Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Headmistress of Rosemere.

Last summer I read Sarah E. Ladd's book The Heiress of Winterwood. I really enjoyed it, and I remember that it drew me in right from the beginning and made for really addictive reading (it kept me up past my bedtime. That doesn't happen often :).

So, of course, I was eager to read the second book in the series. But I was concerned because I was a little fuzzy on some of the details of the first book, and despite reading some reviews, I couldn't figure out how this sequel was connected to the first book. If you're wondering the same thing: the main male character in this second book, William Sterling, is the brother of the main male character in the first book. This isn't a sequel in the strictest sense of the word, though...the couple from the first book don't appear in this second one, other than a couple of mentions. You could easily read The Headmistress of Rosemere without having read The Heiress of Winterwood, but just be warned that you will be a little spoiled with the ending of the first book if you do so. (By the way, I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything by not remembering every single detail of the first one.)

With that explanation out of the way, what did I think of The Headmistress of Rosemere? I really enjoyed it. Even more than the first book! The pacing in the first one felt a little strange. The big event that I thought would happen early in the book actually didn't happen until the last 1/3 or so. With the second book in the series, the action is much more evenly paced.

I liked Patience Creighton very much. Her father, headmaster of a girls' school called Rosemere, had died several months previously, and with her mother sick with grief and her brother gone to London without a word since the funeral, the entire weight of the school was on her shoulders. I could definitely relate to Patience's reaction to all of this, because I would have felt the exact same way in her position! As a reader, I was so angry at her brother for acting the way he did. I like how Patience took charge and did her best in that situation, because what else could she do? (Also, her reaction to Lydia was scarily accurate to what mine would have been. Maybe one of the reasons I connected so much to this story was because I am so similar to Patience.) She reminds me a bit of Austen's Elinor Dashwood.

As a hero (though he's not exactly that towards the beginning of the book), I also really liked William Sterling. I don't usually go for the "bad boy" type, which is what William had been in the past. But I think he comes across as a really likable person who is sorry for his past actions and wants to change. He's also a bit Rochester-like, which probably made me like him even more. (I do love Jane Eyre.)

The Headmistress of Rosemere is beautifully written. It's so readable, and yet it never feels inaccurate or too modern, which sometimes happens with historical fiction. The characters act, think, and speak as people in 1816 would have. Sarah E. Ladd's writing is not flowery or too descriptive, but I could imagine everything as I read this book. I have a perfect picture of Rosemere and the surrounding property in my head. :) I really love that in a book. Too often historical fiction has only a vague setting, but over the past year I've read some books that do an incredible job of making me feel as if I were there (examples: this book, The Tutor's Daughter, and Rebellious Heart).

While I saw certain things coming (without giving too much away: Emma's parentage), I didn't bother me in the least that I had anticipated certain plot points. There was plenty of family drama, action, romance, and even scandal (1816 style, of course) to keep me turning the pages. By the first half, I was so invested in this story that I had a hard time putting this book down. There was a lot going on, but I never felt overwhelmed. And the ending of the book was incredibly satisfying. (I remember thinking that the previous book ended a little abruptly.)

By the way, I have to mention that Patience and William's meeting on the moors at dawn reminded me so much of a somewhat similar scene in my favorite movie, the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. That made me so happy, though of course in the book it was rudely interrupted. (When Patience couldn't sleep and was going to walk on the moors, I was thinking, please, please let William not be able to sleep and go for a walk, too. Ha.)

I loved The Headmistress of Rosemere. More than I expected to, honestly. The biggest thing that bothered me about the first book in the series (the pacing) was fixed here, and I personally related to Patience more than I did Amelia. I felt more connected to this story and these characters. Both books in Sarah E. Ladd's Whispers on the Moors series come highly recommended from me, and I can't wait to read the third one!

"Patience Creighton has dedicated herself to the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. But the return of the enigmatic master of the estate puts everything she loves at risk. Bright, sensible Patience knows what is expected of her. At twenty-five, her opportunity for a family of her own has passed, so she invests herself in teaching at her father’s school for girls. When her father dies suddenly and her brother moves away to London, she is determined to make the school successful.

Confirmed bachelor William Sterling also knows what is expected of him, but mistake after mistake has left him teetering on ruin’s edge. As master of Eastmore Hall he owns a great deal of property -- including the land where Rosemere School is located -- but possesses little money to manage its upkeep. When debtors start calling, he is desperate to find a new source of income, even if it means sacrificing Rosemere.

When a fire threatens the school grounds, William must decide to what lengths he is willing to go to protect his birthright. And when Patience’s brother returns with a new wife to take over management of the school, Patience suddenly finds herself unsure of her calling. After a surprising truth about William’s past is brought to light, both William and Patience will have to seek God’s plans for their lives—and their hearts." - Book summary provided by Booksneeze

*I received this book for free from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.*

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