more that I didn’t feel like she changes much during the story. She stays naive and frustratingly stubborn about going at it alone and trying to solve the mystery by herself. She doesn’t listen to the wise advice of others and insists on doing what she wants. I admire her determination to solve the case and to be helpful. But a bit more self preservation would have been helpful. That being said, there is a well developed cast of characters surrounding the love interests and I would love to read more about Amelie’s cousins and even get a backstory on her Aunt and Michael’s detective partner.
I really enjoyed the romance between Michael and Amelie. It is a lovely, slow burning romance that develops with every page of the book. I enjoy the classic shift from begrudging colleagues to falling in love. They begin their relationship with very different opinions about each other and about love. And their feelings for each other sneak up on them in delightful ways. I absolutely love their first kiss and how intensely their feelings become in the heat of the the investigation. Michael is a fantastic hero and certain a man with high standards and deep rooted kindness. I love how her relationship with Michael changes everything Amelie thought she knew about love. I loved their happy ending.
Spoilers Ahead in this paragraph! The plot is fast paced and action driven. From the first pages, we are thrown into a murder investigation where everything does not add up quite right. Mr Radcliffe’s shifty behavior is intriguing and I was nearly instantly invested in the story. It was very easy to get hooked by all the action and to read just one more chapter to see what happens next. The plot twists and turns throughout the novel. But I found the ending a bit underwhelming in it’s reveal of the murderer. We are led right to the murderer from the first page of the book. I would have liked more nuance or surprise about that discovery. Perhaps an alternate suspect at the least. Additionally, I was surprised by how violent this book is. There are some rather graphic descriptions of murder victims, several descriptions of autopsies, and an extremely violent scene involving our heroine at the end (so violent that it was a bit far fetched that a happily ever after could occur!). I was a bit overwhelmed by that violence. Usually books in this collection are not quite that violent, and I wouldn’t want my teenage kids reading this one without some discussion of the violence beforehand.
I enjoyed the Victorian setting but sometimes felt that the action didn’t entirely fit the time period. Lately, I have been on a bit of a Victorian Era London kick so I was excited about this time period. Sometimes, the descriptions were quite lovely and I enjoyed the details. But at other moments, I felt that Allen left the Victorian Era completely. I was reminded of Thoroughly Modern Millie (which I love!) a lot while I read this book. Amelie’s desire to be an “woman of independent means” was so reminiscent of Millie’s opinions. Sometimes the conversation felt rather modern as well. While I understand that the Victorian Era was a time of changing ideas and opinions, there were moments when the book felt too modern and that was a disappointment.
Overall, I enjoyed The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart. The love story is beautifully written. Many of the characters are well developed and I was easily caught in all the action. But this wasn’t a stand out novel for me. The violence, main protagonist and sometimes Victorian setting were not as well done as I had hoped. Still, a fast paced and fun mystery/love story.
Nancy Campbell Allen is the author of fifteen published novels and numerous novellas, which span genres from contemporary romantic suspense to historical fiction. In 2005, her work won the Utah Best of State award, and she received a Whitney Award for My Fair Gentleman. She has presented at numerous writing conferences and events since her first book was released in 1999. Nancy received a BS in Elementary Education from Weber State University. She loves to read, write, travel, and research and enjoys spending time laughing with family and friends. She is married and the mother of three children.
Join the virtual book tour of THE MATCHMAKER’S LONELY HEART, Nancy Campbell Allen’s highly acclaimed historical novel, September 6-19, 2021. Thirty popular on-line influencers specializing in historical romance, mystery/suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with a spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.
Sept 06 Timeless Novels (Review)
Sept 07 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)
Sept 07 Wishful Endings (Review)
Sept 08 Robin Loves Reading (Review)
Sept 08 A Darn Good Read (Review)
Sept 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight)
Sept 08 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
Sept 09 Bookfoolery (Review)
Sept 09 The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)
Sept 10 The Bluestocking (Review)
Sept 10 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Sept 10 The Silver Petticoat Review (Review)|
Sept 11 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
Sept 11 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Sept 11 Nurse Bookie (Review)
Sept 12 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
Sept 12 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Sept 13 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Sept 13 Reading with Emily (Review)
Sept 13 Our Book Confessions (Review)
Sept 14 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)
Sept 14 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Sept 14 Beauty in the Binding (Spotlight)
Sept 15 All-of-a-Kind Mom (Review)
Sept 15 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Sept 15 Life of Literature (Review)
Sept 16 From Pemberley to Milton (Review)
Sept 16 Probably at the Library (Spotlight)
Sept 17 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)
Sept 17 Relz Reviewz (Review)
Sept 18 Novel Kicks (Review)
Sept 19 Historical Fiction with Spirit (Excerpt)