By T.J. Brown
Published: January 15, 2013
Prudence Tate is the daughter of a governess but she grew up as an equal to Rowena and Victoria Buxton. The girls are best friends and treat Prudence like a sister. Everything changes though when their father Sir Philip Buxton dies unexpectedly and Rowena and Victoria must go and live with their uncle, the Earl of Summerset. Unfortunately the only way Prudence can go is as their lady's maid. While it is an adjustment for Victoria and Rowena to live in a more structured and stuffy household, for Prudence it is nothing but misery as she is made to feel unwelcome.
The story is told from the point of view of Prudence, Rowena, and Victoria. Prudence is by far the more sympathetic character with her struggles to fit in and make sense of this very different role in life. Rowena was incredibly annoying and while I liked Victoria, she also got on my nerves occasionally. At least she showed personality and stood up for Prudence though she acted like a child about it sometimes.
The plot centers around a secret involving Prudence and her mother. Really it isn't that big of a surprise though if you've read this kind of book before and I could easily figure it out. I am kind of hoping there is more to the story that we will find out as the series continues. There are also love interests for the girls with Rowena falling for an unsuitable pilot and Prudence receiving attentions from both a handsome footman and a handsome aristocrat. I was surprised by Prudence's decision but I approve of it and look forward to where that story line will go in the sequel.
While this book has some flaws, I still enjoyed the story and I think it is because of Prudence. I wanted to see her triumph and hope she will yet rise above her circumstances. I also hope to see Victoria grow as a character. She showed some potential to be an interesting character. I am eager to read the sequel, Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter which will be released later this year. Although this book is marketed to adults, I think it would work well as teen fiction because of the age of the characters and the style of the book. Readers who enjoyed Wentworth Hall, Anna Godbersen's Luxe series, or Cinders and Sapphires might want to give Summerset Abbey a try.
Note: I received an e-ARC for review courtesy of NetGalley