Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Sarah E. Ladd & The Governness of Penwythe Hall

Posted March 14, 2019 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, giveaway, historical, romance, Sarah E. Ladd / 58 Comments

Yay! Sarah Ladd is here today!! I adore all of her books, and if you love Regency-era fiction & haven’t discovered her novels yet you are missing out! Her new book The Governess of Penwythe Hall releases from Thomas Nelson on April 16th & starts her new Cornwall Novels series.

Cornwall was in her blood, and Delia feared she’d never escape its hold.

Cornwall, England, 1811

Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess—and the mystery shrouding her past—proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.


So What’s the Book About?
by Sarah E. Ladd

“So what’s the book about?”

As an author, I hear this question a lot.

Ah, such a short question — with so many possible answers!

Plot. Characters. Setting. Theme.

Do I always know what a book is going to be about when I start writing it?

The answer to that question is NO!

Every author is different when they approach writing a new book.

Some authors know exactly what is going to happen in every chapter, even before the start writing the story. Others develop the story as they go (that’s me!).

Others know immediately what their characters are going to be like – their quirks, behaviors, and tendencies – then they write the story around the characters (who by this point are VERY real in their mind!)

Some authors start with a theme in mind and write the book around that idea. The select a theme up front, such as courage, loyalty, justice, overcoming prejudice, etc. and write a story to demonstrate the idea.

When I sit down to write a book, the plot is always the first piece of puzzle that snaps into place. What events happen that move the story along? How does the story move from Point A to Point B to Point C? I think this happens mostly because researching details around the plot takes a great deal of work up front. After I have a good grip on the plot I work on developing the characters. (How do they react to certain situations? How does that shape them?)

It is not usually until near the end of the writing process that the story’s theme become clear to me. Not until details are set – the action, the character responses – does that piece fall into place. When I get close to wrapping things up I ask myself – what did the characters learn?  And almost always, one particular lesson jumps off the page at me.

That lesson becomes the theme.

For The Governess of Penwythe Hall, the theme is overcoming fear with faith. The characters are put into situations where they must face something that terrifies them, and then they must overcome it using their faith.

Here are a few quotes from The Governess of Penwythe Hall that preview the theme:

“Fear knew no bounds and came in so many forms: fear of what the future held. Fear of more loss. Fear of opening her heart and finding pain. Fear that if she did pray, her words would not be heard.”

“Never are we promised an easy life, but we are promised that when we rely on Him for strength, we will have what we need to face our challenges.  

“Fear is a bitter, vile enemy – it will rob you of today’s joys and steal your strength to fight for your purpose.”

“Faith is why I don’t fear tomorrow or the next day.”

It is my hope that when readers read this story, they will see how faith can help overcome fear, regardless of what the fear may be.

There is no right way or wrong way to write a story, but I love it when I learn lessons along with my characters.

As a reader, what part of the story – character, plot, etc. – is most important to you?

Thanks for spending a little time with me!

Until next time,


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 holds degrees in public relations and marketing and lives in Indiana with her family and spunky Golden Retriever.

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TNZ Fiction is offering a print copy of The Governess of Penwythe Hall to one of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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58 responses to “Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Sarah E. Ladd & The Governness of Penwythe Hall

  1. Emilee Douglas

    I think the chemistry between the characters is very important. I also feel there needs to be a consistency through out the story. I don’t like to find contradictions and places that I have to go back and read because of them. I also want a realistic character. Characters that I think “no one would do that” just don’t resonate with me. I’m sure that makes it hard for the author because everyone sees things differently. These are the most important things in a story to me.

  2. Kay Garrett

    To me the most important part of a story are the people in it. If they are believable then it doesn’t matter what the plot it. They can be enduring, cantankerous or anywhere in between, but they have to speak to us and feel real. Part of that may be that we can relate to them, wish we were like them or even see what we don’t want to be, or remind us of someone, but they have to be believable.

  3. Debbie Clatterbuck

    I think the plot is very important in a story. If it isn’t interesting enough to buy, it isn’t really worth buying. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity and good luck everyone.

  4. Melissa Andres

    That’s a tough question! I feel plot is very important…along with great characters. I love Sarah Ladd’s books and am really looking forward to reading this new story!

  5. Candice Valdez

    I think the charters are important. If I can’t relate to them, the story seems to drag.

  6. Perrianne Askew

    For me I think that the plot has to be really good to engage my attention. The characters have to be believable but not necessarily someone you can relate to or even like. One of the main characters has to be likeable because I can’t read a book and not like at least one character. I also love a well done professional cover.

  7. Janice Moore

    It is hard to pinpoint just one thing that is most important to me in a story because I look for plot, faith element and quality of characters.This story has them all! Hey, the pretty cover here does not hurt!

  8. The characters are always the most important, although they need a good plot to fully flesh them out. I’ve loved all of Sarah’s books – I’ve followed her since her debut came out!

  9. Andrea Byers

    I don’t know that I could pick between the characters and the plot. The plot needs to move enough to keep the pages turning, but that said, if I don’t like the characters, it’s going to be hard to get into the book. I guess that would mean the characters edge out the plot.

  10. Cindy Adams

    The theme is my favorite part. I want to learn something along with the characters that grows my faith!

  11. Becky D.

    There are 2 key aspects that make me want to read a book all the way through: conversation & intrigue. I love witty & fun banter between characters (or even in the character’s mind). And I love books that keep you guessing. I’m looking forward to Sarah E. Ladd’s newest novel!!

  12. Faith Creech

    I enjoy a good plot that I can really get involved in. I also enjoy it when I can get involved with the characters and can relate to them. I enjoy the interaction between the characters and the dialogue that takes place.

    • Carrie

      i think it just all goes together, right? the plot drives the characters who drive the dialogue which drives the plot lol

  13. Kellie

    I love sarah’s Books, this sounds like it is sure to not disappoint! I love a good mystery involved!

  14. Paula Shreckhise

    I like the setting and any historical significance. I also like the interaction between characters, witty banter is great.

  15. Winnie Thomas

    Hard question! I usually am drawn to the plot when I’m looking for a book to read, but the characters are so important. There has to be chemistry between the main characters (especially if it’s a romance) 😀 The book has to draw me in quickly and keep me interested.

    Thanks for the spotlight. I absolutely adore Sarah’s books, but I’m woefully behind on them.

    • Sarah

      I agree! It’s the plot that initially draws me to a book, but it’s the characters that make a book really good. Also, I always look forward to new books by favorite authors, but when they feature characters I’ve already met in previous books, I can hardly wait for the release dates! (For example, Becky Wade’s next book with Britt and Zander.)

      This book by Sarah Ladd sounds great, and I can’t wait to read it! She is a new-to-me author, and from this blog and all the comments it sounds like I’m in for a treat. Carrie, I have so many new favorite authors I’ve read through you, and I’m sure Sarah Ladd is another one to add to the list. Thank you!

  16. Chanel Monroe

    Initially, the plot attracts me to a book and engages me. But the characters are what I remember more when I finish – how I relate to them, how they grow, truths they learn. The characters are the ones that stay with me.

  17. Connie Scruggs

    The characters are very important to me. If I don’t become friends with them fairly quickly, I lose interest in the book. I love quirky, fun characters the most. I also befriend characters who are kind and loving. I make friends pretty easily 🙂

  18. Vivian Furbay

    Both character and plot are important. I like characters who are like normal people who have their own faults but can overcome situations through Christ.

  19. Oh gosh, I don’t know if I can decide on just one thing! I think it all works together. The story wouldn’t really be a story with no plot and just characters, but then what would you have if you just had a plot and no relatable characters? I think it’s also good to have a main theme so that both the characters and readers can learn something along the way. So the answer? I can’t just pick one thing because they all work together and are necessary for a story to be a good story.

  20. Karen

    For me the characters and the plot are equally important. They must be realistic and believable, although I do allow some leeway in the plot to be a little dreamy with a good HEA, of course! I love characters that have flaws and are more relatable, but they can’t be so real that they drive me crazy. Some characters make me want to shake their shoulders and have a strong word with them! Haha

  21. Jennifer K

    I tend to get wrapped in the characters and the lessons that they learn along the way. This cover is beautiful and the story sounds wonderful!!!!

  22. Mallori N.

    The most important elements to me are character and plot. I need characters that I can get behind, but I also need a plot that holds my attention.

  23. Alison Boss

    The plot is what draws me in, and then the characters. If I’m not drawn to the story and the plot doesn’t develop, it’s hard to continue reading.

  24. Alison Boss

    The plot draws me in, and then the characters. If the plot doesn’t continue to develop and keep my interest, then it’s hard to keep reading the story.

  25. Connie Porter Saunders

    You can have the most interesting characters imaginable but if they don’t have anything to do, any troubles to face, any mountains to climb, then there is nothing! Definitely PLOT!

  26. Debra Branigan

    Well, a book won’t be at it’s best if some of the elements are weak. That said, I think character development is really pretty important. If I’m invested in the character, I can suffer through those implausible or melodramatic moments that happen.

  27. Helen

    The plot plays a vital role in the story, but if you have flat characters, the plot alone cannot hold up the story. You will need both to draw the reader in and keep them wanting more.

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