Monday, June 13, 2016

Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

Dawn at Emberwilde
A Treasures of Surrey Novel, Book 2
(Thomas Nelson, May 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.

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Read my review of The Curiosity Keeper, book 1 in the Treasures of Surrey series.

My Review: This story put me in mind of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. It has a Gothic feel to it, with talk of ghosts, fairies, and a "haunted" forest. Sarah E. Ladd writes an intriguing story, with a plot that is ripe with surprises. I wanted to visit Emberwilde in all it's grandeur and the Emberwilde Forest (a.k.a. the Black Wood Forest) in all it's haunting beauty.

I love Isabel Creston. She does her best to remain true to herself, even with all the changes and expectations her family places on her. I admired her ability to, in the end, do what's right. Colin Galloway is now one of my favorite male heroes. His ability to accept his birthright and fit in with those from all classes is unmatched. He is honorable, good, and handsome. With a cast full of overbearing characters like Mrs. Ellison and Mr. Bradford, and characters that just like to keep the peace, such as Constance Ellison, Colin helps Isabel hold on to herself.

The message of the story, as the title would imply, is about God's mercies being new every morning. As Isabel's friend Mary reminds her, "We do not find ourselves in new situations by accident. Oh, no! Remember, with each dawn seek guidance, and with each night give gratitude." Isabel learns to turn to God each morning for guidance and give gratitude for the things He has done for her by facing the trials that her family imposes on her.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was an exciting change of pace from what I had been reading and I look forward to reading more from this wonderful author.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Litfuse blogging program in exchange for my honest review*

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 husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

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