She is treated as treasured for her beauty and who will be married off as quickly as possible. Without dowry to make a grand marriage, she is to be betrothed to the head of the local foundlings school. She has feelings of uncertainty about this gentleman and fears future involvement.
The beautiful and dark forest seems to beckon her, and her young sister. They are warned to stay away from it because danger lurks within. But little sister, Lizzie, wanders into its depths, gets frightened by some scary men, and hides.
The story meanders along at a gentle pace giving the reader a glimpse into the status a poor relative has in the home of the landed gentry of England in the early 1800s. At her aunt's mercy and having no place else to go, young Isabel tries to adjust. With two handsome young men nearby, her heart discovers qualities and dislikes about them that give her pause to wonder.
A bit of a mystery. A glimpse into social mores of the time. A bit of danger. A sweet little eight year old. And a landed gentleman-magistrate. What an opportunity for a nice read. Written as Christian fiction, it is not pronounced in it's Biblical leanings. The work is clean, gentle, and you won't be afraid to let a young teen or a dear grandmother read it.
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.
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Author info: Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.