Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: The Headmistress of Rosemere

The Headmistress of Rosemere
By Sarah E. Ladd
Thomas Nelson, 2014


Patience Creighton has devoted her life to running her father’s boarding school. But when the enigmatic master of the estate appears at her door, battered and unconscious, the young headmistress suddenly finds her livelihood—and her heart —in the hands of one dangerously handsome gentleman.

At twenty-five, Patience Creighton is already a spinster. The busy headmistress of Rosemere always expected a dashing man to sweep her off her feet and take her away . . . but that man never came. And since her father’s death, keeping the school running and her mother happy has been plenty to keep her occupied.

William Sterling dallied his way into financial trouble and mortal danger. When he is assaulted by his creditors’ henchmen on the road home from a tavern, he guides his horse to the doorstep of his tenant, the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. After being tended to by Patience, the wounded William rides off into the dawn—but makes a point to learn more about the lovely headmistress.

As he spends more time at Rosemere, something delicate begins to develop between William and Patience. But that will not deter William’s creditors. With little money to repay his debts, and less for the upkeep of his estate, it becomes clear that sacrificing Rosemere may be the only way to preserve his legacy. But it may also cost him his happiness.

My thoughts

The Headmistress of Rosemere is a very enjoyable novel, containing the essential elements that make for a great Regency read:  a majestic country estate . . . wild, untamed moors . . . troubled hero . . . gentle yet strong heroine . . . mystery and intrigue . . . and of course, romance. The moors themselves became a character, so vivid are the descriptions of frosty mornings, icy paths, and chilling winds.

Those who have read the first book in this series, The Heiress of Winterwood, will be familiar with William Sterling and the Darbury setting, for William was a secondary character there, but this book easily stands alone. And although I enjoyed the previous book, the storyline of this one had much greater appeal for me - for while it contained elements of mystery, it focused more on character depth than danger and excitement.

English moors

Patience Creighton is an admirable heroine, giving her all to keep her father's dream going. But in the months following his death, nothing Patience did could please the grieving Mrs. Creighton. "Her mother noticed none of it. Instead, she seemed to place all of her hope, her security, in Rawdon, who had been conveniently absent . . ." William Sterling, master of Eastmore Hall, was a pretty unlikeable character in the first book, so Sarah did a great job in showing his heart and making him not only sympathetic, but my favorite character.  Their romance, while not the primary theme, was very satisfying.

The ensemble cast is very well developed, and it was interesting how Sarah brought out the various methods characters used to escape or cope with the loss of a loved one - Patience's hard work, William's gambling, Rawdon's desertion, and Mrs. Creighton's depression.

The Headmistress of Rosemere at its very heart is a redeeming story of second chances, and who of us can't relate to that? William credits his brother, Graham, with starting him on the path of confronting his wrongs and taking responsibility for them. He later tells Patience:  "You know my flaws. I have made poor choices. I have gambled and lost. But through all that, God did not turn away from me."

Something else that we can relate to is the importance of a parent's prayers. William's mother was a woman of devout faith, which she tried to instill in him. William reflects: "His mother had prayed daily. He had thought it a ridiculous waste of time. . . . Maybe she had been on the right path after all, and he had been the ridiculous one." While the results of those prayers may not be seen for years, seeds are planted and God is faithful!

Regency fans will enjoy The Headmistress of Rosemere, as well as those looking for character-driven drama. I certainly look forward to the next book in this series.

Sarah E. Ladd

Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. The Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Fun links to discover more about Sarah and her writing:  Litfuse tour page and Sarah's website.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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