This cover instantly caught my eye, followed quickly by ‘Gothic style Regency romance’. I LOVE Gothic fiction, especially at this time of year when it’s starting to get colder and all I want to do is be in front of a fire in my cozy blanket with a crumbling estate! I had just finished another Gothic romance and I was eager for more books like that one I finished. This one came across my desk at the perfect time and was exactly what I needed!
Author, Hannah Linder, is a new author and she is from a small publishing house of Christian Fiction. As luck would have it, I love finding new to me authors and ones that are off the beaten path. I adore Julie Klassen who kind of has a cornerstone on Gothic style Christian Fiction, and this new author reminds me a bit of Klassen but with her own unique style. This book is giving me all the haunted estate vibes and has a questionable hero with a fierce heroine, if you are a fan of Gothic fiction you need to check this one out! It’s a fun romp through Regency England that will satisfy your fall reading desires!
I am so glad I picked this one up, I finished it in just a couple of days and was left wondering when we might expect another book by Linder. Lots of atmosphere, some intrigue, and of course romance. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and once I was hooked—I was HOOKED. It did take me a minute to get into this one, but once I did, I didn’t want to leave! Gothic fans, this one has your name all over it!
Will Seeking Justice Lead to Her Own Demise?
A Gothic-Style Regency Romance from a Promising Young Author
Second daughter of a baron—and a little on the mischievous side—Ella Pemberton is no governess. But the pretense is a necessity if she ever wishes to get inside of Wyckhorn Manor and attain the truth. Exposing the man who killed her sister is all that matters.
Lord Sedgewick knows there’s blood on his hands. Lies have been conceived, then more lies, but the price of truth would be too great. All he has left now is his son—and his hatred. Yet as the charming governess invades his home, his safe cocoon of bitterness begins to tear away.
Could Ella, despite the lingering questions of his guilt, fall in love with such a man? Or is she falling prey to him—just as her dead sister? (summary from Goodreads)
As I mentioned above, it took me a minute to get into this one. I was a little lost in the story and I think it might have worked better to have some more clear facts established early on. For example, it wasn’t clear to me right away what Ella’s background was but for her to become a governess it was evidently beneath her station which left me wondering what was her station exactly and why was being a governess frowned upon for her? Similarly this put me off a bit to her character at first. I felt like she was a little uppity at first because of this but as the story went on it all came together however, I had spent the first part of the book wondering why she seemed so uppity. I think explaining some of that early on in the book would have been helpful for some readers to get orientated within the story and with the characters.
I also found it weird that Ella hadn’t met her sister’s husband prior to coming to the estate. I think some creative license can be given here but it still felt off to me and I think it could have been cleared up with some explanations like maybe Ella was away on the continent when her sister was married etc. Something to help explain this plot hole. But these are things that didn’t ultimately impact the enjoyment of the story, they were more stylistic preferences that I think would have made the story stronger. This is a debut novel for her so I am sure the more experience she gets as a writer, the stronger her work will be.
I was intrigued by Henry’s character from the beginning. The first thing I always think when I read about a man with a ‘secret’ (whether good intentioned or not) is ‘what did he do now’. I love discovering the true character under a perceived villain. It’s such a great character study with perception and first impressions. I loved Henry’s character from the beginning and was super excited to see Ella warm to him and how their interactions grew throughout the book. Overall this was a solid debut novel and I really loved the atmosphere! Linder really gave the audience a feel for the haunted castle and stormy seas! Such a great read for the fall!
Book Info and Rating
Format: 320 pages, paperback
Publication: November 1st 2022 by Barbour Fiction
Free review copy provided by publisher, Barbour Fiction in partnership with Austen Prose Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical fiction, Christian Fiction, gothic lit, romance