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Audiobook Review: Dawn’s Promise
Author: A.W. Exley
Narrator: Mary Sarah
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Series: Silent Wings #1
Genre: Historical Romance, Fantasy
Audiobook Source: Tantor Audio
Dawn Uxbridge was born with a fragile heart and not expected to make it past her teen years. Now in her twenties, she finds herself alone and penniless after a tragic accident takes the lives of her parents. Armed with her love of landscape and gardening, she accepts a position as the head gardener at a remote manor in historical England.
Lord Jasper, the Earl of Seton, isn’t sure what to think of his new gardener, expecting a man instead of a feeble female. Yet he is drawn to Dawn and gives her one week to show progress on his unruly gardens.
As Dawn spends time on the estate, she suspects the problems with the garden are not earthly in origin, and her new employer may be more than he appears. After just one week, Dawn and Jasper find themselves in a fight of good versus evil, with more at stake than the survival of the garden.
Dawn’s Promise was a delightful surprise to this listener. Combining a sweet historical romance with unique fantasy, the story is reminiscent in feel to the Chronicles of Narnia. It is whimsical yet dark, exploring the fanciful secrets hidden within the landscape. Dawn has lead a sheltered life, understanding very little of the adult world and romance. There was no need to learn these things when she thought she’d be dead by the time she was twenty. Yet now that she’s on Lord Jasper’s estate, she seems to find new vitality and a joy in living. I loved watching Dawn explore the mysterious world around her, both learning to live and also trying to solve the mysteries hidden within the maze of the garden.
The narration started very whispy, weak, and hushed. But as the tempo and location of the story changed, the dreamy wistfulness became more solid and excited. At first, the narration seemed annoying, yet in hindsight, it truly fits the tale. Dawn was weak and sad before moving to Raven’s Blood, but the new location brought her a new energy. Ms. Sarah is an ideal fit for the naive and sheltered Dawn; growing and changing with Dawn, yet always maintaining the gentle and nurturing quality of her character. The male voices, while not overly masculine, fit the setting, especially since we hear the story through Dawn’s perspective.
I truly enjoyed my foray into this unique and interesting world. The story and narration had a whimsical feel. It build methodically, the vines weaving together and pulling the story together. I look forward to listening to the next story in Ms. Exley’s Silent Wings series.
Review copy provided by Tantor Audio.
About the Book:
A heart prepared to die that has never lived or loved…
Born with fragile health, Dawn Uxbridge has lived a sheltered existence. Her lonely days are filled by drawing fanciful landscapes and nurturing plants. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself alone and penniless with only one talent – a green thumb.
Jasper, the Earl of Seton, is in need of a gardener to reclaim his derelict estate in the remote west of England. He expected a robust commoner, not a fragile young woman.
With the next train a week away, Dawn has one chance to change the earl’s mind and earn her place. But all is not as it seems at the ancestral manor. The estate is full of secrets. Ravens cluster on the parapets, and a ghostly young woman cries out at night. This garden conceals a rotten heart, and it plans to squeeze the last beat from Dawn’s….