Julia Twethewey was too obvious with her interest in a certain dashing young gentleman, and when he becomes engaged to another, she shamefacedly leaves the neighborhood to avoid embarrassment. Her cousin Jane, wife to a deployed military man, is on bedrest at Lanwyn Manor in Cornwall, and Julia goes to attend her as a companion until the birth of her child. Although Cornwall isn’t far from home, it’s far enough to be a different country entirely. Julia discovers unrest between the unemployed miners and the mine owners, one of whom is her uncle.
The target of a disgruntled villager, Julia is rescued by Isaac Blake, the overseer at one of the mines. Isaac’s prestigious brother Matthew begins paying her court, but Julia is unsure whether he is more attracted to her person or to her uncle’s mining property. And although Matthew is certainly charming, she feels a definite flutter of the heart when she crosses Isaac’s path several times on her morning rides.
When valuable trinkets begin to disappear from Lanwyn Manor, Julia must decide whether to believe the old legends of a ghost or whether something more sinister is afoot. Is it prudent for her to confide in a certain gentleman, or will her feelings only make a fool of her one more time?
This novel took a few chapters to engage my interest, but the action picked up after the first third of the book. Isaac is a well-drawn hero, torn between following his own ambition and catering to his brother’s wishes. The inferiority he feels to Matthew is painful, as is his stoic acceptance of the fact that any woman would prefer his brother in matters of the heart. Julia (who was introduced in Ms. Ladd’s first Cornwall book as Jac’s eldest niece) is an unexceptional heroine with flawless manners, a beautiful singing voice, and a kind heart. Her one foible seems to be a fear of trusting her heart (in view of the embarrassing episode that provoked her visit to Cornwall in the first place).
The book is marketed to “fans of Poldark,” but the similarities mostly involve the setting. The Thief of Lanwyn Manor has little of the grittiness one might expect in a Poldark drama. A few elements of suspense give the book a Daphne Du Maurier feel, but overall, this is more of a sweet romance than a dark tale. This book is a satisfying addition to the Ladd canon of Regencies.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.