Friday, April 1, 2016


                                    BOOK NOOK REVIEWS
Didi Lawson

Lovers of historical romance will relish Did Lawson’s Hohenstein, an engaging pre-World War I glimpse into the privilege and problems besetting the German aristocracy, and the young nobles caught in the transition to the modern world.

Nineteen-year-old Marie Louise, Baroness von Hohenstein, and heir of Hohenstein Castle, is a headstrong heiress with serious money troubles. Abandoned by party-seeking mother to the care of a stern aunt as a child, and then carted off to boarding school upon her father’s death when only seven, Marie-Louise has learned to be independent and determined.

The inexplicable failure of her solicitor to pay her tuition brings her home to Hohenstein after a twelve-year absence. Marie-Louise is stunned to discover that the staff has been dismissed due to lack of funds, and her stern and proper Aunt Ambrosia, defender of the aristocracy, is the cook, maid, and gardener. More distressing, the castle is in dire need of repairs, and the responsibility to restore the House of Hohenstein rests on her pretty, young shoulders.

A trip to Wolfburg Bank to meet with a loving but distant uncle, Count Wolfburg, or Onkel Georg, upends her world as she discovers that the count has passed away, leaving the bank and the responsibility for the entire family, of which she is a part, to his dashing oldest son, Ulrich.

Ulrich remembers Marie-Louise as a mischievous child, and she sees him as a handsome, chiseled version of the same standoffish snob she remembers—the snob also assigned to manage her strictly guarded trust, of which only a small allowance is available to her until her twenty-fifth birthday or her wedding day.

Ulrich’s cat-and-mouse flirtations disarm her while he refuses her any sort of financial help to save the castle, and as rumors abound about his impending engagement. Marie-Louise’s pride, and lack of experience with romance, get her into scrape after scrape, requiring some damage control by the family members she is learning to both love and rely upon.

Lawson pulls from her beloved German heritage, sprinkling Hohenstein with delightful details and rich, descriptive settings. Her phrasing has a German lilt that, when combined with dozens of regional names and phrases, anchors the reader in the story and time.

Lovers of romance will not be disappointed. Lawson turns up the heat while keeping the book a clean read suitable even for mature teens. Details and questions raised throughout the story are tied together nicely, leaving readers satisfied and smiling. Best of all, Hohenstein achieves what readers of historicals want. It transports you to another place and time, entertains, and becomes a trusted guide. What more could a reader ask?

Didi Lawson’s beautiful Hohenstein cover, and her engaging story and settings inspired me to do a little reader-research of my own, placing the restored castle and its surrounding communities on my list of places I’d love to visit. Start with the trailer, then grab the book. You’ll be glad you did.

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