Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harrythe man who broke Eleanor’s heart.Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trustwho in her life is false or true, brass or goldand what is meant to be treasured.
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SEPTEMBER 1866 WATCHFIELD HOUSE, OXFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND
A threading of voices spooled throughout the expansive chamber wherein we waited, voices so decently quiet as to be murmurs. All present quickened as lightning pierced the ground just outside the wide panel of windows, like a finger pointing deep within the earth. Perhaps it was the good Lord's way of informing us exactly where the soul of the recently departed had found its final resting place.
I did not believe Lord Lydney had ascended.
And yet Lydney had been my father's friend, patron, and benefactor. Many spoke admiringly of him. Truth be told, he had on occasion been charitable to me. I had once believed he would be my father-in-law.
That notion had passed.
I was at Watchfield House, English country estate of Baron Lydney, once more to pay my respects and then leave as quickly as possible, putting the past firmly behind me.
My gaze shifted to Harry and, against my better judgment, rested upon him. His fair skin and unruly toss of auburn hair were admirably set off by the black he — we all — wore. I averted my gaze before he could catch me staring.
"A murder of crows." Marguerite nodded toward a clump of unfriendly men who bobbed their heads at one another as if pecking, stiff in their age and black coats.
My dearest friend, Marguerite. Although we were nearly of an age, as a widow, she made a suitable chaperone for me whenever one was required, which was not often for a person of my social status. She knew my habit since childhood had been to sort into collectives, especially as a means of regaining control in any situation which forced my anxieties to the surface. It was a custom particularly suited to the daughter of and assistant to a conservator for collectors. I was now a conservator and valuer in my own right. Almost, anyway.
"A singular of boars." I feigned a yawn.
She looked in Harry's direction. "A rake of mules?" she teased.
I smiled at the jest but knew she could not truly believe that; she had always been fond of Harry, at least until he'd disappeared. Like each of us, Harry had his faults but was certainly not a rake. He'd ever only shown interest in one woman.
My heart wavered. Till that interest suddenly waned. I allowed myself to look at him once more.
He stood tall and sturdy among recognizable peers; he carried himself as a man who was confident, as indeed I'd always known him to be — except in the presence of his father. Near the center of their gathering was a woman I did not know. Her hair was as black as our mourning garments; she was beautiful and young. Her jet jewelry flirted with the lamplight. I held my breath as I watched Harry look at her, his gaze and attention steady.
"An ostentation of peacocks," I whispered to Marguerite.
At that, the group of them turned and looked at me. A flush reached up my neck and I was glad for my high collar. I repented of my whisper. It was one thing to reassure oneself, quite another to be unkind, even if born out of sorrow. "Could they have heard me?"
Marguerite tucked a loose strand of her blonde hair back into its upswept style and squeezed my elbow in solidarity before shaking her head. "I think they know something that you do not ... not yet."
Now that she mentioned it, I had noticed eyes upon me disconcertingly and unusually all morning. I turned and faced her. "And that you know too?"
She nodded. "I only overheard a bit of uncertain gossip whilst in the hallway, but I believe you shall find out soon ... if it's true." Marguerite inclined her head toward the dark-haired beauty at the heart of their circle and whispered to me, "She returned with him from Venice." Then my friend slipped away.
I caught my breath and turned away lest my countenance betray my dismay and surprise. To steady myself, I walked toward an over-upholstered chair in which an elderly acquaintance appeared to be drowning, to see if he needed a gentle tug back to the surface. As I made my way forward, a man stepped into my path, blocking my progress. He stood confidently, the stance of a man unused to being told no. His jawline was chiseled and the waves of his platinum hair held in place seemingly without pomade. He seemed vaguely familiar, but I could not place him.
"The Viscount Audley." He bowed. "At your service."
I did not think it was particularly serviceable to prevent me from walking. "Miss Eleanor Sheffield. I'm certain I do not need your assistance, though I'm grateful for the offer."
"Oh, I know your name; we've met." He lowered his voice. "I believe you do need my assistance. You are a woman alone, or soon shall be. That makes you vulnerable, does it not?"
I shivered at the naked honesty and implied threat of his statement but said nothing. He did not need a further prompt.
"My help comes as advice: he'll exploit your goodwill, you know. As he always has, as his father condescended to your father. Their benevolence has never been selfless, has it been, Miss Sheffield? Nor has either proved faithful, at the end."
"I'm sorry, Lord Audley. I'm sure you mean well. But I don't know of whom you are speaking." A pack of lies.
"I believe that you do." He looked at Harry, then back at me, and then bowed and returned to the others.
I did not know what to make of Lord Audley's comments except to assume that he, too, knew the secret that was apparently not a secret from anyone but me.
Out of habit, I glanced up at the magnificent mantel clock. Made of French walnut, it was adorned with the three Greek Graces. To my utter surprise, it seemed to indicate the correct time. I looked at my own timepiece; yes, yes, the times were exact. But was the clock's wood brighter than it had been? I thought so. I stepped closer to it. I could not see the works but could faintly hear them; they purred along. The glass face shone. Our firm's associate, Mr. Clarkson, had perhaps polished it when he was here some months earlier to care for the collection in my absence.
I should ask him if he had repaired the works. If so, he was quite a bit more accomplished than would be expected. For that, I was glad.
I looked around the room, now filled with several dozen men and women, titled and not, the rich collectors who had been the baron's friends and, some of them, my father's commissioners.
And, of course, Harry.
He caught me that time. He held my gaze as he had hundreds of times over the course of more than a decade, first as a gangly younger man, then as one who had thickened with muscle and maturity. I held my breath. I would not lie: I had loved both the boy and the man. He smiled. I ducked a slight head bow in his direction before looking away as the tributes began.
Several in the room spoke well of the late Lord Lydney — their kind accolades seemed genuine, and even the vicar seemed at least neutral where the man had been concerned. However, several others looked at the table when the tributes were offered and did not nod or hum an agreement, and the praise soon tapered off.
I prepared to return to my room, but a man touched my arm gently. "Miss Sheffield?"
I nodded, and he introduced himself. "Sir Matthew Landon. I am the late Lord Lydney's solicitor. A word, if I may?" His face looked to have once been angular, but it had been gently larded with years of fine living. His hair, the proverbial snow-white, was pulled back in a short queue.
I followed him to the library. Marguerite trailed discreetly behind, chaperoning. Once we three were in the room, she pretended to browse the many titles on the shelves whilst Sir Matthew led me to the late Lord Lydney's great desk.
Harry's great desk now. All that had been the late Lord Lydney's was now rightfully Harry's.
We sat, Sir Matthew on one side, myself on the other, and then he leaned across the desk. His breath smelled of crushed fennel seed. "I'll come directly to the point. Lord Lydney has requested that you act as temporary trustee of his collection and then dispose of it at your discretion — according to his stated options, of course. You'll be well acquainted, better than most, with the vast treasure that is represented by the pieces in his collection. Hundreds of pieces of art and armor. Glass and porcelain. Jewelry. Silver. Furniture. Portraits. Sculpture."
A collection, as it was commonly known, consisted of all the treasures a person, or a family over many hundreds of years, had accumulated and assembled. The treasures of the highborn and well-to-do represented riches indeed. More than that, they represented family history, affection, personal interests, and the heart of the house.
"There are perhaps as many as a thousand pieces overall," I replied. "We have the inventory."
Sir Matthew nodded. "Perhaps a thousand, then. The late Lord Lydney feels certain that you are the best person to ascertain if the collection should remain in situ or be donated."
"Doesn't all this come to his son? As Lord Lydney's only child? Living child," I hastily corrected myself.
"His son has inherited the title, the London house, and the country estate, both of which need considerable repair." Sir Matthew shrugged. "There was nothing to be done about those bequests, one suspects. The horses are his, via his late mother."
"But not the collection?" It was worth an untold sum. Without it, Harry's homes would be stripped bare of everything but the carpets and the drapes.
For as long as I'd been alive, the baron had depended on our family firm, Sheffield Brothers, to acquire, value, caretake, and curate the art. That's what our firm and others like it did for our wealthy patrons. Now, with my papa dead and Uncle Lewis flickering unreliably as he approached seventy years of age, there were no Sheffield brothers. There was only me.
And dear Mr. Clarkson, of course. But he was not family and therefore not a principal in the firm.
"Not the collection," Sir Matthew affirmed. "The late Lord Lydney indicated to me in a letter and legal documents, latterly, when he became certain that his demise was imminent, that he wanted to leave the disposal of his art at your discretion. He does not trust himself to make the right decision because of his persistent grief over the death of his first son, Arthur, and disappointment in his second son. I'm sure you must understand that disappointment better than most."
I remained resolutely silent in word and impassive in expression.
"The late Lord Lydney knows you, as your father's daughter, will understand the care and importance of each piece — as well as have the judgment and experience to determine where it should finally be housed."
I do not want this responsibility. "What would the late Lord Lydney have me do?"
Sir Matthew smiled. "He told me you'd agree, and he is right, as always. His son does not seem to have an interest in art, unless the pieces may be sold to fund the purchase of horses for sport and amusement, that is."
At that, I looked up. "Pieces have been sold?" Mr. Clarkson had said nothing to me of this after the last inventory, so it would have to have been more recent. "The new Lord Lydney is buying additional horses with the proceeds?"
"I cannot say. I cannot say upon what he draws an income, even. Likely he has none, as his father did not provide one for him."
I nodded. I did not know what to make of that. A year earlier I would have defended Harry's trustworthiness and honor. Now? I was not certain. And it was true — Harry had no love of antiquities.
Sir Matthew continued, "As your final duty toward the Lydney Collection, and as Sheffield Brothers' final task as longtime curators and co-stewards, Lord Lydney would like you to carefully consider the options and then choose to donate the entire collection, in his name, to the South Kensington Museum."
I shivered, suddenly realizing, He speaks in present tense, as if the man were still alive!
"Or, upon reflection, you may decide that his son meets the qualifications his father does not currently see, though he once did, and allow the collection to remain at Watchfield House. The late Lord Lydney prefers that it be left in the hands of someone who will not sell any part of it. He wants it to be seen, enjoyed, and appreciated as the pieces relate to one another."
Marguerite slid a book sharply back into the case.
My stomach lurched. "I am to decide if Harry is disinherited or not?"
Sir Matthew grimaced as I mistakenly used that familiar name. "Harry? There is no engagement, is there? His father was given to believe ..."
I shook my head. "There is no arrangement." That had become clear when he'd promised to return by early last spring but did not return for six months more, and then, I'd since learned, with a Venetian beauty in tow.
"You have no professional contracts with the South Kensington, either?" Sir Matthew asked. "It would be best if, during the period of trusteeship, you have no personal or professional understanding with either party which could call your objectivity into question."
I shook my head again. I could but wish that Sheffield Brothers had a professional arrangement with the budding museum or its supporters.
"Good. I shall make that clear to the potential recipients, as well." The solicitor handed a packet to me. "You are to determine where the treasures will go. Your firm has been paid to carry out its responsibilities until the conclusion of the year, is that not so?"
"Yes," I replied. A commission long since spent.
"Please do not speak of this matter with anyone who might profit from your decision until said decision is final," Sir Matthew continued. "You'll find papers within that may supplement your own inventories and perhaps inform your assessments."
I stood and took the packet from his hands. "How long do I have?"
He appeared to calculate. "It's a little more than three months till the year's end. It will take me that long to conclude probate and further details with the estate. Is that sufficient?"
"Very good, Miss Sheffield. I shall forward any further pertinent documents should I come across them."
As soon as he left the library, Marguerite drew near. "What shall you do?"
I sighed. "I could simply decide, here and now, to have done with it and give it all to the museum. I already know Harry's not trustworthy."
"Do you?" she asked. She must have seen the anger I felt cross my face because she put her hand up as if to quiet me. "I agree, dearest, that his disappearing for six months — especially in light of your, er, unspoken understanding — does not speak well for him. And yet, for the many years that preceded those six months, you trusted him implicitly."
"I was an untested girl. I held foolish dreams. I misinterpreted his actions."
She laughed quietly. "You are far too wise for that. Though none of us is immune to being misled by our hearts."
"You think he should have it, then?" I asked, bewildered.
"I think you should investigate and find the truth, as you always do with your treasures."
I opened my mouth to tell her that Harry was not one of my treasures. Was he? I closed it without speaking.
He left me and did not return when he said he would. Not once, but twice.
Marguerite waited for me to speak, and finally I did, after a realization. "This collection was my father's as much as the late Lord Lydney's. I must see this honestly through — where would it be best placed? — though it's most likely that in the end, I will come to the same conclusion his father did."
"Delivering those valuable objets d'art to the South Kensington Museum would be a fine means by which to serve justice to the new Lord Lydney," she said. "Is that what you intend?"
"Does Harry know you are his champion?"
"I am your champion, dearest. But I have witnessed several occasions when you were happy together and I want to see you happy again — under whatever circumstances make that possible. I don't want you to rush toward a justice which may not be just."
"Why shouldn't justice be served? I have been led along and then abandoned. Giving the collection to the South Kensington may be just after all."
"That's very possible; perhaps it's even probable. His father has asked you to confirm that. And if you determine that justice will be served, it should be served cold, and I shall be gladdened when you find happiness elsewhere."
Would I find happiness at all? Marguerite had not, not really. Perhaps happiness was not something to wish for.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Lady of a Thousand Treasures"
Copyright © 2018 Sandra Byrd.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
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.
What People are Saying About This
“Eleanor Sheffield is desperate to save the family business. Skilled in valuing antiques and separating the authentic from the fraudulent, she must search for cluesand her heartto decide whom to trust. Is her old love telling the truth or currying her favor for his own selfish ends? Lady of a Thousand Treasures delivers mystery, romance, and suspense in a well-researched Victorian setting.”
“Like the antiquities prized in this novel, Lady of a Thousand Treasures is a rare treasure of its own. I was swept away from the first page, back to Victorian England and into the haunting mysteries of Watchfield House. With stunning characters and impeccable research, Sandra Byrd has woven together an exquisite treasure hunt with an ending that will leave you breathless.”
“A thousand treasures for a reader indeed! Sandra Byrd’s new, highly-anticipated novel presents a determined, realistic heroine to care for and to root for. An amazing cast of characters and Victorian settings pull the reader right into the story. And an appealing hero is ripe for redemption. I became happily lost in this compelling, lovely book.”
“It’s a rare book that I put on my keeper shelf. Lady of a Thousand Treasures earns one of those coveted spots. Sandra Byrd’s writing is an absolute piece of art! The plot kept me guessing until the very end. The story, the characters, the intrigue all blend into a delicious read, making this tale one that lives on long after you close the cover. If I had to sum up this story all in one word, it would be satisfying.”
“Lady of a Thousand Treasures is truly a treasure of a Gothic romance, aptly named! Sandra Byrd is the rare writer whose evocative, atmospheric prose grabs hold and doesn’t let go, delivering a complex, intelligent novel infused with romance and faith, an enigmatic hero who will steal your heart along with a clever, antiquity-dealing heroine who will keep you on the edge of your Victorian parlor chair. The Victorian Ladies Series is off to a stunning start!”
“Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd is another adventure into history and the human spirit. Sandra gives us a rich, page-turning plot, golden threads of mystery, a sparkle of romance and a treasure trove of detail about nineteenth-century collections of porcelains and paintings and the role a lady appraiser played in the collections of the English wealthy. You’ll be drawn into many vivid images and precious insights about life and faith applicable to this present moment. What a grand book! I’m always swept away by a Sandra Byrd novel, and Lady of a Thousand Treasures will be long remembered as one of Sandra’s best.”
“Eleanor Sheffield is desperate to save the family business. Skilled in valuing antiques and separating the authentic from the fraudulent, she must search for cluesand her heartto decide whom to trust. Is her old love telling the truth or currying her favor for his own selfish ends? Lady of a Thousand Treasures delivers mystery, romance, and suspense in a well-researched Victorian setting.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Recommended. Perfect Gift to Delight any Romantic. A captivating romance of Victorian England by the accomplished author of The Daughters of Hampshire series, Sandra Byrd. Eleanor Sheffield's life is invested in the family business of appraising antiquities and must continue through downturns of economy, her father's death, the failing of her uncle's health, stealth of an employee, and outstanding debts. And the one she had hoped to count on has failed to return from his European travels. Until Harry Lydney's father's death. The funeral is revelatory. Eleanor has been chosen for the unusual task of determining what is to become of Lord Lydney's vast collection of reliquaries. Two options, and one doesn't favour his son, Harry, the now Lord Lydney.. The door has just swung open to the mysteries, gothic, and atmospheric of this unusual story. Told in first person, we travel the streets and alleys of London's working class with Eleanor to the houses of upper class London clients and clubs as she evaluates their riches to keep her own bills paid. A tightrope that is never balanced. As is her heart. In love, yet never sure if the focus of her love is committed to her. Tension mounts as mysteries deepen and Eleanor's heart questions everything. No one proves trustworthy and revelations of the wealthy create confusion as she determines to choose well for the outcome of her assignment. I was totally immersed in the drama of Eleanor's day to day. Emotions connected and propelled my reading with an urgency for her to reach just conclusions. Well researched, the historic details intrigued with Byrd's competent research. Readers were treated to the beauty and excesses of a bygone era. Then the opposite, as Eleanor unceasingly cared for others of lower means and circumstances, servants, and women imprisoned by debts owed. Eleanor's own efforts to keep the wolves from her door informed her concerns, care, and prayer for all those she connected with. A book filled with discoveries, solutions, and resolutions. But in the end, the romantic carried the reward of most worth. Tangible. Expressive. Two hearts find their home in trust and in truth. A superb read. An outstanding novel. Recommended. And certainly, perfect as a gift to delight any romantic.
Do I bear the mark of my Maker? This is the gist of one of the study questions from this book. And since one of my new goals when reading a book is to think of a question that I can ponder later, this one caught my eye. Eleanor Sheffield has been raised by her father and uncle to critique, value, and procure antiques and valuables for the rich. She has learned how to spot fakes and recognize the genuine. And she knows that there is a maker's mark that can help determine the authenticity of an item. Now she has been tasked with a very difficult job and things are lining up to go wrong at every turn. And yet, she maintains a steadfast trust in God while she must test herself and others to see what they are really made of. Disappointments and surprises await her as she does this. There is, of course, a young man in the story, Harry, Lord Lydney, and he too, is the subject of her scrutiny and her love and that is all I have to say about that. There is one person in the story to whom she says that they bear the mark of their Maker (God) because of their kindness, charity, and compassion. I will not say who that was but leave you to read the book for yourself to discover what caused such high praise. Because to me, there is no higher praise, than to be told that I bear the mark of my Maker and that is why that question stood out to me and leaves me wondering how I would rank in Eleanor's eyes in that regard. I enjoyed this book. I will admit it started out a bit slow and I was wondering if I was going to ever make it through the 400+ pages, it if was going to be worth my while, but soon the story turned captivating and I eagerly returned to it when I could. I received this book from Tyndale through NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review.
Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd started out slow for me and I wasn't finding it enjoyable to read. Maybe because it was written in first person and first person is not my favorite. But as I slowly made my way through the story, I began to notice all the details. This book is full of thousands of details! Since Eleanor, the main character (the same one who tells the story in first person) deals with antiques in Victorian England, I learned all kinds of things about the treasures of that time period. There were many instances when I had to stop reading to look up what a ring might have looked like, or a statue. There were even many Victorian games mentioned. Of course I had to go do more research because the games were really interesting to me. There was also a mystery involved, and the mystery was probably made more interesting because it was written in first person. You are only told what Eleanor thinks about people so when wondering who she should trust, you only know the same information that she knows. Was this a book worth reading? Definitely! It had many treasures inside once I really started noticing the details. I would recommend this book for history lovers. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
historical-fiction, christian-fiction, suspense, romance Excellent character depictions, in depth development, a very good mystery, and all in a Christian background. A bit overlong for my taste in fiction.
If I could give more than 5 stars I would. I did not want to put this book down. I loved this story. It was nice to read about something a little different. I enjoyed reading about a female that had an interesting job. She really knew what she was doing. Eleanor has to decide if Harry is a fraud or if he is really as good as he seems. I so enjoyed reading how this tale unfolded. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
The Sheffield Brothers firm is well-known among collectors. Trained by her father and her uncle, Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator, able to tell a fraud from a genuine artifact. But in 1860's England, Eleanor is unable to run the firm as un unwed woman. After her father's death, her uncle's health begins to decline, and business can be hard to come by. The death of a long-time client puts Eleanor in the position to decide the fate of his expensive collection. The late Lord Lydney doesn't want the collection to go to his only living son, Harry, who he believes is untrustworthy. He suggests she give the collection to a museum, but she must decide. The decision won't be easy. Giving the collection to the museum could boost her firm's reputation, but Harry, the man who stole and broke her heart, doesn't appear to be who his father believes him to be. Eleanor must decide what is true, and who is genuine. Sandra Byrd has given us another fantastic historical novel! I fell in love with her Daughters of Hampshire series, and after reading this novel I can say that I'm likely to love her new series, Victorian Ladies. Sandra does an excellent job bringing the reader into 1860's England, and gives us characters that we care for and root for. Eleanor faces difficult circumstances, and lives out her faith through it all. If you want a clean, suspenseful, inspiring read, this is definitely a novel you want to pick up. I was given the opportunity to be a part of Sandra's promotional team for the release of this book. As part of the team, I received a complimentary copy of the book, but was not required to give a positive review.
Historical fiction may be my favorite genre, and that is really saying something, because there are few genres I won’t read. If nothing else, historical fiction is the genre that I can lose myself in best. There's something about another time and place that I can never see, but can imagine living in its idealistic setting, that takes me entirely away from the present. With Lady of a Thousand Treasures, it is really easy to slide into this story. Not only does the mystery and intrigue begin immediately, but the reader can instantly sympathize with Eleanor’s struggles. I think most women can effortlessly relate to a woman trying to forge her life and career in a world created for men. We can also relate to the confusion and insecurity of a complicated romance. Eleanor was a slightly frustrating character, but so honest and heartfelt that I liked her a lot regardless. The frustration mostly comes from her indecision, which is probably unfair. I know I am far worse when trying to make small decisions, let alone life altering ones. So, I am going to tell myself to give some grace. Everyone has flaws, and I would hate to read a book about a perfect character. The overall story was emotional, heart-warming, and mysterious. I could really feel the struggle Eleanor faced and was rooting for her, even when I wasn’t sure what to root for. She also taught me a great deal about antiques, which is something I love about books. I get to escape into a good story while learning. Be still my bibliophile heart.
I think this might be the first book by Sandra I have read. She has been on my list to read for years. She has created a story that will capture from the first pages and pull you into Eleanor’s world and confusion. Who can she trust? I wanted her to be able to trust Harry but there were many unanswered questions that made the reader wonder what was going on with him. The other cast of characters were engaging and intriguing as well. I enjoyed them all. A wonderful and engaging read. A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my own.
I don't dive into this type of historical fiction very often, but this read was so much more than I expected and quickly made me a fan of Sandra Byrd. Eleanor is in a difficult position. At the death of a long term client of her uncle's business, she is declared the proprietor over every collection on the estate. It is her decision to either donate the pieces to a museum or other appropriate place, or leave them and allow the son, Harry, to keep them. As Harry does not enjoy a positive image, the decision appears easy for those around her, especially since Eleanor expected to be engaged to him, but he lied to her and returned from abroad not only half a year later but with another female in his company. This is, however, only the beginning of Eleanor's difficulties. The author does a wonderful job of allowing the reader to be swallowed up into the time. The descriptions create a believable and vivid world without growing heavy or mundane. Even the antiques which Eleanor constantly handles are well explained and prove the author did her research without growing boring or feeling as if the facts are being forced into the story. It's a lovely mixture, which makes the setting rich and believable. Eleanor is an extraordinary woman, although she holds just enough of vulnerability to keep her interesting and easy to empathize with. Although she runs into difficult situations time and again, she never demands pity or a loss of hope. Her ability to continue forward and maneuver through the situations makes her a true heroine to follow until the last page. The tension remains steady as the layers of troubles grow and mystery increases. It's not a fast-paced book but holds the reader in the pages. Eleanor experiences occasional flashbacks, which let emotions, memories and hints slide in when needed. I'll admit, I caught myself skimming these at times. The romance is subdued and if the reader expects much tension on this end, they will be disappointed. Harry is a mystery for himself, one that Eleanor must discover the truth about. While his attitude and hers make sense, especially as the tale unfolds, there is a lack of spark even at the end. This does, however, allow the other aspects of the story to maintain the attention they need. This is an engaging read with a wonderful historical richness as well as a grabbing plot. Friends of Victorian fiction with a strong heroine and bit of tension and mystery are sure to enjoy this one. I received a complimentary copy and was so drawn in that I wanted to leave my honest thoughts.
In Victorian times, ladies were not usually seen as being proficient in anything other than being pretty or being maids or governesses or trophy wives. So for Eleanor to be this amazing, interesting and highly intelligent young woman is something new. She is independent and she is in love. Eleanor is an expert at spotting fakes amongst the gems, but it becomes clear from the very beginning that her expertise in artifacts does not extend to people. She has such strong feelings for Harry that comes across every second of the book, but she also is not stupid and the fact that she does not immediately choose in his favor shows her strength of character and independence. I did not expect to find the mysteries that came into the storyline regarding the Watchfield House, but it definitely made the novel so much better because it is just something else for Eleanor to figure out. In some ways I honestly feel bad for her because she is so put upon in every way - her father's death and her uncle's ill health; being saddled with ALL the responsibility for the business; being unmarried at her age; having to decide whether Harry is the man she wants him to be or if he is just a rogue; all of it is what makes this novel a page-turner for me. I can't imagine being in her position during the Victorian era. Along the way we also meet a lot of interesting secondary characters such as Mr Clarkson, who not only helps out at Sheffield Brothers and is very much aware of the difference between real and fake artifacts; the sweet housekeeper Orchie as Eleanor lovingly refers to her; Mrs Denholm, a friend of Eleanor's and someone she holds in high regard; Mr Denholm, who seems like he does not expect Eleanor to succeed in her endeavors; and of course Marguerite, a very good friend and confidante of Eleanor. They all play their roles in the novel, and they all help in some way to bring it all together. One theme that runs through the book that I love was the way the author weaved in alliterations such as "a murder of crows" or "a madness of marmots" to hint at society as a whole during that time. It is used in a joking manner, but I could clearly see the truth of it running deeper than that - in those times people were grouped together - you were either wealthy or poor and male or female, and you kept to your own. Stepping outside those groups was just not something you did in Victorian times. Somehow though Eleanor is able to do just that - she is able to break every stereotype of a Victorian woman and yet still BE that Victorian woman. I am not going to give away any spoilers or the ending, but I must say that I love the way everything ended and I was impressed with the truth of so many things coming out at last. I am not a fan of cliffhangers, and this book did not disappoint me because everything was pretty neatly sewn up at the end. But you have to read it to find out if Lord Harry Lydney is truly the embodiment of Eleanor's dreams; was Baron Lydney all that Eleanor had thought?; and of course the big question - can Eleanor distinguish the human forgeries as well as she can distinguish the artifact forgeries? I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, but also to those who love art. Because I learned quite a bit about artifacts that I was unaware of from this book :) I received a free book to read but was not obligated to leave a review.
Eleanor Sheffield is taking care of the family business as her elderly uncle is having health issues. Women are not trusted in business in England in the Victorian Era (1866). She had hopes of becoming engaged to Harry, now Lord Lydney, but he has just returned from an extended visit to the continent where he had been with his father when he passed away and Eleanor is feeling uncertain about his affections. Meanwhile, the late Lord Lydney’s will states that Eleanor is to determine whether his extensive collection of antiquities will be passed on to his only heir (Harry) or donated to a museum. This book was very interesting. I could tell that the author had done her research well. I loved all the collections alluded to and the lengths people were willing to go to obtain something unique to add to their personal collections. I find this era of British history fascinating and this book provided a slice of that life – even including a sojourn in debtors prison. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves 1) Christian fiction, 2) Historical novels set in Victorian England, 3) and interesting read. I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher Tyndale in exchange for my own opinion on the book expressed in a posted review.
Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd is a blend of Historical Mystery and Romance. Sandra Byrd has been a favorite writer of mine because of her different themes, fast paced stories with strong Christian values. Her readers can visualize each scene and each character. I look forward to reading all the books in this series. Thanks Sandra Byrd for another enjoyable book. JaneW cassiesbooks
Masterful storyteller, Sandra Byrd, has once again penned a gem of a Victorian Gothic romance—reminiscent of Victoria Holt, Charlotte Bronte, and Julie Klassen's alluring novels. There is something so deliciously eerie about opulent old houses with secret panels, locked rooms, and the aura of mystery floating about like a specter. Eleanor Sheffield is a professional lady, trained to be able to differentiate between a genuine artifact or one that is a fraud. Strong and yet vulnerable when it comes to a certain young man who had broken her heart not once but twice, Lord Harry Lydney. Personally I was SO furious with him for leaving her for so long without an explanation, I didn't even want to give him a chance! Not to mention his return with an Italian beauty in tow. I'm glad Eleanor is much more forgiving and gracious than I. Does her ability to discern fraudulent or genuine extend to Harry as well? A book filled with priceless treasures, gems of faith, and rich in romance, I was inexorably drawn into it...enthralled by Byrd's vast knowledge of antiquities and the Victorian era. A brilliantly written novel I highly recommend. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own and I was not required to write one.
Although I've heard so much about Sandra Byrd's books, this is the first time I've had the pleasure of reading one. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel set in 18th century England, with the strong and intelligent female heroine Eleanor Sheffield. Eleanor has been trained from childhood to be an evaluator of antiquities, working alongside her father and her uncle. But upon the death of her father and with her uncle declining in mental health, Eleanor finds herself in financial dire straights, even as she uses her wits and talents to support her family and household. As all this takes place, Eleanor's love interest Harry from her younger days comes back into her life and she must reconcile if she can trust him after he broke her heart. I simply loved the character of Eleanor. Not only was she bright and talented, but she was also kind and generous. She had strong values and a good sense of justice. I also loved how the author brought Eleanor's trade to life. As a reader I enjoy learning new things and I learned how evaluators assessed objects of antiquities to determine their worth and if indeed they were genuine or fraudulent. The plot included a mystery too, and I found myself trying to guess along with Eleanor. The author's research was well incorporated into the novel and makes this book a worthy and intelligent read. The only part of the book I found somewhat lacking was the romance. Harry was a noteworthy character but he seemed to be making only small appearances for most of the first half of the book until he was more involved later. He was not as well-developed a character as Eleanor was. There was a lack of passion between him and Eleanor that at one point I even wondered if another male character was going to make an appearance to liven the romance department a little! No sexual tension whatsoever. I've read plenty of Christian historical fiction novels that do this so well while keeping the novel clean. Apart from this, Lady of a Thousand Treasures is a strong first book in The Victorian Ladies Series and aptly titled. The ending is beautiful and ties up all plot threads satisfyingly. I look forward to reading more in this series and other books from this author.
Well worth reading... Lady of a Thousand Treasures The Victorian Ladies Series #1 By Sandra Byrd Miss Eleanor Sheffield has been tasked with determining to whom Baron Lydney's collection of treasures will be given. The collection is vast and grand and highly sought after. But Eleanor must keep her personal feelings out of her decision making. And she does have personal feelings - she not too long ago thought that she and the late Baron's son would be wed. But when Harry tarried overlong on the Continent with no word Eleanor's hopes faded. As Eleanor works through the estate's inventory she must determine who is worthy of the treasures her late father help Baron Lydney amass. Does it belong in the South Kensington Museum where all might enjoy it or does it belong with Harry and Watchfield House? With rumors that Harry is not worthy of holding such treasures, Eleanor must observe and test. But more than the final ownership of the late Baron's possessions is at stake - Eleanor is also trying to keep her family's antiquities business going which following the death of her father and the decline of her Uncle Lewis is a nearly insurmountable task for a single woman in 1860s England. As business declines, Eleanor feels that her final decision will determine the fate of Sheffield Brothers. But can her business survive until a decision is reached or will she find her future in lies in debtor's prison? This is a delightful and intriguing glimpse into a seldom-explored aspect of English history. Who knew that the upper class had such an interest in collecting rare pieces and antiquities that it could support a whole industry. I found the need for procurers and evaluators of pieces to be wholly unexpected. Also that even at that time the ability of those to produce forgeries was a real concern is something I did not expect. Get ready to enter a world of prejudice and betrayal with the ultimate treasure at stake. The author's notes about the historical elements and real people that she included to bring this book together are well worth reading. Some of these facts a person may have heard briefly in history class but most likely never made it into the books - I know they didn't mine (I have the books on the shelf to look through). The efforts that Sandra Byrd goes to in added historic detail to her books is evident in the past that she brings to life. I would highly recommend this book to fans of historical Victorian era fiction - this is not dry or tired and will leave you with a better understanding of this world. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher with no expectations except that I offer my honest opinion. - All opinions expressed are my own.
“I think you should investigate and find the truth, as you always do with your treasures,” Eleanor is told in Sandra Byrd’s novel, Lady of a Thousand Treasures. ~ What ~ The first in the Victorian Ladies series, this four-hundred-and-sixty-four-page paperback targets those who enjoy romantic fiction involving antiquities and art collections with mystery and history painted into the story. Topics of poverty, prison, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s note, acknowledgments, ten discussion questions, author’s biography, and advertisements. In this 1800s romance told in first person, twenty-five-year-old Eleanor Sheffield feels she is no one’s treasure when she becomes the trustee of an English baron’s massive art collection, having the arduous task of deciding to donate it to a museum or give it all to Harry, the baron’s unloved son. As a talented art historian and evaluator who has worked for her father and uncle’s business and may have to take over due to unforeseen circumstances, Eleanor is torn between her love for Harry, who seems to be aloof and late all the time, and the golden opportunity to join the elite Burlington Fine Arts Club, which would promote the family business. When fraudulent artwork, unkept promises, and unpaid notes compile, the woman who feels as unwanted and used a pawn must stand up, reclaim her integrity, and trust God for answers. ~ Why ~ With England as the backdrop, this read not only shows how treasured antiquities were categorized, repaired, tested for authenticity, and fraudulently reproduced while countries cherished and protected their art collection, but it also recalls how society scorned women business owners and those who were impoverished. I liked the thoroughness of details of the artworks and attention to caring for the elderly, needy, and imprisoned. ~ Why Not Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand how God is in control, even when we do not understand why. Some may not like the repetitiveness of Eleanor’s emotional state trying to make the right decision or Harry’s consistent tardiness that he seems to ignore. Others may find the topic of artwork in the Victorian age uninteresting. ~ Wish ~ With many characters who are threaded throughout the tale, it would be helpful if there were a brief list of names at the beginning of the book for reference. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence. ~ Want ~ If you are looking for a romantic fiction of art evaluators and collectors during the nineteenth century that includes mystery and intrigue, this is a good read that has twists and turns as two individuals learn what to treasure the most. Thanks to Tyndale Blog for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.
Every once in a while I like to switch it up and read a genre outside of my preferred genres. I’ve read a few Victorian era books in the past, but have very little knowledge of the time period. I was charmed into the lovely prose and the English ways of Lady of a Thousand Treasures. The descriptions are vivid and I can almost hear their accents. Everything feels authentic. The story is well written. Eleanor was easy to connect with, but I had a difficult time with Harry. He has many flaws and few appealing qualities. Because of this, I had trouble sympathizing with either of them. Ultimately, I like a story that teaches me something new. In this case, there are many historical nuances and happenings that give the story fullness. Although this hasn’t made me a huge Victorian era fan, I was pulled into the mystery and enjoyed it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from TyndaleBlogNetwork.
Where your treasure is. . . My rating is 4.5 stars Harry was chronically late. Eleanor had even come to expect it of him. And she felt that his tardiness reflected a lack of care for her. In fact, there were so many little signs, and some bigger ones, that maybe he couldn’t be trusted. People all around her were cautioning her against him. Poor Eleanor was in a difficult situation. She didn’t really have anyone she could confide in and had gotten to the point that she really felt that no one cared about her. That she wasn’t treasured. Through many hardships, Eleanor clung tightly to her faith in God. At times that faith was little more than that of a mustard seed, but it was enough to see her through. In addition to her faith, I admired her greatly for her kindness to others, even in her difficulty. More than once, she sacrificed greatly to benefit others. Despite an overall tone of melancholy, Lady of a Thousand Treasures was a treat to read. The slightly Gothic style and feel of the writing made me think of Jane Eyre. There was a great mystery with danger and unexpected twists. The author wisely told the story only from Eleanor’s perspective to not give away any hints of what was going to come. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I will refrain from saying more about the story itself save the fact that the absolutely most romantic moment in the book occurred in the most unexpected place. I would have never expected to give a swoony sigh in a location and circumstances like that. I learned so much about the collecting of antiquities and reliquaries in the Victorian era. I also got to go inside a prison (Eleanor visited some women there to minister to them). How abominable that one could be thrown in prison for stealing bacon and be sentenced to one year! And that those who had the means were treated better than those without. I had a delightful time reading this book. It was very different from the contemporary series of the author’s that I have read and yet I believe I enjoyed this one even more. Read with a Preview at AmongTheReads.net I was given a free copy of this item. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Lady of a Thousand Treasures is the fabulous beginning to Sandra Byrd’s newest series, The Victorian Ladies. She is among one of my favorite authors and this book does not disappoint. I enjoyed Eleanor’s story. The historical details were so vivid, I felt like I was transported back to her time. I am giving Lady of a Thousand Treasure five plus stars. I highly recommend it for those who love well written historical fiction. I can not wait to continue The Victorian Ladies to see what will happen next. Lady of a Thousand Treasures is a great read. It should not be missed! I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
This is such an enjoyable book, set in a favorite time period of mine - the Victorian era. Eleanor Sheffield is a woman of complexities, as many of us are. She is sure of herself in some ways yet very vulnerable in others. I really liked that she was able to handle herself in so many ways and knew who she was as an antique evaluator. The mysterious element to this story line is incredible. I never knew what would happen next as there were constant twists and turns. I never was sure who to trust and who not to trust, and along with me, the main character, Eleanor, had to determine the same thing as she decides who will be given the priceless collection of one of her father's longtime clients. Each character in this book is complex and I felt like I was a part of the story. The author makes you care about the people in this book, including those you don't really like. I loved all the historical elements to this book and the little details that pulled you into the story. I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. It has everything I love when reading - good characters, a mystery, and detailed historical facts. It was one of the best stories I've read and I highly recommend it! I give it 5 out of 5 stars. *This book was provided to me by JustRead Tours. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.
4.5 Stars LADY OF A THOUSAND TREASURES is a story set at a time when women were trying to take more control of their lives, but were still very much controlled by men and the whims of society. This creates an interesting backdrop for this story, where a woman who is trained in a "man's" profession is assigned the task of either donating a vast antiques collection worth a fortune to a museum or allowing it to remain with the son and heir after his father's death, a man she was in love with most of her life. Not only does this create a difficult decision for her personally between her heart or her career, it also puts her in the middle of those who would gain or lose greatly from her decision. Her world is crashing all around her and she must learn who to trust, including God. Historical romance fans will find much to love in this story. An excellent beginning to a new series! This story intrigued me from the beginning. This time in history is always interesting to me because culture was changing and women's place in society was changing, yet the language and expectations were still very much traditional. Eleanor wants to trust Harry, but she doesn't know if she can and their interactions are still so formal. Sometimes I just wanted her to outright ask Harry about some things or to confront others, but she was held back by her fears and by what society expected of her. Eleanor, Harry, and the other characters were all quite likable, while Eleanor's enemies were quite unlikable (as they should be). The author did a good job of hiding some of the villains in friendly faces where I could tell that there was just something I didn't quite trust about them, but wasn't sure what it was. I would have enjoyed a little more interaction with Harry as he didn't feel quite as full of a character as I would have liked, but I still really liked him. Eleanor definitely takes the spotlight and the story is told through her POV. It's a story full of emotion, of desperate circumstances, of a trial of faith, and of risks and danger. In the end, was it what I wished for? I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! It has a little of everything I love in a story: inspiration, suspense, a great setting, marvelous characters, an intriguing plot, and a sweet romance. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series! Content: Some innuendo and mild violence, but clean. Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through JustRead Publicity Tours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.
I was thrilled to be able to read Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd. I love her books and was very excited to begin this new series and witness how she would bring a new cast of characters to life. This book began right in the thick of things and held many compelling emotions from the start. I found Harry to be a bit charming, and his past of mysterious disappearances intrigued me. Ellie had a good head on her shoulders and I know she intended to do her best in regards to his father's collection. I was very curious to know more of how she would go about the task. So many copious details and points of interest to follow kept me fully engaged in the story. Ellie continued to demonstrate that she was a force to be reckoned with when it came to her business sense and drive. There were certainly plenty of bumps in the road along the way that had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. There were many times when I wondered if her (and my own) trust and confidence were being misplaced, but she always tried to follow her instincts and do what she felt was right. I was completely along for the ride. This book has a very mysterious air about it that really hooks the reader and makes it difficult to put down. It was such a rich story and really pulled me in deeply. I felt many of Ellie's emotions race through my own body as well, as the story went along. The powerful words and quality story-telling by Byrd made this possible. I was right alongside Ellie and feeling much of the same fear and anxiety through the debt situation and dire straits that came later. Everything was stacking against her and I admired her strength, as all I seemed to be able to muster was hopelessness. I love when a book can elicit such strong feelings within me. It truly demonstrates the power of well-written words. The race to the end held suspense, truths, and beauty. Sandra Byrd has surely created a masterpiece with this book. I cannot wait for the nest book in this series. The amount of research and the way facts were weaved in with the fiction was truly incredible. I highly recommend this book.
Lady of a Thousand Treasures is written in author Byrd’s lyrical style with layers of depth that are uncovered throughout the story. Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a young woman in the 1800’s who still lives in a society run mostly by men who do not really look at a woman’s potential outside of the home. Eleanor has been thrust into the role of caretaker of her elderly uncle and the main sole provider of their home and business after her father’s untimely death. As her uncle is aging and losing his mental capacities, Eleanor needs to make their business not only prosper but stay in business. Unfortunately as she finds out, not everyone cares for her truthfulness or business integrity. We are told this story through Eleanor’s eyes and at times I did want to break out of her shell and see what in the world was going on in other character’s heads, particularly Harry’s. Eleanor is a very strong woman who is carrying burdens much too large for her delicate shoulders. She has been thrust into a situation where she must decide what to do with an extensive collection. She longs to trust someone, but the one person she thought she could trust, Harry, had broken her heart. With an intriguing cast of characters, this story kept me turning the pages as I went deeper into the story and into the character of Eleanor. Eleanor was someone whom I felt great sympathy and even comradeship with. Many times throughout the story she felt alone and somewhat worthless and wondered if she would ever be someone’s treasure. I was also interested in the way the wealthy collected their treasures, whether legally or not as I enjoy such TV shows that give the worth of such items and I enjoy shopping at antique shops myself. I was provided with a copy of this book. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
Lady of a Thousand Treasures is an engrossing book! Eleanor Sheffield, an evaluator of antiquities is of the working class people but mingles with the wealthy upper crust society. She procures and evaluates collectible items. With her father dead and her uncle incapacitated she runs Sheffield Brother's with the help of an assistant. The story moves quickly through the streets and homes of London to a vast country estate. I love Eleanor's spirit, she never gives up despite many harrowing situations. I believe this to be my favorite of all of Ms. Byrd's novels. I am looking forward to the next book in the series and hope that it will be Marguerite's story! So brew a pot of tea and settle in for a fantastic read! I was given this book by NetGalley.com with no expectations. All thoughts are my own.
Lady of a Thousand Treasures is a novel full of journeys for the reader. First off, it’s a journey back in time and to Victorian England where we meet our heroine Eleanor Sheffield, who is surprisingly (for the time) a woman who is a curator and evaluator of antiquities. As it has been a family business, her father, who is deceased and her uncle, who’s health is failing, as is his memory, as He is suffering from Alzheimers, the only person able to represent the Sheffield brothers is Eleanor. Her journey at being a woman trying to keep her head afloat in business as there are major debts that suddenly come to light. Another journey she is on is her journey in her faith and finding her value. Lastly, her journey in love, and the conflicting emotions involved with it is a journey fraught with twists and turns that this lovely Victorian gothic novel delivers in spades. Eleanor is a character that you just want to stand up and cheer for as she continues to face the challenges that come her way with courage, compassion and great faith in God. Her journey in business as well as in love intersect as the death of a loyal client places Eleanor suddenly in charge of disseminating his collection of antiquities. His legendary collection will either be donated to a local museum for all to enjoy, or be given to his son Harry, whom he has very little regard for, and who also happens to be Eleanor’s former beau, and the one who still has her under his spell. A lovely part to the novel, is Sandra’s flashbacks of this couple, to show you their past and brings meaning into what is happening in the present in their relationship. This is very well done as you effortlessly slip back and forth into the different timeframes. With Harry you are initially a bit off balance as Sandra is a master at writing a hero that keeps you just a little bit off balance, in terms of you constantly asking yourself, is this guy a good guy, or a bad guy?! There are many other characters who play special roles here, Orchie, the family servant , a treasured friend Marguerite, who speaks the truth in love, as well as the delightful Lady Charlotte Schreiber. She is a particularly wonderful character because she was a real person in Victorian England. Sandra Byrd did that wonderful thing that good historical fiction writers do, in that they do a vast amount of research and then incorporate real people of the time into the story. It just brings it alive and transports us into the past in such a special way. This wonderful novel has all the makings of a great gothic tale and journey as well ,a likable but flawed heroine thrown into a very tough situation, people who aren’t really who they claim to be, secrets, treasures disappearing and a wonderfully romantic storyline. These are the kinds of books that just transport you to another time and place and where the pages keep turning because you really want to know how it all comes out in the end. Surprises, intrigue and much more awaits you in the pages of this book. To leave you with a quote from this book that I just loved- “You have your Maker’s design all over you. His mark is stamped in your loyalty, your kindness, the way you put others before yourself.” This wonderful line begs the question,”how is the maker’s design over your life showing to others, because if you know Him, it is assuredly there. 5 stars Special thanks to the author and Tyndale publishing for a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed