Book Review: Dawn at Emberwilde

14 Jun

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Dawn-at-EmberwildeIsabel 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.

SLadd-318Sarah 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 family and spunky Golden Retriever.

Find out more about Sarah at


My Impressions:

Sarah Ladd returns to Surrey, England with her Regency-inspired novel, Dawn at Emberwilde. Book 2 in her Treasures of Surrey series, this novel is perfect for fans of Jane Eyre. An independent and determined heroine and a house filled with secrets combine with sweet romance for a recommended read. Definitely put this book on your Summer TBR list!

Isabel Creston has trained as a teacher following years at Fellsworth School and the death of both her parents. Charged with the guardianship of her young sister, Lizzie, Isabel is expecting a a message on her future life. But nothing prepares her for the astonishing news that family awaits her at the manor house of Emberwilde. A new life brings ease and opulence, but also danger, betrayal and a hope for love.

The setting of Dawn at Emberwilde sets the stage for mystery and intrigue. The large home harbors family secrets while the adjoining forest is feared for its storied curses. There is a definite gothic vibe going on in this novel. Main character Isabel is a quiet and seemingly compliant character, yet has an innate curiosity and a backbone developed through years of living with little money and low expectations for the future. Other characters are often not what they seem, and both Isabel and the reader must figure out just whom to trust. Fans of romance will be pleased with the love triangle that Isabel faces. A subtle faith message is woven throughout Dawn at Emberwilde — Isabel must learn to judge whom to trust based on their hearts, not on their outward appearances. I especially liked the wisdom imparted by Isabel’s friend, Mary, and hope that we will see more of her in an upcoming novel.

If you are looking for a page-turner featuring history, mystery and romance, look no further than Dawn at Emberwilde. I really liked this standalone novel, and I’m betting your will too!


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson and LitFuse for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


9 Responses to “Book Review: Dawn at Emberwilde”

  1. thepowerofwords2016 June 14, 2016 at 7:03 am #

    I’m a Regency fan and enjoyed this also, Beckie. I also loved – still love – gothic romances by authors like Victoria Holt & Mary Stewart. This is my favorite of Sarah’s novels so far.


    • rbclibrary June 14, 2016 at 7:24 am #

      Ladd does a great job of taking a classic genre and making it fresh. I’m like you, I want to read Mary’s story next!!


  2. Carrie June 14, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    I’m with Carole – this is my favorite of Ladd’s so far too! And I’ve loved them all 🙂 Great review, Beckie! I also would love to see Mary’s story. And was it Penelope (the sister) from The Curiosity Keeper? I want her story too.


    • rbclibrary June 14, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

      Carrie, I have to confess that I cannot remember what happened at the end of The Curiosity Keeper! I did love it though. LOL! I really like Sarah Ladd. I will read anything by her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carrie June 14, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

        lol when you read as many books as we do, it happens 🙂


      • rbclibrary June 14, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

        Yes it does. And it doesn’t help that I am getting older, er, more mature!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Carrie June 14, 2016 at 4:02 pm #



      • thepowerofwords2016 June 14, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

        You gals are so funny! I don’t remember the sister either … sorry, Carrie! Secondary characters do stick with me sometimes, though, especially if I’ve made note of them in my review. Beckie, I’ve got several years of “maturity” on you and hope I can stay sharp enough to read for a good while.


      • rbclibrary June 14, 2016 at 6:06 pm #



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