Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

Secrets of Greenoak Woods by Brenda Davies

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t read many romance novels. It’s a genre that I have actively distanced myself from because …. well, I’ve had a lot of preconceived notions about it. I never really believed that romance novels tell a story on their own; it’s all about “passion” and situations that have no realism to them. But as part of my New Years resolution, I am trying to broaden my horizons and so, I chose to read this historical romance (yes, I know I’m cheating with the historical aspect but still… baby steps!) I’m very glad I requested this novel because it has definitely opened my mind up to the genre and I had a great time reading it!

Cornwall 1816

Benjamin is a young farm labourer, shunned by the villagers of St. Merryn for his horrible disfigurement and the childhood trauma that torments him. As he lives his solitary life, he watches over and soon falls in love with Mary, the daughter of a neighbouring farmer. However, Mary is in love with Samuel – a man who Benjamin despises with all his heart.

When Mary’s mother passed away, she made a promise that she would always protect her younger sister, Elizabeth. But this  promise leads Mary to commit an unspeakable act, one that would deliver both sisters to the gallows if discovered. Benjamin is the only witness, and he offers Mary the protection she needs … for a price. How far will Mary go to keep her secret safe?

From the very beginning, I was hooked. The crime that Mary committed is revealed within the first 100 pages or so, and it was what reeled me in. The author did a masterful job of exploring the hidden turmoil of the characters, especially Mary, and the rich details just added to the beauty of the prose and story. I could feel the struggle that Mary was going through and the difficulty in making the choices she did. This story had great pacing and I didn’t feel bored for an instant. While I had already guessed all of the twists and turns, it didn’t take away from the story. This novel isn’t just a romance; it is a deep story that explores the bonds of sisterhood, the embracing of one’s identity, and the betrayals that can occur from those you love the most. The historical setting was fantastic, and allowed for the emotions to really be brought to the forefront. All in all, a compelling story about love, loss, and strength. I can’t wait to read more by this author!

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