Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews caught my attention simply because it is a historical romance novel whose title doesn't include the words Duke, Earl, Viscount, or Lady. And there's not even a woman on the cover! In case you're wondering if this is truly a historical romance novel based on the above information let me assure you that it definitely is and it is positively wonderful.
Blurb: Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nicholas is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nicholas escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nicholas never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.
After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful—and entirely convinced he’s someone else.
As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain the other? Or with a little luck—and a lot of daring—will he find a way to have them both?
Review: I was sold on this book from the very first chapter. I'm not usually into the whole soul mates trope, but there's something so sweet about hero and heroine loving each other since they were children. Nicholas and Margaret believed they were soul mates from the moment they met and those feelings never dulled, even after being torn apart and separated for over a decade. I cannot think of a single thing more romantic than watching the innocent love of children blossom into the passionate love of adults. That's the truest form of love right there.
Margaret is, like many heroines, a kind-hearted, good-natured, wonderful person. And we love her for it. I'll admit that even though the perfect, innocent heroine trope is a little overdone, I still adored Maggie as a main character. She was just loud enough and bold enough and crass enough to stay interesting. Nicholas, or shall we say St. Clare, was utterly fabulous. I can't even explain how much I love that we got to see a hero who, right from the start, was madly in love with Maggie, wanted to pursue her, and didn't care who knew about it. So refreshingly romantic.
The excitement stemmed from the plot to undercover Nicholas' true birth right and keep Maggie free from the clutches of Fred, the man in charge of her fortune...and the man who wants her for himself. Who doesn't love the excitement of the main characters out-maneuvering the bad guy at every turn? I can't get enough of it, that's for sure.
This would be a wonderful read for historical lovers who enjoy: fake and/or mistaken identities, mysteries, bossy heroines (who says bossy has to be a bad thing?), and enamored, sexy heroes who don't mind pretending to be a highwayman if it means keeping a creep's hands off their lady. Well-written, captivating, and incredibly sexy.