The second book in the beloved Regency romance series, The Treasures of Surrey.
“Regency romantic suspense at its page-turning best.” —RT Book Reviews, 4½ stars, TOP PICK!, for The Curiosity Keeper
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.
About the Author
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 family and spunky golden retriever. Visit her online at SarahLadd.com; Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor; Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor.
Read an Excerpt
Dawn at Emberwilde
A Treasures of Surrey Novel
By Sarah E. Ladd
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Sarah Ladd
All rights reserved.
Surrey, England, 1817
Mrs. Brathay's shrill voice shattered the late-morning silence like a warbler's call unsettling dawn's still mist.
"Miss Creston! Are you in here?"
Isabel Creston froze just inside the door to the kitchen garden.
She'd been caught.
Determined to hide her early excursion from Mrs. Brathay's observant eye, Isabel shoved her flower basket onto the cupboard's top shelf, ignoring the pink primrose petals that showered to the planked floor. With a sharp tug she freed the bow at the small of her back to release the gardening smock from her waist, then she shrugged it from her shoulders.
"Yes, I am here!"
Isabel managed to loop her sullied apron over one of the iron hooks and whirl around just as Mrs. Brathay appeared in the corridor.
"There you are," exclaimed Mrs. Brathay, her lips pinched. "I have been looking for you for at least this past hour."
"I am sorry." Isabel offered a sheepish smile. "I was not aware."
"Obviously." Mrs. Brathay ducked to avoid the entry's low wooden beam as she nodded toward the bloom tucked in the neckline of Isabel's gown. "And what in heaven's name is that?"
Isabel drew a deep breath, attempting to buy herself time for an explanation. "It is a rose. From the south garden."
"I know it is a rose, Miss Creston." Impatience increased the volume and pitch of the older woman's terse voice. "What I do not know is why you are wearing it in such a fashion. You know such adornments are not permitted."
Isabel bit her lower lip at the scolding. She was well acquainted with Fellsworth School's stringent regulations regarding uniforms, and she accepted the requirement that she wear a stark black gown day after day without complaint. But being forbidden to adorn it with at least a spring flower seemed excessive.
"I only wanted to see how it would look."
"Well, you can take it off now." The headmistress's pointed gaze traveled up from the bloom and landed on Isabel's hair. "And did you go out with your hair loose like that again? I thought we already had this discussion."
Isabel plucked the rose from her gown's neckline, tossed it onto the shelf above the hooks, and smoothed a flyaway hair into place, immediately regretting her decision to dress her hair so hastily. Hair was to be worn in a tight chignon at the base of her neck, not held up loosely with pins as she now wore it. Furthermore, her hair was to be covered anytime she was out of doors.
She had disregarded both mandates.
Mrs. Brathay clicked her tongue. "La, child. What I am to do with you I'm sure I don't know. But now's not the time to be fretting on such things. Mr. Langsby has asked to see you in his study."
Dread, foreboding and heavy, sliced through Isabel. It was not every day that one was summoned to speak with the school's superintendent, and rarely for a positive reason. "If it is about my hair, I —"
"Don't be silly," hissed Mrs. Brathay, her gray eyes alert. "Mr. Langsby is far too busy to be concerned with such things. It seems I must remind you that regulations, and the adherence to them, develops discipline. I fear you have been allowed far too many passes in that regard. If you hope to obtain a permanent teaching position here at Fellsworth, then it would behoove you to show respect for the rules."
Isabel nodded. "Yes, Mrs. Brathay."
"Now, tidy your hair and then go to Mr. Langsby's study. There is a messenger for you there."
Isabel jerked her head up. "A messenger?"
"Yes, a messenger." Annoyance sharpened Mrs. Brathay's tone. "Mr. Langsby is a very busy man, as is, I am certain, the gentleman who is with him. Your little morning escapade into the garden has kept them both waiting."
In an unmasked display of displeasure, Mrs. Brathay gripped her skirt in one hand, turned, and quit the corridor.
Isabel held her breath at the reprimand, and once the older woman was clear of the threshold, she expelled her air. The meaning of Mrs. Brathay's words settled on her.
In her experience, messengers rarely harbored pleasant news, and she doubted this one would be different.
She ran her hand down the front of her gown, pausing only momentarily to notice a slight tremble in her fingers. Without giving herself time to contemplate the reason behind it, she brushed away tiny bits of leaves and grass from her morning outing that still clung to the rough fabric.
Delaying whatever or whoever awaited her would not alter the situation.
The most likely reason for the summons was that she had been offered a position as a governess. It had been her objective for many years — and the endeavor of many young ladies who studied at Fellsworth — to secure such a position. But normally, news of that nature would come from Mrs. Brathay, the girls' headmistress, not from the superintendent, whose duty it was to oversee both the boys' and girls' schools.
Determined to receive the news with calmness, she lifted her chin and swept her hair away from her face. After a steadying breath, she turned on her heel and made her way down the narrow corridor leading from the back entrance to the school's main hall.
The school seemed unusually quiet for the late-morning hour. Had the building echoed with the normal sounds of hushed voices and hurried footsteps, however, she might not have noticed the distant sound of a horse's whinny. She stopped and turned to discover the source. There, through the tall, leaded windows, was a carriage as black as coal, and in front of it stood four jet horses. The sunlight shone on their glossy manes and polished harnesses. One of the horses, a giant, majestic creature, tossed his head, and the high-pitched whinny echoed yet again. The carriage's door boasted an unfamiliar yet vivid crest of red and gold. She stood transfixed by the elegant sight, for such a carriage rarely came to rest before Fellsworth School's humble entrance. The image both incited new questions and returned her to the task at hand.
Tearing her gaze away from the sight, Isabel turned and hastened from the foyer down the hall leading to the superintendent's study. At its end, the thick door stood slightly ajar. As Isabel drew closer to the slim crack, she angled her head just so to glimpse the back of a gentleman sitting in a padded chair. This man could not be Mr. Langsby, for his shoulders were far too broad and his hair too full and light. Even by what little of his clothing she could see, there could be no denying the fabric's richness and the crispness in his coat's high collar.
Growing more curious, she removed the few pins clinging to her locks, shook out her unruly hair, coiled it tightly per protocol, and secured it in place. She had little idea what message awaited her once she passed the threshold, but she would not meet it unprepared.
Once satisfied her hair would not come tumbling about her shoulders, Isabel lifted her hand and tapped on the door.
A voice, deep and solemn, sounded from within. "Enter."
Before pushing the door open with her fingertips, Isabel drew a deep breath in an attempt to calm the possible scenarios swirling through her mind. She stepped into the spacious chamber, her footsteps barely audible on the thin, worn rug.
Bright white sunlight spilled through the freshly cleaned leaded windows and splashed on the contents of Mr. Langsby's modest study. An expansive walnut desk stood anchored in the center of the oblong room, and atop its polished surface sat piles of papers and books so plentiful that Isabel wondered how Mr. Langsby even knew the task at hand.
But it was not the pile of letters or the height of the windows that captured her attention. For as she entered, the messenger stood and turned to face her.
Isabel had not formed a clear idea of what sort of man might bring her a message, but she was certain that even in her wildest imagination, he never would have been like the man before her. She had expected a footman or possibly a tradesman of some sort, but before her stood a gentleman. His status was evident in the cut of his clothes, the arrangement of his hair, and the glossy sheen of his boots. With light brown hair and a strong, square jaw, he was extraordinarily handsome. She summoned courage to look at his eyes. They were warm and deep but large and bright. And they were fixed firmly on her.
It felt as if minutes passed before Mr. Langsby spoke, though common sense whispered it had been but a few seconds. "Miss Creston, good, you are here at last."
She turned to Mr. Langsby as if jolted by his words. He was seated behind the desk. As usual, a crisp black coat adorned his wiry frame, and his thinning gray hair was gathered into a sparse queue at the base of his neck. Compared to the other man in the room, he appeared almost frail.
Isabel found her voice. "My apologies, Mr. Langsby. I am sorry to have kept you waiting."
"Well, you are here now. And not a moment too late, for there is a guest here for you." Mr. Langsby stood and turned to face the tall man standing before her. "I'd like for you to meet Mr. Bradford. Mr. Bradford is the superintendent of the foundling home in Northrop, just south of here."
Isabel returned her attention to their guest, and he smiled and gave a crisp, formal bow.
She curtsied as elegantly as her nervous legs would allow.
Mr. Langsby continued. "Mr. Bradford is an old friend of mine. I have known him for a number of years now. Imagine my surprise when he arrived this morning with this missive concerning you."
Mr. Bradford finally spoke, his voice deep and rich. "I am always pleased to visit at Fellsworth. And I am even more pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Creston."
Mr. Bradford's words suggested that he'd visited Fellsworth prior to this occasion, but she was certain she would remember seeing such a gentleman.
Mr. Langsby adjusted the spectacles on his long nose, lifted an opened letter from his desk, and turned his full attention to Isabel. "Is the name Mrs. Margaret Ellison familiar to you?"
Isabel frowned as she searched her memory. "No, sir, it is not."
"Perhaps you think it an odd inquiry, but I assure you, my reason for asking is sound. The missive Mr. Bradford conveyed is from a Mrs. Margaret Ellison of Emberwilde Hall. I have not had the pleasure of correspondence from Mrs. Ellison prior to this interaction, but in this letter she inquires after you by name."
"After me?" Isabel repeated, unable to conceal the surprise in her voice. She had resided at this school for years and had precious few acquaintances outside of Fellsworth's halls.
"Yes." Mr. Langsby nodded. "It appears that Mrs. Ellison is a relation of yours and wishes to open her home to you."
Isabel stared at Mr. Langsby as if he had grown a second head. "I'm afraid you must be mistaken, sir. I have no other relations apart from my sister."
As if sensing her confusion, Mr. Bradford stepped closer. "Perhaps I can explain. Mrs. Ellison has reason to believe that she is your aunt and has sent me to investigate the matter. Mrs. Ellison's sister was Mrs. Anna Creston, formerly Miss Anna Hayworth of Northrop."
At the mention of the treasured name, the room's temperature seemed to rise with each tick of the mantel clock. How long had it been since that name had met Isabel's ears?
"Anna Creston was my mother." Isabel said the words aloud, slowly, as if to remind herself of the statement's truth.
There could be no denying a connection. For how else would such a woman know her mother's name, especially after all of these years?
After a lengthy pause, Mr. Bradford spoke again. "Mrs. Ellison only recently learned of your father's death, and she believes herself and her family to be your only living relatives. Knowing that I have long enjoyed a friendship with Mr. Langsby, she asked if I would deliver this message personally and vouch for her good nature."
Hardly able to believe what she had heard, Isabel extended her hand toward Mr. Langsby. Somehow she managed to squeak out words from her lips, which had suddenly grown very dry. "May I see the letter?"
"Of course." Mr. Langsby pinched it between two long, bony fingers and extended it toward her. She slid her finger under the wax seal, which had already been broken, and flipped open the letter.
Dear Mr. Langsby,
This letter may come as quite a surprise, but such circumstances call for such missives.
My name is Mrs. Margaret Ellison of Emberwilde Hall.
I have just this week learned of the death of my brother-in-law, Mr. Thomas Creston, and I have also learned that my niece, Miss Isabel Creston, has been a resident at your establishment for a number of years. Miss Creston is the only daughter of my deceased sister, Mrs. Anna Hayworth Creston.
In light of her father's death, I should like to offer Miss Creston a home with us at Emberwilde Hall. You must know, Mr. Langsby, what a pleasant surprise it was for us to learn that my own niece was already living in Surrey.
I do not need to tell you how difficult it is for a young woman to make her way in the world, and we should like to welcome her into our family, whatever her situation may be.
In order to show our support for the good work you are doing, please accept this enclosed donation to the betterment of your cause. Have you any questions as to my personal nature or that of my family, please direct them to Mr. Bradford, who is delivering this letter by hand. He is a great family friend and should be able to answer any questions you have.
As you can imagine, we are eager for our niece to come to us. We have sent a carriage for her in the hopes it will allow her to join us immediately.
I am yours, respectfully, Mrs. Margaret Ellison
The impressive carriage in the drive. The jet-black horses. They were here for her.
Isabel wanted to demand answers, to summon every detail Mr. Bradford could muster, but even as she wanted more information, her mind craved space to understand what she had just learned.
Isabel stared at the elegant penmanship and even strokes for several seconds before lowering the letter. She noticed how her blood rushed through her at an uncomfortable pace, forced by the sudden pounding of her heart.
"Were you aware of any aunt?" Mr. Langsby asked.
Isabel shook her head slowly, her face growing hot. "No, I was not. My mother died when I was but five, and my father never spoke of her or her family."
Mr. Bradford cleared his throat, and she turned toward him. His expression appeared very kind, his eyes soft and his manner gentle. "I am sure this is unexpected news. You probably need time to consider your decision. Langsby, with your permission, I'll take my leave to care for my horse and will return shortly."
Mr. Bradford bowed toward her, smiled warmly, then took his leave, pulling the door closed behind him as he did.
The room seemed impossibly quiet in his absence. In fact, some part of her wished he had stayed, as if he held the answers to the rest of the questions swirling in her mind.
Mr. Langsby stepped back behind his desk and prepared to return to his seat.
As he did so, Isabel lifted her eyes to the wall in front of her, taking note of everything she could, from the wrinkled maps and faded paintings hanging haphazardly on the papered walls to the heavy emerald-colored curtains flanking the windows, as if looking upon something familiar could ease her into the truth.
Once Mr. Langsby was seated, he nodded to the empty chair. "Be seated, Miss Creston. I should like to talk with you further."
Once she was settled, he spoke again. "You have been at our school a long time, Miss Creston, have you not?"
Isabel nodded. "I came here when I was seven years of age."
"And now what is your age?"
Mr. Langsby reached for the letter, which was still in her hand, and, once securing it in his grasp, tucked it in a drawer. "It is always our hope, as you well know, to prepare our youths to make their own way once they leave our humble halls. You are no different. I do not need to tell you that it is a difficult world, one full of temptation and sorrow, difficulty and sadness.
Excerpted from Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd. Copyright © 2016 Sarah Ladd. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A gripping mystery and romance.
She is one of my favorite authors! She makes the past come alive!
The book started out kind of slow for me, but as I got to know the characters and the plot began to take place, it picked up speed and I became more interested in what was going on. Isabel lost both her parents and after spending years in a girls school, was forced to move to Emberwilde to live with her estranged aunt and uncle, of whom she has no recollection. Emberwilde is dark and mysterious, full of mystery and superstitions, including legends that encompass even Isabel's mother. Isabel and her half-sister Lizzie have mixed emotions about being thrown into this new situation and even more so when they discover things are not as they seem at the estate. As two men vie for her heart and attentions, Isabel is exposed to danger and adventure. In a day and age when marriages were arranged based on status, Isabel's ideal of marrying for love, may not happen. With conflicting ideas being thrown at her, discerning the right man for her affections may not prove simple. I enjoyed the character of Colin, the magistrate, the most. He seemed to be the most honest, true to self person in the story. I also enjoyed the play out of his relationship with Isabel as they got to know each other and began learning to trust despite the opposing forces. The villain was predictable as was most of the plot, but that did not take away from the gratification in reading the story. Several of the characters could grate a bit on the nerves, but of course that compels you to continue reading. Sarah is a new author for me. I would certainly read her again, given the chance. This book was provided to me by Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to review it positively or otherwise compensated for my opinion.
Christian Historical fiction – England early 1800’s As a young child, after her mother died Isabel was left at the Fellsworth School. She was still there when her father died and her sister joined her. Later a teacher, she never expected to leave unless as a governess. One day a visitor comes to tell her that she has an Aunt, who brings her and her sister to live with them at their mansion. But all is not as it seems. Her Aunt and Uncle expect her to enter society and marry well. Isabel isn’t even used to talking to men, and now has two she interacts with. Quite a different life than what she had expected. Still it is exciting with all the dresses and parties. Always fond of gardens and outdoors, there’s a forest alongside the estate, but even though she is drawn there she’s been warned to stay away. Conflicting advice from her Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and suitors makes things difficult, and as time goes by she uncovers more secrets and realizes how little she really knew about her mother. Lessons in self-worth and faith in God’s influence and guidance throughout. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Thomas Nelson Publishers and The BookLook Bloggers Team. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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”. http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html
Not everything is as it seems. Isabel has been able to rely on her daily life, with no changes, no surprises, and then she receives a visitor that changes her life forever. All of a sudden there is family who is looking for her, who are opening their home to her. This seems like a dream come true. But is it really a dream come true? Or a nightmare come to life? Take a Jane Austen setting in an Alfred Hitchcock plot and you have Dawn at Emberwilde. The story kept my attention and Kept me from a few sleepless late hours. The only bummer I have about it is the ending. There was such a build up and I felt the ending, although it is (Possible spoiler alert) not a cliffhanger, it seemed very rushed to me. As if the author had reached her deadline and just finished up the story without putting in the proper care and detail it deserved. Otherwise, it was a very good story, in my opinion, anyway. *I received this book free from Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review. What I have expressed are entirely my own thoughts.*
Dawn at Emberwilde is the second book in Sarah E. Ladd's The Treasures of Surrey series. I haven't had the opportunity to read the first one yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It can be read as a stand alone book. Although, I plan on reading the first one since I enjoyed this one so much! Isabel Creston is no stranger to heartbreak and hard work. Having lost her mother at a young age, then her father and step mother, she's left alone to care for her half-sister, Lizzie. She adores and loves Lizzy along with her home at Fellsworth School. She longs for a family and a place of her own, but that doesn't seem possible for a woman of her station. Fellsworth has trained her to make it on her own and she is hoping that a teaching or governess position opens up soon so she can support herself and Lizzie. Imagine her suprise when she's called into the superintendent's office-expecting to be offered a governness position, but what she gets is a whole lot more. Isabel has a family! Not just any family, but a rich and well to do family who owns the Emberwild estate. Her long lost aunt has finally found Isabel and wants her to come at once and allow them to take care of her. She had no clue she had any family, but it must be a good thing right? A family to love and take care of her, but are things as they seem? What about Lizzie? She can't just leave her sister alone at Fellsworth School. Dawn at Emberwilde is a lovely and enchanting tale that will keep you guessing until the end. Every family has secrets of course, but Isabel's family seems to have more than their fair share. Why does her aunt seem to insist that she keep company with Mr. Bradford? Are the tales of gypsies and ghosts in the Emberwilde forest true? Common sense says no, but then why does Mr. Galloway seem so interested in them? I fell in love with Dawn at Emberwilde. The author does an amzing job of describing the estates as well as the characters. I could so vividly picture each scene in my mind as I was reading. She alludes to some of the mysteries at Emberwilde, but you will remain guessing until the end. All in all, it's a fantastic read and I hope you will give Dawn at Emberwilde a try along with the reast of the Treasures of Sulley series.
Isabel is at peace with her safe and predictable position as a teacher and as guardian of her younger sister. Her unknown relatives offer her and her sister a better life yet she's plagued with feelings of unease. Isabel soon discovers a life of privilege isn't all it's cracked up to be and there could be some truth in the lore surrounding the mysterious Emberwilde Forest. I loved all the intrigue and suspense! I look forward to picking up another Sarah Ladd title soon. I requested the opportunity to read and review this title through BookLook Bloggers. The opinions expressed are my own.
Isabel had been called into the superintendents office at Fellsworth school. Isabel had been informed she had a relative by the name of Mrs. Margaret Ellison of Emberwilde Hall. Mrs Ellison wished to open her home to Isabel/ She was Isabel’s mother’s sister. Isabel’s mother had died when she was five.Mrs.s Ellison had only recently learned of father’s death. Isabel was seven when she came to the school she is now twenty. Isabel had a half sister Lizzie that Isabel is guardian of. Lizzie was also at the school and she was also to come with Isabel. They were to leave for Emberwilde Hall immediately. Suddenly Isabel is a lady and have two men suitor- one is the man who delivered the message to the school- Mr. Bradford who is head of the foundling home for both the boys and girls. The other is Mr. Gallaway who is a local magistrate and land owner. I liked this story alot. Isabel’s reaction to the whole new life is very realistic. There was alot to this story: mystery, greed, broken hearts, ex girlfriend, controlling aunt, controlling mother, intrigue, smuggling, love, lessons, courtship, manipulation, loyalty, and so much more. I liked the characters alot is this story. I loved the ins and outs of this story. I recommend. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
Sarah E. Ladd is a newer name to watch in the historical romance genre. This was an enjoyable read with a hint of mystery and suspense along with the romance. The characters were nicely developed and the plot moved along at a good pace. I really enjoyed the relationship between Isabel and Lizzie, the younger sister she's responsible for. Even though I suspected who the 'bad guy' was, the author did a great job of unraveling the mystery and throwing in some twists. This was my first time reading Sarah Ladd and I enjoyed it. I'd recommend this book to those that enjoy historicals and a light mystery. I'll definitely look for more of her books to read. While it's the second book in the series, it can stand alone. I've not read the first book and didn't feel like I was missing anything. Rating: 4/5 stars I received a free copy of this book from the Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.
This story grew on me as I read more and more. Imagine being at a boarding school, both parents dead, and looking out for the welfare of a younger half sister. All you really had to look forward to was teaching and being a governess if the opportunity arose. That's exactly where Isabel found herself. Then she learned of an aunt she didn't remember, who sent for her to come and live with her at a lavish estate. This estate had acquired much debt, which the aunt seemed to overlook. She still spent money like there was no tomorrow. The aunt seemed so cold and unloving whereas her husband, the uncle was just the opposite. Although he was encouraging to Isabel to find a suitable husband to take the burden of the extra expense from their situation. Lots of mystery and intrigue seemed to be hidden deep within the Emberwilde Forest, just past the estates grounds. Rumors of sickness, ghosts and death kept wanderers from setting their feet inside the forest. Smugglers also seemed to be using the forest for evil. Isabel's aunt also is keeping secrets of her own. How will they eventually affect Isabel and her sister? She also has two suitors vying for her attention. Romance is on the horizon. This story had enough humanism, mystery and intrigue to keep me glued to the pages. All the elements of the whole story seemed disjointed but came together in the end to tie everything together. Wonderful storytelling by Sarah Ladd. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Fiction Guild for my honest opinion which I have given.
This was my first novel that I’ve read by Sarah E. Ladd so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was not disappointed. In fact, I absolutely loved it! While reading this, I felt like I was reading an Austen, Bronte or Dickens novel. Normally I struggle with books set in this era that are written today because they aren’t authentic. This was very authentic and well written. It was true to the period and Mrs. Ladd definitely did her research because it shines throughout the pages. It was intriguing that Mrs. Ladd didn’t share all of the details of the characters in the very beginning of the book because I enjoyed the pacing and the slow revealing of all of the secrets. It made it quite interesting and wanting to know more. It helped the plot develop and gave it a mysterious kind of feel to it. The character development was also amazing. Isabel is a strong female character who lives by her convictions and is loyal to the ones she cares about. She is an ordinary woman trying to adapt from life preparing to become a governess to a woman who comes from wealth and have a possible future. She struggles to adapt to life at Emberwilde since it is completely different from what she is used to. However, she is an excellent role model for her little sister, Lizzie, by making the best of things on their new adventure instead of dwelling on how hard it is. Another character that I absolutely loved and is swoonworthy is Mr. Colin Galloway. He’s quiet, intelligent, and a complete gentleman. I won’t go too much into his character because I don’t want to give too much away. The only thing I found disappointing was that this is within the Christian Fiction genre and that there were very little mentions of God or the faith. Isabel’s Fellsworth friend, Mary, stitched the quote, “Remember, with each dawn seek guidance, and with each night give gratitude. For there is a divine plan for each of our lives, and a journey, and you have started yours.” into a piece of fabric. Isabel does take these words to heart, but that is all we see as far as the faith goes. If you’re looking for a light romantic read, I highly recommend this. It’s definitely on my favorites list and I plan to read more from the author soon. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Isabel Creston and her sister live at Fellsworth School, an orphan boarding school. Isabel thinks she has her future figured out until a stranger shows up and announces that she has an aunt who is still living. This news forever changes Isabel’s life and what little she knew about her mother’s side of the family. Dawn at Emberwilde had a good plot. I like it when orphans find a family, whether through adoption or long lost relatives. It wasn’t very suspenseful or romantic, though it did keep me interested as I read. I do wish the author had developed the part of the story regarding the woods better. As it is, I just don’t see how that was a necessity to the story. There was a twist ending, one I didn’t see coming. It was a happy ending with a hint of sadness. If you are looking for an easy to read story, one that you can put down and pick up at a later time, I would recommend this book. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”
Dawn at Emberwilde, A Treasures of Surrey Novel***** by Sarah E. Ladd Dawn of Emberwilde is a fascinating Regency (a genre I love reading) novel that captured me from the first page and kept me turning the pages. Readers are thrust back to 1817 Surrey, England among grandiose estates, beautiful and picturesque English country-side landscapes, a mysterious forest and intriguing characters. I really like Isabel and Lizzie and feel Isabel is much stronger than she realizes. Soon she must rely on that strength and her faith as she adjusts to her new home, the restrictions and ultimately her freedom in a way she had not envisioned. I so wanted her to stand up to her demanding, controlling aunt and follow her heart—in matters of the heart at least. She was being pushed toward a supposed gentleman, a man she did not care for the more she got to know him and one I did not like at all. He is not as perfect and charming as he pretends to be—in fact there is something he is hiding, something not good—possibly evil. Colin Galloway, magistrate of the area is a likeable gentleman and soon became a favorite character along with Isabel. He is a kind, gentle, honorable, godly man, and cares for those in the community and I found him to be perfect for Isabel—despite her aunt's feelings toward him. I was hoping Isabel would be attracted to him and not allow her aunt's influence in her future husband and life prevent her from seeing his true character. Isabel's aunt is another character that is not what she appears to be. She is overbearing with harsh restrictions and demands her own way in everything...without question. She had an ulterior motive for inviting Isabel to her grand home. I wasn't sure what to make of Isabel's cousin Constance. She seemed to want to be friends with Isabel but went along seemingly placidly with her mother's wishes and plans. Is she really as calm as she appears? There are many secondary characters that are delightful and brought much to the story. I like how the spiritual elements are subtle—evident more in behavior in everyday life, seeking God's will and guidance in their lives. There are some surprise twists in the story-line, dangerous situations, greed, joy, laughter, tears, finding ones true value, trusting God's will, romance, mystery, love and faith. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the era, I almost felt as if I was part of this captivating story. ~I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild, this is my honest review~
Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah Ladd is the second book in the "Treasures of Surrey" series, which is published by Thomas Nelson. It was my first novel by this author, and it worked as a stand-alone for me. Seeing as I expected this to be like Jane Austen with a dose of mystery, I am sorry to say that this didn't measure up to my expectations. Of course, to be fair, who could measure up to Jane Austen? Isabel Creston has lived at a boarding school since she was seven, which was shortly after her mother died and father left her. Now, she's twenty, and believes that she doesn't have any family left, except her half-sister, who is also at the boarding school. Out of the blue, an aunt of Isabel's pops up and invites Isabel and her sister to come and stay at her house. Upon Isabel's arrival, she finds that she doesn't quite fit in socially, plus she has two admirers, which she doesn't know how to handle. There's also a supporting plot involving smugglers in a magical forest. I'm not sure what this story was supposed to be. A romance? A historical novel? A mystery? Suspense? Dawn at Emberwilde seems to try to be a mix of it all, and I'm sorry to that it doesn't mix together as well as I'd hoped. However, I would still recommend giving it a shot; I loaned it to my friend, and she liked it. Thank you so much to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.
Isabel Creston thought she knew what her future held, until one day a long lost aunt turned her and her sister’s world around. They were suddenly thrown into an unknown world of luxury, but something did not feel right, and the Emberwilde Forest loomed right out her window. What was really going on in that forest? Will Isabel be rushed into a marriage or will she wait for true love? I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It definitely kept my interest once I really got into it! I kept guessing the outcome, and there were definitely some things I didn’t see coming. This was a great mystery with a touch of romance. I highly recommend it. It was clean, and very well written. I loved the characters, I felt that they were very well developed. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed! **I received this book free from the publisher for review through the Fiction Guild blogging program. I was not required to write a positive review; all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Dawn at Emberville is the second book in the Treasures of Surry series, although it could be read as a stand alone book. About half way in I found the book predictable. Perfect recipe of suspense, wonderful dose of awesome faith mixed in with a bit of romance. Sad though because her dad passed away and Isabel had to step in and care for her younger sister, Lizzie. I will be purchasing the first book in this series.
I LOVED Dawn at Emberwilde! This is the second book in the series. I haven't read the first book, but that wasn't a problem at all! Isabel Creston is a student, turned teacher at Fellsworth School, where she is able to still care for her younger sister, who was left in her care after their father's death. A stranger arrives at the school bearing news that the Isabel actually has family members, who would like to take her under their wings. Suddenly, both girls are swept into an unfamiliar world of society, hidden motives, and mysterious happenings at Emberwilde. Two men begin to pursue Isabel, but will she be able to navigate this unfamiliar territory? I truly enjoyed the pace of the story, along with the balance of romance and mystery. I also enjoyed the characters, and felt they were very believable and realistic. Thanks to the Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild for a free copy of this book. I have provided my honest opinion about the book, and my honest opinion is that you need to read it! I hope you enjoy as much as I did, and I wish Miss Creston and her man (go read the book to find out which one) many years of happiness!
Jane Austen lovers will adore this beautiful tale of love, adventure, and trust. Written with stunningly accurate historical detail and woven with suspense, I fell in love from the first page on! Colin is the very best kind of hero. Strong, sure, honest, kind, brave, honorable…the knight in shining armor descriptors go on and on. Add in a pair of beautiful and confused sisters, a couple of suitors, and a bucketful of romance and suspense, and let the adventures begin! While Dawn at Emberwilde is the second book in the Treasures of Surrey series, it is read as a stand alone. Find out for yourself what a treasure it is! Don’t believe that this is something even the youngest of “chapter book readers” can dig into? Check out the thoughts of my 13-year-old sister! She normally hates reading books she considers too “mature for a teenager”,not so this time: ” This book is absolutely captivating, and has you hanging on to every word with a dream of what the characters are like!! I adore this book and would read it again in a heartbeat…” _______________________________________________________ *My Rating* I give Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd… 5 stars!! _______________________________________________ *I received this book from Litfuse, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review, which I have given. All thoughts were my own and I was not compensated in any other way.
** “We are each on our own journey, and nothing is by accident.” ** Sarah Ladd offers a delectable gothic romantic thriller with “Dawn at Emberwilde.” Reminiscent of classic authors like Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, Ladd’s latest story is found in a series but actually is read like a standalone. It’s 1817 and Isabel Creston, an orphan and young teacher at the Fellsworth School, is shocked to learn she has family who wants to take her into their home. Arriving at Emberwilde with her half sister, 8-year-old Lizzie, Isabel is ecstatic to meet her new family and learn of her family’s past — especially about her mother. However, with tales of ghosts and spooky local folklore, and seemingly illegal activity occurring in the adjacent forest, Isabel quickly begins to suspect strange things are afoot. Colin Galloway, town magistrate, is serviced to come to the bottom of the possible smuggling operation occurring in the forest, but he also hopes to help Isabel in her times of need. “Dawn at Emberwilde” is that kind of read that’s just really hard to put down. Ladd is a great storyteller, created intriguing characters. But she also fills her novel with some impactful themes, like leaving one’s security (“fearful restlessness”), expectations and creating false impressions, and finding the strength and faith that everything will work out for the good. You will fall in love with Isabel, who is never afraid to stand up for herself and her beliefs; the plucky and adorable Lizzie; and the swoon worthy Colin. Five stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
A very enjoyable read. I liked it even better than The Curiosity Shop. Those of you who like historical romance books, with a little mystery thrown in, will love this book. Sarah Ladd draws you in with the characters, gets you hooked on the story, keeps your attention to the end.
Dawn at Emberwilde is the second book in Sarah E. Ladd’s Treasures of Surrey series, coming after The Curiosity Keeper. I read The Curiosity Keeper when it first released back in July of last year, and I really enjoyed it, so I was extremely excited for this book to finally release. What I didn’t know, however, was that I would love it quite this much! I mean, I’m definitely a pretty big fan of Sarah’s, but I haven’t read a single one of her books that I have loved near as much as this one! This book sucked me in from the very beginning, with all the secrets and mystery and intrigue, and next thing I knew I was finishing the book and completely in love with both Isabel and Colin, and their story. There were so many unexpected twists and turns that completely engrossed me in every aspect of the story, but I can’t believe it had to come to an end! I just hope Sarah’s planning on writing another novel in this series! Isabel Creston is such a wonderful character. I love how free-spirited she is; even though her aunt tried to turn her into the perfect society lady, and Isabel tried to please her aunt as a small way to repay her for all of her generosity, her aunt could not turn her into something that she was not, and I loved that about Isabel. I loved how she stayed true to herself, and didn’t let all of the money and nice things turn her into a shallow, selfish, vain women like so many other ladies of society. And her curiosity just about matched my own: not too curious in every situation but just curious enough to get her into trouble. Now, her interactions with the two men who pursue her can only be observed separately. Though she behaved almost exactly the same with each one of them, only one actually deserved her attentions, as it is highly possible the other one is a complete fraud (It could be that this is my stance on the two of them because I fell in love with one immediately and therefore didn’t want the other to ever have a place in Isabel’s heart, but no matter. You’ll find out the intricacies of the story once you read it). All in all, I really loved this book, and I’m so glad I own this copy of it so that I can read it again and again whenever I want. I cannot imagine giving this novel anything but all five bookshelves, and a permanent place on my all-time favorites list. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves good historical fiction, and I know it is highly likely that I will be lending this novel to my best friend sometime in the near future. I received a copy of this book through the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for only my honest review. (This review is from my blog, spreadinghisgrace.blogspot.com)
It is no secret that I am a big fan of a line of books published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and HarperCollins Christian Publishing. They always come with spectacular covers, wonderfully rich storylines, and terrific authors. Although there is always a romantic thread going through each novel, it is only a secondary element. These books have class, enduring plots, and characters that bloom from every page. Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E Ladd is one such book. Although it is the second book in a series, you do not have to read Book One to fully grasp and enjoy this novel. I loved this novel. It's set in England's Regency period. The story unfolds at a very steady pace, always tantalizing me to read further. Reading was like a discovery of secrets and characters and a very enjoyable experience. There is plenty to laud - a smuggling mystery, a meddling aunto, an enigmatic strong hero, life adversity, and wonderfully evolving secondary characters. Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.
Sarah E. Ladd in her new book “Dawn at Emberwilde” Book Two in the Treasures of Surrey series published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the life of Isabel Creston. From the back cover: 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 yet unexciting role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would provide her a steady environment to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death. The unexpected arrival of a striking 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 mysterious rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. And 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. Sarah E. Ladd has given us Historical Fiction that is so well written that you start to forget it is fiction as these characters come alive. Isabel, Mr. Bradford and Colin are amazing and the rest of the cast will draw you intensely into their world. Ms. Ladd has given us history, mystery, suspense and romance. Great characters, great plot with plenty of twists and turns equals a great read. I am so looking forward to the next book from this very talented author. 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. 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.”
Set in Regency England, “Dawn at Emberwilde” is the second installment in the Treasures of Surrey trilogy. The story centers on a simple young woman by the name of Isabel Creston who teaches at a school called Fellsworth. Isabel, very much a Jane Eyre-esque figure, has spent the majority of her life at Fellsworth – first as a student and later as a teacher. Consequently, Lizzie, Isabel’s younger sister is currently a pupil at Fellsworth and both of them seem to enjoy the regimented lifestyle of the school. While Isabel has known nothing but a life of austerity and her only prospect is to become a governess for a well-to-do family. Everything changes for the penniless Isabel and Lizzie when a stranger arrives at Fellsworth. Mr. Langsby, the superintendent of the school, calls her into his office and immediately introduces her to a startlingly handsome young name by the name of Mr. Bradford. Much to her surprise, Isabel learns that she has a wealthy aunt (her mother’s sister) by the name of Mrs. Ellison who desires for her to come live with her at a manor called Emberwilde. At first, she is reluctant to go live with some aunt she doesn’t know but Mr. Langsby soon makes it clear to her that she has no alternative. He explains that she is blessed with opportunity and wealthy relatives, and if she stayed, she would lessen the chances of other young women to find positions as governesses. Deciding that it’s her best choice, Isabel agrees to go to Emberwilde and takes Lizzie with her. In the forest around Emberwilde, Isabel meets her uncle, Mr. Ellison and the local magistrate, a young man by the name of Colin Galloway. While Isabel is very much taken with Mr. Bradford, Mr. Galloway cannot help but stare in awe of Mr. Ellison’s lovely niece with her flaxen hair and blue eyes. Not long after, Isabel and Lizzie meet Mrs. Ellison who is a pretentious snob of a woman and her daughter, Constance, who is something of a piano-playing virtuoso. The Ellison women seem to treat young Lizzie with kindness and are determined into making her into a proper young lady. On the other hand, Mrs. Ellison seems to be in such a rush to marry Isabel off and this is something that she finds exceedingly unsettling. As life goes on in Emberwilde, everything from the seemingly kind Ellison family to the handsome Mr. Bradford to the dark forest (neighboring the estate) is replete with mystery. In an entirely new atmosphere, Isabel and Lizzie find themselves surrounded again and again my uncertainty and danger. Even more unsettling is the triangle that has formed between Isabel, Mr. Bradford, and Mr. Galloway. Can Isabel trust Ellisons? Are Isabel and Lizzie in danger? Moreover, who are their friends and who are their enemies? Only time will tell. Dawn at Emberwilde was a fantastic treat from start to finish. Again, like in Ms. Ladd’s “The Curiosity Keeper,” I was drawn into a world of Regency England (with all of that frippery and elegance) and experienced yet another splendid mystery unfold. I won’t give anything away but there were a number of twists and turns that truly threw me for a loop. The writing was clear, concise, and worthy of comparison to a Jane Austen novel. The characters were engrossing from the strong-willed Isabel to the believably quirky Lizzie to the self-important Mrs. Ellison to the dashing Mr. Galloway. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is well worth the read!
I really enjoyed this new book from Sarah E. Ladd! It has just enough mystery and intrigue to keep you guessing and a lovely dose of romance to warm your heart. :) I really like how the mystery and the romance unfolded in this book. There was enough suspense to keep your attention throughout the book with a satisfactory conclusion. And the romance of two handsome yet vastly different men attracting Isabel's attention was well done. You felt the ease of the attraction to the mysterious Mr. Bradford yet you also feel the draw to the steadiness and character of the handsome Mr. Galloway. I also enjoyed the supporting characters. Isabel's sister Lizzie had a fun personality and helped relieve some of the somberness in several situations. Isabel's cousin Constance was, for the most part, a real help and friend to Isabel in the new world she found herself in. Mr. Galloway's big, burly, friend and co-worker, McKinney, was fun to imagine. And his cousin, Henry, was a good support to him also. All in all, this book is very well written with a gentle pace that will be easy to follow and very enjoyable. Oh, and I can't forget the setting! The description of the countryside and the Emberwilde forest makes you want to live there! :) *Thanks to Litfuse and the publisher for a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are my own.*