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Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Lessman

About the Book

Title: Shadows of Swanford Abbey

Author: Julie Klassen

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2021

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency

Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen in this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past–including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick–magistrate, widower, and former neighbor–who long ago broke her heart.

When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .

My Impressions

“For the first time in years, the rusty hinges of his shuttered heart gave an experimental creak.”
Julie Lessman entices the reader into the world of the Jane Austen era with beautifully crafted sentences like this. Lessman’s latest offering, The Shadows of Swanford Abbey, is wonderfully stuffed with mystery, Regency-era (even a bit of Gothic) romance, and faith.

It is March of 1820 in Worcestershire, England.
Rebecca Lane returns home to care for her foundering brother. His problems are deeper than Rebecca realized, and she must board at a nearby hotel, where a famous writer is in residence.

A former family friend who is also their landlord, Frederick Wilford, is staying at this hotel. Wilford’s manor renovations, started by his deceased wife, were never completed. Before his marriage, young Rebecca carried a torch for Frederick. Can she hide the embarrassment of that attraction now?

So many different characters to puzzle out, whether Rebecca’s brother, John, Miss Selina Newport or Lady Fitzhoward, to name a few of the supporting cast. What fun it is when there are several well-thought-out and presented mysteries to try to work through before all is revealed.

Rebecca is greatly loyal, but that lands her in a heap of trouble. “She just wanted her brother back as he had once been, but she feared that John was gone forever.” She wants to help John, but how far will she go in the name of brotherly love? What will that do to the attraction that is finally blossoming between her and her erstwhile unrequited love? One thing she does realize is this:
“Family . . . once gone, there’s no replacing them.”

A ghost. Secrets of the former convent. Relationships are hidden, some for nefarious reasons, some discarded in the shadows of the past. What will come to light at the end?

Lovers of Regency Romance, who also want faith and mystery will devour this Lessman novel, as will historical buffs. Definitely discovering I have not read enough of Julie Klassen’s expertly crafted Regency tales! Hand me another, please!!

I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House via NetGalley. No positive review was required. All opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Expertly Crafted Gothic Regency!! One of my faves for 2021!

About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

BLOG, Revell

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano

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About the Book

Title: Finding Lady Enderly

Author: Joanna Davidson Politano

Publisher: Revell

Released: September 2019

Raina Bretton is a rag woman in London’s east end when a handsome stranger appears in a dank alley and offers her a glittering smile and a chance for adventure. Rothburne Abbey has a unique position for her, one that will take her away from her hardscrabble life and give her a chance to be a lady. Things she could only dream of might be coming true. But some dreams turn out to be nightmares.

Though Raina has traded squalor for silk and satin, something about the abbey is deeply unsettling. As she wrestles with her true identity, the ruin, decay, and secrets she finds at the heart of the old mansion tear at her confidence and threaten to reveal her for who she really is. Only one man stands between her and the danger that lurks within–and only if he decides to keep her biggest secret hidden.

 

My Review

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano is a great Christian fiction historical mystery. Like Cinderella, Raina rises from rags to riches. Rothburne Abbey would be a reporter’s paradise, as the questions «Why? Who? Where? When? » and « How? » would, when answered, bring either a great treasure or a terrible calamity.
Once the action started, I was swept away to another time and another land. Were events glorious or were they tragic? Through it all, Raina ponders who she was, who she is, and who she will be in the future.
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I found it interesting and true to life that Raina couldn’t read her Bible and pray while involved in deception.
Great twists and turns throughout until the climax is reached. Also, some great Biblical answers for Raina (which makes the book so much richer). Unfortunately, once the denouement is reached, the wrap-up seems a little weak compared to the incredible action that precedes it.

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Great secondary characters. If this were a movie, some would have won an Oscar for best supporting character.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

About the Author

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie 16355029Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.