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5.0 out of 5 stars  Herald of Joy picks up with the St. Barbe family six years after the close of Wintercombe. Silence’s husband George is near death, although except for his oldest daughter Rachael the rest of his family is none too distraught over it. George makes a few last minute changes to his will that will continue to manipulate his family after he dies, leaving Silence at the mercy of her step-son Nat and Rachael engaged to an overly pious young man not best equipped to deal with her fragile emotions. On the heels of this also comes Silence’s younger sister Patience – their brother has tired of her schemes and plots and has sent her packing to the country to keep her out of trouble – although there is little chance of  that happening.

Charles Stuart the newly crowned “King of Scotland” brings his army south to Worcester, and among his guard is the long-lost Cavalier Nick Hellier. The Royalist attempt fails and Nick flees for his life with an unwelcome companion who looks too much like the much sought after Charles for everyone’s comfort. Hounded by Roundhead soldiers, their travels take them from Worcester to Bristol and then finally to Wintercombe – will Nick and Silence be reunited? Or will their secret be betrayed to the Roundheads and disaster befalls them all and they lose everything, including Wintercombe?

As usual, that’s about all I’m willing to tell you – read it for yourself. This was an excellent follow up to the first book and not quite as dark as the first, although there are still some nail biting moments and Belle definitely keeps you hovering on the edge of your seat until the very end. I loved the way she incorporates the children and pets into her story (just wait until you see their escapades in this one keeping Nick and friend hidden), as well as seeing the day to day lifestyle of a 17C household. I loved the addition of Patience (or IMPatience as Nat calls her) and her hijinks into the family fray. Although the hands down, laugh out loud, scene stealing character was the cursing Parrot. ROFL when Rachel’s sanctimonious Puritan father-in-law spotted him and was told to “bugger off”. Priceless.

The series in order,

Herald of Joy
A Falling Star
Treason’s Gift