By Kelly Bridgewater
Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents' New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks---but when Violet's own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries. In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance---Vance Everstone.
As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU.
With danger stalking her and a new fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust---and who to leave behind.
Dawn Crandall is definitely making her way in the Regency Romance category. I have read all of her books, The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, and The Captive Imposter and enjoyed them. I knew what to expect when I read The Cautious Maiden, and Crandall doesn't disappoint. She creates meek heroines who become strong, redemptive heroes with a hint of mystery. If all possible, I think The
Cautious Maiden is her best book in The Everstone Chronicles.
Writing a novel in first point of view is hard for most writers because we have the tenacity to want to jump into the other character's point of view. But not with Crandall. She does a good job at staying in Violet's perspective and staying there. Everything I learn about Vance or the supporting characters, who appeared in the three previous books, I see through Violet's viewpoint. Because of the story's perspective, Crandall invites me into Violet's internal monologue and watched her growing feelings for Vance.
The romance and plot were woven together well. The romance started pretty early on in the story, but their feelings for each other really started in The Captive Imposter, so it doesn't come as a surprise that their romance was shoved to the forefront of this novel. Crandall handles the sparks and chemistry between Violet and Vance as they fly throughout the whole novel. Boy, do they fly. There are moments of passion that I would be worried about the non-mature audiences reading. As for the plot, it moves along nicely. The story didn't drag, and I enjoyed being lost in this novel for a couple of hours.
Crandall invited me back with familiar characters and setting. It was nice to see Nathan and Amaryllis, Estella, and Dexter return and welcome Violet with open arms. Violet may not be an Everstone when the story starts, but she fits in quite nicely and is accepted in no time with the rest of the Everstone crew. The last Everstone that I met in The Bound Heart finally becomes the hero. I really enjoyed that Crandall made him a "new creation" where he wanted to do the right thing by Violet and run away from his old personality. My favorite scene of Vance was when Violet walked in on him reading his blue Bible in the library. Made me sigh! As for the setting, I really enjoyed returning to the massive Everstone estate and seeing more parts of the home that I wasn't familiar with in previous books.
While the story wasn't original and completely predictable, I do like the suspense aspect that Crandall used to throw Violet and Vance together. It captured my attention and didn't let go. This novel reminded me a lot of Julie Klassen's The Painter's Daughter. If you enjoyed Crandall's other books in The Everstone Chronicles, then I highly recommend you pick up this book.
Like a Regency novel, Dawn Crandall's conclusion to her Everstone Chronicles The Cautious Maiden shows a story of a redemptive hero who woos a woman with a less than honorable current existence. The mystery element woven in the romance was a nice touch.
I received a complimentary copy of The Cautious Maiden from Whitaker House and the opinions stated are all my own.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars