April 15, 2011

Wrenfield Hall review from

Wrenfield Hall
by Wannabe Charlotte

Main Characters: Edward and Bella
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort
Rating: T
Status: WIP (Only Epi is left to post)

Summary: In 1870s England, Bella finds herself without home or family when her father dies. She secures a position as a housemaid in a country manor belonging to Lord Edward Masen. The two form a bond that is threatened by class differences and Edward's past.

"Edward lay in bed some hours later, fingers laced behind his head. It was all wrong. Yes, he had noticed her. Yes, he had thought about her a few times, perhaps while eating his breakfast or while riding down one of his favorite trails. But he worried little. It wasn't the first time he had noticed a pretty servant girl. There had even been a time or two, in his youth, when he had convinced a maid to spend a moment around a hidden corner with him. James had been even more aggressive – he was lucky there were no lasting consequences of his indiscretions in the form of wailing babies.
But this was different. The shock that had passed between them startled him, confused him. He couldn't be sure, but he thought she had felt it, too. The look on her face suggested so.
He was in no position to feel anything of this sort for anyone – except one specific person. And that person was most certainly not a lowly housemaid, sitting by a kitchen fire, needlework in hand, dark, intelligent eyes burning as they looked at him, porcelain skin with a slight flush high in the cheeks, dark hair shining…
Stop! he growled to himself. He pulled the pillow from behind his head, boxed it forcefully and slammed it down to the bed again. He shifted, punched the side of the pillow to reshape it under his head and closed his eyes, willing himself to go to sleep.
Bella lay perfectly still in her narrow bed, hands folded calmly over her ribcage. To an outside observer, she was the picture of serenity.
But inside, her thoughts raced, unfocused and wild.
Slowly, her mind stilled until she finally drifted off to sleep, with one singular thought that had sifted itself apart from the rest.

Lord Masen, the ever-pressured landowner and lord of Wrenfield Hall, is trying his damnedest to keep his head above water and provide for all of those who lean on him for support. He is sadly caught between a rock and a hard place when the love of his life comes softly into his world of servants and protocol. He must do right by his responsibilities and title, but his heart begs him to love and be loved by the beautiful servant girl who reads Shakespeare by candlelight and desires nothing more than his heart. He would gladly give her his soul, but he seems to have sold it to Lord Winters and his dazzling daughter Miss Tanya.

The innocence in which Lord Masen and Maid Bella come together is astounding, refreshing, and quite fun. You find yourself engrossed in their hesitant conversations of literature and their families and even though there is nary a piece of citrus about in a majority of the chapters, I did not miss it a bit. No, really!

"Edward's desire to be with Bella seemed to grow stronger every day. He felt anxious, going days without talking to her. Spending his evenings with her had seemed to center him and now he felt adrift.
As Edward got close enough to see the rock, he could see that she was still there – though now she was sitting with her knees drawn up to her face, her arms wrapped around her knees. A small, solitary figure in the morning sun…
When he was within a few feet of her, Bella's head snapped up. Her eyes were moist.
"Hello," he said with concern, coming to a stop in front of her. "Are you alright?"
Bella blushed as she straightened her body and smoothed out her dress. Her feet hung over the side of the large rock but did not reach the ground.
"Yes. Of course. I'm fine," she lied, pasting on a smile.
Edward frowned.
"May I?" he asked, indicating the space next to her on the rock.
"It's your rock," said Bella, with a shrug and a small smile.
He sat next to her and for a few moments, they both looked out over the fields and rocks and further on to a small grove of trees, through which ran a small brook.
"It's a lovely day," Bella commented.
Edward turned to look at her, then back at the fields.
"Are you hungry?" she asked "I'm certain you'll have a better selection back at the house, but you're welcome to share," she said, indicating her small picnic.
Edward considered her offering, then picked up the half eaten bun. He ate in silence as Bella studied him, watching the movement of his jaw and throat as he swallowed. She had never seen him eat before and the act felt intimate…especially as his teeth bit into the soft roll where she previously had eaten.
When he had finished the roll, she held up the apple. He took the red fruit from her outstretched hand, bit into it and handed it back to her.
She paused a moment, then took her own bite and passed it back.
The two sat in silence but for the crunching of the apple as they shared the fruit back and forth. When there was nothing left but the core, Edward took it and flung it far to the left. They watched it sail in an arc through the bright blue sky.
Still they sat.
Finally, Edward stood.
"They'll be expecting me," he said.
"Of course."
But he made no move to leave.
"I'll see you soon," he said, finally.
Bella looked at him, her head tilted. The sunlight was full on his face and the reddish gold of his hair gleamed.
She nodded. He turned to go.
Edward faced her.
"Thank you for coming back," she said.
A crooked smile spread across his face, he gave a small bow and he left."

Seriously, swoon. The apple scene had me and my fic-friends losing our minds with delight. Many A Different Forest campfire was started by me over this fic and it’s innocent passion and unwavering adoration between the main characters. Of course you are rooting for them and you are cheering them on through their unresolved sexual tension. Just this small little kiss had me nearly panting:

"Almost unconsciously he moved his lips to her cheekbone, kissing a light trail down until his mouth lay just above her lips. With the smallest movement, he took her upper lip in his. He went still, awaiting her response.
Bella reacted. With just the slightest hint of force, she pulled his head closer to her and barely parted her lips. The softness of the inside of his lips made contact with hers and her heart pounded, her head light with the sensation of his mouth against hers. For a few moments, their lips moved in gentle concert, hesitantly exploring, pulling back, then coming together with building fervor.
Edward's breath came shorter now, as he placed a hand at Bella's waist, pulling her closer to him. Bella rose slightly on her knees, winding her other hand around his neck and drawing herself further in towards his chest. Her lips moved a little faster on his and she gave a shiver when she felt the tip of his tongue reach out and hesitantly touch the smooth inside of her upper lip."

Wrenfield has been a delightful reprieve from all the graphic stories out there in our fandom, not that this perv has been reformed by any means, but I have loved the innocence and naivete’ that has been re-imagined within this story. So much so, that I actually went a bought a new copy of Jane Eyre!

Bella’s sweet disposition is not “Mary Sue” it’s perfection for this time period. She’s not only at the mercy of the men in her life but she must do what she must to protect herself. I love that she has a quiet strength about her that may not be the usual for this time period, but it resounds within the reader. Charlotte creates a fantastic female protagonist with some canon traits, but also a few that show off Charlotte’s obvious spunk and tenacity. When canon Bella would curl up in a forest and bemoan her life’s tragedies, Charlotte’s Bella stands up tall, dusts herself off, and recreates herself. I absolutely adore this Bella.

"Bella shook her head as she lifted her eyes from the water. The day was fresh and beautiful – she would not waste it in unhealthy reminiscing. With a deliberate spring in her step, she continued her walk to the office."

I couldn’t find one thing to say in the negative about this story. Charlotte is a prolific writer even with her children wrapped around her feet. Even though she’s having another little one, she continues to give us beautifully crafted episodes in the life and loves within her world at Wrenfield Hall and incredibly, you fall in love not only with Lord Masen and Maid Bella, but also with the other characters. It is such a dynamic, enthralling tale that will capture your heart and keep you checking your inbox. You will not be disappointed with this story.

Charlotte is nearly finished and if you are looking for a beautifully mastered story of love, loss, redemption, and passion, I wholeheartedly put my stamp of approval on this story. I know I usually only rec smutty and slashy tales, but I can honestly tell you that this story had me from the moment Bella taps her timid fist against the door of Wrenfield Hall and I know you will too! But don’t take my word for it! ;)

Please check it out, let her know what you think, and tell her I sent you!
<3 trg

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