In Regency England, Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to romance. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.
For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.
The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.
At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.
Isabel never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.
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Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd is the second book in the Treasures of Surrey series. Isabel Creston is twenty-years-old and a junior teacher at the Fellsworth School. Isabel has been at the Fellsworth School since she was seven years old (after her mother died). Two years ago, Isabel’s step-sister, Lizzie arrived after their father passed away (the step-mother did not want Isabel around). Isabel is now Lizzie’s guardian. Isabel is called into Mr. Langsby’s office (the school superintendent) to meet Mr. Edmund Bradford. Mr. Bradford is at the school on behalf of Margaret Ellison, Isabel’s aunt (on her mother’s side). They wish to open their home to Isabel (under any conditions which is good news for Lizzie). Isabel does not really wish to leave the Fellsworth School. It may not be ideal, but it is all she knows. Unfortunately, Mr. Langsby does not give her a choice. If Isabel does not accept her aunt’s offer, she will be thrown out (along with Lizzie). So off they go to Emberwilde (the Ellison estate). This presents new opportunities for Isabel. She can now marry and have a family of her own. Her Aunt Margaret is not thrilled with Lizzie’s arrival (too bad). Aunt Margaret immediately orders new dresses for the two of them and starts organizing Isabel’s entrance to society. Aunt Margaret particularly praises Mr. Bradford and his work with the foundling home in Northrop.
Colin Galloway is the local magistrate for Northrup. He owns Darbenton Court (a nearby estate) and is also a lawyer. Colin is a friend of Charles Ellison (Margaret’s husband). Margaret cannot stand having him around. She feels that Colin lead Freddie (their son) to his death (died during the war). Margaret makes sure to criticize Isabel whenever she talks or looks at Colin (odd behavior from Aunt Margaret). Colin is busy investigating smuggling going on in Emberwilde Forest. Smuggling has been a serious problem lately and Colin is determined to catch the culprits. Aunt Margaret keeps pushing Mr. Bradford encouraging his interest until he proposes. But, Isabel does not trust Mr. Bradford. What happens when Isabel turns down Mr. Bradford? Why is Aunt Margaret determined to wed Isabel off to him? Who is behind the smuggling? You will have to read Dawn at Emberwilde to find out.
Dawn at Emberwilde is a lovely, Christian romance novel. I liked the characters and the setting. There seemed to be a lack of chemistry (between Colin and Isabel) for the romance portion of the book (you could tell they liked each other, but that was about it). I enjoyed the two mysteries (I cannot help that I love puzzles), but they were simple and easy to figure out (good addition to the story though). It is an easy book to read (and well written) and can be finished in a few hours. The pace is a wee bit slow (for the first 200 or so pages) and it was hard to get into this story. This is one of those books that I read and liked, but I was never fully drawn into the novel. I give Dawn at Emberwilde 4 out of 5 stars. Dawn at Emberwilde has a sweet ending (things happen quickly at the end of the book) that will make you smile (who doesn’t love a happy ending even if it is predictable). I will be reading more of Sarah E. Ladd’s books in the future.
I received a complimentary copy of Dawn at Emberwilde from NetGalley, BookLook Bloggers, and the author in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.