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.
On the moors of the English countryside rises a tale of purpose and redemption. Sarah E. Ladd’s The Headmistress of Rosemere (Thomas Nelson), book two of The Whispers on the Moors series, is a Regency era novel that carries all the charm of the period: the restrained romance, complexity of society roles and distinctive rhetoric.
Spinster at twenty-five, Patricia Creighton had the role of Headmistress of Rosemere School of Girls thrust upon her after the untimely death of her father and the subsequent abandonment of her brother to London. Left to manage the financially strapped institution along with her grief ridden mother, she is existing day to day by serving her students girls wholeheartedly and reconciling herself to her new calling. She grows weary of carrying the burden of responsibility and receiving the ungrateful belittling of her mother. Patience struggles to acknowledge the yearning of her heart for something more-the comfort of companionship.
William Sterling master of Eastmore Hall and negligent landlord of Rosemere has funded a disreputable lifestyle with his gambling and rogue ways after a devastating heartbreak eight years prior. Now his misfortunes have come to call in the form of violent creditors and he is left battered in body and spirit at the mercy of Rosemere’s benevolent and gentile headmistress. Circumstances continually draw him back to Rosemere and to the calming and alluring presence of the Patience Creighton. He dares to hope that a second chance at a respectable life is not beyond his reach even when startling truths are unveiled and betrayals laid bare. William’s past is unescapable but not unredeemable in God’s hands and with the support of Patience. If he can first forgive himself, then he will find solace in the plans God has for his life.
A suspicious fire on the grounds of Rosemere serves as a catalyst for Patience’s brother Rawland’s return. Her leadership is usurped by his high handed ways and accompanied by the unwelcome return of a past suitor who is determined to finally claim her as his own. The life that she thought was perfectly laid out has been thrown in to turmoil and left her in desperation for direction. Herein lies the persistent theme of the novel: it is not circumstance that gives value to life, but character and how one chooses to respond. Destiny and purpose lie solely in God’s hands; the solution to life’s hurdles is not in man’s strength, but in His outpouring. Both Patience and William are drawn towards the Lord’s gentle beseeching to surrender and reclaim their joy.
Sarah Ladd’s sophomore novel carries the same ease with the setting, mannerisms and decorum the Regency era that she demonstrated in The Heiress of Winterwood. She deftly employs the distinctive dialogue and rules of propriety that characterize the period, yet imbues her characters with an emotional depth that makes them relatable. Her integration of period details is executed with precision, enough to establish the setting but not to overwhelm with description or cause a scene to feel contrived. There is authenticity in the characters’ reactions and struggles that lures the reader’s attention.
While The Headmistress of Rosemere is primarily a historical novel with definite romantic leanings, there is a subtle mystery element that adds atmosphere and tension to an otherwise predictable, yet engaging, plot structure. Sarah Ladd’s has made her presence known as a budding novelist with this alluring series and promises to be a strong voice in Regency novels.