The Lost Letter: The Story Behind the Story

The Reader by Charles Baugniet, n.d.

I don’t usually blog about my writing process. However, since this is launch week for my debut Victorian romance The Lost Letter, I thought I’d share with you a little bit about how the story came into being. For those of you who have read it, you’ll know that it’s dedicated to my mother. My mom loves to read and is a lifelong fan of historical romance. She’s also a very busy lady with very particular taste in books. She can’t stand books with a huge cast of characters (novels which begin with a map or a family tree need not apply) and she just doesn’t have the time to invest in a lengthy novel. She prefers stories that can be devoured in an afternoon or an evening. Romances that move at a quick clip and conclude with a believable happily-ever-after.

The Lost Letter is my gift to my mom, a short book with a limited cast of characters that pays homage to all of her favourite historical romance tropes. When I wrote it, I was inspired by Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre, and also by The Phantom of the Opera, which I saw with my mom at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco many years ago. We both always wished that the Phantom could have ended up with Christine!

The Lost Letter by Mimi MatthewsOriginally, The Lost Letter was a 40,000-word novella. I submitted it to two writing contests (something I’ve never done with any of my work before). It was chosen as a finalist in both contests. I then sent it to my literary agent to see what she thought of it. The next thing I knew, she’d sent it out on submission.

The Lost Letter garnered interest fairly quickly, but the editors who wanted it also wanted two things changed: 1) They wanted it longer; and 2) They wanted sex scenes. After much debate with my agent (and with myself), I lengthened the story to 70,000-words and even added the required hotter love scenes. But it never felt right for the characters and, once I changed it, it never read right, either.

Ultimately, I decided to cut it back to its original size (and its original “G” rating), but by then there were a few sections I couldn’t bear to part with. Thus, the story is now approximately 49,000-words instead of its original 40,000. 

It’s been a long journey for this little novel/novella and I’m so pleased to hear from all of you who have read it and loved it. I don’t know if it’s helpful to learn the story behind the story, but this was it! And, in answer to your unspoken question, yes there is an alternate longer, sexier version of The Lost Letter lurking around out there somewhere…

Available Now

The Lost Letter
A Victorian Romance

England, 1860. An impoverished beauty is unexpectedly reunited with the beastly earl who jilted her three years before. Will they finally find their happily ever after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be? Find out more…

ORDER TODAY for $2.99 or

Amazon | Amazon UK

Advance Praise for The Lost Letter

“This sweet story is the perfect quick read for fans of Regency romances as well as Victorian happily-ever-afters, with shades of Austen and the Brontës that create an entertaining blend of drama and romance.” -RT Book Reviews

“Debut author Matthews adroitly captures the internal conflicts of her two main characters…The author’s prose is consistently refined and elegant, and she memorably builds the simmering attraction between Sylvia and Sebastian.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A fast and emotionally satisfying read, with two characters finding the happily-ever-after they had understandably given up on. A promising debut.” -Library Journal

“An extremely romantic and emotional story… The characters are so realistic and just walk off the page and into your heart. This love story will stay in my memory for some time to come. This is a definite keeper that I can highly recommend.” -The Romance Reviews

“Absolutely remarkable!…Right up there with the best books I have read this year…Beautiful, romantic and emotionally shattering…One of those books that you keep on the bookshelf forever…Flawless!” -Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

“In a sweet Victorian setting, Beauty and the Beast is retold in a two and a half hour read that will have your heart doing somersaults the whole time.” -Book Ink Reviews

© 2015-2017 Mimi Matthews

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Love it! And how sweet that you did this for your Mother!


Enjoyed hearing the back story!

God bless you for going back to the (almost!) original story you had written, Mimi. “They wanted sex scenes” honestly made me roll my eyes. As someone who appreciates a good STORY, I get so perturbed at how that sort of thing has actually become a requirement in literature and cinema these days. If you have skills as a writer, you shouldn’t need that gratuitous fluff. Not saying a little romance is bad, but goodness, what happened to using your imagination, and keeping things appropriate for a wider audience? Maybe it’s just me, but if you NEED a steamy(er) sex… Read more »

Wendy, I quite agree. No one looks down on sex scenes depicted between two loving people…its the requirement part of modern productions and publications that turns one off. There are certain, ever higher,hoops one MUST jump though to be considered ” serious”. The only reason The Game of Thrones is being made is to main stream naked people being shown relentless, all the time. That is what it is about. That was called porn at one time. It’s now called main stream. So what is today’s porn? Cannibalism? That’s only partly a joke.


Congratulations, Mimi!

Jessie Clever

I love that you stuck with your original story. It takes guts to do that, and I’m sure the story is better for it. It’s on my kindle to read this weekend. Can’t wait!


Looking forward to reading ‘The Lost Letter.’

Laurie Welch

Gosh, this is a really interesting odyssey on what is expected of writers. That you stuck to your guns, for the most part, is laudable.

I hope to read it soon!


OMG! I just read it and LOVED every minute. In fact, I have already reread it. You’re extremely talented. Please please write more stories!!! I couldn’t believe that this was your only novel listed on amazon but hopefully it’s just the beginning, and there will be more to come.
By the way, I would DIE to get my hands on the longer/sexier version haha….