If you prefer your romances so steamy that the pages blister your fingers, then read no further. If you enjoy being preached at (which seems to be the norm in inspirational fiction), then keep surfing. Willows on the Windrush performs neither function.
Barrington possesses everything: beauty, intelligence, wealth, suitors
lined up around the block, and a promising career as CEO of her late father's
defense contracting corporation. Yet the father-shaped hole in her heart
silently mocks her worldly success.
The unexpected inheritance
of Broadshire Manor in England's picturesque Cotswolds district jars Syd
from her routine. But something seems decidedly amiss when the executor
insists that the manor must be sold to settle the deceased's debts, and
that Syd need not trouble herself to travel to England to effect the transaction.
The lawyer may as
well have unfurled a scarlet hanky. The indomitable Sydney bulls her way
across the Pond to investigate the matter firsthand. She arrives to find
the quaint hamlet of Stow-on-the-Woodland, over which Broadshire Manor
presides, deceptively quiet. The shady solicitor and his tourism plans
for Broadshire drop to the bottom of Syd's priorities as she discovers
war orphans, elderly invalids, a convoluted line of succession for the
manor and a nest of IRA sympathizers.
say nothing of the dashing but anguished English Harrier pilot, who must
overcome his personal demons before he can even contemplate bestowing
his affections on anyone else.
Does "love conquer
all" in Willows on the Windrush? Well, not exactly -- and
that's exactly why I like this book. Sure, the guy gets the girl. No spoiler
there; it wouldn't be a romance otherwise. But their path to happiness
lurches through plenty of thorny issues and ambiguities. In that respect,
Fell's work comes closer to portraying real life than many romance authors.
For that, I enthusiastically applaud her.
From a technical standpoint,
I thought some of the flashbacks could have been handled a bit more smoothly,
especially since the book set off some -- but not all -- of the flashbacks
in italics. Also, I would have preferred a clearer explanation of how
Sydney became the designated heiress, since the inheritance doesn't make
sense once all the facts come to light.
However, if your definition
of a good read includes intrigue and drama, with well-drawn characters
whose faith -- or lack thereof -- drives their actions and decisions without
being preachy, then I invite you to spread your picnic blanket under the
Willows on the Windrush for a pleasant diversion.
(Originally published in Crescent Blues. Reprinted with permission.)