Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Hull. But when a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.
Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. And Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of wealth. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.
Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those who want her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte must face some heartrending decisions. For no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.
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Charlotte Darby, only 19 yrs old and orphaned, lives in the port town of Hull. She struggles to provide for herself and her younger sister, Susan (Susie), who is developmentally disabled. She finds out that she's the heir to a large estate down in Kent and within a few days she's living at the estate called Willowkeep.
Henry Morland is the steward of Willowkeep. His father was the previous steward, but after he retired he took to gambling and is now in debtor's prison. Henry works hard to save as much as he can to pay off his father's debts before he dies in prison. He lives on the grounds of Willowkeep with his sister, Jane.
I really liked this story. The main characters were good people trying to do the best with the hand they were dealt, although their troubles stemmed from decisions made by their fathers. I loved the characters of Charlotte and Henry. She was so kindhearted to everyone, and he cared about her from the start and would do anything for her and Susie. I enjoyed the running joke about Jane's lack of cooking skills--Henry and Jane both got sick from her cooking. At first I wasn't sure about Hurst Harwick, since his mother was to inherit everything before his step-father changed his will he wouldn't have access to Willowkeep's money. He turned out to be a pretty decent fellow, unlike his scheming, and conniving mother, Nora. I was so happy when Charlotte stood up to her.
I would've liked to have had more of an ending for Jane and Hurst--did he ask her to marry him? I didn't agree with how Nora's treachery was handled. Charlotte and Henry didn't even threaten her with the possibility of going to the police--after all she bribed a maid to frame Henry with the theft of Charlotte's jewelry and at the least Henry's reputation could've been ruined. I don't think she should've overlooked that and allowed her to continue living with them without a major apology or some form of restitution.
This is a squeaky clean romance. (less
'Willowkeep' is the first book by Julie Daines I have read. The description intrigued me, it didn't follow along with many of the Historical Romance's I have read. Many of the plots run familiar. The writing style of this book falls in line with other classics of this era, giving the author immediate credibility. While I found the beginning of the book a little slow moving, the development is enticing. The addition of some difficult situations, as you learn more about Charlotte's past & family life, the struggles of the day, with Susie - all add to the emotional pull of the book. The success of a book of this genre, for me, is one that can teach you new things you didn't previously know or understand. To leave you feeling like you have discovered some thing that stands out from the 'crowd'. With the knowledge that Julie has first hand experienced having a sibling with disabilities, it validated for me every word that she wrote about the kind of unconditional love Charlotte has for her sister.
One of my biggest challenges reading books from this era comes when author's name their characters odd or unique names. Sometimes you can't even say them correctly as you read. It can be a stumbling block. Here, with strong traditional names for the two heroes, Henry & Charlotte, that was just an added strength. I would like to add, that generally I prefer the male lead to be the one with the stronger role, and sometimes when he is written as the underdog or lower class, it just doesn't gel for me. However, Julie has written Henry as strong, capable and as much a gentleman as anyone born into privilege. I even felt that even if Charlotte had been raised at Willowkeep, and not as a common Shipping Merchants daughter, living by the docks in Hull - this connection between them still would have worked.
Well done Julie for achieving so much fantastic skill in her writing with this book, it would be hard to tell that this wasn't written during the 1800's. I felt a special affinity to discover she also looks 'outside the box' when it comes to her favourite leading Austen man, and that Captain Wentworth rules supreme!
I felt much inspiration from this story, subtle and not overpowering. The line 'After the winter of thorns came spring. The roses would bloom again', really touched my heart. So poignant and fitting with this storyline, and applicable to each one of us that can find hope in the light than comes after the darkness. We live in troubled times, and all of us face challenges of some kind or other. Having someone to travel the journey with, that can shine a light, can be the saving grace.
Many thanks to Netgalley & Covenant Communications for the ARC in return for my honest review.
Charlotte's inheritance changes her life. Charlotte and her sister, have to navigate the new society they are thrust into after growing up in harsh, impoverished circumstances. As she accepts the inheritance, and takes her sister with her to a grand estate, she has so much that she has to adjust to in this new life. She learns to trust on Henry Morland, her steward. There is a small love triangle, that adds some suspense to the romance. An enjoyable read, where goodness, kindness, and genuine character triumph. Readers who enjoy a clean period romance with mild suspenseful elements are certain to enjoy this novel.
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I love Regency and a rags to riches story and this one had both! Charlotte is struggling financially when she learns that she is the heir to a large estate. She quickly learns that having wealth has its own set of problems but she is kind and determined to stay that way. She is fiercely protective of her younger sister, Susie, who is mentally disabled, and will do whatever she needs to in order to keep her out of an asylum. She meets Henry, the steward of her estate, and they form a deep friendship, especially when Susie takes to him right away.
Charlotte and Henry both have lost their mothers and have absent fathers--Charlotte's is presumed dead and Henry's is in debtor's prison. Their family backgrounds are full of sadness yet they aren't depressing characters but are rather full of hope for the future. It was interesting to see where those storylines led.
I loved how their relationship developed. Henry was easy to fall in love with since he was so selfless, patient and kind. There were characters who had other plans for Charlotte and, even though she was somewhat naive, she wasn't easily pushed around. She'd lived a tough life and could physically take care of herself. She just needed to be okay with falling in love!
This was an enjoyable book from beginning to end! There were some sad moments, but it also had mystery, romance and humor. I've enjoyed other books I've read by this author and was glad that this book delivered as well. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys a good, clean regency romance!
I received a copy of this book for an honest review. My opinion is 100% my own.
“Twelve thousand a year?”
Henry and Charlotte. What better named pair? I loved reading their story!
Charlotte Darby is destitute and caring for her handicapped sister when she becomes the heiress to Willowkeep. She’s a kind, strong, funny lady with a fierce sense of protection and loyalty to those she loves, especially her sister who is frightened of almost everyone. I immediately started rooting for her. She’s also lucky to have a wonderful steward who feels compelled to take of her and her sister.
Henry Morland is taken in by Charlotte’s honesty and lack of airs. And somehow, Susan, the little sister, is comfortable and comforted with him. Henry is THE sweetest person with his own flaws that make him lovable. But he can never be with Charlotte because he is beneath her socially. And Charlotte has vowed never to marry.
An added bonus to the story is the letters Charlotte writes to Anne Bolen. Loved it and the cover that goes along with this part of the story. Keep reading past the last chapter for more love and affection.
The characters are well-written, the story flows and the pace is consistent. I couldn’t put the book down. If you want a good regency romance with wit, bravery, love of family, and a possible ghost, this book is for you! It’s worth your time!
V: some tense moments
Willowkeep is an excellent novel. It was sort of My Fair Lady meets a Jane Austin novel (but with deeper issues), and it was a great combination. I read it very quickly and would definitely read it again.
My heartstrings were pulled at by Charlotte's situation. I don't recall characters in other Regency novels having special needs, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of this attribute in Charlotte's sister Susie. Charlotte was one of a kind, especially in her dedication to Susie. Even though she'd lost the rest of her family, she didn't give up. Her inheritance came at the perfect time (even though it came with challenges).
I also loved Henry's character. Susie's attachment to him was endearing, and his efforts to pay off his father's debts really demonstrated his high moral character. He and Charlotte were perfect for each other.
The letters were a great addition to this story. I loved that Henry was able to know Charlotte's true feelings (even though some important details weren't completely spelled out-you can't give everything away in a story and still have a story). :)
If you are looking for a sweet and touching romance, give Willowkeep a try.
I've been on a Regency kick lately and Willowkeep totally satisfied as another great reading experience. It really stood out with the main character Charlotte being raised in a fishing village as a commoner, and the author did an excellent job portraying the difference in her upbringing, especially through her speech and expressions. Another unique aspect of the story is her care for her younger sister who has developmental disabilities. Her loyalty and compassion shine through her protectiveness of Susie. Henry's easy acceptance of both girls, but especially Susie, make him a trusted friend of Charlotte's and a source of comfort and strength in her new home and world where society can be difficult and judgemental. Charlotte's thoughts about Anne Boleyn brought a historical perspective to the story which was fascinating, usually any references to the history of the time in similar books are limited to the Napoleonic War or the current royal family. For Charlotte to feel a connection to a historical figure from before her time was fascinating. I loved Charlotte's journey from a life of physical harshness and desperation to a more emotionally and mentally trying environment. Henry identifies her as anomalous, but in a more positive way than her aunt; he finds her to be exceptional while others see her as irregular. Even with his own set of personal problems, his dedication to Charlotte and Susie's well-being is endearing and I couldn't help but wish for a happy ending for them both. I highly recommend Willowkeep to fans of Julie Klassen and Sarah E. Ladd.
(Thank you to Covenant Communications for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
I absolutely adored this book. The characters, the setting, the time period- everything. I was drawn in from the very beginning and had a hard time putting this book down.
Nobody has a better, kinder heart than Charlotte Darby. I love how fiercely she protects her sister and how ready she is to help those around her. Charlotte longs for family and a safe place to fall. She is so endearing. My heart loved her almost at once.
I dare you not to fall in love with Henry. Honest. He is exactly the kind of male lead I love. Strong, steady and reliable. So unassuming and he's never late. :) His quiet strength gives Charlotte exactly what she needs. He is always there for her. It was perfect.
This book had a bit of intrigue and suspense and it played out like an excellent movie in my head. I can still picture it now. This will go down as one of my favorite regency novels so far this year.
Content: Clean- some mild violence
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
I LOVED this book by Julie Daines. I loved the way I was sucked into Charlotte's story from the very beginning.
Charlotte is a really amazing character. She's been left as an orphan after her mother committed suicide and her father disappeared on his ship. Not only was she left alone, but she was left to care for her younger sister, Susie, who has some mental challenges. And she was left to care for the two of them with virtually no money.
Life becomes much easier for Charlotte when she learns from a solicitor that she has been left an estate called Willowkeep in her uncle's will. And she will receive an income of 12,000 pounds a year. I love the way that Charlotte can't really fathom that she is now rich and her and Susie's circumstances have changed. I love the way she cares for and protects Susie as her first concern throughout the whole book. She is one of my very favorite characters.
I also love the way she refuses to ever think of marrying anyone. She has seen some messed up things in her short life and wants nothing to do with carrying on any of it.
Then there's Henry Moreland. He's the steward of her new estate. He's a kind and caring man and he is so great with her sister Susie. He quickly becomes the only one that Charlotte can confide in both with Susie's situation and her whole life in general.
This whole book is so great. I loved the backstory, the plot and of course the romance!
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.