An unexpected inheritance, danger, and love... Willowkeep by Julie Daines (Blog Tour Review & Giveaway)

This is the second full novel I've read from this author (you can see my review of one of her novellas here and my review of Eleanor and the Iron King hereand both were enjoyable. See my full review and enter the giveaway below...

by Julie Daines
Adult Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 280 Pages
June 1st 2016 by Covenant Communications, Inc.


Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.

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My Review

WILLOWKEEP is a story that pulls on the heart as its characters face some difficult circumstances, but find friendship and the possibility of so much more. The plot and the characters are unique from other romances set in this time period as the heroine comes into an inheritance that elevates her from the working class to that of the gentry. Then add in the possible romance with her steward or a dandy, and caring for a sister with a disability. It was unique and bittersweet as the heroine must decide how to meet society's expectations, her own fears, danger, and  what the future might bring. A story that is engaging and heartwarming and well worth the read!

What I liked:
- I loved the way this story wrapped around my heart with little Suzie and the tough life both Charlotte and Henry have had.
- The romance that blossoms between the heroine and one of the men in her life was very, very sweet. I loved how much they relied on each other and how their love wasn't built on infatuation or initial attraction, although aided by it.
- I loved Henry. LOVED him. He was such a good guy. Hard working, loyal, genuine, smart, selfless, and ruggedly handsome.
- I loved how sweet Charlotte was and how much she cared for her sister. She was so genuine and grateful and I liked that her inheritance didn't change her.
- I really liked Jane, Henry's sister. I also liked Hurst. He has a roll and plays it well and even though I didn't want to like him, he really grew on me. There were also other characters that grew on me, like the housekeeper.
- I loved when Charlotte faces a debtor and she shows her spunk. It was a great scene.
- I loved the little pieces of wisdom shared in the story. There were some sweet quotes and moments, particularly between Charlotte and Henry, like this one:
- I loved Suzie. I loved how important her role was in this story. I loved how the characters reacted with her in different ways, but especially in regards to Charlotte and Henry. She brought to light a difficult issue historically that is relative to today, that of mental disabilities and how they are handled. I appreciated that the issue never felt pushed like an agenda, but felt naturally part of these characters' lives, situation, and story as a whole.
- I liked the setting and the overall plot.

What I didn't like:
- I did wish that Charlotte wouldn't have come across quite so naive or clueless in places, such as her belief in a ghost (even though this was also such a humorous and sweet aspect of the story). It just seems for having taken care of things for years that she would have been a little wiser or that she would have developed more or had more help as the story progressed. I just didn't see as much character development as I would have liked.
- The part with a particular family member wasn't developed as much as I would have liked. It seemed a little convoluted and I wanted more. Plus it was disappointing that she didn't even get to meet or talk with him.
- I also would have liked more development with Charlotte's aunt. Their relationship never really gets resolved and I would have like a heart-to-heart conversation between the two of them towards the end. Although, I guess in this case, the aunt maybe was supposed to remain stubborn.

In the end, was it what I wished for? It was. I really enjoyed this story. It wasn't my favorite, but definitely worth picking up. I also really appreciated the author facing an issue that is rarely discussed in historical fiction with Suzie and how well it was woven into the story. Heartwarming and sweet in the end.

Content: Some violence, but clean

Source: Received a complimentary copy from the publisher for review, which did not affect my review in any way.

About the Author

Julie Daines was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and was raised in Utah. She spent eighteen months living in London, where she studied and fell in love with English literature, sticky toffee pudding, and the mysterious guy who ran the kebab store around the corner.

She loves reading, writing, and watching movies—anything that transports her to another world. She picks Captain Wentworth over Mr. Darcy, firmly believes in second breakfast, and never leaves home without her verveine.

She has three published novels and a novella, has won several awards for her writing, and her novel, Unraveled, was a contender for the ALA’s Schneider Award.

Tour Schedule

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