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The Reformer (Power of the Matchmaker Book 12) Kindle Edition
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The Power of the Matchmaker Series is apparently a set of books that are written by various authors. When I first noticed this set of books, I thought I had missed out on Ms. Fixsen's first 11 books of the series. After reading this one, I am certainly willing to give some of the other books in this series a try, even though they weren't written by Fixsen. A big plus factor is that several are available on KU for those readers who subscribe.
In this book, we have a very unique heroine. Mary Buchanan's world is very small. In fact, even to be able to go in the yard and speak to a neighbor might reasonably be compared to a fun day at the mall for a young lady of this day and age. When Mary inadvertently gets locked out of her home in the rain, she is rescued by her "unacceptable" radical-reformer-writer neighbor, Samuel Brown. This meeting and rescue in the rain serves as the catalyst that will eventually bring out the formidable persona that has been hiding inside Mary.
From the day Mary meets Samuel, he turns her world upside down. Of course her world is so small, up to this point, her fascination has primarily been limited to her neighbor's handsome footman. Her father has long been set against Samuel Brown and his doings. There is a deeper reason Mary's father has kept her "hidden" away, but this truth will not come forth until much later in the story. In the meantime, Mary's fascination with Samuel and his newspaper articles results in Mary deciding to join in the reform effort by providing cartoons which go along with the written word - anonymously of course. Anonymously because women simply didn't do political cartoons and get credit, plus dear old dad would have a conniption if he knew Mary was involved in such dealings..
There is a third main character - that would be Samuel's long time friend - a young Scotsman, Neil Murray. From the beginning of Neil's introduction into the storyline, it's obvious Samuel and Neil have a very close relationship but I won't give any further details about the foundation for their relationship. When Neil and Mary meet up for the first time, it was puzzling to me as to why Neil reacted in the manner he did. Eventually, this is explained and the storyline actually brings in Neil as a third primary character in the book.
This is a book about a young, sheltered woman coming of age during a period in England when everything was changing. There were those who were sick and tired of the status quo - that being a world where men and women struggled under a very unrighteous class system. It was the beginning of the end of that class system. We see firsthand, the power of the written word and the accompanying artwork - in this case - cartoons that played a part in the downfall of this system. Of course, years would pass before the system completely breaks down, but reformers such as Samuel, Neil and Mary all had a part to play.
Great writing. Not my typical reading fare, but still very romantic. Bonus minor character: Mary's unusual Chinese neighbor - a lovely lady named Mrs. Chin - a very wise, practical, intriguing woman.
Told with warmth and humor, this is the tale of young Mary Buchanan, almost 18 at the beginning, repressed and rather lonely daughter of cold, unloving, authoritarian Dr. Sidney Buchanan, whose hypochrondriacal, order-obsessed sister Susan Yates (Aunt Yates to Mary) has been living in the household since the loss of Mary's mother when Mary was a very young girl. The closest thing to affection Mary finds is with the cook and maid, so it's no wonder that she retreats to her painting and to her imagination and to her crushes on handsome footmen (well, one footman in particular who works for a neighbor) to improve on her life.
When Samuel Brown, handsome reformer and radical journalist, moves in next door, Mary transfers her interest from the footman (who's romantically involved with her young maid anyway) to him. Mary, who has been very innocent and uninformed about issues, takes to reading radical newspapers (hiding them, of course, from her ultraconservative, don't-rock-the-boat father and aunt), begins using her creative artistic talents to make political cartoons and caricatures and finds herself involved in the reformer's world.
In addition to Samuel Brown, two other important characters in Mary's story are Mrs. Chin, mysterious Chinese neighbor (and employer of said handsome footman) and Neil Murray, friend and brother-in-law of widowed Samuel Brown. All characters are nicely developed (although I felt reformer Brown could have been fleshed out a bit more) and we find a love triangle developing with Mary, Samuel and Neil.
The story takes Mary from the age of almost 18 to 21 years of age and in this time we watch Mary come into her own, develop more backbone with regard to her father and aunt, and learn more about life and love. It's a charming tale told beautifully by Fixsen. There's warmth and humor and even a little bit of sadness in a well-rounded story, using political and class unrest in Britain in the 1830s as the background. I grew quite fond of several of the characters and was rooting for Mary to find love and happiness and fulfillment.
I simply cannot get over how well the character were and came across. This author has Quite the gift!
Especially fun was meeting the recurring motif of the series, but I won't spoil the surprise for those who haven't read the others yet.