From debut author Abigail Wilson comes a shadowy Regency tale of secrets and spies, love, and treachery.
“Mysterious . . . Melodic . . . Thrilling and original . . . Abigail Wilson has crafted a debut that shines.” —Kristy Cambron, bestselling author of Castle on the Rise
Croft Towers holds more than its share of secrets . . . and Sybil is determined to uncover them all.
When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?
When fellow passengers of the robbed coach are later murdered, Sybil’s hunt for the truth takes on a new urgency. The only person she can rely on is Mr. Sinclair, Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, but under all his charms he too leads a double life. Sybil must decide if he is the one honest voice she can trust, or if he is simply using her for his own advances.
With murderers, smugglers, and spies on the loose, nothing—and no one—in Regency England is what they claim. Can Sybil even trust what she knows about herself?
“Abigail Wilson's In the Shadow of Croft Tower is the kind of novel I love to recommend. Well written, thoroughly engrossing, and perfectly inspiring. I honestly couldn't flip the pages fast enough.” —Shelley Shepard Gray, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
"In the Shadow of Croft Tower is beautifully written, suspenseful, and satisfyingly romantic. Abigail Wilson paints a beautiful picture of pastoral Regency England. This book will keep you riveted to the end, and you'll be rooting for the feisty heroine to get her happily ever after." —Jennifer Beckstrand, author of Home on Huckleberry Hill
"Part mystery and part romance, Abigail Wilson's debut is an atmospheric period novel that will keep readers guessing to the very end." —Amanda Flower, USA Today bestselling author of Death and Daisies
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children. Connect with Abigail at www.acwilsonbooks.com; Instagram: acwilsonbooks; Facebook: ACWilsonbooks; Twitter: @acwilsonbooks.
Read an Excerpt
THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE
I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had never learned the truth. I wouldn't have set off as I did for Croft Towers. I never would have met him.
It's strange what I remember about the day I left London. The mail coach was late; the weather wretched. The clock had struck midnight long before two strangers and I ducked beneath the postmaster's outstretched umbrella to board the Royal Mail and rumble across the North Downs.
That difficult journey east marked the beginning of an unseasonably cold autumn. Frigid rain pelted the coach windows. The undercarriage squealed beneath the seats as a metallic scent wound its way between the drafty boards. I gripped the windowsill, wondering if the coachman intended to hit every bump in the road.
"Far to go, miss?"
The woman's voice startled me. Dressed head to toe in red satin, she'd endured the last few darkened hours with a handful of smelling salts and a tongue hot for complaints, but she hadn't spoken to me until now. Not until the first hint of rain-soaked daylight peeked over the horizon.
I lowered my gaze and fiddled with my bonnet ribbons. "Yes, ma'am ... well, not too much farther, I hope."
The woman expelled a huff, her lower jaw jiggling. "Dreadful weather. I begged my Martin not to compel me to go today." She motioned to the window. "But he would have it his way."
I forced a tepid smile but found it difficult to respond. Leaving Winterridge Seminary for the last time had been harder than I'd expected.
"'Pon my word, if this rain continues we'll have no choice but to overnight on the road."
I gripped my reticule to my chest. With the tea I purchased in Canterbury and the outrageous price of the ticket, I'd not enough money left to overnight anywhere. Why hadn't I thought of such a possibility?
The woman leaned forward, her rose scent wafting around me like a foggy curtain. "You poor dear. All on your own, eh?" She looked at me as if she thought I'd run away from home. "Don't you worry your pretty head. My brother and I have never been ones to shirk our duty to charity."
"Worse comes to worst, you can always share a bedchamber with my maid."
The wiry woman seated beside her popped out of the shadows, turning her gaze on me as if I were a rabid dog.
But my self-appointed benefactor took no notice. "Yes, yes. Thompkins won't mind at all. Will you, Thompkins?"
Embarrassed, I turned to the window and bit my lip. My situation wasn't as desperate as all that. At least I hoped it wasn't. Of course, I had to admit, the gray evening had taken on a mustard-yellow glow. It was like looking through the bottom of a dirty glass. I took a deep breath. "Thank you for the kind offer, but hopefully it won't be necessary. I'm to get off at Plattsdale."
The woman raised her eyebrows. "Plattsdale? Have you family there?"
A tiny ping hit my heart, and I swallowed hard. "No, not family."
She tapped her leg with the end of her fan, then leaned forward as if she intended to share a secret. Her eyes told me otherwise. "My curiosity is piqued, my dear, piqued. Why would someone such as yourself travel there?"
I pressed my fingernails into the palm of my hand. Whatever business I had in Plattsdale was my own affair. One I certainly didn't wish to share with a nosy traveler on the common stage. But it was hardly a secret, and one I would have to grow accustomed to discussing. I forced my shoulders to relax. "I've taken the position of lady's companion to a Mrs. Chalcroft at Croft Towers."
The woman sucked in a quick breath. "Mrs. Chalcroft, is it?" She paused, then pressed her fingers to her mouth. "Faith, but I wish you well, my dear ... I wish you well."
I didn't like the glint in the woman's eyes, as if she knew something she didn't intend to share. I waited a moment, hoping she might say more. But she had tired of me and now whispered into her maid's ear.
A rain-filled hush settled over the carriage. The gloomy sky dipped into the fog and the towering roadside oaks. As the tree branches sought to snuff out the morning light, the coach emerged from a thicket, wheels splashing through the sludge covering the road.
Amid the gusty rain a cry rang out. I bolted up straight, gripping the seat's edge. The horses lurched to a crawl. The hinges squealed in response. I scanned the windows, searching for the reason we'd slowed, when a gunshot cracked like lightning and echoed off the side of the coach. Gasping, I met the other travelers' frightened gazes.
What on earth? A heaviness hit my stomach. Every muscle told me to duck, but I couldn't help myself — I had to look.
The maid screamed, "Get down! Are you daft, miss?"
I motioned her back as I peeked out the window, pressing my forehead against the icy glass. The guard's horn sounded from the rear of the carriage.
"D-do you see anything?" The maid's voice had turned shrill.
I squinted, trying for a better view. "No ... wait. There are riders approaching. Their faces are covered." I flung myself against the seat. "Th-they all have pistols."
I should have thought before blurting out such a thing. In a flash of lace and ribbons, the nosy woman across from me all but swooned into her maid's lap, crushing the ostrich feathers in her hat.
The maid's lips stretched thin until they disappeared completely. "Now you done it, miss."
"I-I ..." What could I say? I tempered my voice to sound nonchalant, even while my pulse pounded in my ears. "I hate to tell you, but I think we are being robbed."
The mail carriage surged forward before swaying to an agonizing stop, each of us frozen to our seats. For a breathless second all seemed quiet, but the unconscious woman must have recovered because she shot back up and shouted, "Not my jewels! Thompkins, hide them. Quickly." She wriggled a large emerald ring from her finger, and Thompkins slipped it down the front of her dress. I did the same with my bracelet seconds before the woman slumped back onto her maid's lap.
The coach door flew open with an awful squeak, the wind spraying us with mist.
A man appeared on the step, his face covered by a rag. "Get out." He grabbed my wrist. "All of you."
My chest tightened. I wasn't sure my legs would hold me up, but somehow I stood. I knew very well I didn't have any money, but the sound of the earlier shot echoed in my mind. Anything could happen. The robber was tall, his hair dark. I met his eyes as he yanked me down the steps — cold, deep gray with a hint of blue.
The icy rain slid down my shoulders as I edged beneath a nearby tree. The men shouted to one another over the rush of rain. "Be quick about it! Leave nothing untouched."
Their boots splashed in the mud as they circled the coach. "Search everything. And get that deuced lady out of the coach. I don't care if she's conscious or not."
The plump woman all but jerked back up, cowering behind her maid, then batted at the air like a wild animal. "You — you ruffians! If you think I have any intention of stepping out into the pouring — Oh!"
The horses reared up at the front of the coach, their panicked neighs adding texture to the wind as it whipped through the trees.
One of the robbers raced to the front of the coach and grasped the reins. "Whoa! Easy, fellas." He was jerked forward and the entire equipage jolted a pace.
A man leaned out from the interior. "Blast you, Calvin! Keep 'em still."
The robber who wrenched me from the coach brought over the driver and the Royal Mail guard, their hands tied. He directed the barrel of his pistol at the five of us, trapping us beneath the tree.
Relentless and brutal, the downpour filled my ears as I glanced around, the hopelessness of our situation seeping further into my soul with every cold drop. There would be no means of escape. We were utterly and completely at the highwaymen's mercy. My traveling companions had come to the same conclusion, and a faint whimpering took flight on the wind.
What must have been minutes felt like hours as the robbers scurried in and out of the coach, their greatcoats flinging raindrops at will, their shouts growing louder and more irritated. I didn't dare move, but carefully I glanced up to catch the penetrating glare of my captor. He tilted his chin, and by the look in his eyes, I wondered if he hid a smile beneath that rag.
How long had the wretch been staring at me? Considering the way my wet frock clung to my legs, outlining my knobby knees, I wondered if he had been looking at ... all of me. I jerked my attention to the ground, warmth flooding my cheeks. One of the men called out across the clamber of thunder, "The devil's in it, I'm afraid. Nothing's in the coach. Beginning to wonder if this was all a hum. Get on with checking the passengers. Deuced nuisance if I'm not home for my dinner."
The robber who'd pulled me from the coach redirected his pistol at me with a kind of lazy satisfaction. "Well? Shall we get on with this?" His voice sounded cultured with a slight musical quality to it. Educated, no doubt.
I raised my eyebrows and took a step backward. "I-I haven't any money."
He glanced once more at my dress and his voice held a hint of a laugh. "I'm well aware of that. My friends have already emptied your reticule." He lowered the pistol and stepped close, his face a few inches from my ear. "Have you a pocket?" A prickle made its way down my spine. My frock did have a pocket, as well as something in it. A letter from Mrs. Smith to Mrs. Chalcroft. I stiffened. "Yes, but it holds nothing you would be interested in."
He lowered his voice. "Allow me to be the judge of that."
My shoulders shook, partly from the cold, but more from a surge of panic that pinned my arms to my sides.
The man shoved the pistol into his jacket. "Don't toy with me, miss. I haven't the patience or the time. Hand it over or I shall be forced to look myself."
A screech jarred me from his piercing glare. My riding companion tried to jerk away from the man clenching her arm, but it was no use. The robbers would have their bidding. My heartbeat echoed the fear in her voice. I watched in stunned silence as the woman thrust her hands into the folds of her skirt and passed her jeweled necklace to the man.
A wrinkle formed across my captor's forehead, raindrops pooling in a line. After observing the spectacle for a moment, he turned his icy blue eyes back on me. "Well?" I thought I might be sick. I reached to tuck a wet hair behind my ear, but his iron fingers wrapped my wrist in a flash. "I'm tired of waiting."
He spun me around, jamming me against him, his head just over my shoulder. He smelled of nature, like the boys in town who'd spent the day playing in the fields. His voice came out in a whisper. "I'd rather you empty your own pocket."
His hand pressed against my mouth. "Now."
I nodded, my arm aching from his grip. I squeezed my eyes shut for a split second. Keep your wits about you, Sybil. The man with the steel fingers was serious — deadly serious.
I wriggled my free hand through the slit of my damp gown, grasping the letter from Mrs. Smith and holding it out, satisfied the man would be disappointed. But he didn't release me.
"Is this all?"
I nodded again and noticed a small triangular-shaped scar on his wrist just inside the cuff of his sleeve. Strange. The mark had an almost uniform quality to it.
He shoved me back and ripped open the letter. A few seconds later he met my gaze over the limp paper, his eyes softening. Just when I thought he was going to address me, he called out to his friends over his shoulder. "I daresay it's time to move on."
He refolded the note and slipped it into his jacket pocket. "Thank you, ladies, for a most invigorating time; however, I'm afraid we must bid you all good day." He bowed, then walked away and mounted what was more of a beast than a horse.
He motioned ahead to his friends before guiding his mount back by the group of us shivering beneath the tree. "I, uh, do apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused."
I probably imagined it, but he seemed to direct the statement to me. Heat flashed through my body. My mouth popped open, all kinds of horrid words tangled in a ball on my tongue, but none came out. Was he still smiling beneath that rag?
He met my obvious fury with a wink, then spurred his horse to a gallop, disappearing into the driving rain.CHAPTER 2
The mail coach lurched forward before I'd taken my seat, but the driver seemed tentative, holding the horses to a slow clip. The mood inside the carriage was dismal. I took a steady breath and tried to discover where we were, despite the fog, but time seemed lost.
My desire to reach Plattsdale grew with each irritated sigh from the other women. They stared me down as if the highway robbery were somehow my fault.
However, just as I had given up all hope of the nightmare ride ever ending, the twisting shadows parted, revealing a sign tipping in the wind — the Boar's Head Inn. Plattsdale.
The coach veered right, scattering gravel along the narrow road, then rolled to an agonizing stop. A man's call pierced the heavy silence like a bell rung a bit too loud. There was a shuffle in the yard, but no one in the coach moved. I could read the questions on the other women's faces. Were we safe at last?
I glanced at my soggy gown and reticule, smudged by the robbers' dirty hands. What would become of me? The carriage's wooden bench squeaked beneath the sour-faced woman as she patted what was left of her coiffure. Her maid watched in silent amusement, but I looked away — chilled, hungry, and tired. Every bone in my body ached, but nothing would induce me to speak, not even to ask if I could share Thompkins's room for the night.
My cold fingers sought the bracelet on my arm, the one I received on my last birthday. Something might have to be traded for a room, but not the bracelet — not my only link to the past. If at all possible, I would travel on to Croft Towers at once, regardless of how I ached for a clean set of clothes and a soft bed.
The coach swayed as the driver swung down from the box and opened the door. The two women clawed their way from my presence, tripping over my feet, and neither looked back for me. As I feared, the offer for a room wasn't renewed.
Just as well. I didn't need their help. I didn't need anybody's.
I'd done well enough on my own so far.
One of the ostlers peeked around the side of the coach. "Still here, eh?" He took a quick glance over his shoulder to the coaching house door. "Where to now, miss?"
Startled by his gruff voice, I rose to my feet. "Is-is there a man here from Croft Towers?" I tried not to sound as desperate as I felt.
A look of relief washed across the man's face as he nodded and extended his hand to help me down. I gladly took it — clammy though it was — and followed his lead across the yard, hopeful my luck had finally turned.
The sudden thunder of horses' hooves sounded like a wind gust out of the rain, and I paused beneath the inn's narrow awning. The ostler turned as well. Three uniformed dragoons burst into the yard, their dark-blue jackets barely distinguishable from the gray drizzle. In a flash they were but a couple yards from where we stood. A few shouts and some boys rushed by me. I watched as the officers dismounted and relinquished their horses. Had they heard about the robbery somehow? I turned, hoping to ask the ostler, but he spun away in a huff. Apparently he had no intention of addressing them.
He hurried me through the door, but something about the way he hesitated as we walked into the receiving room, the way his cold eyes flitted about and landed on me, I knew he'd not meant to bring me inside. I tucked a loose hair behind my ear and tried to shake off the chill he'd caused with only a glance. He thought me a common urchin. Of course, I looked like one, which made it sting all the more.
The man wrinkled his nose, his eyes saying, Don't you dare sit on the settee as wet as you are. But he only cleared his throat. "I'll go fetch John from the taproom." With a sideways glance, he added, "Don't get too settled. I won't be but a moment."
If I had been Lady Sybil with an abigail and an entourage, I would have been ushered to a private parlor to rest. But as plain, boring, unchaperoned Sybil Delafield, I was left to stand and drip in the entryway.
I wandered the dimly lit room, imagining how a cup of tea would feel going down my throat. I glanced out a pair of dirty windows and stepped nearer to the fireplace. So this was Plattsdale — my new home.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "In The Shadow of Croft Towers"
Copyright © 2019 Abigail Wilson.
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
This was an interesting book. It had the feel of a Victoria Holt regency novel, with the darkness and mystique. The story is about Sybil Delafield’s arrival to the Croft Tower's as a companion. She has spent her life in a prestigious school, paid for by a mysterious benefactor. After arriving to her new place of employment, she discovers that things are shadowing and secrets abound. Including her own quest to find out who her parents were. The story read well and kept me interested and intrigued. Although, the only thing that I wish had been developed more was some emotional status of Sybil. She just seemed a bit to afraid and insipid. I wish she had more strength in character instead of so much fear. By the end of the story, she was developing some of it. If her character had developed more and we understood more of her personal strength, I believe this book could have truly rivaled my love for a good regency novel. On a side note, this is published for a Christian audience, however upon finishing the book I realized that the Christianity aspect was lacking. I don't recall any overt tones towards God, religion and comfort in that realm. So it would probably do well as a crossover into the main stream readers. I will definitely read more from Abigail Wilson in the future. This was my first book I've read written by her. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through BookLook Bloggers.
A wonderful debut novel by Abigail Wilson! I really enjoyed this book on mystery, suspense and romance. There are highway men, secrets to discover, and murder. Told in the first person, Sybil Delafield travels to Croft Towers to become the companion to an elderly women. As she does her work she meets a household of interesting characters. She is also trying to solve the mystery of who she is and who her parents are and why she was sent the mysterious letter to search for answers at Croft Towers. A great book, I will be looking forward to more books by Abigail Wilson. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Overall this book was a diverting read. Mystery and action began right away, pulling the reader in. There were a few parts that seemed to drag, but overall this novel kept me interested. During some scenes, In the Shadow of Croft Towers reminded me of my favorite book, Jane Eyre. The mystery has a few more twists and the romance is more understated than in Jane Eyre. Because of this, it's a good choice for the modern reader. One of the mystery twists tugged at my willing suspension of disbelief, but what gothic mystery doesn't? My one complaint is that for a book categorized as a Christian romance, there were no elements of faith, beyond the mention of a cross necklace. If you are looking for a clean romantic mystery, this is your book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
A Regency Romance with Murder, Intrigue, and Love An orphan, Sybil Delafield would like to know who she is. Having finished her schooling at an exclusive girl’s school paid for by an anonymous benefactor, she is on her way to Croft Towers to become the companion of Mrs. Chalcroft, an aged and very ill woman. Her first intimation that her time at Croft Towers may be perilous occurs when the mail coach, on which she is a passenger, is robbed by highwaymen. Arriving bedraggled and cold at her destination, she is disconcerted to recognize her employer’s godson, Curtis Sinclair, as one of the robbers. The other members of the household are cold to her, except for Mrs Chalcroft who mysteriously visits her bedroom late at night to ask her to carry messages without letting the other members of the household know. Since Britain is a war with France, Sybil wonders if she is becoming involved in a treasonous enterprise. This is a delightful Regency novel. In addition to romance, there is the murder of one of the coach passengers, the suggestion of treasonous activities, and a delicious romance that is building between Sybil and Sinclair, if she can trust him. The historical setting is accurate. However, I think it would have been helpful to give more historical background to make the spying clearer. Croft Towers is both creepy and comforting. Sybil loves the elegant rooms and enjoys roaming the gardens and woods. However, trips to the unused tower reek of ghosts. I enjoyed the characters. Sinclair is a perfect Regency hero with a hint on mystery. Sybil is at times very silly engaging in activities that she knows will get her in trouble, but it makes the story filled with adventure. If you enjoy Regency romance, this is a good one. I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.
What a great read! I read the first chapter teaser on line and couldn't wait for the book to come out. Loved the well developed, totally believeable characters, especially the leads. I know there is a second book on the way and am so looking forward to following the success of this great new writing talent.
From the outset, In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson has the feel of Jane Eyre. Sybil is an opinionated and independent orphan set to find herself a position and information of her family. Within days of her arrival at Croft Towers, Sybil is in the midst of something but unsure what and everyone in the Towers has a different motive. To say more would give away the story and delight of guessing alongside Sybil. I found Sybil so willing and naive but the characteristics fit with her journey in life. The other characters are beautifully built and Mrs Chalcroft particularly complex! Mr Sinclair is secretive and gruff but, despite this, seems trustworthy. I read it flat out in an afternoon, with twists to the very last page, this isn’t one to miss! Five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale and highly recommended!
This is a delightful debut novel from Ms. Abigail Wilson. The story has murder, suspense, evil, intrigue, thieves, and secrets galore; but it also has love, family, truth, honor, and integrity. The only thing I felt was missing, and it's a big one in Christian Fiction, was spiritual content. Although I feel that this book is very well written, held my attention, and I enjoyed it, I'm saddened by the fact that I believe there was no spiritual content. Yes, there was talk of right and wrong and being true to yourself. I was just missing that part of where our moral compass comes from. Sybil Delafield is an orphaned young lady, who is sent to Croft Towers to work as a companion to the lady of the manor, Mrs. Chalcroft. She forms a bond with Mrs. Chalcroft, but is wary of everyone in the house because it's abundantly clear everyone is hiding something. She's a likeable character, who is strong, courageous, and determined to figure out her connection to the family. Mr. Curtis Sinclair is a perfect hero. He is strong, mysterious, shadowy, and every bit the gentleman. You want to put your full trust in him, but you're just not sure he's deserving. It's fun to see each part of his character come to light. All in all, I enjoyed this story and look forward to seeing what Ms. Wilson has next for us! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
What a wonderful debut! I need to clear some room on my bookshelves for a new author. It did not take long to draw me into the story filled with enough intrigue and romance to please this reader's heart. With an unexpected twist at the end, this story filled with highwaymen, spies, and family secrets will appeal to fans of Gothic romance. Wilson's original voice, attention to historical detail and vivid setting draw her reader's into a story that deserves to be placed on a keeper shelf. I look forward to reading more by this author. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author/publisher through NetGalley and I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
New to me author, Abigail Wilson, has penned a delightfully eerie Gothic Regency laden with secrets surrounding a huge old mansion and its inhabitants. Rumors of ghosts, murder, and a dangerous, but charming highwayman greet our lovely heroine, Sybil Delafield, as she moves to Croft Towers as companion to the elderly mistress of the Towers. As she is pursued by two potential suitors, Miss Delafield hasn't a clue who to trust as danger awaits her around every dark, dusty corner. Filled with intrigue and mystery, lovers of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights will be enthralled by this suspenseful, romantic page-turner. I had a sense of something missing throughout the whole book and it wasn't until the very end that I realized what it was. Although a clean read there was no message of redemption and no mention of God. None of the main characters appeared to be Christians although they were good people. So although I don't think this can be labeled as Christian fiction it was indeed a wonderful read and I highly recommend it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are my own.
“The more difficult the journey, the sweeter the reward.” A complex plot, mystery and a bit of romance spice up this Regency era tale set at an old manor in rural England. It is told through the first person viewpoint of the heroine, Sybil, a young woman sent from school to be a companion to an elderly woman. A colorful cast of characters surrounds her and everyone seems to be hiding something. It kept me guessing along with Sybil who could be trusted, and where the twisted path of seeking the truth would eventually lead her. It was an interesting plot with a lot of potential 'bad guys'. "Everyone at the Towers had a secret...And I could do nothing but claw my way through their web of lies." This was a satisfying read, well written, and held my interest until the very end when the truth is finally evident. The setting and first person viewpoint reminded me of Jane Eyre at first, with some Dickens elements. Readers who enjoy Gothic-type stories, or Regency romances with some mystery, like those by Sarah Ladd, Michelle Griep, or Joanna Politano's, will enjoy this clean romance. 4.5 stars (I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
Set in England in the early 1800s, In the Shadow of Croft Towers has an overriding feel of darkness just waiting for a light to bore its way through. The light was brought by Sybil Delafield. An orphan who had been sponsored at a distinguished girls school, Sybil had come to Croft Towers not only to fill the role of companion to Mrs. Chalcroft, but also to find the answers to questions about her parentage and her connection to the people who resided there. She held those questions secret, but she was not alone in that, each resident of croft Towers was keeping secrets of their own, secrets covering sins of the past and secrets covering sins of the here and now. One among them was likely a traitor to England, and possibly a murderer, and one was most definitely a desperate highwayman, or was he? If you are in the mood for intrigue with a side of romance, this book is just the one for you. It reminded me of reading Phyllis Whitney novels in my younger days. I give it five stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
What do an orphan, a highwayman and a Lady have in common? I think it would be secrets - a great deal of them! This was a most entertaining book that certainly kept me guessing the whole time. So many secrets and with no answers forthcoming, I really was finding it difficult to trust anything the characters were saying. With unexplained deaths, letters to unknown people, soldiers for the crown and even French spies, the author has done a masterful job of making sure you read the whole book in one sitting. I received this ebook through CelebrateLit. All impressions and opinions are my own.
to put this book down. There were so many twists and turns. First I wanted to know why Sybil came to Croft Towers. Then I needed to figure out who the spy was. This kept me guessing through the whole story. I loved the characters. Mrs. Chalcroft was one of my favorites. I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
In spite of all the Regency rage sweeping the literary world, I myself have not read many books with that setting. This was both advantageous and detrimental with regard to my reading experience of Abigail Wilson’s “In the Shadow of Croft Towers.” Because I went into the book with no prior information, I found myself really pulled into the story. However, I wish that some background information would have been included, either within the narrative itself or as a prologue, to provide historical context. Being unfamiliar with the political situation in England during this time period, I did not understand what was happening with regard to that part of the plot. With that being said, the story was overall not difficult to follow, but I think that having a basic understanding of England’s situation would have clarified some aspects. “In the Shadow of Croft Towers” is what I would call a slow burn. There is suspense, but it plays out subtly. Seemingly disparate events come together bit by bit toward the end, like a tangle of thread that forms an intricate design. A key theme is identity. Sybil Delafield comes to Croft Towers in an effort to find out who she is, and in so doing sets off a chain reaction that makes the reader question if everyone is who they claim to be and what each person’s motivations are. Even though I figured out Sybil’s identity rather early on, the story still held some surprises for me, especially at the end, and that kept me turning the pages. I was reminded of Jane Eyre because of Sybil’s character and the foreboding location. Despite dealing with some heavy subjects, this book does not have graphic details or profanity and is a clean read. My quibble is that while it is marketed as Christian fiction, there was nothing in the book itself that distinguished it as such aside from two very vague mentions of God; it could just as easily be a clean secular read. Nevertheless, it was an interesting story with some unexpected twists that tied the narrative together in a nice package by the finale. I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Sybil Delafield is an orphan, an orphan who has had a mysterious benefactor and who now is on her way to be a lady’s companion to a Mrs. Chalcroft at Croft Towers. Told solely from Sybil’s view point we step into a mysterious home, an eccentric family, and plenty of secrets. What Sybil thought her role would be in this household is far different than what she prepared for. There are family secrets and “ghosts” that still “haunt” the Towers. On top of all that there are soldiers in town intent on finding spies for France, highwaymen (which Sybil had an unfortunate meeting with), a murder, and almost everyone has a secret for Sybil to keep. From the first words of this story I was drawn into Sybil’s journey. Who is the he she said she would never have met? Does she find out who she is and why she has been given an education for the upper class? As for the family themselves, they certainly do not act normal. Each of them seem to be hiding something and or have ulterior motives in which involves who will be bestowed the title of heir when their Aunt Chalcroft dies. Many times I wondered if Sybil should just leave, but where would she go? This was a moody read with a perfectly creepy setting, not really the place but all the players in the home and the town that surround Sybil with her comings and goings. If you are looking for a gothic read, this is a perfect one to curl up with. I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
I am always on the lookout for new (or new to me) Regency authors. As soon as In the Shadow of Croft Towers became available for review, I eagerly snapped it up. I was not disappointed because I found a fantastic novel with an excellent mix of romance and mystery, and one that kept me guessing until the end of the story. The opening scenes immediately drew me into Sybil Delafield’s world. A hired companion, her travels to Croft Towers are far too eventful, and the mystery was already beginning. Since the novel is written in first person, it lends itself nicely to the layered storytelling, keeping the reader in the dark along with Sybil, allowing us make discoveries and assumptions ourselves. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel; the people and motivations are revealed slowly, and some characters become more likable while others less. The great part about it is that most of them have the depth to be layered personalities, even the secondary ones. Then there are characters we aren’t quite sure of, those who may be unreliable in their perceptions simply because of their position or even mental clarity. As with any good historical novel, I learned something while appreciating the storytelling. Reading about priest holes, robberies of the mail coach, and how options were severely limited for women added to my enjoyment because it helped to place me within the setting. This is a well-crafted debut novel with enough twists in the plot to make me question anything I believed settled before the final page. I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction, mystery/suspense genres, and those who enjoy the Regency period. Abigail Wilson is an author to watch, and I eagerly await her next book! I received a review copy of this book through Celebrate Lit, but was under no obligation to post a positive review. The opinions expressed are both honest and my own.
It is not a very good start as Sybil is robbed on the way to her destination. I would be thinking about this time if I made the right decision to leave home. Arriving finally at Croft Towers, Sybil was intimidated by the size of the place . She has been hired to be a companion for to a woman who is in poor health. Sybil will soon question just what she is really there for when she is asked to deliver mysterious secret letters from her employer to someone who hides secret for profit. I would to explore Croft Towers with all the hidden rooms and spacious land that surrounds it. I loved the relationship between Sybil and Mrs. Chalcroft. The elderly lady is set in her ways but has a fondness for Sybil. Some members in the house seem to not like Sybil and it jealousy or mistrust is involved. There is an array of twists in the story and at times I wasn't sure who could be trusted. The story is a journey for Sybil as she finds herself with two gentleman wanting her attention. One is very arrogant and not respectful of women. I wanted him to disappear somewhere in the woods and slowly fade away from the story. The other gentleman is somewhat a mystery and Sybil will have to decide if she can trust either one. There is a few surprises in the book that will find Sybil wondering about her past. The book is good but at times I did find myself thinking there were too many characters to keep up with. It did take a while to find out what was really going on with the mysterious letters and the reason Sybil was involved in it. Overall for a first book, the author has written a good story that keeps readers entertained. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.