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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Another Regency Romance: A Review of the Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

Updated: May 17, 2023

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

I’m in a mood. A very odd mood. I want to sit down and read romance.

Monica gasping.
Shocking. I know.

I must be sick again because I never want to read romance. I am not like other girls. I normally want to sit around and read horror, yet here I am, romance novel in hand.

So please welcome to the stage: The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd!

Book cover of The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd.

Ah, yes, historical fiction. That explains why I picked up a romance novel. I saw a pretty dress that is not sociably acceptable for me to wear around on a day-to-day basis and had to grab it. Actually, I grabbed a whole series. A trilogy really. Yes, welcome to the start of a three-part Regency Romance series here on RHRML. You should all be proud of me. This series isn’t set in the Tudor era. Anyway, let’s crack into it.

Is party time!

As always, a spoiler alert is in order; long term readers know I love to spoil the majority of the books I read. I must also issue a content and trigger warning. Our main villain is an abusive asshole who gaslights everyone around him. It should come as no surprise that he gets what’s coming for him in the end but there is no way to avoid these aspects of the story. With that, let’s get to synopsis.

Our titular heiress, Amelia Barrett, has made a serious promise to her friend Katherine. Katherine, on her deathbed, asks Amelia to raise her baby daughter Lucy as if she was Amelia’s own. Amelia, being the best friend and wonderful person she is, agrees without hesitation.

Woman clapping.
Claps for Amelia.

Cut to nine months later, Katherine’s widowed husband and Lucy’s father, Captain Graham Sterling, is returning from sea. This is to be the first time he’s laid eyes on his daughter. And the first time Amelia lays her eyes on him. She has quite the proposition for Captain Sterling. Girl is gonna ask him to marry her. Amelia really said feminism.

20th century women struting.
She said "gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss."

Now, she's not asking for his hand in marriage because she’s secretly been in love with him. She’s asking because her current betrothed, yes she’s already engaged, says she not allowed to raise Lucy once they’re married. Can you guess who the villain is?

Anyway, Amelia isn’t going to let anyone take Lucy from her. She’s determined to raise her bestie’s child even if that means ruining her reputation to do it. Spoiler alert, it takes Graham a hot minute but he eventually accepts Amelia’s proposal. They both agree this is the best thing for Lucy. They’re obviously not falling for each other while shit hits the fan. Yeah, Amelia’s original betrothed is not happy with what she’s doing and is trying to stop her and Graham at every turn. Will Amelia and Graham make it down the aisle? Will Amelia get to keep Lucy? Is this going to remain a marriage of convenience or will they fall in love…?

Is this book kinda predictable? Yes, yes it is. Is it well-written to the point of making up from said predictability? Also yes. In all honesty, this book has some pretty great highs and some lackluster lows. I want to start with the highs; namely Amelia and Graham.

Pixel hearts

These two have a great relationship and the way it progresses feels extremely natural. Amelia and Graham begin the novel as strangers, then grow to unlikely friends willing to help one another, then, finally, they come to the realization that their relationship is something more. And it’s such a gradual change. Both characters have that moment where they realize, “oh shit, I’m in love with them,” yet it does not feel like it comes from out of left field. Readers have learned the characters’ feelings long ago and it’s a moment of joy for the reader when the characters finally say those words out loud.

It's a good thing this is a romance novel because Graham and Amelia are the best part of the book; or at least the part I enjoyed the most. Arguably, everything thing about this book is simply fine. As stated, it’s well-written yet a tad predictable with the heroine pulling her shawl tighter around herself far too many times.

The predictability did make the book less exciting. No matter what occurred, even when the book was in high stakes adventure mode, I knew everything was going to be righted by the end. This is very much an “All Problems Can Be Solved In 200 Pages and The Characters Live Happily Ever After” type of book. It does makes for a bit of a boring read at times.

Now, I haven’t mentioned this yet, but The Heiress of Winterwood is a Christian fiction novel. I did not know that when I picked the book up. Yeah, the Christian elements are very heavy handed. There are many times where one the main characters questions if he or she should trust God more as they quote scripture. I don’t think the author understood subtext when writing this book.

Overall I found this read to be just meh. It kept me reading yet there were quite a few elements that could have been improved upon. Amelia and Graham were the reason I kept going. I knew there was no way they weren’t going to end up madly in love by the end, but I still wanted to see their romance blossom.

With that, I shall bid you all adieu. I shall see you next with a review on The Headmistress of Rosemere, the sequel to The Heiress of Winterwood.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

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