Bright, sensible Patience knows what is expected of her. At twenty-five, her opportunity for a family of her own has passed, so she finds contentment teaching at her father's school for girls. When her father dies suddenly and her brother moves away to London, she is determined to keep her father's dream alive.
Confirmed bachelor William Sterling also knows what is expected of him, but mistake after mistake has left him teetering on ruin's edge. As master of Eastmore Hall he owns a great deal of land but possesses little money to manage the upkeep. He is desperate to find a new source of income, including the sacrifice of land connected to Rosemere.
When her brother returns with a new wife to take over management of the school, Patience is heartbroken to no longer be responsible for her beloved school and is forced to reassess God's purpose for her life. After her sister-in-law's matchmaking brings Patience and William together, they both learn new truths about their character and find a common goal in restoring Eastmore's legacy.
Last year I had the pleasure of reading The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd, the first book in her Whispers on the Moors series. It was an enjoyable tale, with themes that were compelling and thought-provoking. Ladd continues her series with The Headmistress of Rosemere, which holds several similarities to Winterwood. As with Winterwood’s Amelia Barrett, the female protagonist Patience Creighton is also in the position of taking care of another’s child, or in this case, a home full of them in her father’s boarding school for girls, Rosemere. Another lead character William Sterling, is brother to Winterwood’s Graham Sterling, and like his kin also has weaknesses of his own. Unlike Graham, however, he is known for irresponsible living and gambling away much of his fortune. And as she did in the first title, Sarah E. Ladd keeps the content in this romantic tale very family-friendly.
While there are similarities between Winterwood and Rosemere, they each have their own unique tone and feel. Newcomers to the series could also read either title independently, as they will stand on their own with just a few ties to the other’s plot. So readers can feel comfortable in jumping into this series with Book Two if they so desire.
Ladd’s narrative with Patience and William was a compelling one, as each character harbors struggles that many can relate to. Patience, a single woman at age twenty-five in 19th century England, would be considered by many to be a spinster. She very much desires to be married, but not just for the security it can provide. Having a spouse with whom she is deeply in love is very important to her, so much so that she has turned down an opportunity to marry in the past. She is also dealing with the death of her father, which has subsequently caused her mother to be in serious emotional distress. In addition, Patience has the huge responsibility of running the boarding school in her older brother Rawdon’s absence. The pressures on her are multiple, making her life filled with instability and pressure. While out walking with her dear friend Cassandra, Patience contemplates her life:
“How different their lives were today. They each faced a future of uncertainty for different reasons. Only recently they had thought their paths were certain. But the ground had shifted beneath both of them. Nothing could be relied on anymore.
‘How foolish we used to be, the two of us, always dreaming of great romance and adventure,’ Patience said.
Cassandra gazed down at the river. ‘And did we find it?’
Not even the angry wind could dislodge that question from their minds.
Patience wanted to stand on the crest of the hill and scream. Cry out to God. Beg for intervention. Beg to have her relationship with her brother restored. To have her mother back. To have her hope, her purpose back.” (p. 204 Paperback, p. 212 Kindle)
Those thoughts and feelings are very relatable—how many of us have felt overwhelmed by life at times, troubled by relationship problems, responsibilities and uncertainty? I too have found myself crying out to God as she desired, asking Him for help, guidance and relief.
William Stanton has adversities of his own as well. He doesn’t struggle with alcohol addiction as his brother did, but he does have heavy issues within his heart, ones that he would try to ignore with frivolous and indulgent pursuits. His involvement with his property of Rosemere and his interaction with Patience lead his character to make choices that will forever change the trajectory of his life. He faces risk from many angles, and I found his journey as a man to be a captivating one. His is a story of redemption and renaissance, illustrating that we all can make positive changes in our lives if we are motivated to do so.
The Headmistress of Rosemere is a good follow-up to The Heiress of Winterwood. While I didn’t find myself quite as riveted in this novel as I did in the first, it was still very enjoyable. I’m pleased that Ladd is doing well as an author, as I enjoy her writing and appreciate her choices to keep her content clean, but not too heavy handed with faith-related themes. In other Christian novels that I’ve read, the mention of God sometimes seems forced, seemingly added for the sake of the genre. In Winterwood, faith is certainly an aspect in many of the characters’ lives, but it is not mentioned on every page, and the characters are no saints. They wrestle with doubt and sin like many of us do. As a reader I appreciate that balance.
As mentioned, The Heiress of Winterwood is very much a stand-alone novel. I can recommend either title in the Whispers on the Moors series, so feel free to start with this title if you like. Either way, you’re in for a delightful story of love, redemption and healing. As such, I look forward to the next title of Whispers on the Moors, the recently-released A Lady at Willowgrove Hall.
My family is in the midst of preparing to move out of state. We're packing up our things in Savannah and moving to Greensboro, NC at the end of the year. It's time to trim down my library a bit. I've enjoyed the Whispers on the Moors series so far, and can't bear to just throw them into the Salvation Army pile that's growing in my closet. I want to make sure these books get to someone who appreciates them. Please note that these are gently-read review copies, sent to me with no monetary profit in mind. So if you ever decide to part with them yourself, I would ask that you donate or give them away. Please do not sell them for monetary gain.
I will be posting my review of Book 3, A Lady at Willowgrove Hall very soon, and will incorporate this into the same giveaway. So you may enter the contest on this post or on the Willowgrove Hall post-- either way, you're in!
My apologies to our international readers, but I need to make this one available to U.S. mailing addresses only.
The contest period ends at 12am EST on Tuesday, December 16th, also known as Jane Austen Day. The Whispers on the Moors novels are not Austenesque fiction, but they are set in early 19th century England, around the same time period as her works.
Good luck to all of the participants, and thanks for entering!
About the Author
Find out more about Sarah at http://www.sarahladd.com.