Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#TFBRC One Word Title

Heidi Reads... Willowkeep by Julie Daines

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.

My Review

I've been on a Regency kick lately and Willowkeep totally satisfied as another great reading experience. It really stood out with the main character Charlotte being raised in a fishing village as a commoner, and the author did an excellent job portraying the difference in her upbringing, especially through her speech and expressions. Another unique aspect of the story is her care for her younger sister who has developmental disabilities. Her loyalty and compassion shine through her protectiveness of Susie. Henry's easy acceptance of both girls, but especially Susie, make him a trusted friend of Charlotte's and a source of comfort and strength in her new home and world where society can be difficult and judgemental. Charlotte's thoughts about Anne Boleyn brought a historical perspective to the story which was fascinating, usually any references to the history of the time in similar books are limited to the Napoleonic War or the current royal family. For Charlotte to feel a connection to a historical figure from before her time was fascinating. I loved Charlotte's journey from a life of physical harshness and desperation to a more emotionally and mentally trying environment. Henry identifies her as anomalous, but in a more positive way than her aunt; he finds her to be exceptional while others see her as irregular. Even with his own set of personal problems, his dedication to Charlotte and Susie's well-being is endearing and I couldn't help but wish for a happy ending for them both. I highly recommend Willowkeep to fans of Julie Klassen and Sarah  E. Ladd.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

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