I am so so so excited to review The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall. This is the third book in the incredible Everstone Chronicles. I finished it several days ago. But I haven’t quite been able to form my thoughts on it.
I basically have one initial thought:
I loved this book.
- More than the first two books in the series (which I also loved). Check out my reviews here and here.
- This book is on par with Edenbrooke for me–which is potentially my favorite historical romance.
- I wanted to reread this book over and over right after finishing it. And I may have done a little rereading just to experience the best moments again.
Also, I should note that I use more spoilers in this post than usual. Albeit, this is a love story so I hoped I knew the ending from the start. Plus there are just so many beautiful moments not to mention a few of my favorites. Please still read this series for yourself! 🙂
The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall follows the story of Estella Everstone who has gone into hiding as Elle Stoneburner–a companion to elderly widow, Mrs. Granton. Estella finds herself at Everston, the beautiful resort hotel her father owns in central Maine. On their journey to the hotel, Estella meets Dexter Blakely, the handsome and serious manager of the hotel. As Estella finds herself more attracted to Dexter, she must ask him for help when Mrs. Granton suddenly leaves the hotel without her. Dexter offers her a job at his home near the hotel as a companion for his sister, Roxy. While there, the attraction between Estella and Dexter grows into a deeper love. But Dexter does not know who she truly is. With her father and brother, Vance, arriving soon, Estella must share her true identity with Dexter. But can he accept her as an Everstone? And can they overcome their separate pasts to build a future together?
I was really excited to get more of Estella’s story because we only get bits of her character in the first two novels. I felt sorry for her in the first books. She seemed in the shadows and not quite happy with life. She follows Jay Crawford around, but he doesn’t treat her with the love and respect she deserves. What I love most about this book is that Estella gets to be at the center of the story and that she finds true happiness. I think going into hiding shows us Estella’s true character better than seeing her with her family. We get to see her as a kind, forgiving, and helpful person that I think was always there in the previous stories, only hidden. I also really enjoy seeing her love for Everston. I feel similarly about my childhood home and appreciated herdeep love and strong memories from this picturesque location. Perhaps best of all, I enjoyed her interactions and gradual falling in love with Dexter.
Dexter is a more complex character which makes his deep love for Estella all the more beautiful. He appears so serious and almost angry when they first meet. And he clearly does not like the kinds of people that frequent his hotel. We gradually learn about his difficult past through the loss of his brother and father. But something about Estella changes him. He shows that he too is kind, forgiving, and charitable. The way he cares for his mother (who is outrageous!), sister, and other friends is inspiring. The entire story feels like a slow process of breaking down his walls and seeing what sort of man he truly is. I love him best when he is vulnerable and in love with Estella.
The love story between Estella and Dexter is beautiful, raw, and swoon-worthy. Can I just say how much I love their unexpected rendezvous in the hall when they admit their feelings for each other and share the most beautiful first kiss? I still feel my heart flutter at the thought of that beautiful moment. Perhaps their love is all the most beautiful because of how they both surprise me. Dexter seems so closed but shared the deep feelings of her heart and the difficulties of his past with Estella. While Estella is able to finally move forward from disappointments and sadness in her own past to truly care for Dexter. It was not always easy, the events often surprised me, and I did not know how they would overcome the shock of learning how their families were connected in the past. But they did. And their love was able to outshine the darkest of pasts.
Of course, there are several beautiful quotes that I would love to share connected with Estella and Dexter’s love story.
First, my favorite quote of the book and potentiall the series thus far. So simply, so Dexter, and so lovely. Right after this, Dexter kisses Estella for the first time. Swoon!
“I don’t want to be your friend.”
The Captive Imposter, page 198
I love this next one because it shows how far Estella has come in this novel. She is different than our previous heroines Amaryllis and Meredyth. Estella has been a wealthy heiress her whole life. She has a hard time knowing if people truly care about her or her money. I love this realization Estella has that shows how deeping Dexter does care for her.
“I still couldn’t believe I’d captured his heart by simply being me. No inheritances, no fancy parties, no giant houses, and no rules distracting why and when and where–just me. It was exactly what I’d always wanted–to be loved even when stripped of all worlds weather and status.”
The Captive Imposter, page 205
What I love most about Dawn’s novels is the way she weaves religion and God beautifully into the stories. This is done with class and finesse. We get a beautiful story with God at the center but not an overwhelming sermon about the importance of religion in our lives. Dexter is a preacher of sorts for the summer sermons in Leightner Hollow (which sounds absolutely picturesque). And we get to hear parts of several of his sermons. My favorite is the sermon he gives the day after he learns who Estella really is. In both his prayer and address, he talks about the importance of focusing on Christ and forgiving others. And I love the little remarks he makes that only Estella would really appreciate.
” Savior, you’re the only one who can save is. Help us remember that. Help me to remember that.”
“God says, simply, to do what is right: to show mercy as you humble yourself. Before God and others. He’s speaking to you…and to me.”
The Captive Imposter, pages 250 and 252
I think this is a worthwhile reminder to me–and I hope to other readers too–that God is aware of me. And that as we turn to Him, we will find lasting happiness in our lives.
Finally, I want to comment briefly on the title of this novel, which has intrigued me from the beginning. I think the title of imposter could be applied to Estella as she does not reveal her real name and family at first, but also to Dexter who we learn has not been entirely truthful either. And they are both captive in some ways–in their different ways of thinking and behaving towards people of certain classes. By the end of the novel, they are neither captive nor imposters. They are freedom through love and through truth. A true happily ever after.
I adore the ending of the novel (but you really need to read and experience it for yourself) and really appreciate the final epilogue of sorts that gives us a glimpse of all the characters I love from the first novels.
I am now about a fourth of the way through The Cautious Maiden (Thanks so much for the ARC, Dawn!!). And I’m in that lovely frame of mind where I want to read it so fast and see what happens but also read it so slow to experience every detail. Loving it already!
Have you read the Everstone Chronicles yet?
What do you love about them?