Pregnant and still grieving the death of her fiancé, historian Megan Buchanan is forging ahead on a dream project: to restore to its original glory the landmark hunting lodge her own great-great-grandfather built on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. With the help of her fiancé’s caring best friend, it’s sure to draw much-needed tourist revenue to Cape Hudson, a town rich in southern history.
However, it’s Spring House, the caretaker’s cottage on the grounds, that holds the most intriguing history for Megan. In a cache of old letters, she’s drawn into the captivating life of a young woman who embarked on her own dream adventure a century ago. With each one, Megan is swept away into her enthralling world—and all its secrets. But Megan has secrets too.
Now, as one woman’s past unfolds in each revealing letter, Megan will discover more about herself and about the emotional tides of family that can be weathered with those you love and trust the most.
The Bottom Line: Though it isn’t listed as the second book in a series, Spring House is very much a continuation of the story begun in Winter Cottage. Megan Buchanan has been contracted to fully and completely restore not only Winter Cottage but the surrounding sites as well; as a historian and an individual with deep family roots in the area, Megan is excited about the project and eager to restore every site to its former glory. As a means of somewhat avoiding her own very personal and painful issues, Megan throws herself into the Spring House project; in addition to the physical restoration of the site, Megan also digs into the history of the place and people. As Megan digs into the past, the book alternates between the past and the present and does so in a wonderfully seamless way. As Megan discovers, the past absolutely informs the present and with every bit of information she uncovers, the more connected she feels to her past, present, future, and the place.
Though you can absolutely read Spring House as a standalone, I would highly recommend reading it only after completing Winter Cottage. The history of the families and area are vast, complicated, and shrouded in mystery. The blending of past and present is excellent, the characters in both eras are compelling, and the plot is wonderfully heartfelt and engaging. At the root of this book is a sense of family, of belonging, and finding one’s place in the world. Though I want Megan to be successful in her work, I sure hope it takes her a very long time to complete the project as I would gladly welcome more books in this series.
“What was that?” Zeus asked arching a brow.
1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth.
In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves.
In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage.
Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…
The Bottom Line: This page sat blank for more than 24 hours thanks to me wondering what I really wanted to convey about this book. Shifting through all the thoughts and feelings came down to one thing: while I didn’t dislike this book, I also feel like it is a story that has been done before, many times over, and done better than what I found between the covers of this book. The most recent iteration of this trope that comes to mind is Alias Grace though I freely admit there are some large differences between the two stories. I think what I was looking for in this book, one I was very excited to read based on the synopsis, was something different, some new twist or element that would allow this book in particular to stand out from all the others like it. Sadly, I didn’t find that element.
Lady Sarah Milton’s spinsterhood is not because she hasn’t received proposals of marriage. Her beauty and dowry have attracted many. It’s just that the men who have proposed don’t appeal to her. One man who does, the sport-mad Alfred Wickham, doesn’t know she exists. Therefore, when his mother invites her family to spend Yuletide with her extended family at the home of the Duke and Duchess of Radcliff, Lady Sarah jumps at the chance.
Alfred Wickham is not happy. His matchmaking mother fancies an alliance between him and some well-bred young miss he’s to meet at the Radcliffs’. The last thing Alfred wants is to tie himself down in matrimony–and, besides, he’s never been attracted to well-bred ladies. He’ll show them! He enlists his best friend, Lord Pottinger, to intervene. Potts is to inform the miss of Alfred’s wicked ways: his gaming, his recklessness, and his (feigned) understanding with an actress. Once Potts has succeeded in poisoning Lady Sarah against his friend, Alfred realizes he’s made a most dreadful mistake . . .
For many, Christmas is a joyous time of year spent with friends, family, and acquaintances. It is a time to reflect on the year, to embrace the coming year, and most importantly, to take stock of the blessings in your life. Unfortunately, for Lady Sarah Milton and Alfred Wickham, not much of the above applies.
Lady Sarah is just on the cusp of becoming a spinster! She is beautiful, titled, wealthy, and above reproach. Since her debut into London society, she has had many offers for her hand in marriage, but each and every one, she has politely declined. For Sarah, there is only one man, whose attention she’s never had, who could possibly make her say “yes” to a proposal.
Alfred Wickham is perfectly satisfied with his life. Oh, he may be in debt thanks to his bad betting capabilities, but his parents have always cleared the debts and allowed him to move along with his life and continue his cycle of debauchery. For many years, this has been Alfred’s life and he is wonderfully content with the status quo. Unfortunately, Alfred’s parents are no longer feeling quite so amenable; in fact, Alfred’s parents are ready for him to curb his appetites and settle down. If Alfred’s mother has her way (and she most assuredly will!) Alfred is going to meet, fall for, and propose to Lady Sarah Milton during their shared Christmas celebration.
Within hours of their arrival at their Christmas destination, Lady Sarah and Alfred both draw their battle lines. Alfred does so in the form of his best friend and Sarah with her icy attitude. Alfred has arranged for his best friend to speak ill of him to Lady Sarah so she will want no part of him or matrimony. While the plan seems to work, at least initially, Alfred shows his true colors in his actions and kind treatment of his sister and mother. Lady Sarah, not one to be easily fooled begins to work out the problems in her head and discovers, one should never judge a book by its cover or by its best friend’s ill spoken words.
The Bottom Line: Lord, have mercy! What a wild ride His Lady Deceived turned out to be! From meddling mothers to false character testimonies to a blessed but difficult birth, this book has it all. What’s more, this book is populated with wonderfully rich characters, excellent dialogue, witty exchanges, and a well-deserved HEA. I am always going to recommend Cheryl Bolen and her historical romances. Her books are always beautifully written, populated with interesting and real characters, and based upon plots that are just perfect for the time and place. Oh, and she ALWAYS gives me a strong female lead who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, reveal her intelligence, yet still remain a proper lady 😊