BOOK REVIEW || In the Shadow of Croft Towers

In the Shadow of Croft Towers
Abigail Wilson

Thomas Nelson | January 15, 2019
Christian fiction, Historical fiction, romance

From debut author Abigail Wilson comes a mysterious Regency tale of secrets and spies, love and treachery.

Orphaned Sybil Delafield jumps at the opportunity for a position at the mysterious Croft Towers. She believes she was hired to act as companion to a dying woman, but a highway robbery and a hostile welcome from the Chalcroft family cause her to wonder if she was actually hired to help someone spy for France.

An unsolved murder adds intrigue to this already secretive family, and Sybil recognizes Mrs. Chalcroft’s handsome grandson as one of the infamous highwaymen who robbed her. Sybil must determine if this man's charming smile and earnest eyes speak the truth or if he is simply using her like others in the house. Everyone seems to have something to hide, and Sybil must decide who to trust while also coming to terms with the truth about her own past.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
This was a great bit of Regency fiction from a brand-new author.  It was certainly a page-turning whodunnit that kept me on my toes & second-guessing myself.  I loved Sybil's character, as well as that of Mr Sinclair.  The two of them had a kind of Lizzie-Mr Darcy vibe, but in a different way.  (Can't go into too much detail as it could be a spoiler) ;D  I loved how their relationship progressed in the story, as they were constantly thrown into each other's way, and practically suspicious of everyone & each other.  haha

Definitely a great murder mystery filling with gripping adventures, lies, mystery, deception, and people who are not what they seem.

{Spiritual Content}
None really mentioned.  Probably another reason why this was so enjoyable: it is Christian fiction, but it's not drowning in theology, doctrine, and faith.  (Not that any of those things are bad, just some book take & make them far too obvious and overwhelming.)  Such a refreshing, clean novel!

Highwaymen rob a mail coach carrying passengers.  No one is injured, but jewelry is taken and the passengers are threatened at gunpoint.  They're kinda rough with the women, but absolutely NO harm or anything happens.

A woman goes missing and is later found dead on the property of Croft Towers, strangled.  Another lady is killed, gunshot to the head.

A man is shot in the shoulder.  A blood trail leads to the Towers, drawing the dragoons (soldiers) there.  There's some scuffles, fist-fights, gun & sword fights, etc., but we don't go into much detail.

{Language // Alcohol & Drugs}
None.  Other than the phrase: he cursed. mentioned once or twice.

Smell of ale on men.  Brandy.  Sybil takes a trip to town alone & rather too late of the evening, and is nearly assaulted by a drunkard (nothing happens as someone comes to her rescue).

{Romantic Content}
Sybil takes a walk in the middle of Winter and happens to fall into an icy brook after coming upon a private conversation between two men---one of whom she recognizes as Mr Sinclair.  To help her, Sinclair takes her to a gamekeeper's cottage he knows of in the woods to warm up & change from the icy clothing---all the while, Sybil is worried of them being alone in the woods in a cottage. . . but there's nothing for it as she'll freeze to death if she doesn't accept his help.  He is quite the gentleman, offering a set of clothing for her to wear while her dress & skirts dry.  They talk, nothing immoral happens.

During an assembly, Sybil & Mr Sinclair take a walk through the gardens as an excuse to spy on someone through a window.  At one point, to avoid being seen by a passing couple, he presses her against the wall, and veiling her with his coat kisses her neck a few times.  They pull away abruptly  and he assures her identity is safe.

Alone in a carriage with another man, who had obviously arranged it so they could be together, who seems drunk, Sybil is forced to listen to his words that he's hopelessly in love with her.  He kisses her cheek, but she tries to pull away and surprisingly he doesn't press further.

It's obvious they come to care for one another.  They share an intimate kiss & embrace at least once.

All in all, this was an amazing debut!  I was constantly guessing as to who was the real culprit in the story, and even to the end I was surprised.  So many plot twists!  It was an enjoyable read, and one I couldn't put down.  Definitely a must-read for those who love the Regency era!

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Ages: 16+

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I know I missed my usual Encouragement post yesterday.  But I seem to have come down with a nasty head cold earlier this week & simply didn't have one drafted.  However, come next Wednesday, I should be back on track.  :]  Thank you all, my dear beans, for hanging in there with me.  I feel absolutely terrible when I miss a post, but I know life happens & it surely won't be the last time.

It's almost the weekend, y'all!  Have you been enjoying Spring-like weather where you are??  I'm sitting on my sofa right now, with the windows open, enjoying a 70-something degree, partly-sunny day.  #allthehearteyes

Much love!  <3

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To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.