“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.”
Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.
As an good Austenite does, I am always on the lookout for new books set in the Regency time period. A Regency novel set within the framework of Christian fiction? Now that just sets my heart aflutter. And so, within my first few moments of picking up Sarah Ladd’s newest Regency novel, The Curiosity Keeper, I found not only a new-to-me author, but a renewed interest in Regency fiction because this woman’s writing far belies the tropes associated with this genre. The Curiosity Keeper is a wonderful novel that captivated me with its mystery, history, and romance spun into a hero and heroine’s tale of self-worth and love.
I have read a fair share of both Christian fiction and general market Regencies since first becoming acquainted with Jane Austen novels in college. The style and tropes of Regencies for me, therefore, were fairly well known until I came across The Curiosity Keeper, which implemented mystery into the storyline so well that I am anxious to read the rest of Ladd’s novels for more inclusion of that plot. Ladd’s writing style is a beautifully crafted blend of romance and mystery, and hooked me the entire time as I attempted (my mind is not wired to solve mysteries) to discover the culprit in The Curiosity Keeper. At times I became tired of the emphasis placed on the missing items, and I do admit that I would have liked to have read more romance and less mystery. But personal tastes aside, I found the mystery in this novel to be well done and expect to be further intrigued by mysteries in her stories.
Ladd’s straightforward style dropped me directly into the dark and dank streets of London as her heroine, Camille Inverness, worked in her father’s curiosity shop. A horrid place to live and work in 1800s England, London in The Curiosity Keeper utterly fascinated me as a character all its own. I yearned with Camille as she fought to make a safe life of her own in the beautiful English countryside rather than the soot-covered backstreets of London. And once Ladd dropped me into the second setting of The Curiosity Keeper, charming village of Fellsworth, I knew for certain that this author’s books would automatically stay on my bookshelves. Fellsworth’s charms were so beautifully conveyed that I could visualize the visual in Camille’s mind of what it would be like to run through green fields and have golden trees on fire in my backyard. If I never make it to England, at least The Curiosity Keeper brought me close to knowing in my heart what it would be like to visit that country.
The characters in Ladd’s fourth novel drive the storyline of The Curiosity Keeper. Camille is one of the strongest heroines I have come across in Christian fiction, and I truly hope to read more about her in the upcoming novels of this series. She stands on her own two feet, taking her life by charge and refusing to let others do what she knows she is capable of. Jonathan is a charming hero that took my heart quickly–his desire to protect others and do well by his family, but still find his own way, was probably my favorite aspect of this novel. The Curiosity Keeper includes secondary characters that bring this story to life, including a sister who I am hopeful will hold a starring role in another book in The Treasures of Surrey series. A poignant redemptive relationship between Jonathan and his father round out The Curiosity Keeper as a beautiful story revolving around family relationships.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Curiosity Keeper and am so excited for the future Treasure of Surrey novels and Ladd’s earlier series, The Whispers on the Moors. I recommend The Curiosity Keeper for readers who love Regency romances and are fans of Julie Klaassen novels.
Rating: 3.5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.