Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: The Captive Imposter

The Captive Imposter
By Dawn Crandall
The Everstone Chronicles, #3
Whitaker House, 2015


Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she'd always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn't like about the situation is that her ex-fiancĂ© is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can't refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can't deny the pull that's evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she's been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she's with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she's Estella Everstone? She's not entirely sure.

My thoughts

The Captive Imposter, book #3 in The Everstone Chronicles by Dawn Crandall, focuses on Estella Everstone in a story that captivated me from the very first page. I love everything about Dawn's writing - lyrical prose, first-person POV, rich characterizations, and captivating storylines that stay in my mind long after the last page is turned. Dawn's writing style is beautifully unusual, refreshing, and reminiscent of an atmospheric style from the past - and I hope she never loses that quality, because that is one of the many things that endears her stories to me. And the literary quotes with which Dawn begins each chapter add so much interest, as they reflect the tone of events to come.

Half Moon Lake
The Captive Imposter is set in the picturesque mountain wilderness of Maine during the year of 1891 - specifically Everston, a grand hotel and resort in the Appalachian Mountains of central Maine. I love stories where the setting essentially becomes a major character, and from Everston's interior scenes to the rugged beauty of the Half Moon Lake area, Dawn excels at conveying visual images that readers can see and feel. Be sure to check out the images on her Pinterest board for an even better feel for the characters and setting.

As a fan of character-driven drama, I'd have to say that rich characterization is one strength of this series. Estella, daughter of Bram Everstone,  was a minor character in the two previous stories and I enjoyed seeing the path that her life takes in The Captive Imposter. She had pursued the affections of a doctor in the past, wanting to prove that she was worthy of sharing his call to the mission field, and that same doctor complicates her life in this story. I loved how, in the guise of a lowly companion, Estella gradually journeys from a seemingly spoiled heiress into a child of God, yielded to His will. In Ella's words, "Most people treated me as if I lived in a glass box. Now that I'd had a taste of what it was like to be outside that box, I didn't look forward to going back."

And Dexter is a wonderful hero! He's tender and caring, and makes a ministry out of his position as manager/owner of Everston. But we see growth in him as he comes to realize his antipathy toward wealth and that he had "harbored a hardness of heart" toward the very people he had ministered to. Dexter and Estella's romance is sweet and realistic because everything builds slowly, starting out as friends and growing into so much more. Dawn does such a good job at creating tension because I almost read with dread, knowing that when secrets on both sides were eventually revealed, things would probably not go well for this unlikely pair.

Iron Mountain
Some of the most moving scenes to me were the outdoor church services offered by the hotel, services that took place deep in the woods at a place called Leightner Hollow. Dexter's words spoken from a rugged altar touched me, as well as Estella:  "You've been freed. He wants you, your heart...and that's it. No motives, no questions, and no confusion. Just be his."

The Captive Imposter is a story of forgiveness, seeing people as God sees them, and surrendering our desires to God's perfect will. I especially liked how, in response to being told that she and Dexter were perfect for each other, Estella replied that they chose to marry "because we want to be together, though we know that there will be times when we aren't perfect for each other. After all, no one is perfect. But that's part of the commitment you make when you marry - to always love your spouse, flaws and all."

In The Everstone Chronicles, Dawn has created a larger-than-life family that I've grown to care about, and that's an indication of quality writing. I'm not ready to leave this family, for the ending of The Captive Imposter cries out for Vance's story, and I'd love to learn more of Bram Everstone as well. Highly recommended.

Please click on the titles to see my review of the previous two books:
The Hesitant Heiress
The Bound Heart

Dawn Crandall
        A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and aformer bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.
        Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
        The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Meet Dawn online at dawncrandall.blogspot.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Thank you to Dawn for providing an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. This one is probably my favorite of the series! Great review!

  2. Thanks so much for a wonderful review, Carole! I love the photos you added! ❤️