Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she’d always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn’t like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.
When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can’t refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can’t deny the pull that’s evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she’s been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she’s with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she’s Estella Everstone? She’s not entirely sure.
In The Captive Imposter, Dawn Crandall draws her readers back into the Gilded Age. This time the setting is the Everstone Hotel, which is nestled in mountain wilderness of central Maine. Where Estella Everstone, going by the name Elle Stoneburner, reluctantly finds herself working as a companion to an elderly woman named Mrs. Granton. Unbeknownst to Mrs. Granton, Estella has assumed this new identity to protect herself from Jacques Gerard, Vance Everstone’s brother-in-law and the man who killed their brother Will. Although she is trying to maintain a low profile, Estella captures the attention of the hotel owner Mr. Dexter Blakeley. As the story unfolds Estella Everstone loses more than her name. Stripped of the trappings of her affluent lifestyle and her status as a revered member of the Everstone family, Estella undergoes a transformation of the heart, mind and soul.
Dawn Crandall has set a comfortable pace for this novel, lingering in all the right places to allow readers to take in the beauty of a scene or the weight of the events that are transpiring. As with her previous two books in the series, the author has chosen to keep her primary focus on three or four characters with the remaining cast merely lending support to the romantic storyline. The physical attraction between Dexter Blakeley and Elle Stoneburner came as no surprise, and I like how Crandall drew our attention to Elle’s changing heart as well as Dexter’s roll as the protector, provider, and spiritual leader. Furthermore, his dual role of hotel manager and minister allowed the novel to carry a hefty Christian message which I enjoyed.
Building on the groundwork established by the previous books in this series, The Captive Imposter is a fitting conclusion to The Everstone Chronicles. 4/5 Stars
Click here to read my review of The Bound Heart
Click here to read my interview with author Dawn Crandall.