Book Review #1

The Heiress of Winterwood (Whispers on the Moors Series #1)

By Sarah E. Ladd

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Genre: Christian, Historical Romance, Regency Fiction

Pages: 314

Chapters: 31

Point of View: Third Person

Published: 2013

Back Cover Summary:

Darbury, England, 1814

Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.

Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s baby. She’ll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father—a sea captain she’s never met.

When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting at her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.

Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she’s forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.

Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.

Both must learn to have faith and relinquish control so they can embrace the future ahead of them.

Themes:

Faith and Trust in God, Forgiveness of Self, Loyalty, and Selfless Love.

Analysis:

Let me begin this book review by saying that first, there will be NO SIGNFICANT SPOILERS. Second, I am excited to let you all into my thought process as I complete books that I am reading. I often critically analyze books that I read. This may stem from my time in high school and college; I had to read practically every book in school asking questions as I read along.

For The Heiress of Winterwood, it was no different. I discovered the author while in a local LifeWay Christian; I wanted to venture out and read different historical fiction novelists. As a writer myself, solely reading from one author is not ideal, for there are diverse ways to execute a well-written novel.

After reading the summary above, it sounded intriguing. A woman proposes to a man in the Regency period. For those of you who may not know in that time a woman proposing to a man was highly uncommon. Frankly, it is a rarity nowadays too but given the current culture, it would not be as shocking if a woman did propose to a man.

That premise and reading the prologue are what intrigued me about this book, and so, I bought it. I was pleasantly surprised that the first chapter and half of chapter two, show Amelia proposing to Captain Graham Sterling; the scene was well-written, was exciting, and the Captain’s reaction to the proposal was believable. It made me eager to find out what would happen next. However, things took a dip for the next four and half chapters partially because we do not find out what the Captain’s answer is within these chapters. When the book starts out with such an intriguing first chapter and half of the second chapter, I would have preferred to have the chapters that immediately followed to have a similar level of intrigue pertaining to the dynamics between the characters as well as the plot.

Things pick up again in chapter eight. This is where a quote that is a highlight of the book to me comes from. The main character Amelia prays, “I want to trust you, God. But I don’t know how… If you have a plan for me, please make it known. I cannot do this alone,” (87). Talk about being completely honest with God. I found this prayer to be relatable, for I believe that we all at some point during our walk with God have struggled with an area such as doubt, trust, patience, etc. What Amelia does in response to her lack of trust in God is an illustration of what we all should do when we are struggling with something, which is TALK TO GOD about it. Know that God will hear you when you do, and God will answer.

The prayer also made me like Amelia as a character even more. Why? One of the most important components to a protagonist for me is connection. I may not agree with everything the protagonist in any book does, but I can relate to who they are at their core. That quote is where I truly connected with Amelia. God does answer Amelia’s prayer, but I will not elaborate on how.

The story kicks it up to a new notch in chapter thirteen and fourteen. In the latter, there winds up being an altercation between Captain Graham Sterling and another male character—let me just say that blood is drawn. I particularly noted these chapters because Amelia’s life endures changes, which sets into motion things that happen during the remainder of the book.

Now, let’s talk about the potential love interest to Amelia Barrett: Captain Graham Sterling. I enjoyed the evolution of Graham. At the start, you know very little about the man except the vague information that Amelia knows. This is precisely why I think it was a smart decision for the author to have Amelia and Graham’s perspective told, for there are certain interactions between the two that if it were told from Amelia’s perspective alone then, the reader’s opinions of Graham might be negative. In addition, readers get to see a different and vulnerable side to Graham while reading his perspective; and, in chapter twenty-five two people from Graham’s past bring out his softer side, which I enjoyed reading.  

As the summary also mentioned, the child, Lucy does indeed disappear. What I will say about it is her disappearance forces Amelia and Graham to TRUST GOD and one another. The later chapters of this book (twenty-two through thirty-one) are the strongest of the entire book. There is not any lull in the action. The dialogue is strong; the character interactions are strong as well.

I thought the final chapter had a beautiful setting, beautiful description, and beautiful dialogue. Regardless, after reading that final sentence, I came away feeling bittersweet. There were a couple of unanswered questions that I had that I wish were answered. However, if the author’s goal was to show that the characters’ lives are not meant to be somewhat buttoned up by the book’s conclusion then, how she concluded the book was successful. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Have you read The Heiress of Winterwood?

If so, how did you feel about the conclusion?

Have you read any other books by Sarah E. Ladd?

If you have, which one do you recommend that I read next?

Comment below!  

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