Matthew Daniels is an English colonel who has been sent home from the Crimea in disgrace. Mary Frances MacGregor is a Scottish widow who loathes everything about the English military, and yet both Mary Fran and Matthew know more than they want to about being lonely and isolated, even amid family. They yearn to understand each other too, but old secrets and divided family loyalties threaten to cost them their chance at shared happiness.
Rating: A- for narration and B for content
This audio novella is quite short, coming in at around the two-and-a-half hour mark, but even so, the story is replete with the emotional punch I’ve come to expect from author Grace Burrowes.
The events of Mary Fran and Matthew run concurrently with those in The Bridegroom Wore Plaid, the first of Ms. Burrowes’ novels set in Victorian Scotland which features the MacGregors of Balfour. Lady Mary Frances MacGregor is a widow and the younger sister of four handsome, strapping Scotsmen, the eldest of whom, Asher, is missing, presumed dead, leaving the next brother, Ian, to take over the reins of the impoverished Earldom of Balfour.
In Bridegroom, Ian is seeking a wife rich enough to enable him to restore and adequately support his family, dependents, and estate, and it seems as though he has found her in the person of Eugenia Daniels, the eldest daughter of the English Baron Altsax. Altsax brings his two daughters and his son, Matthew, a former army officer, to Balfour for the summer, in order to finalise the details of Genie’s betrothal to Ian.
Mary Fran is a secondary character in that novel; she is both housekeeper and hostess, and spends a lot of her time rushing from place to place and being generally frazzled trying to keep everything running smoothly, as well as being a mother to her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Fiona. It’s quite obvious from the title of the novella as to the direction the story will take (and anyone who has read or listened to Bridegroom will know how things work out), so it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that the novella charts the development of Mary Fran’s relationship with Matthew Daniels.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.