A friend of mine loaned me the first book of this series, The Lost Heiress, and what a great discovery this author and this series was! These are Christian fiction with romance, mystery, and suspense.
The books are set in Edwardian England, a time period I wasn’t familiar with. I think most of us are familiar with the Regency period in England, the setting for Jane Austen’s novels, and I’ve jokingly called Edwardian England “Regency, but with automobiles.” I say that tongue in cheek, obviously, but it isn’t too far off. It’s the time period after the death of Queen Victoria but before World War I (1901-1910). You still see the same societal codes that you do in a Jane Austen novel, along with much talk of inheritances and how many pounds a woman brings to a marriage, yet you can see the changes of the modern era beginning in small ways. Like an Austen novel, the main characters are all members of the British aristocracy (lords, ladies, dukes, duchesses, etc).
I’m not sure whether to classify these books as historical fiction, romance, or mystery/suspense because the author does all three so well. This is a series you must read in order because the central plot involves the mystery of the cursed fire eyes diamonds. I was on the edge of my seat as the mystery unfolded, tempted to stay up late to read just one more chapter. The twists and turns keep you guessing until the very end. You especially don’t see the true evil manipulating everyone until the end of the last book.
The romance is just as page-turning, however. If I reduced each book to a romance trope, book one would be friends to lovers, book two would be a marriage of convenience, and book three would be enemies to friends to lovers. However, those labels don’t do justice to how White crafts each love story. My favorite couple was Brice and Rowena in book two. I thought Brice was just a flirt, but the second book changed my mind. That’s another thing I loved - the characters are all dynamic, growing and deepening as layers of their personalities are peeled away.
These books are Christian fiction in the best way. By that I mean that the characters’ faith feels like a natural part of their lives instead of tacked on as an afterthought. There aren’t any moments that get preachy, either. The author also doesn’t shy away from the evil that often lurks behind the facade of the genteel British upper class. These books are far from saccharine or sentimental, yet it avoids graphic language, sex, and violence. Murder, rape, and kidnapping are parts of the plot, but the author handles them with sensitivity, and they are clearly portrayed as evil. The rape is only discussed after the fact in vague terms; however, I know some people avoid that topic altogether, so I want readers to be aware of that before reading.
Overall, I highly recommend The Ladies of the Manor trilogy! They should be read in this order: The Lost Heiress, The Reluctant Duchess, and A Lady Unrivaled.
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I am a former English teacher turned homeschool mom of three who writes Christian romance novels on the side. You know, in my huge amount of spare time.