“I can’t bear the thought of you anywhere but with me.”
And yet again I ask the same question: Is it really possible to fall in love with fictitious characters? I have discovered that it very much is and I’ve been bitten by the Everstone bug! Absolutely, undoubtedly and unreservedly loved, loved, loved the book! (An understatement!) I don’t know how she achieves it, but Dawn Crandall does make you live the story, experience it and feel the growth. You are a gem Dawn Crandall and I’m so so very happy that I was able to experience your work. You beat your contemporaries fair and square. A zillion thanks to you for giving me a copy to review.
The Captive Imposter is the third in the series of four books based on the high society lives of the Everstone family and their friends, their past and its effects on the present generation’s lives. While the first The Hesitant Heiress dealt with Nathan Everstone the eldest of the siblings trying to win Amaryllis Brigham and the second The Bound Heart with Meredyth Summercourt who is hung up on Vance Everstone while being in love with Lawry Hampton, this one looks into the life of Nathan and Vance’s sister, Estella Everstone.
Something happens towards the end of the series’ second book, The Bound Heart which makes it imperative for Estella to assume a different identity and stay hidden from the ever prying society, and so she takes up the position as lady’s companion to a Mrs. Granton. As can be inferred from the first two books, Estella has been hung up on Jayson Crawford from like forever, and he won’t have her. Here, while playing Elle Stoneburner, lady’s companion, circumstances lead her back to Everston, her beloved family owned high profile hotel and resort, and in the proximity of Jay who is vying for another lady’s (Greenlee Cole’s) hand.
She meets the gruff and yet gentlemanly Mr. Dexter Blakeley, Everstone’s manager who has some very fixed opinions regarding young socialites, the crowd he basically caters to at Everston. And yes, there is some family history here as well! Estella being unaware of it and Dexter though aware but oblivious to her real identity they begin with an association and then a friendship which strengthens as we progress through the story.
Unexpected changes and situations lead to the loss of Elle’s employment with Mrs. Granton and she is faced with the dilemma of either returning to her family in utter humiliation or taking up the place as companion to Mr. Blakeley’s sister and her childhood friend, Roxy and Dexter’s guest Greenlee. Choosing the employment offered and the safety of his home, Estella starts on a new page. Always being overlooked by her family and friends for what she truly is and only applauded and awed for her money and social status, Estella experiences a new freer self and the happiness and companionship she discovers she had been missing, in Dexter Blakeley. With Dexter by her side she discovers herself, and comes out of the shell nobody had cared to peep into. This book is a journey, as all before in the series were.
I had not particularly liked Estella in the previous books, but now, after reading her POV, I feel she is my favorite of the three #EverstoneChronicles’ heroines. This just explains one very important thing to me: Dawn Crandall writes in first person POV, so we look into the other character’s personality from that POV and form our opinions. And when the POV changes, we also start changing our views of that same person. Something that explains to me, that no one is bad, everyone just has their own opinion!
I liked Estella, her compassionate spirit, her quiet resilience, her unwavering love and her kindness. She is an artist, and a very good one at that. Her growth through the story is portrayed with such a natural grace. She rises above her own shortcomings and is keen on continuing the same way with Dexter.
Coming to Dexter! As with Nathan and Lawry, I again was in love with Dexter! Though gruff and abrupt in many ways, he is caring, kind, playful, loyal and determined. I found the playful side very cute 😉 He has this empathy for Estella, which endears him to the reader.
Both Dexter and Estella have humbled themselves in front of God, they find their peace with each other, and this was the beauty of the story.
The secondary characters were also genuine. I liked Roxy and Mrs. Granton, was annoyed beyond words at Jay and wanted to punch Ursula in the face! (Pretty harsh ;p)
Overall the story had generous amounts of romance, intrigue and an interesting plot. The complexities of previous generation relationships and their after effects are put out in such simple terms. You actually feel like living in the stories, the writing is so seamless.
There are only two elements I missed in the book: Nathan and Lawry. After having loved them in the previous books, I did want a peek into their current lives 😉 I wish they were present somewhere towards the ending where Amaryllis and Meredyth have been seen.
But that does not stop me from rating it with my obvious 5*s! This series is a must have for all historical fiction lovers. When there is a dearth of good HF writers, Dawn Crandall comes as a refreshing change, she MUST be read!