Cecily Faire carries the shame of her past wherever she treads, knowing one slip of the tongue could expose her disgrace. But soon after becoming a lady’s companion at Willowgrove Hall, Cecily finds herself face-to-face with a man well-acquainted with the past she’s desperately hidden for years.
Nathaniel Stanton has a secret of his own—one that has haunted him for years and tied him to his father’s position as steward of Willowgrove Hall. To protect his family, Nathaniel dares not breathe a word of the truth. But as long as the shadow looms over him, he’ll never be free to find his own way in the world. He’ll never be free to fall in love.
When the secrets swirling within Willowgrove Hall come to light, Cecily and Nathaniel must confront a painful choice: Will they continue running from the past . . . or will they stand together and fight for a future without the suffocating weight of secrets long suffered?
Sixteen year old Cecily Faire thinks she knows what love is and is ready to act on that love. She’s about to elope to Scotland with her equally young suitor and, when they return, she’ll be a lady of means and far better than her twin sister. But the night takes a different turn and Cecily is abandoned by her father at a school named Rosemere. Four years later, having no other home, she is a teacher at the school when offered the position of companion to the wealthy Mrs. Tryst. She arrives at the Willowgrove estate in the middle of a storm, at a time when no one expects her, and is given shelter and hospitality by the estate steward and his family. The following day, she meets the indomitable Mrs. Tryst, a woman disliked by many, and her new life begins.
The relationship between Cecily and Mrs. Tryst was my favorite aspect of this book. It starts hesitantly and isn’t helped by the elderly woman’s disparaging comments regarding Nathaniel. As time progresses, however, a bond forms between them. As I read, Mrs. Tryst went from being a cantankerous widow who speaks her mind to a more sympathetic character. I could understand why she didn’t regard the Stanton family. Nathaniel represented everything she had lost, including her only child. Eventually, bitterness turned to a loneliness that was only displaced by Cecily’s arrival.
The one part of this book I didn’t like was Cecily’s mission to find her sister, especially the final scenes which involve a change of location from Willowgrove Hall to the northern city of Manchester. I felt that this plotline was superfluous and was, at the end, a little forced.
Both Nathaniel and Cecily believe that their secrets prevent them from being with each other, despite the growing attraction between them. Nathaniel needs to accept that his secret is tied to events before his birth and, therefore, not his fault. Cecily comes to understand what really makes a lady. Everyone also gets a reminder that God has a plan for us. Life might not always be sweet, but sometimes we have to endure the bad times so that our path leads us something good. After all, if Cecily hadn’t been abandoned at Rosemere she probably wouldn’t have been employed at Willowgrove and met Nathaniel.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson for my complimentary electronic copy of A Lady at Willowgrove Hall which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 07 October 2014
Page Count: 352