Pride goes before the fall . . . but what comes after?
Darbury, England, 1814
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an ancestral estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s infant baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father, Graham, a sea captain she’s never met.
Tragedy strikes when the child vanishes with little more than a sketchy ransom note hinting to her whereabouts. Fear for the child’s safety drives Amelia and Graham to test the boundaries of their love for this infant.
Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she examines her soul and must face her one weakness: pride. Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has for planned for them.
I've been reading wonderful reviews of this one and had been really looking forward to reading it for myself. I am so glad to say that it was as excellently written as I'd anticipated! I had not realized that there would be switches in the points of view between Amelia and Graham. But it definitely helped keep the story flowing, to see what each were experiencing and thinking separately. Especially concerning one another, since they were virtual strangers at the beginning. It takes a while for their trust in one another to manifest. Which is only natural. It would be quite disconcerting to meet a lady for the first time and have her propose right then and there!
Amelia and Graham have good chemistry and an obvious love for baby Lucy (who adds much adorableness to her small part of the story). That helps them come to understand one another a lot easier. Which in turn helps Amelia immensely when she becomes in desperate need of an ally. By the time the second half of the story arrives, the poor girl is stuck in a pretty hard place with seemingly no easy way to go, no matter what she chooses. Amelia's intentions are good, yet her plans are not always so well thought out. And Graham has to come to terms with meeting his daughter for the first time, saying good-bye to his late wife, and adjusting to an attractive young woman who needs his help.
While the romance is cute, it stays more or less in the background while the mystery complicates matters. As the tension rises, Ms. Ladd keeps you on your toes wondering just who the bad guy is and what he/she is planning. Yet I do have to say that I'd anticipated the story flowing a little differently. Things weren't moving as fast as I'd thought they would in the first half, then the latter half of the story picked up, but we didn't get any farther than solving the mystery of what happened to Lucy (whose disappearance doesn't even occur until more than half-way through). I kept thinking that surely I'd get beyond this or that happening and then the romance would pick up and other things not mentioned in the synopsis would all wrap up on a sweet note. I ended up feeling like the description gave a lot of the plot away and the story didn't leave much room for surprises at the end.
While it ends very nicely and with the main threads tied up, there were still things that seem unfinished. It truly felt like the first book of a series. Which isn't a bad thing! Not at all. I sensed that there is much more to the story yet to be told and imagined that some of those parts were going to happen in this book, which they didn't. So hopefully this means that book 2 will pick up soon after this one and the untold parts will get their time to shine. Ms. Ladd is certainly a wonderful writer and knows her time period very well. I was delighted with the story overall and will look forward to more time spent at Winterwood in the future! :)
"No longer able to sit, Amelia jumped from her seat and stepped toward him. "Captain, I have raised Lucy these nine months. I could not love her more if she were my own. She is more important to me than a hundred Mr. Littletons and a thousand Winterwoods. Believe me when I say I will do whatever necessary to see her well cared for."
The Captain stood to his full height. "You said you had a plan, Miss Barrett."
Amelia's hands shook. It was useless to even try to prevent her lips from quivering as she spoke. "In order to continue raising Lucy when you return to your duties, and in order to inherit Winterwood and have the resources to provide Lucy with what she needs, I would need to marry someone besides Mr. Littleton in the next few weeks."
His eyes narrowed. "What exactly are you suggesting?"
"You, Captain Sterling. you and I should marry. Immediately."
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.