Saturday, June 11, 2016

"dawn at emberwilde" by sarah e. ladd

Regency romance fans will love Sarah E. Ladd's latest novel, Dawn at Emberwilde.

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.

In Dawn at Emberwilde, Isabel and her younger sister Lizzie suddenly find themselves swept from their peaceful (if poor) existence at a school to Emberwilde Hall, which Isabel's long-lost relatives own. Isabel tries to fit into polite society, but it seems she upsets her aunt at every turn. Then her aunt and uncle each begin pushing her toward very different men, and they both seem to have ulterior motives. Isabel knows what her heart feels, but just how beholden is she to her relatives?

Hands down, my favorite aspect of this novel is Isabel. She is at times strong, loving, hesitant, and confused—basically, she seems like a real person! She also has a very strong sense of self; though she does want to please her relatives, she never loses sight of what is important, and she doesn't allow herself to be pushed into anything, even when her new, comfortable life is at risk.

While Dawn at Emberwilde ostensibly features a love triangle, in actuality, there's no doubt about which suitor Isabel will choose—because the novel is written from two perspectives, Isabel's and the man she ends up with. Still, I enjoyed watching their romance develop, and Isabel's journey with the other suitor was also interesting.

I have enjoyed reading Ladd's Whispers on the Moors novels, as well as the first Treasures of Surrey novel. Dawn at Emberwilde fits well within Ladd's brand—sweet romance, great characters, and a touch of mystery. While I did struggle to stay engaged in the middle, I still greatly enjoyed the story, and I look forward to whatever Ladd will write next. 3-1/2 stars.

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Buy the book. 
Read my reviews of Ladd's Treasures of Surrey novel The Curiosity Keeper (4-1/2 stars) and her Whispers on the Moors novels: The Heiress of Winterwood (4 stars), The Headmistress of Rosemere (5 stars), and A Lady at Willowgrove Hall (4 stars).

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.
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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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