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Exclusive Excerpt: John Eyre by Mimi Matthews

I have an exclusive treat for you today.

An excerpt from Mimi Matthews’ John Eyre, which combines three things I love — mystery, romance, and a Gothic atmosphere.

I think you’ll gather from the book synopsis why this is probably one of the most anticipated books of the year.

Book Synopsis:

Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.

Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn’t on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she’s powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all.

From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

I cannot wait for you to read this excerpt and hear what you think. Please give Mimi a warm welcome:

John Eyre by Mimi Matthews, an EXCERPT (Chapter 11, pages 134-137)

“Enough talk of death,” Mrs. Rochester said. “It isn’t why I sought out your company. I wished to speak to you of faith.”

“It’s not a subject I’m in any position to remark upon, not when my own faith is at its lowest ebb. Of course, if you’ve changed your mind about my taking Stephen and Peter to church—”

“I told you, the boys aren’t to be paraded in front of strangers.”

“No, of course not.”

“Besides,” she added, “I would have thought you reluctant to attend church on any account. Mr. Fairfax informs me that you’ve had several invitations to tea from the vicar in Hay, and that you’ve each time sent your regrets.”

“True enough.” The vicar, Mr. Taylor, seemed a civil sort of gentleman, eager to make John’s acquaintance, and thereby lure him to Sunday services. John had politely declined his invitations, claiming to be too busy for social calls at present.

“You have no wish to meet our estimable vicar?”

“Not at the moment.” John paused. “I notice that you don’t attend church yourself.”

“What has that to do with anything?”

“It makes me wonder if your faith is as feeble as mine.”

“I daresay you think faith is measured by how often one attends Sunday services. How loud one sings from a hymnbook.” Her eyes found his. Something inexplicable flickered behind her gaze. “Do you believe in good and evil, Mr. Eyre?”

The question sent a strange chill through John’s veins. She asked it with such gravity. Such solemn intent. He wished he could answer with the same conviction.

Instead, his answer was tepid at best. “As much as any Christian.”

“Which is to say, not very much at all.” Her skirts brushed against his leg. Somehow, during the course of their walk, they’d drawn closer to each other. As close as a pair of lovers sharing whispered confidences. “I know how it is. We all of us are raised on stories of God and the devil. Abstract ideas of good and bad. But what about in the real world? Do you believe in the forces of evil? And that godly people can ultimately triumph over them?”

“I would like to believe. But in our world, you must admit that evil often triumphs. Bad people prevail, while good, honest people are ground into dust. For evidence, you need look no further than the inhabitants of any workhouse.”

“And yet my faith is stronger than it’s ever been.” She gave him a look, as challenging as her tone. “Do you doubt it?”

He opened his mouth to reply, but she forestalled him.

“I don’t attend church because the essence of my belief has nothing to do with an inanimate building or with the people who populate it. My faith is solely concerned with matters of good and evil. And you must believe, sir, that I stand firmly and relentlessly on the side of good. The side of God. You would do well to determine where it is that you stand.”

Her speech was so passionate, so unflinchingly earnest, that he felt the impulse to answer in kind—albeit with a trifle less heat. “At the moment,” he said. “I stand next to you. It seems a worthy place to be.”

A spasm of emotion crossed over her face, as fleeting as it was unreadable. “Would that I could be certain—” She broke off.

“Certain of what?”

Her reply, when it came, was equally quiet. “That you would remain at my side, irrespective of what comes.”

“I have no plans to leave Thornfield.” He cleared his throat. “So long as you’re pleased with my service, and the boys—”

“Ah, yes. The boys. You wish them to continue improving. To speak, eventually.”

“Don’t you?”

“As to that… It’s complicated.” Her shoulders stiffened. “I don’t expect you to understand.”

“I do understand.”

She gave him an uncertain glance.

“You’re protective of them,” he said.

Her bosom rose and fell on a deep breath. “I have tried to be.”

“And yet…” He warned himself not to say it. The words tumbled out nonetheless.

“You left them for months on end while you resumed your travels.”

“Not because I didn’t care for them. Indeed, I cared too much. If you only knew…”

She stopped on the path, turning back to face the house. Its silhouette was barely discernable in the mist, only the battlements standing out strong and clear against the winter sky. “This wretched place. How often I have abhorred the very thought of it. No sooner do I arrive here than I want to leave again.”

“Understandably so. It can be dreary at times, especially with the Millcote mists.”

“Is that the name they’ve given to this effluvium?”

“It’s how it’s been described to me. As a phenomenon particular to this part of the country.” He paused, adding, “You said it contributed to your parents’ death.”

“After a fashion. The dampness of it, and the chill. There’s always been fog in the valley, as long as I can remember. But this…the Millcote mists, as you call them…” A frown worked its way between her brows. “This is something new.”

I hope that this excerpt has piqued your interest. I am certainly intrigued.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Regency and Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats. Visit her website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Bookbub, and on GoodReads.