This past week I finished reading A Haven On Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell for review. The story, set in England in 1880 follows former actress Charlotte Ward as she creates a new life for herself. Charlotte had ended a successful career on the stage to wed Lord Fosberry who promised her a life of love on his secluded country estate. He was not as he seemed, however, and his promise of love turned to cruel loneliness and forced seclusion.
Our story really begins when Charlotte is wooed to return to the stage in London. Her husband posed serious threats and derided her reputation. He had people on the lookout for her, waiting to bait her for tabloid fodder. Her nerves collapsed under the strain, forcing her to change the course of her dreams. Sometimes, though, dreams take a different turn and what we think we want turns into something else altogether.
After weeks of illness she found she was under the care of her estranged daughter Rosalind, who wanted nothing to do with her. Charlotte has no money and no means of support other than what Rosalind can provide. Taking leave from her teaching job, Rosalind plans to stay only long enough to help her mother regain her health and no longer. She found them a cottage to rent in a small coastal village. For Charlotte, being reunited with Rosalind was like a gift. Her career dictated she leave her daughter with a spinster aunt to raise.
Rosalind, for her part in the story also finds a new path in her life. Caught up in her classroom she would have missed some of life's most rewarding moments. She meets a handsome bookseller who turns her head and surprisingly captures her heart.
In this story of resilience and second chances, Lawana Blackwell gives us glimpses of love when no hope seems possible. Love takes many forms in this story, not the least of which is romantic love. The more pages I turned the more love shone through. Charlotte is an amazing character who touched many lives in her small coastal village. From the town gossip to a pair of young, neglected brothers, it is clear that even though her life had some sharp turns, her love for others transformed them. She saw people for who they could become, not as they seemed. Out of the darkest moments of her life, she became a strong woman with much more to offer than she had ever been led to believe. In the end, Charlotte managed to truly create a Haven On Orchard Lane.
I give this book 4+ stars just for the wonderful characters Lawana Blackwell developed. I read The Widow of Larkspur Inn, also by this author, the heroine in this book is also a seemingly weak woman who rose above her difficult situations. These characters teach us that perhaps we haven't had an easy life but we can overcome many hardships with faith and love. Many thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book!