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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Melanie Dobson: Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

My Review:

I, personally, have never read anything by Melanie Dobson, but Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor cover grabbed my attention and paired with the synopsis on the back drew me into the story. I truly enjoyed this story and want to read Chateau of Secrets.

Unique and thrilling, Dobson’s story of showing that light can shine through darkness gripped me from the first chapter. I am interested and couldn’t wait to read more about Maggie and Walter. While the story reminded me of the Biblical story about the shame of the fathers following their children for the next seven generations, I originally thought it would be a long time to break the “curse” on the family members. But Dobson explored a story that amplified God’s love and power through restoration through the generations. It was unique and lovingly written.

The story does have two timelines. The first timeline features the story of Maggie and Walter as they raise Libby, the child who loves to sit in the gardens and hangs out with butterflies. On the other timeline, I am introduced to Heather, who has returned to England to settle her parents’ estate four months after his passing. The timelines were distinguished from each other, yet complimented each other.

Dobson’s writing drew me in. I struggled with Maggie, Libby, and Heather as they were trying to figure their way through their pass issues and how to handle them in their present state. There is an even balance between the prose and dialogue. Even when Dobson handled the spiritual issues, she isn’t preachy or demanding attention. The character’s spiritual side strengthens them, not weaken them.

The only issue I had with the timelines is the timeline that takes place first. For some reason every time the story would slip back into that time period, which was the nineteen-fifties and sixties, I imagined the story taking place a hundred years earlier. Maybe because of the servants and living in a thatched cottage behind the Lord and Lady Croft’s Manor. Using those words made the era appear from a different time. Even though I imagined the characters in a different century, it didn’t ruin the story for me. I clung to every word and truly enjoyed the story.

Overall, Melanie Dobson’s story, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, drew me in with God’s love and power for restoration. The sad, love stories between the various couples kept me glued to the page that I didn’t want to put the book down. I can’t wait to read Dobson’s Chateau of Secrets.

I received a complimentary copy of Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor from Howard Books through Netgalley and the opinions stated are all my own.

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Do you enjoy reading stories that feature different timelines? Why or Why not?

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