Saturday, November 1, 2014

Review and Kindle Giveaway: A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah E. Ladd

Award-winning author Sarah E. Ladd examines how to escape the clutches of a tainted past in the final installment of her Whispers on the Moor series. A Regency-era novel, A Lady at Willowgrove Hall cleverly shows that even though our pasts may be shameful or painful, God can take the darkest personal histories and turn them into the brightest futures.

Celebrate with Sarah by entering her Kindle HDX giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah E. Ladd
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 2nd. Winner will be announced November 3rd here.

by Sarah E. Ladd
Release Date:October 7, 2013
2014 Thomas Nelson
Softcover Edition: 343 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8837-0
Genre: Fiction / Historical Regency
Source: Review copy from Liftuse

4 / 5 Stars

Cecily Faire has a secret—and she intends to keep it. But when she arrives at Willowgrove Hall to serve as a lady’s companion, she comes face-to-face with the only person who knows the truth about her past.

As the steward of Willowgrove Hall, Nathaniel Stanton is dedicated to serving those around him. Nothing escapes his notice—including the beautiful new lady’s companion. He is certain the lovely Miss Faire is hiding something, and he determines to uncover it. But Nathaniel has a secret of his own: he is the illegitimate son of Willowgrove’s former master. Falling in love was not part of his plans . . . until he meets Cecily Faire.

When Willowgrove’s mistress dies, everything changes. Fear of exposure forces Cecily to leave under the cover of darkness, embarking on a journey to finally find her long-lost sister. When the will is read, Nathaniel’s inheritance makes him question his future plans. Cecily and Nathaniel are forced to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Is their love strong enough to survive?
My Thoughts
A Lady at Willowgrove Hall is the third, and last, book in the Whispers of the Moors trilogy.  I really enjoyed the characters as well as the story, and found myself engrossed in their daily interactions and problems.  I'm not sure if this was my favourite of the three or not, but it was certainly a worthy finale to a trilogy I've definitely enjoyed.
One of the things I've always enjoyed about Ms. Ladd's stories is the attention to detail.  I find her historical references to be rather interesting and I like how she shares little tidbits of information about the time period without making it seem obvious or tedious.  Life can be rather difficult for those struggling to make ends meet and while I think sometimes she romanticizes the time period a bit too much, I do like it when the reality of people's situations is shown as being harsh and unforgiving, as that is exactly what it was like for a lot of the people.  Cecily is one of those girls, despite having some difficult years in her earlier life, grew up rather sheltered and is somewhat naive, with a streak of independence and stubbornness that could get her into trouble.  While I did find this endearing at times, at other times I thought her naivety was going to create a lot of problems for her if she didn't quite think through her situations. For an author who puts quite a lot of emphases on impropriety and how a lady must behave, I am surprised at some of the allowances her female characters were allowed.  It's hard sometimes, I think, for the modern not to slip in no matter how much we try.
I thought Cecily was rather sweet and there was definitely something very likable about her that made me want to root for her no matter what the situation.  I also felt quite an affinity for Nathaniel, and hoped that he could resolve his secret problem in a way that would be satisfying.  The secrets and lies are some of the things I enjoyed about this book, not the secrets themselves, but the way the characters confronted them and took responsibility for them and confronted them.  There was no huge drama and for this I was thankful; just a good, clean story that was fun to read and while it showed some conflicts between the characters, things were resolved rather maturely, and I liked that.  Sometimes the big dramatics can get on your nerves.
A Lady at Willowgrove Hall was an enjoyable read, full of tension, but one that allowed the characters to deal with their problems in a way that was interesting and realistic.  While there were some situations that were uncomfortable for the characters, that is life, and I was glad to see that not everything was perfect for our young lovers. The attention to historical detail was great, and I could definitely picture myself there at Willowgrove Hall.  There were some events, ones that I would point out as being major ones, that felt glossed over or rushed, and I did have some concern over this (something I noticed in her previous books, too) and I felt like one significant event towards the end was thrown in or the author didn't really know how to deal with the situation, and I felt kind of miffed at it.  I can't say more than this or I will give it away, but when you read the book, you will understand.  I am hoping to see these characters again in another story, and would love to know what happens to Cecily twin\s sister.