A delightful mix of family drama, intrigue, and romance make Melanie Dobson's Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor the perfect summer read. When Heather Toulson returns to her parents' cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a decades-old murder. Libby, a free spirit who can't be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver's death. Decades later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family's cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She's mourning her father's passing but can't let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family's belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family's history. Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways. Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.
I've read several of Melanie Dobson's novels, and they seem to just get better and better. I opened up Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor expecting to like it, but I had no idea just how invested I would become in this novel!
The book is told from multiple perspectives in both the present and the past. While this could get confusing, it does not, and it also allows the reader to view events from multiple perspectives, causing characters who could seem like villains (like Libby's boyfriend Oliver) to come across as more sympathetic and relatable.
The portion of the story told in the past begins when Maggie, pregnant and alone, accepts Walter Doyle's offer of marriage. Maggie's decision to allow Walter to believe Libby is his sets off a cycle of lies and deception that is not broken until their younger daughter Heather returns to the family cottage following Walter's death. The novel powerfully shows how secrets and lies can affect families for generations.
Beautifully written with an intriguing and thought provoking plot, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is unlike any other book I've read. I almost wish I hadn't finished it yet, just so I could still have the pleasure of discovering how everything turned out for the Doyle family. 5 stars.
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of thirteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. Melanie lives with her husband Jon and two daughters near Portland, Oregon.
Find Melanie online: website, Twitter, Facebook Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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