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.
SERIES: Treasures of Surrey #2
GENRE: Historical Romance, Regency, Christian
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2016
“For there is a divine plan for each of our lives, and a journey, and you have started yours.”
Whenever I pick up a book by Sarah Ladd, I know I need to make sure I have a few hours carved out to do nothing but read. Why? Because I know I will be unable to do anything but read until I’ve soaked in every delightful word and each exquisite scene. Ladd’s writing evokes Austen or Bronte, a classic British style (from an American, no less) that wraps you in comforting familiarity and may even have you double checking that publication date to make sure it says 2016 and not 1816 😉
Dawn at Emberwilde is another such book by Sarah Ladd and may in fact be my favorite so far! I devoured it in one sitting this afternoon and I’m already wishing I had time for a re-read. The countryside setting, the vivid characters, the thread of suspense that tunnels through the plot … all of these elements held me captive.
But, it was Isabel that stood out from the rest. Well… and Colin. *dreamy sigh*
Isabel reminded me partly of Elinor Dashwood, partly of Maria from The Sound of Music (mostly there at the beginning), partly of Jane Eyre and even a little of Cinderella. Yet, Ladd wove all of these complicated facets of Isabel’s personality together into a character distinctly hers. I loved her pureness of heart, despite the difficulty she had endured thus far in life and despite the wrongs she continues to suffer as the novel progresses.
Which brings me to my next point.
This series, y’all. I adore the hidden depth to each story. On the surface this is a lovely Regency romance with a bit of mystery thrown in to add extra intrigue. But if you look a bit farther, a theme emerges that connects the books through more than just Fellsworth – the worth of a person cannot be determined based on outward appearance. This was clearly seen in the first book, The Curiosity Keeper. And it is clearly woven throughout Dawn at Emberwilde as well. Neither Isabel nor Colin are appropriately adorned for their stations, yet they are perhaps the most rich in spirit. On the other hand, several characters who externally are the epitome of propriety are in actuality the most internally impoverished.
“The most important thing to remember is that no experience is ever wasted. It is being used to fashion you into the person you are meant to be, and to move you to the place where you are supposed to go.”
Bottom Line: Dawn at Emberwilde is everything I want in a Regency romance. Sarah Ladd immerses readers in the setting with her rich descriptions, and the gentle undertones of mystery added an almost gothic feel to the novel. Delicious swoonworthy romance will have you holding your breath and grinning in delight, though the journey is not without moments of angst that will have you holding your breath for entirely different reasons. The theme of treasure – both literal and metaphorical – continues a bit more loosely perhaps than it did in The Curiosity Keeper but with no less poignancy. (I have my theories on what the literal treasure is in Dawn at Emberwilde but I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’m keeping it to myself for now.) Though this is the second book in the Treasures of Surrey series, it can absolutely be read as a stand alone with no problems. If you love Jane Austen or Julie Klassen, make sure you put Dawn at Emberwilde at the top of your TBR pile!
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / LOVED it!
KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/24hHcui
See what others are saying: Litfuse
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.
Other Books by Sarah E. Ladd
What about you? What do you look for in a Regency romance?