Book Review: “The Heiress of Winterwood” by Sarah E. Ladd

There’s nothing like starting a book off quickly and to the point. Sarah Ladd does just that in this Regency tale of one woman’s intent on marriage. In fact, she’s so driven to do so, the heroine proposes matrimony to a man she meets for the first time at the end of chapter one. Of course, a woman should have good motives to do something so outrageous in 1814. In Amelia’s mind, she thinks her plan is perfect. It will secure her inheritance and provide an instant family with a man she barely knows.  Captain Sterling has returned home to face the sorrows and joys of the life he left behind on his latest tour of duty.

Amelia is a head-strong woman with a mind of her own.  She has a dilemma and is faced with three alternatives: marry a man whose character is questionable; marry a man for convenience that she barely knows to keep a promise, or let her 24th birthday pass as an unmarried woman and watch her inheritance go to a distant cousin leaving her destitute. For her, the choice is clear.

She proposes marriage to Captain Sterling, which causes an upset and scandal amongst her family and sets off her now ex-fiance’s rage.  Amelia realizes that she doesn’t love the man she had originally agreed to marry after his greedy motives are revealed. Instead, she sets her mind upon a man she neither knows or loves in order to bring a stable home to the daughter her friend bore to Captain Sterling before she passed away.  Amelia intends to take her place, marry the grieving Captain, and bring up their child she has cared for and loved.

There is little romance between Captain Sterling and Amelia at the onset. Only fleeting thoughts of their agreeable personalities and appearances. At first, Amelia’s plan is rejected, but when the Captain has a change of heart, obstacles keep them apart.  In certain scenes affections rise, but are suppressed, until a difficult situation brings them together in love.

I really wanted to understand the heart of Amelia, but couldn’t quite get there except for her determination behind her quest to marry the Captain. She comes across as a goodhearted woman with values, but she restrains her affections and passions.

As far as Graham Sterling, the man of the sea, he read superficially with little insight into the workings of his heart other than his career that has forged his life and character.  Toward the end of the story, more of his own personal struggles are revealed. I really don’t warm up to him as a likable hero that I could imagine falling in love with.  There are no intimate scenes to steam up the story, except for a passionate kiss and final declaration of love which doesn’t quite make up for the lack.

I understood why, when I realized The Heiress of Winterwood is published by Thomas Nelson. There are Christian undertones throughout the story, which contains themes of faith, trusting God, the creator’s plan for one’s life, and forgiveness.  Portions of scripture are sprinkled throughout the story, and a few prayers are expressed by the characters.

The book was well written and your mind easily envisions the Regency surroundings and way of life.  BUT, I can hear my English teacher screaming at me not to start sentences with conjunctions like “but” and “and.” Good gracious, things have changed over the years, and I guess I need to get over it.  BUT, it’s like nails scratching on a chalkboard in my mind when I read a text with BUT and AND starting a sentence.  Yes, I know, I’m old fashion.  Blame it on Mrs. Marone, my strict high-school teacher. AND I know I should get hip with my own style of writing to catch up.  Well, maybe.

All in all the book is on the puritanical side of Regency, with a bit of suspense and intrigue thrown in for conflict. For me, it was a three crown Duchess of a good read.  Personally, I just need a bit more romance and passion to stir my heart and fill my fantasy needs of being swept off my feet.

(Reviewed by Countess Victoria)

3

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