Novel Review: The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

The Curiosity Keeper

The Curiosity Keeper (A Treasures of Surrey Novel) by Sarah E. Ladd (Thomas Nelson, July 2015)

“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.


REVIEW:

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. LaddSarah 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.

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Novel Review: The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

The Lost HeiressThe Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White (Bethany House, September 2015)

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.


REVIEW:

There is a reason Bethany House Publishers has such a positive reputation within the CBA: every year popular authors continue to write superior novels for Bethany House, and every year this house finds new authors whose writing style and voice, and storylines and characters, find their ways into readers’ hearts. It seems almost impossible that Bethany House could continue getting better and better. After all, how does one progress when having already won the highest accolades in the business? But 2015 seems to be Bethany House’s year, with new authors penning stories that readers are clambering to read.

Roseanna M. White is one such author that Bethany House scored big with in 2015. In the two weeks since her newest novel, The Lost Heiress, released from this historical fiction publishing power house, the book has garnered numerous five-star ratings from reviewers and readers alike. As of my completion of this novel, The Lost Heiress can add another high rating to its plethora of stars. I knew this novel would be good—one only has to type in the author’s name to find plenty of praises for Roseanna’s writing—but I did not now how powerful, how beautiful, and how masterful Roseanna’s writing would be. I found her style, voice, and storytelling so magnificent that I would not be surprised to find The Lost Heiress a contender for next year’s ACFW Carol Awards.

The Lost Heiress is a perfect fit for Bethany House for numerous reasons: it’s historical fiction; romance is a primary element in the storyline; and the writing style is distinctly recognizable for readers. From the first page to the last of this novel, the elements of The Lost Heiress belong to Roseanna, lending an air that she not only knows the story, but also the craft of writing. This story is complex—not one to finish quickly, but one to savor as Roseanna blends history, romance, mystery, faith, character development, suspense, and intrigue into every page. Just a few of these elements together would have been enough to make a compelling story; all of them blended seemly make for a book that is both literally and physically hard to stop reading. Not one scene goes by that does not grip the reader deeper and deeper into this story.

Roseanna created two of the most compelling characters I have read in Christian fiction with Brook Eden and Justin Wildon in The Lost Heiress. Completely divergent in their personalities yet unquestionably perfect for each other, Brook and Justin are just as gripping as a couple as they are as individual characters. Their personal stories captivated me as I sped through each scene to learn more about their motivations, desires, and pain. And yet, I eagerly awaited the scenes where Justin and Brook were together because rarely have I found a fictional couple that so belonged together. The romance in The Lost Heiress is one of the best I have come across—tender, passionate, pure, filled with tension and disagreements and love built over time.

Filling in the gaps that help bring those personal stories and romance to life in The Lost Heiress are secondary characters so endearing that I longed to read their stories many pages before this first book in the Ladies of the Manor series ended. Roseanna has also created a world so vivid with historical details that The Lost Heiress easily could compete with popular television show Downton Abbey for entertainment that captivates audiences. The Lost Heiress storyline holds so many elements that it is impossible to classify this book within one genre; a complex storyline that forces readers to fully engage and absorb every aspect of the book. It is a novel that is superior in its author’s writing and one every writer should aspire to emulate.

Rating: 5+ stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roseanna WhiteRoseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, the historical romance, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, and the historical, romantic suspense Culper Ring Series (Ring of Secrets, Whispers from the Shadows, and Circle of Spies). She is also the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, HisWriters, and Colonial Christian Fiction Writers.

Her latest novel, The Lost Heiress, was published in September 2015 by Bethany House Publishers. Two other books in the Ladies of the Manor series will be published in 2016: The Reluctant Duchess (April) and The Waiting Lady (working title, fall).

Connect with Roseanna on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.

 

Novel Review: The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

sound of diamonds

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.

An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.

But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome?

REVIEW: 

About a year ago I stumbled across a website called “Inspiring Daring.” A picture of a young woman graced the main page. Curious about what this site would hold, I began to search the pages and immediately became captivated by the posts and prose. This young woman to whom the website belongs—Rachelle Rea—pulled me into her site with her sweet and spunky writing style, and kept me there with her inspiring and motivational stories and posts.

Twelve months later, I continue to follow “Inspiring Daring,” along with everything else Rea has accomplished in such a short time. A newly published author with one book to her name and another shortly to follow, this curly-hair, bright-eyed, sweet-smiling young woman is sure to draw others to faith and fiction through her stories and her writing. As soon as I learned that Rea would have a novel published by WhiteFire Publishing I added her book to my Goodreads page and the title to my to-review list.

Set during Reformation-era England, The Sound of Diamonds first caught my attention with its unique storyline and cast of characters. Blended with her beautiful writing style, the storyline of The Sound of Diamonds brings readers directly into the fascinating and frightening time period of Catholic persecution. I am Catholic, and while Christian fiction is my primary and favorite genre to read, at times I am frustrated by the lack of Catholicism in this genre. Rea’s choice to include Catholicism—and especially a Catholic heroine—immediately pushed The Sound of Diamonds to the top of my to-read list.

The author’s research and impeccable manner of historical detail in this novel is noticeable in a most compelling way. I learned so much about Reformation-era England, the Iconoclastic Fury, and Catholic and Protestant beliefs during this time that I feel a stronger connection with my faith and roots. Rea beautifully blended both Catholic and Protestant values in The Sound of Diamonds, and she handled the theological differences between the two denominations beautifully.

Rea’s debut novel shines with themes of compassion and forgiveness. Through her beautiful writing style, endearing and believable characters, and rich historical detail, The Sound of Diamonds is a novel sure to resonate with readers who love historical fiction. I enjoyed this book and am very much looking forward to the sequel. The Sound of Silver will be published in October 2015.

Rating: 4 stars


Add Rachelle’s books to your lists:

The Sound of Diamonds–Amazon

The Sound of Diamonds–Goodreads 

The Sound of Silver–Amazon

The Sound of Silver–Goodreads 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

RACHELLETimes gone by snatch Rachelle close, so she reads and writes about years long ago–her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. In the space of a summer between sophomore and junior year, Rachelle wrote a novel set in 1566. Two years later she had finished two more novels and signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher. Her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds, released in June 2015. The next two books in the Steadfast Love Series will swiftly follow. Find out more about Rachelle, like that she’s a homeschool grad and Oreo addict, at http://rachellerea.com.

Rachel’s Facebook page

Rachelle’s Amazon page

Rachelle’s Goodreads page