Review: The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah Ladd
Darbury, England, 1814
Amelia is heiress of Winterwood Manor. She must marry before she turns 24, if she is to inherit the estate. When her friend passes away and leaves behind her baby daughter, Lucy, in Amelia’s care, Amelia quickly grows to love Lucy. Nine months later, Amelia finds herself in a predicament. Lucy’s father, Captain Graham Sterling, has returned from the seas. Desperate to keep Lucy, Amelia goes so far as to propose to Captain Sterling. She offers him a win-win deal, whereby he becomes lord of Winterwood Manor and she continues to care for Lucy. When her plans falls apart and Lucy gets kidnapped, Amelia must rely on her faith to pull her through a dangerous and volatile situation.
I liked the way the action in the story very gradually builds up to the climax. When I started reading the book, I had expected that the kidnapping would be the highlight of the story. I was wrong. In fact, most of the drama leading to the kidnapping only happened in the second half of the book.
The buildup in the romance and attraction between Amelia and Captain Sterling happened very slowly. It was interesting “seeing” a purely platonic friendship turn into something more. Another buildup that was interesting is the relationship between Captain Sterling and Lucy. It was almost adorable the way Lucy became familiar and comfortable with her father she’d never met before.
Although it is relatively easy to guess the identity of the kidnapper, the twists in the plot made this story unpredictable. There were surprises right up to the last chapters. These twists added an element of suspense that was welcomed. Also, there is not one single element that stands out by itself. Everything – romance, mystery, suspense, action, faith – were equally strong in the plot. That’s another aspect that I liked. All of the goodness skillfully woven to create an exciting story. There was never a moment I felt bored while I was reading this book. It was all excitement and anticipation, right from page 1.
“When I finally was able to accept that God had a plan for my life, that his way is best, I began to see the world in a different light.” A smile transformed Jane’s face. “And then he gave me you. You became the daughter I never had. The Lord has blessed me in so many other ways as well. But I lost so many blessings while confined in the prison of my fear.”
—Quote from The Heiress of Winterwood
I love the characters, especially Lucy. She was just so cute and adorable! Of course, she isn’t the main character, but she is my favorite character. Another favorite would be Jane Hammond. She was the wise voice of reason during shaky times. She is like a mother figure to Amelia, and while it can be hard to imagine a young woman in her twenties being best friends with a woman old enough to be her mother, it was really good that Amelia had Jane as her best friend. After all, Jane has such a way with sound reasoning and she could remain calm despite being in a troubling situation. Her strong dislike of William Sterling was amusing, though.
Another strong point is the descriptions. As I read, I could vividly picture in my mind the scenes described – the curls of Lucy’s hair, Captain Sterling’s wayward horse, Edward Littleton’s smug face, Mrs. Barrett’s disapproving look, and many others.
Conclusion: Not only was the romance fun to read, the mystery was well played-out in the story. I definitely enjoyed reading The Heiress of Winterwood. I loved the beginning, middle, ending… well, everything, actually.
Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for her first book, The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of strategic marketing and brand management experience, including five years of marketing non-fiction books and three years of marketing the musical arts. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever. Visit her website at www.sarahladd.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author through the Booksneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”