The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White
Ladies of the Manor #1
Bethany House Publishers
❤ Official Synopsis ❤
Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.
As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?
❤ My Thoughts ❤
If you love Downton Abbey, you'll likely love this book, placed in 1910, right at the beginning (well a little bit before) the first season of Downton. And unlike a few other Edwardian novels I've read and didn't like, The Lost Heiress really fit the era in every way possible. It sold me being an Edwardian novel.
Books like these are the sole reason why I continue wading through Christian fiction. Every once in a while I stumble across a true gem and The Lost Heiress is one of those rare stones, an amusing comparison considering the important role jewelry plays in this novel. I would have never found and so thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Heiress had I given up on Christian fiction, as I occasionally consider doing. This book has renewed my faith in the genre.
To be completely fair, I was first attracted by the cover. It's truly a lovely cover, n'est-ce pas? Pardon the use of French, but that is another tidbit that drew me, Brook's exotic upbringing and her diverse use of French and Monagesque (the language of Monaco, which is very like French apparently). The international flavor gave Brook a unique tone and really drew me deeper into the story, helping me emotionally invest in this young lady on the cover who's trying to find her place in her new family without compromising her own identity.
Brook delighted me. She is spunky without arrogance. Spirited without careless cruelty. She is a young woman who knows her own mind, her likes and dislikes, and not will compromise on the things that are truly important. But she is also a woman who respects the wishes and concerns of others and apologizes when she has made a mistake. She does not stand on false pride, but prays for forgiveness from her Heavenly Father and puts a change of behavior into effect. Exactly as a young, spirited Christian woman should.
As for Justin, he won me right from the start. I think it was his willingness to teach his Brooklet how to drive, albeit he suffered a little terror to, that made me like him. He taught her to use guns, to fence, to ride horses, to drive cars. He didn't like a little thing like her being a woman hold him or her back from developing Brook's strengths. He helped make her so individualistic, yet also awoke in her a love for God that he carefully nurtured. Justin, for all his faults in doubting Brook's romantic love for him, really brought out the best in Brook. I would have loved him just for that, but I could not resist loving him for himself as well.
Brook's maid, Deirdre, is one of those characters you either love or hate. I ended up empathizing with her plight quite strongly, and was relieved to see a positive change in her attitude. She really ended up being quite the little heroine and I loved her side story with Hiram. They were just too adorable for words. As for the villain, Pratt, lots of hating going on there. What a despicable man, quite convincing and very terrifying.
Faith plays a very large role in The Lost Heiress and while the cynic in me realizes the impossibility that everyone Brook met would be a Christian in reality, I still couldn't help liking the sincerity of faith. It didn't really preach, but was simply an aspect of her life and the lives of the other believers around her. Still, it was quite convenient for her long-lost father, her newfound friend Brice Mysterston, and her maid Deirdre to all make it a habit of praying to God and acting on faith. The convenience did amuse me a bit, but I liked Brice so very much that I didn't really mind, which is a good thing because the next book in the series, The Reluctant Duchess, is partially his story. Yay!
As historic Christian romance goes, the actual romance itself is fairly mild, a vast improvement over heroes and heroines who can't keep their minds off lustful thoughts (yes, you'll even find that in Christian fiction, a fact that troubles me). The romance felt natural, passionate of course, but also chaste, which makes it 5 stars for me.
For my own reading habits, I consider The Lost Heiress to be easily on par with such excellent novels as Prelude for a Lord, Burning Sky, and The Memoir of Johnny Devine, as well as the delicious Drew Farthering Mysteries by Julianna Deering (reviews found under her last name on THIS page). There is a bit of a similarity plotwise to Lisa Bergren's Grand Tour series (Grave Consquences and Glamorous Illusions), but for whatever reason I liked The Lost Heiress a bit better. Now it is time to start the 2nd book in the series, The Reluctant Duchess, which I recently received in the mail from Bethany House. I suspect I'll love it just as much as The Lost Heiress.
(all my historic novel reviews)