Review: A Lady at Willowgrove Hall

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall
A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah E. Ladd
Willowgrove Hall is full of secrets, but soon everything hidden is brought to light.

Cecily Faire has a secret—and she intends to keep it. But when she arrives at Willowgrove Hall to serve as a lady’s companion, she comes face-to-face with the only person who knows the truth about her past.

As the steward of Willowgrove Hall, Nathaniel Stanton is dedicated to serving those around him. Nothing escapes his notice—including the beautiful new lady’s companion. He is certain the lovely Miss Faire is hiding something, and he determines to uncover it. But Nathaniel has a secret of his own: he is the illegitimate son of Willowgrove’s former master. Falling in love was not part of his plans . . . until he meets Cecily Faire.

When Willowgrove’s mistress dies, everything changes. Fear of exposure forces Cecily to leave under the cover of darkness, embarking on a journey to finally find her long-lost sister. When the will is read, Nathaniel’s inheritance makes him question his future plans. Cecily and Nathaniel are forced to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Is their love strong enough to survive?
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book fairly well. The characters are well-rounded, memorable, and interesting, and since I am a character-driven reader that is important to me. Each character has their own voice in the story. There’s also a depth of background to each character that is like a wonderful discovery, finding out about their past as the story progresses!

The plot was pretty predictable, but I liked each scene and bit of dialogue. There’s an importance attached to every little conversation, and the tension between characters keeps the plot from being too slow. I also liked the depth of the plot, there are plenty of layers of interaction between people and their various relations with one another, like an intricate social web.

I fell in love with particular little scenes- Cecily teaching younger girls to embroider, a special necklace playing a part in bringing two people closer, Cecily reading to Mrs. Trent, Nathaniel’s affectionate but annoyed dialogue with his sisters, etc…
All beautifully written! So many parts of this book engaged my attention and my heart.

I especially liked Mrs. Trent’s unique voice; she is a complex woman with lots of misunderstanding surrounding her. The author does a perfect job of balancing what other characters SAY about Mrs. Trent, and what we actually experience of her. There’s also a perfect balance between the good and evil of her character. She’s a flawed but good woman, who makes mistakes but regrets them, basically kind but eaten up with bitterness. Delightfully complex! I loved getting to know her better just as Cecily did.

I liked the romance between Cecily and Nathaniel. Their characters are well-suited to each other, and I loved seeing them fall in love slowly. A bit predictable, of course, but still sweet.

The writing style is quite good, with concise descriptions and vibrant dialogue. The author does a wonderful job of placing great importance on small actions and facial expressions, giving us an inside look at the character’s state of mind with just the description of a gesture or a smile.

But at times the writing does feel a bit condescending, like the reader is being led around by the hand because we are too stupid to figure things out.
Sometimes things that are obvious are stated too many times; not enough to make me hate it, but it did get a little annoying. (Yes, we know she has a secret, and he guesses that she has a secret, even though he also has a secret, which is very secretive. You don’t have to tell me 5 times that he suspects she is hiding a secret! I got pretty sick of the word “secret”.)

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book! In fact, I spent hours at a time immersed in it. The story really captured my attention!

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher or author for review. The opinions stated here are my own, and are not influenced by the publisher or anyone else.

View all my reviews

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