I apologize, for apparently this post went out today, 8/11, but I didn’t send it. All I can figure is that the Blogger program is acting up. This giveaway ended on June 19 and I have removed it. But there will be more, so do come back!
Dawn at Emberwilde
By Sarah E. Ladd
Treasures of Surrey, #2
Thomas Nelson, 2016
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.
Dawn at Emberwilde is a beautiful story in every way, the kind of book I like to take my time with, savoring every nuance of atmospheric setting, rich characterization, and plot twists. The English countryside, a mysterious forest, and grand estates provide the backdrop for romance and suspense that is gently paced, yet held my attention throughout. With its 1817 setting in Surrey, England, this narrative reflects the Jane Austen style, with a little bit of Cinderella mixed in, and even has elements of the gothic style that I’ve always loved. Sarah E. Ladd is in her element when it comes to the Regency novel, and while I’ve enjoyed all of her stories, Dawn at Emberwilde is without a doubt my favorite.
“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.”
Isabel and Colin are great characters, as are secondary characters Henry, Colin’s brother, and Mary, Isabel’s friend from Fellsworth School. Forced to leave the comfortable environment of the school, Isabel is faced with strict rules imposed by her aunt and the unwelcome thought of marrying to secure her future. Even Isabel’s cousin, Constance, had been raised with this life goal firmly in place … “To make a match. To marry. To grasp security.” Independent and confident one moment, while insecure and doubtful the next, Isabel is easy to relate to in her humanness. Colin, local magistrate and landowner, is a very appealing leading man. To Isabel, his “kindness and gentleness were more attractive than money or prestige.”
Spiritual themes are very subtle in this story, reflected more in character behavior than actual words. We’re reminded to look beyond the surface, that people and circumstances aren’t always what they seem – and also to seek God’s will for life’s needs. I especially loved these words of Isabel’s friend, Mary . . .
“No experience is ever wasted. It is being used to fashion you
into the person you are meant to be, and to move you
to the place where you are supposed to go.”
Although Dawn at Emberwilde is #2 in the series, it stands alone. I do hope we see Mary’s story next! Recommended.
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.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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