About the Book
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.
As 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.
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I was immediately drawn to Dawn at Emberwilde by its beautiful cover. The woods in the background looked inviting with a hint of caution, as if there is darkness looming about. I felt it calling my name, pulling me into its world of secrets. Usually when I am drawn to a book cover I get nervous about reading it. Anticipation lingers and I do not want to be disappointed. My suspicions were immediately put to rest as this book exceeded every expectation I had.
Author Sarah Ladd has a way with words; there is no other way to put it. From the very beginning her descriptions captivated me. With a setting in 1817, I imagine it is difficult to write as if you were writing in that time period. Not only did the way Sarah pen this book make me feel as if I was there witnessing every scene, it made me feel as if I was truly living in that time period. I found myself slowly reading the pages, ensuring that I would not miss a thing. This was new for me, as typically I am a fast reader and cannot wait to get to the end.
Although this may be considered a romantic novel by some, and I did enjoy the romantic banter between the characters throughout the book, I found myself more intrigued by the mystery of Emberwilde Forest and the smuggling case. If you read carefully, you’ll notice clues throughout the book, although I must admit that I didn’t catch on to some of them until I reached the end and the mystery was solved. I do not like a mystery case that is obvious. I like to be surprised and love it when an author throws in a twist that I did not see coming. Sarah Ladd did just that, and I am glad that she did.
I thought the pace of this story was spot on. While some may feel the book in a bit lengthy, I think that each and every part is important to the overall storyline and is necessary to get to the end. I enjoyed seeing Isabel react to different situations that came about. She did not stray from her principles, and was not afraid to speak her mind on occasion to her aunt. I was worried that Aunt Margaret would start to have influence over Isabel, with her rich and worldly thoughts. I was happy to see, however, that Isabel’s character remained true to herself throughout the whole story.
This may have been my first read by Sarah Ladd, but I promise you it will not be my last. If you enjoy reading well rounded storylines with a hint of romance and mystery, I would advise you to get your copy today! I received a copy of this book from TNZ Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review which I have given.