21 Oct 2014

New Release- A Lady at Willowgrove Hall- Sarah E. Ladd

 A Lady at Willowgrove Hall- Whispers on the Moors #3 
Thomas Nelson, October 7th 2014
352 Pages 

Her secret cloaks her in isolation and loneliness. His secret traps him in a life that is not his own.

Cecily Faire carries the shame of her past wherever she treads, knowing one slip of the tongue could expose her disgrace. But soon after becoming a lady's companion at Willowgrove Hall, Cecily finds herself face-to-face with a man well-acquainted with the past she's desperately hidden for years.

Nathaniel Stanton has a secret of his own one that has haunted him for years and tied him to his father's position as steward of Willowgrove Hall. To protect his family, Nathaniel dares not breath a word of the truth. But as long as the shadow looms over him, he'll never be free to find his own way in the world. He'll never be free to fall in love.

When the secrets swirling within Willowgrove Hall come to light, Cecily and Nathaniel must confront a painful choice: Will they continue running from the past . . . or will they stand together and fight for a future without the suffocating weight of secrets long suffered?"

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall concludes new author Sarah Ladd’s Whispers on the Moors series, Regency Romances set in a fictional county in the North of England. The last two I heard as audiobooks, so this was my first proper read. There is little real connection with the characters or events with the first two books in the series, which might seem daring for the last novel in a trilogy, or for fans wishing to ‘hear more’ of the characters from the last books, but it seemed to work well enough.

The story is based around Cecily Faire, a hurting young lady harbouring a secret that she fears could ruin her, securing a position as a companion to the elderly owner of Willowgrove Hall. When she arrives she discovers a face from her past, and Nathanial Stanton, the steward who harbours a secret of his own. The setting is common for Regency Era stories, and though the secrets of the main characters are known to the audience from the outset, their impact on the character’s lives and those around them works well as the central part of the plot.
Although ostensibly ‘Christian’ fiction, there is little real religious content, or at least less that the first book. However, there are important messages about forgiveness, honesty, and the destructive influence of bitterness and resentment on people’s lives. So it could be classified as clean romance with the Christian flavour, perhaps.

The writing style was generally good, with some beautifully descriptive passages of gardens and the landscape.
My only complaints were that the story did seem rather slow and lagging in places, and some inconsistency in the use of language. In some places, for instance, the characters used Americanisms that seemed rather out of place in an early nineteenth century British setting- but in other places the correct British idioms or terms were used. Also, there seemed to be some confusion of the name of the fictional county of Wiltonshire and the main town within in- which was also called the same.
 I feel it bears mention that whilst English counties may be named after the principal town or city within them, that town does not have the same name as the county, and they never have names ending in 'Shire'.

 The Romance was sweet, though some passages were a little clichéd, but generally it’s a good, light read if you want a cosy, easy to follow, edifying story.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review, I was not required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed are my own.

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