My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews is a sweet Victorian romance novella. I was really intrigued by the blurb so I gave it a try. This being the author’s debut, I had no idea what I was getting into, yet was pleasantly surprised by the story and the characters. However, in the end, it did feel like the story had not been delivered to its full potentials.
The Lost Letter opens up as we’re introduced to our h, Sylvia. Once a shining star on the Ton’s sky as the glorious “Miss Stafford”, she’s now serving as a governess to a merchant family who are decidedly down the social ladder. The family is kind to her but her fall from grace had been no less painful when her over-the-top gambler father committed suicide to escape the tremendous debt he’d amassed. He was a selfish SOB, didn’t even think of his only child. He left her to the buzzards to pick at her. Sylvia had a rough year trying to come to terms with both her peer of the realm father’s sudden demise and her diminished social status, which meant she had no prospect of marriage any longer. Which also meant she’d be living out her life as a spinster, and the most honorable job would be of the position of a governess. That too, if anyone deigns to give her a job. Sylvia is grateful to her employers for taking her in when she thought there was no one to help her.
Sylvia’s friends, even her long-time ladies maid, have turned their backs on her. Suicide was such a taboo in the society that the family members were left to pick up the pieces of one person’s impulsive decision. Just how unpleasant the scenario can become, Sylvia found out soon enough. Within a few days, she was penniless, without a home and no one else to turn to. :( But in the past 2/3 yrs, she’d gradually come to terms with her station in life, even enjoying her job. She thought she was content. Only one day, that contentment was thrown in chaos when the sudden news of someone long lost to her reached Sylvia, leaving her speechless. Quite literally.
When Lady Harker came calling to her employer’s humble abode, Sylvia was astonished. She had no Ton friends any longer, so who was she? What does she want? Upon meeting her Sylvia couldn’t remember meeting her. Lady Harker was quite young, definitely younger than a 26yrs. old Sylvia and rather silly and impulsive. But for some reason Sylvia liked her even when she was prattling along about things that didn’t made sense, until they did and Sylvia was totally flabbergasted. It seems Colonel Sebastian Conrad is finally home after a long time spend in battlefields. It also seems that he’s now the Earl as his father and elder brother passed away in between. Sylvia was also able to surmise from Julia prattling that he’s badly wounded and difficult to be with. It seems that he’s also badly in need of help and according to Julia, only Sylvia can be the divine intervention that needed to bring her brother back to the land of the living.
Sylvia had thought Sebastian had abandoned her. He’d never communicated after the last time they’d seen each-other, then he’d went back to his regiment. All those letters she’d wrote expressing her true feelings, not a single reply came. What’s a girl to do but think of the worst? That he’d rejected her feelings. Sylvia had already came to terms with the loss of the only man she ever loved. Now this sudden return, and even more surprising plea from his sister....... Sylvia says ‘yes’ even before comprehending what she was doing. Apparently, Sebastian still had that lock of hair he’d taken as a token from her. Julia thinks he’s still in love with her. Was he? The only way Sylvia would find out was by facing the beast in his lair. Literally, because according to Julia Sebastian is always in a beastly mood, trying to throw things at her when she, well, tried to intervene his lonely existence. It seemed only right that Sylvia met him and put this whole thing to rest once and for all.
Sebastian Conrad hadn’t had a good last year. In fact, as far as living goes, his had been horrible. With the pain of a face injury, both physical and psychological, he’d been gradually going downhill not knowing how to deal with his situation. The news of his father and elder brother’s death didn’t help, neither did it help that he could barely stand his much younger sister who he’d always considered more of a nuisance. He freakin’ wanted to be left alone! So, Sebastian has been a complete recluse in his country estate, eschewing all forms of socialization. Yet the last thing he would’ve expected was his past returning to haunt him in the form of the lady who had been featured in his every fevered dream since he’d met her; Miss Sylvia Stafford.
Sebastian had always been a rather serious man. He’s not classically handsome but his tall physique and strong presence, with that seriousness written all over his face, he makes a very prominent figure. And I won’t get into the ode of observing a tall, handsome man in uniform. I’m sure you get my drift already. ;) Even Sylvia would acknowledge that had had a hand in her noticing Sebastian when other women, and girls, stayed away from his severe demeanor and intense stare. He’s never been a womanizer, always following rules of his own. But inside, he was just a man who fell in love with the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He’s the type to fall only once and remain devoted to that person. Sylvia Stafford, for him, had been that person until his letters were rejected and he was told she’d had other, better prospects than a second son of an Earl. Well, not by her directly (I can only assume it was her father) but Sebastian got the point. And since no letters had ever reached him in the past 2yrs., he was certain she’d abandoned him for greener pastures. Then why the hell would she return to him when he’s in such a vulnerable state? To gawk and laugh at him?
Knowing Julia was the reason behind her presence didn’t make Sebastian happy. He did try to throw something at her again for being nosy, but Julia is young and agile and she ran out the door. :P I don’t know, no matter what I found the siblings’ antics funny. Maybe because I knew Sebastian never meant any harm and Julia, for all her silliness, only wanted the best for her only surviving brother. :) Sebastian wasn’t happy with Julia’s meddling but he couldn’t deny the thrill of seeing Sylvia again, most especially knowing she’s still unmarried. For Sylvia, she felt exactly the same, albeit Sebastian’s ruined face gave her loads of pain thinking of what he must’ve suffered. She couldn’t bear to think beyond that; that he may not have returned at all.
So, that far, I was supremely enjoying the book. But I did notice some inconsistencies in the story. Like, in the beginning, from the narratives, it felt like Sebastian and Sylvia had been apart for far longer than 2yrs. I was quite sure it had to be more than 5 yrs. Their time apart was one of the things that was repeated over and over again in the narratives, and every time it felt... wrong for some reason. I speak that from a reader’s perspective. There were also some ridiculous typos I couldn’t overlook. :/ And then there was those stupid misunderstandings between Sylvia and Sebastian that proved to be extremely frustrating. Sylvia, for such a smart girl, likes reading too much between the lines and if Sebastian’s ardor made her think he only wanted to make her his mistress, then.... I mean really, WHY would she simply jump to that conclusion? I understand that they had some trust issues because of what happened, but that wasn’t either of their fault. I’d have thought Sylvia would at least stay to figure things out with Sebastian, see where they stood despite their different social status. That whole debacle was just stupid and cost it 0.5 star cause I was planning on 4 stars before that.
Despite everything, I was SO glad when Sebastian went after her, Sylvia didn’t do anymore stupid things. I was Like, yeah FINALLY! I thought Sebastian was hot, even if grumpy. He had his reasons; PTSD is no fun I imagine so I forgive him for being rude. He genuinely was a good guy, and they were still in love with each-other. And no matter how much they wanna deny it, all thanks goes to Julia. :D 3.5 stars and I’ll be looking forward to more from Mimi Matthews.