After the death of her father, Annabelle Thorley's life is virtually controlled by her untrustworthy elder brother. Her original betrothal broken due to her family's financial problems, Annabelle's brother begins to push her more and more strongly to marry a man she cannot love, or trust. For her own safety, Annabelle decides to secretly run away from London and accept a teaching position at a school in Fellsworth with her estranged uncle.
Widower and game keeper Owen Locke is hard-working, single-minded, and extremely protective of his young daughter. When Owen has the opportunity to help Annabelle escape her conniving and dangerous brother, he is surprised when she requests to flee to Fellsworth-- where his own daughter is a student. Despite his determination to buy land of his own and protect his heart from further damage, Owen can't seem to put Annabelle out of his mind.
As Annabelle struggles to find her footing as a teacher, will she learn to discern who she should and should not trust? Will her new-found friends or family betray her to her brother? And as she and Owen become better acquainted, will either of them learn to let go of past disappointments and trust each other with their hearts?
Sarah E. Ladd's A Stranger at Fellsworth is a lovely story full of danger, excitement, adventure, and romance. While many aspects of the plot strongly resembled The Curiosity Keeper-- another Ladd novel in which a young woman runs away from a dangerous family member and finds herself teaching at a small school-- I found Stranger at Fellsworth much more satisfying. While I've certainly loved many of Ladd's previous novels, she has a tendency to gloss over the relationship-building portions between the main characters and somehow magically skip to the "happily ever after" a bit prematurely. In this case, I definitely could have used a bit more interaction between Owen and Annabelle, but their story was still believable and entertaining. The plot itself was full of action and kept me guessing until the end. Overall, Ladd's latest is among her best efforts.
I received a free copy from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own