From the desk of Katie Patchell:
Hidden letters. Long-lost relatives. Unlooked-for love. The Letter from Briarton Park is Sarah E. Ladd’s eleventh and most recent Regency novel. Set in small villages, lofty halls, and shadowy forests, its pages tell a page-turning tale created of equal parts chilling suspense and swoony romance.
Without knowledge of her parentage, Cassandra Hale feels as if her life up until twenty-four has been a giant question mark. Rebuffed by her stern caretaker in all her questions about her early life, Cassandra is
therefore stunned to discover that this honorable woman has, in fact, hidden a two-year-old letter that contains a clue…yet it is only on her deathbed that she gives the letter to Cassandra. This letter details that the mysterious writer knows the secret to who Cassandra’s parents are. With this clue in hand, Cassandra searches for answers from this unknown letter-writer, a Mr. Clark of Briarton Park. However, all her hopes of hearing the truth from Mr. Clark are dashed, for on her arrival she is given news that unsettles all of her plans.
“Cassandra squared her shoulders. “I wish to speak with Mr. Clark, please.”
The older lady raked her sharp gaze over Cassandra’s traveling clothes, landing on the mud streaking her angles. “Mr. Clark is dead.” (Loc 215)
As the new owner of Briarton Park, James Warrington knows he is–or should be–completely unconnected to Cassandra’s search for the truth. His life is filled with too many worries: his loneliness as a recent widower, the difficult task of being a single father of three young children, the protector of his half-sister, and the struggle to provide for his bitter mother-in-law, who accuses him of being too kind to all–especially to the intriguing newcomer, Cassandra. And yet James cannot help wishing that he could help Cassandra more along her quest, as her fortitude, despite all the odds against her is compelling. After malicious gossips begin their work on Cassandra’s reputation, and a shocking murder takes place, James and Cassandra realize that in order to fight their demons, they need to work together.
“He turned the paper over. “This has been ripped out of the record book, hasn’t it?”
“It appears to have been.”
“Where did you find this?”
“Betsy came across it in the church vestry. At the bottom of a closed drawer of all places….Who would do this?”
He folded it and returned it to her. “Clearly someone who doesn’t want your identity confirmed.” (Loc 3158)
As each new clue to her parents’ identities drags them deeper into danger, Cassandra and James realize that the truth is much more complicated–and threatening–than they thought. With innocent and malicious observers on all sides, will they find what they seek before their opponents do?
Three Pieces of a Lovely Whole
The Letter from Briarton Park is a beautifully written tale of ever-building suspense, daring rescues, and subtle romance. These three themes are interwoven throughout this story, and each balances the other to make for an enthralling read. One of my favorite things about Sarah E. Ladd’s latest is that the people and relationships are complicated and even downright messy. Every imperfection or misstep made Cassandra and James even more relatable, and the ending just that much more satisfying. One of my favorite moments was when Cassandra told James that she carried a small knife in her boot in case of any danger. This small detail set the tone for Cassandra’s consistent bravery and common sense and is actually one of the reasons James begins to fall for her in the first place. Wise man!
I have lately been working through the “British Library Crime Classics” series, a treasure trove of Golden Age mystery novels that have at long last been reissued. Despite differences in time period, The Letter from Briarton Park reads like a classic crime novel from the 1920s-1940s. With carefully laid clues, missing inheritances, shadowy watchers, and brave heroes/heroines, this novel gave me the joy and thrill of sleuthing in my role of fireside-detective. Now that I know the ending, I fully plan on re-reading it to pick up on all the extra details of this addicting mystery that I might have missed.
The Letter from Briarton Park is a well-plotted mystery with strong characterization and sweet romance. With ten books already to her credit, Sarah E. Ladd is an established, much-admired voice in the Regency genre. Her eleventh novel has not only met fan expectations but has exceeded them!
5 out of 5 Stars
- The Letter from Briarton Park: The Houses of Yorkshire (Book 1), by Sarah E. Ladd
- Thomas Nelson (March 1, 2022)
- Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (336)
- ISBN: 978-0785246725
- Genre: Historical suspense, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Thomas Nelson © 2022; text Katie Patchell © 2022, austenprose.com.
Hello Dear Readers,
Have you read any novels by bestselling author Sarah E. Ladd?
If you enjoy historical suspense with mystery elements and atmospheric historical details, Austenprose highly recommends them.
Drop us a line below and share your thoughts on this review and what you are currently reading! We would love to hear from you!
Laurel Ann Nattress, editor