Author: Joanna Davidson Politano
Genre: Historical Romance/Suspense
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Raina's dreams are all about to come true.
But some dreams turn out to be nightmares.
Raina Bretton is a rag woman in London's East End when a handsome stranger appears in a dank alley, offering her a glittering smile and a chance for adventure. Rothburne Abbey has a unique position for her, one that will take her away from her hardscrabble life and give her a chance to be a lady.
Though Raina has traded squalor for silk and satin, something about the abbey is deeply unsettling. As she wrestles with her true identity, the ruin, decay, and secrets she finds at the heart of the old mansion tear at her confidence and threaten to reveal her for who she really is. Only one man stands between her and the danger that lurks within--and only if he decides to keep her biggest secret hidden.
Reviewer: Winnie Thomas
I am officially smitten with Joanna Davidson Politano’s books. I loved her first two books, so I was quite sure this one would be no exception, and I was right. Politano is a master at creating a beautifully and carefully layered story. The surface story is fantastic, but if you dig a little deeper and see the submerged meanings and messages, the experience is amazing. With richly painted settings from the slums of London to Rothburne Abbey, and a Cinderella story of a rag woman to a countess, Politano’s exquisite prose took me on an emotionally charged journey with lots of twists and turns. The colorful, brilliantly drawn characters kept me guessing as to their secrets and motives.
I enjoyed the epigraphs at the beginning of the chapters that gave a glimpse into what could be ahead. “Just because it’s who we have always been, it does not mean it’s who we were created to be—Diary of a Substitute Countess.”
Woven through the story is a message that we can change some external things about us and our circumstances, but we can’t change who we are. There are also tender messages of love, grace, and mercy that give added depth and dimension. If you look beyond the surface story, it’s interesting to reflect on some of the allegories that the author gives, one of which is Uncle Wells as a God figure.
“I always had the ability to help you, you know. I was merely waiting for you to ask. It is as I said—your enemy has power, but I have more.”
Several quotes stood out to me:
“Man’s feeble work was destined for decay, but God’s starry skies reminded them of the eternity they had before them, just beyond the reach of this earth.”
“Never judge a man’s identity by the outside. That can all be changed in an instant.”
“You are who God made you and nothing can change that. Not even you.”
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction that stays with you long after you finish the book.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Revell. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Nora St. Laurent
Having been blown away by this authors’ other two novels A Rumored Fortune and Lady Jayne Disappears I was thrilled when I saw a new novel out by this author. I couldn’t wait to read it. Here’s the first line, “I do not truly wish for all my dreams to come true. After all, nightmares are one type of dream.”
This line grabbed me. My interest was piqued. I didn’t know where things would go but it felt a little slow as the author set up this captivating fun tale. It felt kind of like a Cinderella story as Raina Bretton (a rag lady peddling on the streets of London, 1871) meets Victor Prendergast who has an opportunity, a wild escapade, he wants her to be part of. As he lays out his plan for her to play the part of Lady Enderly. She’s curious. She’s told the countess isn’t well and needs a rest from her duties to heal up. Raina thinks this is odd, but she had nothing holding her to the place she’s been living. Her guardian encourages her to go. The man she loved was dead. So, she signs up for this crazy ride. Victor tells her that if she doesn’t want to continue the part, she was to play he’d give her a one-way ticket home. It’s a win, win situation in her mind. She could trust this well-dressed man, right?
She knew nothing about being a countess. Nothing about living in a fortress. Nothing about Victor. She was crazy to think she could pull this off until she sees a painting on the wall that stops her in her tracks. “There on the wall hung a portrait of someone so startlingly familiar I felt as though I was staring at my own face.” Let the games begin. That’s the end of chapter 2. Hang in there it does get quite fascinating.
Intertwined throughout the story is the theme about one’s identity. What’s in a name? Does a name reflect who we are inside? We are more than the job we do. That job doesn’t define us. Uncle Wells tries to tell this to Raina, “Never judge a man’s identity by the outside. That can all be changed in an instant.” She knows that all too well. Just because she’s all dressed up to be Lady Enderly that doesn’t mean that’s who she was.
Pastor Bradford had told her something that pricked her heart and mind. “…we are created beings who bore traces of their creator, each with a different piece of his nature augmented in order to show the world who he was. You have something powerful in you, Raina…Pastor Bradford continues, “God takes the identity the world has tarnished, polishes it up, and hands back the name he gave us in the beginning.”
I loved how this author gets Raina and the reader to think about this theme throughout the novel. I thought this would be a typical Cinderella story oh, boy was I wrong. This author pulls out all the stops in this adventure. Loved it. This would make a great book club pick. There is so much to talk about. The author includes 11 discussion questions to help at your book club meeting.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”
Reviewer: Becky Hrivnak
I was excited to get Finding Lady Enderly from the Interviews & Reviews site and review this book as I've heard so many good things about it. Plus, I've loved Politano's other books.
I don't like to leave negative reviews, but this book just didn't resonate with me. I felt the whole premise of the book was built on lie upon lie upon lie. I bring my own baggage with me to this read and so I know that may be a part of why I just couldn't fall in love with these characters.
My favorite character was Sully. I feel he was the most genuine character in the lineup.
The author did do a good job of keeping me wondering the "why" behind the basis of the story. I'm sure if you like Christian historical with a touch of suspense, you may very well like this book. I do expect to read the next book Politano writes as I have always liked her books before! Please give this book a chance as there are many other reviews that are positive for this book.
I was given a copy of this book by Baker Publishing Group through Interviews and Reviews. All thoughts and comments are my own.
Reviewer: Abigail Harder
This book was very unique and I really liked it. It had a very unique plot. I enjoyed the slight mystery that was within this novel.
I didn't get connected with the characters as much I would have loved too. I enjoyed reading Raina's story but I just wish I could have connected to her more. Sully was a darling. He really made this story.
The mystery in this book had me on my toes. I was guessing who and what was happening. I honestly did not know where this book was heading the entire time. I at one point thought that there was going to be a love triangle but that theory was crushed very quickly, thank goodness.
Joanna Davidson Politano is a very talented writer that made everything come to life in my mind. Her details were magnificent. I loved her writing.
I really enjoyed this novel and I'll definitely be reading more of Ms. Politano's books in the future.
FTC: I received this book from Revell through Interviews and Reviews. All thoughts are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
“There’s something rare and intensely beautiful in a person who knows you well and loves you anyway. Ordinary men and everyday romances are the sweetest and deepest. There’s a wonderful charm to ordinary, everyday moments, and the people who remain through them.”
Every time I read Joanna Davidson Politano’s book, I am left speechless, breathless, and in awe. The author has this incredible ability to draw you into Victorian England with a Gothic suspense and intrigue wrapped around a beautifully and stunningly crafted plot about poverty, greed, finding one’s identity and core in Whose you are, and, of course, sacrificial love that forgives and extends grace. Her writing is flawless and the characters are memorable and impressive. Spoken through the first person point of view from Raina and third person point of view mostly from Sully, the story moves at a great pace and the puzzle pieces come together nicely as Raina and Sully individually try to find Lady Enderly.
Raina’s faith journey is wonderful to behold as is the heart-achingly tender love that Raina and Sully share. If you’re a fan of classic English literature (Bronte, Dickens, Eliot, Austen, Hardy), you will absolutely adore how the author infuses these classics into Raina and Sully’s own love story. And when Sully plays his fiddle and sings for Raina....man, my heart melted into a puddle every time. And the plot twists! These will have you gasping as you try to read faster to figure out what truly has transpired.
Joanna Politano combines fantastic suspense, lovely details from the historical era, sweet and tender romance, and an inspiring spiritual journey to offer a unique and unforgettable tale. An absolute must-read.
I received a copy of the book from Baker Publishing Group and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Politano is truly a work of art, a gift to the historical Christian fiction fan.
Captivating from the start, the first chapter was full of romance, intrigue and beautiful words. What a wonderful way to entice the reader. This book is a gem, my favorite genres of historical and mystery rolled into one extraordinary book. I love the quotes at the beginning of each chapter from The Diary of a Substitute Countess: “Many people who go out looking for themselves will become lost, for they look outside themselves or inward, rather than up to the God who we reflect.” There are many profound truths in each entry.
Raina, the rag girl, is asked by a solicitor to journey to Rothburne Abbey to take a job that will completely change her life of poverty. With next to no information, she takes on the persona of Lady Enderly, harder than Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion.
Raina goes by many names: Ragna, Lady Enderly, Cinderella; but will she finally find her true identity in God? “It is important to remember who you are. Names have great significance, and we cannot let the world twist them.”
Ms. Politano uses well loved, classical literature in a unique way as a means of communication between two who cannot openly converse. I eagerly read each page for new clues to the mystery of Lady Enderly. A surprise in every chapter. This book has many spiritual truths cloaked in exquisite language waiting to be discovered. It is very reminiscent of The Price Of Privilege series by Jessica Dotta or a Wilkie Collins mystery with many threads to unravel.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Eva-Joy Schonhaar
Wow! That was one wild ride.
I didn't know what to expect when I started reading Finding Lady Enderly. The plot was a bit confusing at first (and it remained twisty and mystery-filled throughout) and I found the story hard to get into. But once I really settled down and started reading large chunks of the book at a time, I found myself enjoying it more and more.
WHAT I LIKED
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
These criticisms make it sound like I didn't care for the book at all - but I did! It was well written, engaging, and definitely worth your time if you're a fan of romantic, faith-based historical fiction.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group through NetGalley.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
What woman would go with a stranger on the promise that he could make her life better? A desperate one, perhaps? One who is pining for the only man she ever loved, who was lost at sea? Such is the case with Raina Bretton. She sees an opportunity for a life change and leaps into it without really thinking about the consequences. And oh, what consequences there will be!
Joanna Davidson Politano's latest offering will keep you guessing until the very end. When Raina accepts the role to step into the shoes of Lady Enderly, she does it believing the woman is taking a time out from society. But not all is as it seems at Rothburne Abbey and soon Raina starts to wonder what really happened to the missing Lady Enderly. This one will keep you guessing at every turn of the page.
The cast of characters are well fleshed out, and I was always wondering which ones were trustworthy. I adored the love letters and secret messages Raina and Sully used to communicate with each other. And the message that God can take difficult circumstances and use them for good was evident.
The mystery of what happened to Lady Enderly was such a surprise to me. I was not expecting that! Well, done!
This is an excellent book for book clubs. I highly recommend it!
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group through NetGalley.