Series: Thorne Manor, Book 1
Genres: Romance; Time Travel; Fantasy; Mystery; Paranormal; Historical Fiction; Paranormal Romance; Ghosts
Publication date: October 13, 2020
Thorne Manor has always been haunted… and it’s always haunted Bronwyn Dale. As a young girl, Bronwyn could slip through time in her great aunt’s house where she could visit with William Thorne, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. After a family tragedy, Bronwyn is convinced that William existed only in her imagination.
Now, twenty years later, Bronwyn inherits Thorne Manor and the ghosts within it. When she returns, William is waiting.
William Thorne is no longer the boy she remembers. Grown into a difficult and tempestuous man, his own life has been marred by tragedy and scandal that has him living at the manor – and his beloved moors – in self imposed exile. He’s also holding a grudge at Bronwyn for abandoning him all those years ago.
As their friendship rekindles and sparks into something more, Bronwyn must also deal with the ghosts in the present version of the house. Soon she realizes that they are linked to William and the scandal surrounding him. To build a future, Bronwyn must confront the past.
“There’s a little too much of the dark and brooding about you, but the young ladies today have all read Wuthering Heights. They’ll positively devour a mysterious lord who lives in the moors, pining for -“
“Dear God, yes, that is exactly what I want. A silly chit who mistakes me for a sadistic, obsessive fictional lout. Please, send a dozen on the next train.”Chapter Four
Like I said in my April TBR, I finished this book pretty early on in the month – April 2nd to be exact. This was the book I chose to read for the March Buzzword of “Time”. I started it pretty late in March which wouldn’t have usually been a problem, but after the first night where I flew through half this story, I couldn’t pick the book back up until I’d finished moving… in April. And my eternally procrastinating bottom has put off writing this review until the second half of the month – much later than I would have initially liked.
I didn’t read the synopsis going into this story because Kelley Armstrong is my favourite author of all time. I knew that no matter what she put in this book I was going to love it. And I was right. This is a fantastic story and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do.
The characters feel real, the world is inspiring, and somehow her twists always take me by surprise. I like to pride myself on my ability to catch plot twists coming, but Armstrong somehow manages to get me so caught up in her red herrings that I’m constantly missing the little, more subtle, clues. And the emotion that she’s able to get out of me!
Not only that, but I absolutely adore how clear it is that Armstrong put in work when it comes to her research. Sometimes it’s the subtle things like the cadence through which William and the people of the past speak. Sometimes it’s the more obvious things like historical events and how they impact the two timelines. It’s clear that Armstrong has put in time, dedication, and love into the book – enough that it comes flying off the page at the reader as the story progresses.
I have yet to read a Kelley Armstrong book that I haven’t fallen madly in love with, and I highly doubt that day will ever come. I’m sitting here, on the edge of my seat, waiting oh so impatiently for A Twist of Fate (GoodReads) to come out.
I take his fingers, move them aside, and look into his eyes. “I loved you when we were children together. I loved you when you were growing into a man. I loved you – desperately, agonizingly, achingly loved you – when everyone told me you were not real. It tore me apart. You might say I didn’t need a hospital’s care, that there was nothing wrong with me. But there was. The boy I loved wasn’t real, and I didn’t want to live in a world where he’d never been. I lost something there, some part of my heart and my soul vital for living, and there was a time when I didn’t want to continue.”Chapter Twenty-Three
What is it about Armstrong’s writing that always has the ability to make me cry? While I wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably – this time – I will admit that I cried a couple of silent tears as I read about the time rift being closed to Bronwyn. Especially when she finds out that she’s pregnant and has no way to tell William the good news.
Thankfully naming Harold Shaw as Cordelia and setting his spirit free unlocked the rift. For both of them, too! I’m sure that William is going to adore living in the modern age, just think about all of those ankles that he now gets to see!
On a more serious note, I am actually happy that William is able to travel through the rift as well, now. He’s able to travel to Bronwyn to make sure that she is safe and well. He’s no longer going to have to worry that something has happened to her and is preventing her from returning to him – he can just travel to the other side of the rift and discover the truth for himself. And he can be part of his child’s life! He might not have thought that he had a future with a family before Bronwyn popped back into his life, but he’s got to be ecstatic that his future is going to be so much fuller than he’d ever though. Plus he doesn’t even have to give up his horses!
Their relationship might have been a rocky one at the start thanks to some hurt feelings, but that just made it even more special when they started opening back up to each other. Sometimes people say hurtful things in anger that they don’t mean. I’m so thankful that Bronwyn and William didn’t let some harsh words get between such a sweet relationship. I’m also thankful that they didn’t let Cordelia get in the middle of such a sweet relationship.
Speaking of William’s sister, I was actually shocked to find out that she was the killer and the woman that had scared Bronwyn out of the manor all those years ago. I had convinced myself that August was the killer and that William just didn’t want to think poorly of his best friend. Heck, I was even worried that the little boy in the wall was going to be August’s son and that his death just hadn’t happened yet. I’m not glad that Teddy had to die to be the boy in the wall, but I am glad that August didn’t have to go through the pain of losing his son since he turned out not to be the killer.
Harold Shaw truly was the unsung hero of the manor for generations. Not only did he take it upon himself to deal with Cordelia so that William didn’t have to worry about the harm she was inflicting on the world, he didn’t even burden William with the knowledge that his sister was dead. He even protected the manor further than this by staying as a spirit to try and protect Bronwyn from Cordelia’s lies. His spirit might not have been able to rest until he was named as her killer, but there’s no way that his soul should be punished for his actions. He saved so many other people by dealing with Cordelia the way he had to.
Everything in this story has just made me want more. More of the world, more of these characters, more of Armstrong’s writing. I could gush about William giving Bronwyn her own private “ball” as an amazing date. I could lament about the years Bronwyn was forced to think she was crazy and just imagining the ghosts in the manor. I could bask in the glory that is the knowledge that Bronwyn and William’s romance is still just beginning. But there’s truly just one more thing that I want touch on before I leave this post.
I would just like to applaud Armstrong on her desire to always insert at least some form of representation into her stories. And it’s never forced, either.
When Del shows up, Bronwyn calls him “Ms. Crossley” because she’d only ever see Del’s name in writing. But the absolute second that Del makes it clear that he prefers male pronouns, the switch is made. There’s no hesitation, no slipups. This interaction is raw, with Del not trusting Bronwyn to be coming from a caring place free of mockery. I’ve never had to experience situations such as this myself, but my transgendered friends have told me too many stories where preferred pronouns are not accepted. To make a clear cut decision to have an open and honest discussion in a book shows that transgendered people are real people – no matter what so many bigots might say. This is the kind of representation that we need more of in books – open and honest acceptance of people for who they are.