1 May 2014

The Heiress of Winterwood- Audiobook Review

Whispers on the Moors- 1 
April 15th 2013, Brillance Audio & Thomas Nelson, 11 Hours 

Darbury, England, 1814

Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.

Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend's baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word. Even to the point of proposing to the child's father, A sea captain she's never met.

Amelia's detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she's forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.

Graham's strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.

Both must learn to have faith and relinquish control so they can embrace the future ahead of them.

The Heiress of Winterwood was for me the best of all the forays into the Christian Regency genre I have made in a while. So many novels like this seem to be taken up with the characters kissing, wanting to kiss, or thinking about kissing, that to have one which isn’t presents a welcome change. The main protagonists’ arrangement is one of practicality at first- and things actually happen.
There’s a fairly strong central storyline, well drawn characters, an element of mystery, generally tasteful romance, adventure and the theme of redemption.

Also, unlike some other regencies, the depiction of the upper classes didn’t seem to be based on prejudices against them- but altogether seemed to be a more realistic and objective view of the period and society. Emelia was a woman who simply wanted to keep a promise to a friend, and realised her betrothed (whom she chose- forced marriage having been illegal in England since the time of Canute) was not all he seemed. Not an anachronistic libertine rebelling against the perceived ‘injustice’ or ‘inequality’ of society. Also, Graham Stirling the hero is a captain in the Navy and the year is 1814 there’s no Brit Bashing or blaming them for the war of 1812.

The names of the characters seem fitting for the time. Graham, Emelia, William, Edward and Helena- ordinary perhaps but not reflecting modern naming trends more than those of the 19th century- like Chase or Tanner.
My only complaints were that the narrator of the audiobook edition didn’t voice the respective characters very well, though she tried her best. Also, I think an American narrator wasn’t an exceptionally good choice, as a ‘British’ accent seemed challenging for her too- especially if the character had a regional accent of some kind. It may be just a personal view, but I think a British narrator would have been better- though I believe the sequel audiobook does have one.

Also, there were perhaps too many clandestine unchaperoned and often nocturnal meetings between Emelia and Graham for my liking, and to be plausible. Not that these were for any morally dubious purpose, usually to discuss important matters, but such actions could be considered morally questionable and compromising by the standards of the time- and I don’t think it’s generally wise for a woman to be wondering around on her own at night generally.
Too easy for Emelia to get in and out unnoticed , and too little regard for her own reputation I felt. There was one scene in which Graham’s brother forces a kiss on Emilia (and might have gone further) which could be considered inappropriate, but not too much so, and the plot was a little predictable in places.

Aside from the above, I would certainly recommend this work, and would love to read more by her and will almost certainly be keeping the audiobook - unless I can get the paperback anyway! Sarah Ladd is in serious danger of ranking as a favourite Regency author of mine alongside Julie Klassen. 
From the author's website "Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. 
Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.
 For more information, news and updates visit the  author's Website and Facebook Page

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