The Winter Companion

The Winter Companion

by Mimi Matthews

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Overview

A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews' USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.



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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781733056953
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Series: Parish Orphans of Devon , #4
Pages: 316
Sales rank: 121,267
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

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The Winter Companion 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Heidi_Reads 11 days ago
This author has such a skill at bringing her characters to life! I always pitied Neville in the previous books because of his limitations, but what he really needed was a champion- Clara sees him for who he really is and knows that he is capable. I loved being able to get into his head and seeing just how much he comprehends and what the effects of his head injury really were. Their friendship and romance is just so, so sweet! I have a soft spot for the strong silent type, and Clara's individuality and acceptance of him made them a perfect match. There is a bit of a mysterious subplot throughout the book that provides the impetus for the climax, and it was just right for this gentle romance with three-dimensional characters. It was also fun to revisit the couples from the previous books in the series, and it was an absolute joy to end this wonderful series with such a strong finish. Highly recommend all the books in the Parish Orphans of Devon series! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions expressed in this review are my own)
PamReviews 12 days ago
Once upon a time there were four unwanted children - Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville - who survived hell at a orphanage by forming their own little family. This is Neville's story, book 4 in the Parish Orphans of Devon series. This book can be read as a standalone, but all of the books are excellent and I highly recommend them. I'm a little heartbroken that this is the last book, and can only hope for reunion stories for them. The four boys, now men, have all gathered for Christmas at Justin's estate in Devon, the first time they have all been together since they were children. Three of the men have met and married their wives. Justin's wife's aunt has also joined them for Christmas, with her new companion. The aunt was not pleased when the companion showed up for her new position with an elderly pug dog, who had belonged to one of her former employees. Neville received a head injury in a fall from a cliff as a boy, and speaking is a struggle for him. He is self conscious about his disability, and avoids being around strangers. He is painfully aware that people who don't know him may consider him to have less than normal intelligence. Unlike the other boys, he has never left Devon. Neville is training to take the position of steward for Justin but prefers working with animals to doing paperwork. He currently is also caring for a heavily pregnant, wild Dartmouth pony with an injured leg. I loved learning a little about these wild ponies and the conservation efforts that were made for them even in Victorian times. Clara Hartwright, the companion, is from a family with little money. She had worked previously as a teacher with her mother, but left home to find work as a companion to elderly ladies, halfway between upstairs and downstairs. It is a solitary and insecure life for her, without friends, and her only contact with her family is through letters, and not affectionate ones at that. Most of what she makes goes to help pay her brother's expensive school fees. Clara has a plan for herself, but it depends on her brother finishing his studies and employing her. Then she gets some very troubling news about her brother .... I had so hoped for Neville to find someone to love and be loved in return, but couldn't see how it would happen. I should have had faith. This is a lovely story about two injured people who have been silenced in different ways and find their voices and courage. Loved it and highly recommend it and the whole series. My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read this advanced reader copy. All opinions expressed here are mine.
TheCompulsiveReader7 12 days ago
(4.5 stars) - Neville finds his much deserved & long overdue happiness Generally, a parasite is of a different species from its host, but sadly, free will allows humans to exhibit parasitic behavior to each other. Clara is made to feel like a parasite by others, but in truth, she's the one who has been parasitized, taken advantage of to her detriment. Real families are intended to be symbiotic, with each member helping out to benefit the others. Neville has found a makeshift family with his friends. Clara wants to love and be loved, to care for & be taken care of as well. Sadly, her romantic nature & inexperienced naiveté make her an easy target for those who would take advantage, but at the same time makes her a perfect fit for Neville and his band of brothers with their wives. She & Neville are kindred spirits. They each value the other's perspective & what they have to say. Respectful consideration denied Neville for his speaking difficulties & Clara for being a mere woman readily develops between them, quickly becoming admiration & then affection. The time they spend together is a happy, companionable respite from the prejudiced judgments of the world, but the world intrudes when familial duty pulls Clara away. They think their Brigadoon is to be relegated to the mist of the past, until Neville & Clara find themselves stepping far outside of their comfort zones to help each other. The realization comes that perhaps their idyll is not so much a where as it is a who. And as the remaining complications are dealt with, all of the Parrish Orphans of Devon have now found a form of healing for all of their pasts that fully extends towards their bright & hopeful futures! What a wonderfully satisfying ending to an excellent series! It did leave me wondering about what happened with Clara's family after Neville's proposal. And I love the news that Teddy might have a novella where he finds his own happily-ever-after - perhaps his new art teacher will be a woman who sees the beauty of his soul as well as his talent! *Clean romance level: passionate kisses, nothing graphic *Language: only 1 or 2 d--- & h--- *Religion: only noticed one use of the Lord's Name in vain with "for G-d's sake"; story's not especially religious, some negative experiences mentioned but also some positive ones, leans informal over formal but that would be consistent with the characters' backgrounds
MLH438 13 days ago
The Winter Companion, the fourth book in Mimi Matthews' Parish Orphans of Devon series, is a sweet, charming, and lovely end to the series. I have enjoyed all the books in the series and this is no exception. Matthews' characterization and prose are top-notch. The Christmas season is a time of reunion for parish orphans Justin, Tom, Alex, their respective wives, and Neville. They are meeting at Justin's estate in Devon, and Clara Hartwright has joined them as the companion of Mrs. Bainbridge, the aunt of Alex's wife, Laura. Clara knows what to expect as a companion... "Companions were meant to be next door to invisible. Rather like genteel ghosts, mutely shadowing the steps of their corporeal benefactors. Words, when spoken, were best kept to murmured minimum." Neville Cross keeps his words to a murmured minimum due to a brain injury. Speaking to his childhood friends is hard enough, but his attraction to Clara makes it difficult to find the words to let her know how he feels. "He felt, all at once, the full weight of his condition. Of being lonely, if not alone. Stuck in the same place while the rest of the world surged ahead at a startling rate of speed." "What he'd wanted - needed - was someone to be patient with him. To understand." Clara is patient and wants to understand Neville. She sees him as gallant and pure - a Sir Galahad. They are both afraid to trust their attraction but finally realize they complete and bring out the best in each other. Neville's love for Clara gives him the confidence to venture away from Devon and find their HEA. This can be read as a stand alone; however you will enjoy it so much more if you read the series in sequence. Matthews brings us up-to-date with the Justin, Tom and Alex and hints at a budding romance between Mrs. Bainbridge and Mr. Boothroyd. While Neville is the last of the orphans, I would love to see a story about Laura's brother, Teddy, and learn more about the budding romance! I received an ARC in exchange for a fair review.
CJLPM 13 days ago
Actions speak louder... What a beautiful, tender story. Neville is a man trapped inside his own head, whenever his words won't come out the way he needs them to. Clara is made to feel her words don't count, aren't reliable, aren't worth anything. Together they tell a romantic, lovely story - in their own way. Wonderful end to this perfect series. Highly recommended.
SusanSnodgrassBookworm 13 days ago
A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews' USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series. 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?
Vesper1931 13 days ago
December 1860. Greyfriar Abbey, North Devon. The Christmas period has brought the four orphans, now adults to the Abbey for a long overdue reunion. Clara Hartwright has come as Mrs Bainbridge's companion, the aunt to the now married Laura Archer. While hiding her past, Clara financially supports, with the help of her mother, her brother Simon at University. Meanwhile the last of the unmarried orphans is more comfortable spending time with animals, but then he meets Clara. Can both overcome their pasts or will their courage fail them. Another very enjoyable and well-written Victorian romance. With its cast of very lovable characters. Certainly a delightful end to the series. Although it can easily be read as a standalone story I would highly recommend the whole series.
CathyGeha 13 days ago
The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews Parish Orphans of Devon #4 Neville Cross is someone I have been hoping would get a happily ever after from the time I first met him. I knew there was more to him and was pleased to find out that he was not only handsome, big and strong but also gentle, kind and a truly good person. The connection between his thoughts and putting those thoughts into words was a struggle but he was not lacking in wits...not at all. So, when Clara Hartwright walked into the stable with Bertie the Pug I was on tenterhooks waiting to see how their story would develop. I found Clara to be the perfect person for Neville. She could read him and knew he was a fine person and a man she could trust...after she got over her first misgivings. She really didn’t see a future for herself beyond being a lady’s companion and later being secretary for her brother and had left many dreams behind as she worked as a lady’s companion. There was more to her, too, than met the eye and Neville saw her beauty of face, form and intellect right away. That the four friends, once orphans struggling to survive, were together for Christmas and there for one another was a heartwarming. It was so nice to see how the men and their ladies were doing. What I liked: * Neville: such a wonderful person inside and out – a gentle giant – perfect for Clara * Clara: a woman I could feel with and for – brilliant woman in a time that did not appreciate women as they should * The couples met in the first three books of this series – getting to see them again and hear about their lives was a bit of fun * The dogs – so glad that Bertie got to join the pack for awhile * The part about the Dartmoor ponies – had fun looking them up online * The strength of both main characters – they faced what they had to and did so brilliantly * All of it, really except… What I did not like: * Clara’s brother Simon – seemed a self-entitled son and brother that had had smooth sailing too long * Simon’s tutor – a cad, creep and callous male that deserved a thrashing * That both Neville and Clara had spent time questioning parts of themselves and were made to feel “less” Did I enjoy this book? Definitely Would I read more by this author? Without a doubt What I might like to still know? What happens to Edward/Teddy Having been a neurosurgical intensive care nurse and then having worked in a nursing home for mentally alert but neurologically impaired I have known people with injuries like Neville’s. The ability to “come back” from those injuries is not easy and often is not 100%. I am so glad that Neville found his place in the world and a life that was so rich and rewarding. Thank you to NetGalley and The Perfectly Proper Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars
Pokeybooboo 14 days ago
The Winter Companion is the fourth and final book of the Parish Orphans of Devon series by Mimi Matthews. It stands alone, but you are missing a great deal of perfection if you skip the first three. I was thrilled that Ms. Matthews states there may be novellas to tie up some loose threads, such as what becomes of Teddy. That's good to know, because I am not ready to let these beloved characters go. This series is, in a word, beautiful. Neville Cross is the fourth parish orphan of the group which also includes Justin, Tom and Alex. While they were all living in the orphanage, Neville had a horrible accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. As a result, he has a speech impediment and has trouble getting his words out. While his friends left the Parish and made their way in the world, Neville remained in the area. Feeling self-conscious, he much prefers spending time with animals instead of people....until lady's companion Clara Hartwright arrives and sets his world on end. All of the orphans and their families are spending Christmas at Justin's home, and Clara is the companion of one of the guests. She tries to keep a low profile so she isn't noticed, but Neville certainly sees her. They become friends, but feelings begin to morph into something more. This story is simply lovely. Clara has a bit of a past and issues with her family while Neville deals with his speech problem. There isn't a huge mystery, danger or love triangle going on here, just two people falling in love and believing there is no way they can be together. When Clara has to leave due to a family emergency and tells Neville she won't be back, they are both devastated. However, Neville's love for Clara gives him the strength to go after her and venture away from his comfort zone. This sweet and beautiful story brought tears to my eyes. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever gotten through an entire novel by Ms. Matthews without crying! I am so thankful for the extraordinary books that this talented author has given to us. I hope there are many more stories to come. I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
georgia1 7 hours ago
Perfection. Yes, that is exactly the descriptive word for Neville's story and to be truthful, this entire series. I have read each book and then listened to the audible companion, which made my heart swell even more. Each story is a building block upon the other and made Mimi Matthews become one of the amazing authors that I knew my reading mind could never do without. Her descriptive prose, in depth character insight and flowing storyline are one of the best to be found. Neville has been somewhat of a mystery from the beginning. He was the quiet man who did many jobs at the manor and took care of the stables and animals. It was evident he was such a compassionate soul and that even though his speech was difficult, his mind was the opposite. It took the almost perfect/imperfect person to breach that gulf and Clara Hartwright was the perfect one. Their souls were bound for each other and it was just a matter of time before they joined. I am truly sad this series is at an end, but the revisit with all of the characters from each story warmed my heart. Looking forward to the audible version and also the next story this fabulous author will write. Perfection. Lori D
bmrawlins 8 days ago
Be still, my heart! Neville gets a chance to show us why his friends love him so much and have stood by him, through thick and thin. Clara gets the chance to see this as well, and despite her determination to protect her heart and guard her mouth, she can’t help herself from opening up to Neville. Neville is not a simpleton; he is a man. A kind, compassionate, and strong man who sees Clara for the woman she is. A delightful culmination of the Parish Orphans and the women who showed them how to love and live again. I could not have asked for a happier ending. While Neville and Clara’s story can be read and enjoyed as a standalone, it is so much more sweet and fulfilling when all the stories are understood as woven together. I received a complimentary copy of this book and all opinions expressed are solely my own.
randiloves2read 13 days ago
Following an accident as a child, Neville Cross is speech impaired and that holds him back from fulfilling his dreams of a good life. When he meets Clara Hartwright, lady’s companion with a shockingly unladylike secret, he feels forced to challenge his low self-esteem to forge an independent life. In the Parish Orphans of Devon Series we follow the orphan boys Justin Thornhill, Tom Finchley, Alex Archer and Neville Cross. Installment #4 is featuring Neville Cross, who is apprentice steward at Greyfriar’s Abby owned by his friend Justin. He finds it hard to do the paper work part of the position and prefers to work outside, particularly tending to the horses. Having had a troubled background, Neville is grateful to Justin for the opportunity to work and live on the estate. He doesn’t think he is able to do anything else and is afraid to venture out among people. He expects to be ridiculed for his trouble expressing himself. The parts of the story where we get a glimpse into his thoughts about himself and his life are heartbreaking. Neville’s confidence and outlook on life has really taken a toll. He is convinced he has to isolate himself at the Abbey for the rest of his life. There is not really anybody in his surroundings who challenges him to make a change until he meets Clara. Clara Hartwright, She comes for a Christmas visit together with her employer Mrs Bainbright. She needs her position to save enough money, so she tries to be as good a lady’s companion as she can be. She doesn’t feel she has the knack for staying silent and acting like a living ghost, but she has this shockingly unladylike project that needs funding and be kept an absolute secret. Clara seems an assertive and outspoken young woman, so slowly but surely she manages to challenge Neville’s preconceptions. With her help his mind is opened to dreams and opportunities he previously believed was out of his reach. I really appreciated Clara’s desire to rid herself of some of the feminine constraints of the time, and there certainly were a lot of them to deal with and find creative ways around. I found it refreshing that the plot includes a mix of what might have been forward thinking or even revolutionary ideas at the time. Darwinistic ideas are balanced out with, to us, very old fashioned views. Neville loves horses and the knowledge and interest in horses and dogs shines through in this work, which I find very enjoyable. Clara rescues old pug Bertie from being put down and secretly takes him with her to her new position. He seems to find a new and happier life in the country playing with his two new mastiff friends. I found him an enjoyable and funny supporting character in his own right. There seems to have been thorough research ahead of writing this story into how Christmas decorations were made and what games and activities were played at the time. Some of the activities I even recognize as being done today as part of pre Christmas crafting or Christmas Workshops. As the plot is set at a Christmas gathering of friends and family in Devon, I found this part of the story entertaining and enjoyable adding to the Christmas vibe. I read A Winter Companion (Parish Orphans of Devon #4) as a standalone. It worked well, but I think I would recommend reading the series starting with #1, gradually getting up to speed with characters and events. I found this to be a sweet, entertaining read and I would recommend it to fans of Mimi Matthews other works and readers of
Anonymous 11 days ago
North Devon, England - 1860 At Greyfriar’s Abbey, preparations are being made for the month-long Christmas celebrations. Miss Clara Hartwright has arrived to become the new companion for Mrs. Charlotte Bainbridge. Clara has brought her elderly pug with her hoping he will be allowed to stay. He had belonged to the woman she had previously been the companion for before the woman passed away with no one left to take care of the dog. Justin, Alex, and Neville are friends who all grew up in an orphanage. When they were young, they were playing near the cliffs and Neville fell into the water below. He was rescued but suffered a brain injury that left him with a bit of a stutter. Now, he is happy working in the stables at the Abbey caring for the horses. Clara works hard and saves her money to help put her brother through Cambridge. She hopes that when he is finished there, he will get a job and she can be his secretary and assistant. Clara and Neville begin a friendship where she learns about the horses and how to care for them. She is hiding a secret where she was treated badly by someone in her past that has left her humiliated. Their friendship soon grows to a physical attraction but they know that with Mrs. Bainbridge leaving soon, their togetherness will soon end. I have read quite a number of Mimi Matthews’s books so when I saw this one on NetGalley, I immediately requested it. As I read this story, I kept waiting for something sparkling to happen, but it is quite dull and boring. As I haven’t read any of the Parish Orphans series, I had to struggle to figure out how the characters related to one another. A pet peeve of mine is that authors fail to provide a brief synopsis at the beginning of a book to help bring readers up to speed with the characters. I really liked the character of Neville and his love and caring for the horses. He’s quite a man. The constant rain I could have done without. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.