Release Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Series: A Treasures of Surrey Novel, Book Two
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Romance
About the Book:
Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.
For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.
The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.
At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.
At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first, she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.
This was the first novel that I’ve read by Sarah E. Ladd so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was not disappointed. In fact, I absolutely loved it!
While reading this, I felt like I was reading an Austen, Bronte or Dickens novel. Normally I struggle with books set in this era that are written today because they aren’t authentic. This was very authentic and well written. It was true to the period and Mrs. Ladd definitely did her research because it shines throughout the pages.
It was intriguing that Mrs. Ladd didn’t share all of the details of the characters in the very beginning of the book because I enjoyed the pacing and the slow revealing of all of the secrets. It made it quite interesting and wanting to know more. It helped the plot develop and gave it a mysterious kind of feel to it.
The character development was also amazing.
Isabel is a strong female character who lives by her convictions and is loyal to the ones she cares about. She is an ordinary woman trying to adapt from life preparing to become a governess to a woman who comes from wealth and have a possible future. She struggles to adapt to life at Emberwilde since it is completely different from what she is used to. However, she is an excellent role model for her little sister, Lizzie, by making the best of things on their new adventure instead of dwelling on how hard it is.
Another character that I absolutely loved and is swoon-worthy is Mr. Colin Galloway. He’s quiet, intelligent, and a complete gentleman. I won’t go too much into his character because I don’t want to give too much away.
The only thing I found disappointing was that this is within the Christian Fiction genre and that there were very little mentions of God or the faith. Isabel’s Fellsworth friend, Mary, stitched the quote, “Remember, with each dawn seek guidance, and with each night give gratitude. For there is a divine plan for each of our lives and a journey, and you have started yours.” into a piece of fabric. Isabel does take these words to heart, but that is all we see as far as the faith goes.
If you’re looking for a light romantic read, I highly recommend this. It’s definitely on my favorites list and I plan to read more from the author soon.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
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About Sarah E. Ladd
Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky Golden Retriever. Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor