Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Refuge at Highland Hall- Carrie Turansky

Edwardian Brides #3
October 2015, Waterbrook Multnomah 338 Pages,
Print, ebook and Audio  

In this third and final book in the Edwardian Brides Series, you’ll be swept away to England and France in 1915 as the Ramsey family and their staff and friends face the dramatic challenges and losses of World War One, yet they also experience the hope and triumph that comes as they put their trust in God to carry them through. Penny Ramsey helps the family welcome a group of orphaned children to Highland Hall, but she soon discovers caring for them is more difficult than she’d expected. 
She writes to Alex Goodwin, a daring British pilot, who chases German zeppelins across the sky over the Front Line in France, and longs for the day she will see him again. You’ll be delighted by two pure and heartwarming romances: Penny and Alex, and Lydia Chambers and Marius Ritter, a lady’s maid and a prisoner of war. But most of all I hope you’ll be inspired by the characters’ examples of trusting God through the trials they face.

Fans of “Downton Abbey” will find many of the same elements in this series: A wealthy, aristocratic family living on a large English country estate with romance, conflicts, and family drama; and loyal servants with troubles and heartaches of their own.
 


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I enjoyed this final instalment in the Edwardian Brides trilogy rather more than the last book, which I found too ‘preachy’ and clichéd. It was the story of Penelope, the youngest of the two Ramsey sisters, and set in the midst of the First World War- in the summer of 1916, to be precise. Some other beloved characters also return, including Lydia, the faithful servant of the family and close friend of the Ramsey girls, as well as their young cousins John and Milly, now in their teens.

There is conflict and humour, with Katherine and her husband’s brood of adopted children, whom they bring to Highland Hall to escape Zeppelin raids on London. There is also a chance of love for Lydia, in the form of a man working in the grounds, incarcerated in a local prison camp because of his family’s German roots.
Character’s feelings and relationships are developed slowly and with sensitivity, and not too much ‘instalove’ mushy romance. Personally, I prefer stories that follow and develop characters and their stories over time even after they are married, then traditional romance tropes. Of course, there is some of that, but it’s not overwhelming.

The historical details seemed to be accurate, and those about the early pilots who fought in the First World War were fascinating. Aside from a few Americanisms as I observed in some of the last books, I had no real complaints with this one. Another reviewer did mention a loose end or two that were not tied up with a couple of the characters, and that might bother some readers, but I don't want to give away too much.
The Christian messages and theme seemed to be woven well into the story, and come to the characters quite naturally considering their backgrounds rather than seeming forced or unrealistic. Generally, this was a satisfying conclusion to the series, and a solid work of historical fiction reminiscent of Downton Abbey.

I received an e-book edition of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss for review. I also purchased the audio version of my own volition. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

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