Treasures of Surrey Series
SUMMARY: 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's Forest.
REVIEW: This is a wonderful period piece set in England in 1817. Isabel is a person to be admired. She takes care of her half-sister Lizzie like a daughter. She is protective of her and insists Lizzie be included when invited by distant relatives to come live with them. She is not afraid to speak her mind and tries to think good of everyone.
The Emberwilde estate and people in the surrounding area are contradictory. Everything is not always was it seems. The state of disrepair around the house and grounds is conflicting in regards to the money being spent on a new wardrobe for Isabel and Lizzie. While her aunt insists on a lavish lifestyle and elaborate parties, you wonder where the money is coming from to pay for it. The woods that surround Emberwilde is said to be haunted and none of the locals will enter but the local sheriff finds evidence of a recent smuggling operation there. The young man who her aunt arranges for her to court is in charge of the local orphanage but doesn't seem to care about children or worry when they might be in danger. The local sheriff lives in a boarding house in town but has a large estate that he doesn't know what to do with.
The twists and turns the story and characters take kept me trying to figure out who all was involved in the smuggling ring and how events would play out. I only figured out a portion and was pleasantly surprised with the ending. Great book!
This is the second book in the Treasures of Surrey series but it is a stand alone novel. You don't even need to read it to fully understand this one.
This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers
for review without compensation.
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. Visit Sarah online at www.sarahladd.com; on Facebook at SarahLaddAuthor or Twitter at @SarahLaddAuthor.