Sarah Ladd writes compelling romances, and The Lady at Willowgrove Hall is one of her best! I groaned in despair in places, tears flowed freely in others, and an odd chuckle escaped once or twice.
Cecily Faire has been taken to the Rosemere Schoole for Girls by her father after trying to elope with Andrew Moreton, heir to Aradalle (and later Willowgrove). While serving as a teacher at Rosemere, she is offered a position of companion to Mrs Tryst, the lady of Willowgrove Hall. Mrs. Tryst is in poor health and not expected to live much longer, but she still requires a companion.
Cecily has one desire over all others--to find her twin sister, Leah, whom she's been separated from since her father took her to Rosemere. With only the loosest of leads to go on, she hopes to find her sister in Manchester.
As Cecily arrives at Willowgrove during a storm, she encounters Nathaniel Stanton, the steward. He takes her to his cottage where he lives with his mother and sisters. After enjoying their hospitality, Cecily makes her way to Willowgrove the next morning to take her position as Mrs. Tryst's companion. One of Mrs. Tryst's great enjoyments is the roses that grow in her garden.
In a lot of romance novels, the would-be suitor is pretty apparent from the very beginning. But because of Andrew's early involvement in the story and Nathaniel's later involvement, it takes a while for the reader to figure out which man is going to win. Andrew's showing up at Willowgrove definitely throws Cecily for a loop, especially since he comes in with a fiancee. She knows his chapter in her life is over, that it was a young infatuation.
Sarah has written a great story where love and trust grow slowly, where secrets from the past hamper the course of true love, and desires of overwhelming greatness control the characters. Her characters are fully developed with personalities that engage the readers and make the readers feel like they've met new friends. Her descriptions of place and conditions are thorough but do not make the story lag. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Rose from the Willowgrove Hall gardens.
This book was provided to me by HarperCollins for the express purpose of sharing my thoughts. No compensation or remuneration was offered or received. The opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.