“Dawn at Emberwilde” by Sarah E. Ladd
Book Two in The Treasures of Surrey Series
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
About the Book:
Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.
For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.
The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.
At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.
At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.
I was expecting to love this book. I’ve read two of Miss Ladd’s previous books (the first two books of the Whispers on the Moors Series), and enjoyed them both, so I figured it would be likewise with this one. And while I didn’t hate this book, I didn’t fully enjoy it either, unfortunately.
The setting was good, and the writing well-done, but I couldn’t connect with the characters and it was very predictable.
But what disappointed me the most was the lack of faith in this book. I remember reading Ladd’s first book and the faith-strand was great; the second book had it too though not as strongly, but this book was almost completely void of it. There were many, many places where it could have been accomplished in a beautiful manner, but there was only one or two mentions of God. That really saddened me. This story really could’ve used God’s hope and truth. It kind of just fell flat for me without it.
The love-triangle was a bit much too…I don’t really care for those types of things. It was the typical “I don’t know which man to choose”, yet it’s overly obvious to the reader who is the “hero” of the book. It was just frustrating to me.
But yes, I liked the England setting, and I enjoyed the character Lizzie quite well, and Colin on occasion. But sometimes the characters did things that just didn’t make sense.
They put a pretty heavy point on physical appearance too, as well as not wanting to have to rely on anyone else – that we are sufficient by our own strength. I don’t agree with this – we should be sufficient by God’s power alone. It was just really lacking in God’s glory and that really reflects in a book, I think.
It wasn’t a terrible book (it was clean, and I have no doubt that many will enjoy it – I myself enjoyed aspects of it, just not all), but it wasn’t really a hit for me.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book from Litfuse/the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.