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A Rumored Fortune

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Tressa Harlowe's father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune--before someone else finds it first.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they'll not soon forget.

416 pages, Paperback

First published July 31, 2018

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About the author

Joanna Davidson Politano

8 books999 followers
Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 480 reviews
Profile Image for Jocelyn Green.
Author 30 books1,230 followers
June 15, 2021
This book is absolutely beautiful! Every scene carefully woven, every line stitched with care into a seamless tapestry. A Rumored Fortune is full of the most natural and profound metaphors, I was practically cheering as I listened to this on audiobook. Wonderful story, charming characters, an absolute joy to read. I'm ready for more from Joanna Davidson Politano.
Profile Image for Staci.
1,703 reviews519 followers
July 31, 2018
Simply fabulous Victorian Era novel! What's not to love about a treasure hunt?

In A Rumored Fortune Tressa Harlowe (and several family members) are searching for a hidden treasure. Tressa wants to save her family home and vineyard. The analogies of the vineyard to her life added to the novel. Each chapter begins with a quote by a viticulturist.

Joanna Politano continues to deliver elegant writing in the midst of mystery. There were several twists and turns that kept me guessing.

Pure joy!
2,908 reviews1,727 followers
November 15, 2018
SQQQQEEEEPPPPP!!!!! Sorry for the shattered eardrums but this book is worthy of the combined squealing and eeeping hullaboo I reserve for a sacred few exceptional novels. I'm still all shivery delight as I think back on this story.

Mainly because of the distinctive Gothic style. It creeps in on the very first page and continues on right to the end. A heroine in peril. A hero with secrets. A sinister pall casting dark shadows over Trevelyan Castle. And so many characters with nefarious purposes. An absolute page-turner!

And exquisitely told! So beautifully written that it begs to be read aloud. The kind of words you want to savor -- so much so that sometimes I'd read a passage over again just to let it sink into my bookish soul! .

And then there's Donegan Vance. Just typing his name sends me into a swooning tailspin! Wooooeeeeee! So mysterious and austere. But unexpectedly kind. Stalwart. Tortured. This is one complex man. Drawn to Tressa Harlowe even though he finds his fascination 'utterly absurd'. They come from different worlds. She's the princess of the castle. He's a lowly servant.

"No matter if she was intelligent and interesting, passionate and spirited, beautiful and bewitching to the extreme. She could be everything he'd ever hoped to find, but it mattered little if he was nothing of what she sought for herself." (p 164)

Tressa is the classical Gothic heroine. Reduced circumstances. A mystery to solve. Encroaching danger. Surrounded by people more intent on harming her than helping her. And who can she trust? My tummy jumbled up in knots over some of the decisions she made. I became an anxiety-addled reader! The only thing that soothed my taut nerves was the knowledge that Donegan was just a page or two away. :-)

And, oh goodness, their banter! Barbed words followed by tender ones. Passion vying with wry amusement. Completely, utterly delicious. Every. Single. Word.

And the piece de resistance is the inspirational thread expertly woven throughout as the author uses the vineyard as a metaphor for God's love....blew me away!

"Finally she spoke. "I can only take so much pruning," she whispered. "Why is God doing this to me? He's...he's pruning the very life out of me."

"No, he's bringing you to life. It takes a harsh summer to yield abundance in the vineyards. Perhaps this is your summer." (p 281)

Enchanting and captivating and just plain old really, really good!
Profile Image for Beth.
777 reviews318 followers
August 5, 2018
Charming, mysterious, romantic, fun, and swoon-worthy, A Rumored Fortune is Politano’s second novel, and, wow, does it deliver for this reader.

There is such a strong atmosphere to sink into within these pages. The setting is a castle, its grounds home to a vineyard. Though her castle home is important and much loved, it is the vineyard that captured Tressa's mind, as it had previously captured her father's before his mysterious death. However, both castle and vineyard have the funds that they need to keep going, as her father's fortune is hidden in a place that only he knew.

I adored Tressa’s character. Though Victorian Era heroines often have the misfortune of things happening to them rather than making things happen (which while aggravating to modern thought, is probably more realistic), Tressa is a realistic balance of delicate yet driven. She’s not afraid of doing things on her own but is also acutely aware of her own vulnerability and still bound to an extent to society’s expectations.

The secondary characters are by turns intriguing, suspicious, and charming. I loved the relationship between Tressa and her lady’s maid, Lucy. Of course, her burgeoning friendship with Donegan Vance, the man her father hired to care for the vineyard captured my attention with ease, while her re-introduction to her former suitor, Andrew Carrington, made me question everyone’s motives, especially with a vast fortune involved.

The faith element is strong throughout the novel, and while alluded to often, it always feels genuine and in keeping with the characters themselves. I found it to be refreshing and well-done; it is especially neat the way the care and keeping of a vineyard ties in so well with Tressa’s personal journey in such a natural way.

This is only the tenth novel this year that I’ve given five stars. The exquisite blend of lovely writing, endearing characters, mysterious plot, and a gorgeous romance make A Rumored Fortune one of my favorite reads of the year!
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a review, positive or otherwise, and the opinions expressed here are my own.
Profile Image for Maddy.
114 reviews96 followers
August 19, 2018
What a lovely book this was! When I say that I enjoy historical fiction, this is the kind of book I’m talking about. Treasure hunting, a rumored fortune, ballroom parties, castles. Wow, this was such a delight to read.

The book is in first person for the girl MC, but isn’t for the boy MC. I don’t think I’ve ever read a historical book in first person, but I absolutely loved the way this was done. The writing is just gorgeous and I enjoyed every minute of it. There really wasn’t any dry parts or times when you wanted things to keep moving forward. The author did such an amazing job with this book and I will definitely be looking out for her next book.

One of the best parts of this story was the characters. Honestly this was just a perfect group of characters. I loved Tressa’s part in the story and how it was told from her perspective, and then Donegan was such a sweet, selfless hero. I loved them together from the first time they met. They were at odds with each other at times, but that didn’t stop them from trying to find the fortune. The mystery in this story was really well done. I did suspect some characters, but I still really enjoyed it.

This is a beautiful historical book and I definitely recommend it! I enjoyed every minute of it and I’ll definitely be re-reading it.

“I received a free copy of this book in exchange of my honest review. All thoughts are my own and I wasn’t required to write a positive review. “
Profile Image for Hannah.
2,402 reviews1,336 followers
June 13, 2019
4.5 stars

This one was much stronger than her debut, which I enjoyed but which did have a few plot gaps. "Rumored Fortune," however, seemed to flow from one scene to the other much better and I felt I had more clues to the mystery. I was glued to the pages and couldn't put the book down. The suspense of finding the treasure or not, and the question of who was after Tressa's family, and all of the suspects--loved how there were so many suspects!--kept my mind on its toes while I was speeding through. Tressa was a fun character to follow as she gets thrown fully out of her comfort zone and has to figure out who she is as a woman and how she'll keep her life together in the wake of tragedy.

I really enjoyed the vineyard allegory but I felt it could have been drawn to a conclusion with a bit more specific Christian message; if someone's not versed in Christianity, it wouldn't have made a lot of sense. I got the message and enjoyed it because I've studied the "vine and branches" allegory, but I don't know how well it would translate to someone who hasn't read a lot of the Bible or who isn't familiar with Christianese at all.

The ending was a bit abrupt and I'd have preferred another chapter or so to spell out a little of what happens after the big denouement.

Thanks to the publisher for a free reading copy. A favorable review was not required.
Profile Image for J.T. IV.
Author 2 books142 followers
November 1, 2018
A nice mid-nineteenth century read. Ms. Politano weaves a fun story together. Add a bit of mystery, romance, horses and carriages, a castle, and you have yourself a book … oh and the death of a father who leaves a secret fortune behind. The writing was good, the storyline was plausible for the most part, and about the only thing I was not a fan of was how quickly everything got tied up, or actually not so tied up, at the end. There was one other point that bothered me, but I don’t want to taint people away from the book and so I will leave it alone; I doubt it will bother many. Miss Harlowe is a character you can sympathize with, her mother is someone you can dislike a good bit, and perhaps even more so you can appreciate the kind and generous vineyard manager. If you like Victorian England and you are looking for a fun read, I would recommend a Rumored Fortune.
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,596 reviews3,481 followers
April 9, 2020
About this book:

“Welcome to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England.
Tressa Harlowe's father kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Now Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it.
It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune--before someone else finds it first.”

Series: As of now, no.

Spiritual Content- John 15:5 at the end; Scriptures are quoted, mentioned, & remembered; Prayers; Going to church; Talks about God; ‘H’s are not capitalized when referring to God; Tressa wonders why God is allowing bad things to happen & gets mad at Him for a time; Mentions of God & talking about God; Mentions of those & events in the Bible; Mentions of prayers & praying; Mentions of church, church going, & a vicar; Mentions of blessings; A few mentions of Bibles; A couple mentions of Heaven;
*Note: Mentions of a superstition; A couple mentions of ghosts.

Negative Content- Nearly drowning & Pain (semi-detailed); Seeing someone (possibly) drown (it isn’t said if he did or not; up to semi-detailed); Mentions of a drowning & murder/murderer; Mentions of hurting someone (hinted to have possibly killed them, *Spoiler* *End of Spoiler*); Mentions of stealing, stolen items, & thieves/con-men; Mentions of poachers; Mentions of a fire & arson; Mentions of alcohol & drinking; Mentions of eavesdropping, gossip, & rumors; Mentions of lies & lying; A few mentions of hangings & crimes; A couple mentions of jealousy; A couple mentions of throwing up; A mention of a dead body.

Sexual Content- a palm kiss, a nose kiss, a cheek kiss, an ear kiss, a head kiss, a semi-detailed kiss, and two border-line semi-detailed // detailed kisses (hair is ruffled in those kisses); Noticing (barely-above-not-detailed); Touches, Embraces, Hand holding, Nearness, & Shivers (to up semi-detailed); Mentions of kisses & kissing; A mention of an illegitimate son; A mention of a greeting kiss; Love, falling in love, & the emotions.

-Tressa Harlowe, age 22
-Donegan Vance
Switches between 1st person P.O.V. of Tressa & 3rd of Donegan
Set in 1866
390 pages

Pre Teens- One Star
New Teens- Two Stars
Early High School Teens- Three Stars
Older High School Teens- Four Stars
My personal Rating- Four Stars
Well, that was a fascinating read.
Historical mysteries are a gem that I adore finding, and when I enjoy reading it, it’s even better.
Thirty-one pages in, I became a true fan of Tressa when she thinks:
“I knew in that moment that I believed in love at first sight. But only because I’d experienced a twinge of the opposite just then.”
This quote quite endeared her to me. She was absolutely great in every way. Her wit and her passion for others was lovely and I truly loved how often there was Spiritual Content in the plot. This was such a refreshing read in many ways.
“Perhaps it’s a risk, but I’m willing to take it. You see, I’ve just asked God for help in providing for my family, and I’m not about to go wasting [H]is solution.”
Compared to the author’s debut book, it definitely has a similar feel, but I believe that this one was stronger, and I personally enjoyed this one more. I could definitely read “A Rumored Fortune” again and that’s a high complement from someone who doesn’t typically like to re-read.
Donegan was a unique character that honestly felt like a perfect fit for Tressa. I do believe that there was a tiny bit of instant attraction between the two, but I’ll chalk it up to because they are good for each other. :)
I do wish the ending would have continued a bit longer to see a few more parts play out. I’m a bit disappointed that there wasn’t just a bit more, but I’m mainly satisfied and looking forward to reading the author’s next book very soon. Overall, a very well done read (even if those two kisses were a bit much for my taste). 😉

Link to review:

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
Profile Image for Loraine.
2,957 reviews
February 29, 2020
This is my first read from Politano, and it was very enjoyable suspense. Set in Somerset, England in 1866, Tressa Harlowe and her mother have received news that her father has been lost in a boating accident and is presumed dead. They head home to Trevalyn Castle to find it heavily in debt, a new vineyard manager at the door, and the workers haven't been paid for many weeks. Yet Mr. Harlowe supposedly was quite wealthy. Filled with greedy relatives, fortune hunters, and missing money, this was both a character and plot driven suspense read. I loved how each chapter began with a message from the notebook of a vitriculturist that tied into the events in that chapter. In turn, the spiritual content connected to Jesus' parable of the wine and the branches. I look forward to reading more books from this author.
Profile Image for Beth | Faithfully Bookish .
869 reviews180 followers
November 2, 2018
Full review on FaithfullyBookish.com

Please consider this my awestruck standing ovation... Politano wows with clever, intelligent, and engaging characters and completely beautimous storytelling! Reading this book richly satisfied an aching word-hunger within me and oh, the lovely phrases!

Tressa Harlowe is an endearing misfit who refuses to fit into the mold set by her aloof parents. I love that she is compassionate, willing to learn, and works hard. Stoic vineyard manager Donegan Vance is, in my opinion, the most captivating element of the story. His name alone makes me melt into a swoony puddle.

I cannot recommend this author's work highly enough. Her unique style is fresh and smart and I can't get enough of it! This book has clearly earned a place next to its predecessor on my all-time favorites shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Sarah Grace Grzy.
629 reviews832 followers
September 1, 2018
Everything about this book drew me to it - the amazing cover, title, synopsis . . . It had me hooked.

Our MCs, Tressa Harlowe and Donegan Vance are both interesting and unique characters. I loved Tressa's sweet spirit, artistic mind, and generous heart, and found myself relating to her a lot, especially on the artistic front. Donegan Vance was a very intriguing character, but he somehow fell flat to me. I think the author made him out to be such a bad guy in Tressa's mind that by the time we the readers discovered the truth about him, I was already adamant in my dislike of him. I think having more of his POV would have helped clear that issue up for me. More on that later.

The storyline and mystery were very intriguing, though I must admit, I was very confused for about 90% of the book, which lessened my enjoyment of it. I love a good mystery, but this one seemed . . . too mysterious, if such a thing is possible. I would have preferred a slightly quicker pace with the revelation of certain plot points a little sooner.

Politano's writing style is very beautiful and poetic, if a little overly detailed at times. The author chose a very unique style in that Tressa's POV was in 1st person, while Donegan's was in 3rd person. While I felt that it interrupted the story on occasion, overall, I think it worked quite well and was a unique change.

Overall, my favorite aspect of this book was the vine and vineyard analogies and metaphors, and the tie-ins to John 15. That is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, and I loved how the author wrapped so many beautiful metaphors into the story in a very subtle but effective, beautiful way.

All in all, while A Rumored Fortune wasn't a personal favorite of mine, I will say that Politano knows how to write a solid mystery, for which I give her kudos.

Recommended for ages 15+ for mild romance

FTC disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest thoughts and opinions.
Profile Image for Toni Shiloh.
Author 51 books1,096 followers
December 15, 2019
I wasn't sure what to think about this book when I first started (I don't read blurbs), but a few people I trust in the book department promised me it was good, so I continued. And wow, I'm so glad I did. There is so much good to talk about! From the mystery of the "rumored fortune" to the romance and finally the vineyard theme of faith and Christianity. SO GOOD!!

I'd reread the book for the vineyard theme alone but enjoyed the romance and mystery of the fortune as well.
Profile Image for Lori.
171 reviews7 followers
March 27, 2019
Oh so good! This was such an intriguing, swoon-worthy story that kept me guessing the entire way through. I loved the unique storyline involving the treasure hunt and the fact the you never knew who you could trust. I also loved all the words of wisdom that were included throughout the story in references to the vines and the Father. I think this will definitely be one of my favorites for the year. Another fabulous and cleverly written story by Joanna Davidson Politano!
Profile Image for Sarita.
1,105 reviews637 followers
February 25, 2020
I’m really enjoying this author’s stories. This is only her second novel and I’m expecting great stories in the future. She has such a way with beautiful words and providing both main en supporting characters who has depth.

I loved the way the process of a vineyard were intertwined in the story and the lessons Tressa had to learn. It was such a beautiful way to give an example of John 15 and help readers understand a vineyard better. Tressa came across as a mature lady who could think on her feet, but then was also naive in who she trusted. She was also a great example of alway thinking the best about people and extending grace when it was not really deserved.

Donegan were a selfless hero. I just loved how he loved/protected from the shadows and didn’t demand the acknowledgement due to him.

This was an interesting mystery which provided multiple suspects and twists and turns to keep the reader confused. I think I expected more of suspense than mystery so I was missing some action but the mystery kept me intrigued. I did start suspecting someone halfway through which turned out to be correct.

All in all a great read.
Profile Image for Morgan Giesbrecht.
Author 1 book60 followers
May 23, 2023
4.5 ⭐️

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything from Politano, and I’d forgotten just how much I love her writing! The way she weaves mystery, history, and scriptural truths together leave me spellbound & thoughtful every time.

In this tale of a missing rumoured fortune & a dead man whose body has yet to be discovered, fortune hunters & secrets abound.

Tressa & Donegan were lovely, and I loved how their relationship progressed from enemies to reluctant allies to friends to lovers. It was a case of opposites-attract & class differences, yet so touching. Together, they learned that truth needs to be spoken with *both* honesty & love.

And the themes. 🥺 Tressa shouldered much without ever sharing the burden & felt lonely even when surrounded by people—because it comes down to being supported by the RIGHT people. The vineyard analogies were a well-needed reminder that the hard times are the pruning God uses in our lives to help us bloom, along with the importance of clinging to the True Vine even when all our other connections are swept away. 💛
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 41 books411 followers
June 21, 2022
Another brilliant book by Politano!

Every book I've read by this author has amazed me with her skill and the depth of spiritual content.
One of the things I adore about her female leads is they are strong, capable women, and are still very womanly. So many authors these days, even in the fiction market, somehow equate that if a girl in historical fiction is capable and strong, she must be straining against the confinements of womanhood. A few such characters are understandable, but as a norm, they get tiring. Politano breaks that mold and gives us a character we both love, root for, and see her weaknesses, without ever doubting her capabilities.

The plot kept me listening and even though I went through some days when I didn't listen, the story was on my mind. Like her other books. I know I will be thinking of this plot and the characters for many days to come.

Content notes: Two women mention unhappiness in marriage. A couple of kisses. Attempted murder. A father who is emotionally distant from his daughter and wife.
Profile Image for Megan.
219 reviews45 followers
July 7, 2018
A Rumored Fortune is a masterpiece! Joanna Davidson Politano’s debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, was on the list of my top ten fiction reads of 2017. So I was a little worried that her next novel would not live up to her stunning debut. As you can see, I loved A Rumored Fortune just as much!

Ms. Politano is a master storyteller and a wordsmith! It’s hard to describe why her writing is so unique. Some words I would use are lyrical, whimsical and creative. It is such a pleasure to read the way she phrases sentences and paragraphs. She does a wonderful job describing people and places.

I love the story and the mystery in A Rumored Fortune. It has a Gothic feel to it, reminiscent of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. The whole novel is very atmospheric. Ms. Politano also weaves allusions to Christianity throughout her fictional story of Tressa and the hidden fortune.

Tressa is a main character I fell in love with. I love how she is delicate, yet spunky. She can take care of herself, yet also asks for help when she needs it. She prays and I like how she talks with God. Our hero (who shall remain a mystery because we don’t know who to trust in the beginning) is very swoon-worthy. He also talks to God and follows his convictions to help others.

You will not be disappointed with this book! Ripe (in more ways than one, as it involves a vineyard) with mystery, intrigue, danger, and secrets, you will be frantically flipping through the pages to find answers. Who can Tressa trust and where is this fortune everyone is looking for?

Content: This book is a clean read.

Rating: I give this book 5 stars!

Genre: Christian fiction; Mystery; Historical fiction; Romance; Victorian

I want to thank Joanna Davidson Politano, LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Revell for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
82 reviews42 followers
July 5, 2018
Joanna Davidson Politano truly has a gift and I couldn’t be more excited to read another book of hers!

How’d you define wealth? A fortune?
Tressa Harlowe can be deemed to have both, living in a castle in a big estate where income comes from the wits of her father who has grown a vineyard in a place people claimed to be impossible.
Still, her life seems to be defined by what she doesn’t have: a title, a sensible mother, honest friendships... and the love of a father.

It’s heartbreaking to see this lovely girl hope beyond all hope to redeem her father; a hope that not even death can tear her from. Determined to fight for her family’s legacy, Tressa is willing to all she can to outsmart treasure hunters and find the fortune first, even if it means paring up with the mysterious new vine master who seems to have come out of the midst that started bringing doom into her life.

However, old expectations don't dry up fast and can be misplaced. Will Tressa find wisdom and strength in time to discern the truth? And the truth is more than seeing people beyond their masks, but Tressa's own heart and judgement. I adore a good character driven story, and this book did not disappoint. All lessons learned by Tressa are encouraging and applicable, though I confess at moments at moments I just wanted to shake her. That ending though <3

Overall, very well plotted mystery, engaging characters who are more than you judge them at first, and beautiful writing - nothing short from what I've come to expect from Joanna.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy. This is my honest review.
Profile Image for Megan.
157 reviews29 followers
March 29, 2023
Wow who knew how much a vineyard and growing grapes could reflect real life and more importantly our walk with the Lord? This book was strong in spiritual lessons paralleling vinedressing and they really spoke to me. The storyline was great with lots of mystery and questions that kept me engrossed. Tressa and Donegan were great characters and I really came to love them as I got to know them more. I also loved that even the secondary characters were deeper than they seemed when you first meet them. This was my second book by Mrs. Politano and I have to say she is quickly becoming a favorite author. I'm looking forward to reading all of her books!
Profile Image for Sarah Monzon.
Author 22 books422 followers
August 11, 2018
4.5 stars! A really enjoyable read with both plot and characters that will have you turning the pages. Beyond that, though, I immensely appreciated the spiritual themes of grafting and connecting to the true Vine.
Profile Image for Stacy Wilson .
163 reviews89 followers
May 30, 2022
3.5 stars. There was faith content, which I appreciate, but I never really got into the story. I enjoyed her writing style though.
Profile Image for Dick Reynolds.
Author 15 books37 followers
January 22, 2019

It’s 1866 and the setting for this book is Somerset, England, an area just south of Bristol. The master of Trevelyan Castle, Josiah Harlowe, has drowned but his body has not been found. And why is that? One has to read the first half of this book to find out. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Josiah’s daughter, Tessa Harlowe, is still living in the castle and trying her best to make ends meet while taking care of her ailing mother. She has a huge staff, of course, but she has to deal with a larger problem. Rumors abound about Josiah and his wealth. The most popular one is that Josiah had a huge fortune and it was buried somewhere on the estate. Various friends and relatives are eager to help Tessa in her hour of need with clearly discernible motives of sharing this fortune whenever it’s found.
Tessa’s cousin Neville is close at hand and applies his charm to ingratiate himself while applying tender pressure to hasten their engagement. But another gentleman appears on the scene, one Donegan Vance, who manages the activities of the vineyard that surrounds the castle. The vineyard also plays a major role in this novel; there are several paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter that are identified as excerpts from the notebook of a viticulturist. (There are about a dozen vineyards identified in today’s Somerset area.) There is also some mutual attraction between Tessa and Donegan but neither one seems eager to make something happen, probably a reflection of England’s mannerisms during the late nineteenth century.
Two major problems detracted from my enjoyment of this book. I thought the plot moved much too slowly and was often tempted to drop the book into my giveaway box. One of the most significant events doesn’t happen until the middle of the book. The other problem was the language; it reflected what was probably the social mores of that historical time but it isn’t fun to read in a 2019 novel.
Profile Image for Heather Gilbert.
Author 35 books748 followers
August 18, 2018
This novel is sure to please those who are looking for a romance with mysterious, unpredictable twists. I enjoyed having to guess about some things until close to the end. The heroine, Tressa, is sweet and reflective, which reminds me of Jane Eyre. An enjoyable read!
Profile Image for Amanda.
490 reviews64 followers
August 17, 2018
This is Joanna’s sophomore novel and it was just as amazing (or better) than her debut. Her writing is beautiful. She is very gifted at setting the scene and placing the reader in the environment right beside the characters.

The setting of this story was an old castle but in the time period of 1866. The story had a Gothic feel which added to the atmospheric quality of the story.

There were some twists in the story (one in particular) that I would classify as jaw dropping. I live for twists in my books so I loved this aspect in the book.

I also loved the plot…it was such a fun concept of a treasure hunt to locate this “rumored fortune”. It reminded me of modern day families, friends, and acquaintances that “come out of the woodwork” when someone is blessed (or cursed) with a windfall.

The fact that there were several unlikable characters in the story made it more fun for me. For some reason, I find that the addition of unlikable characters add validity and more of a realistic quality to stories.

Overall, this was an excellent, quick read that I adored and I will read anything that Joanna writes from now on!

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Diane Estrella.
315 reviews83 followers
August 31, 2018
From the very first interaction of our hero and heroine, I was hooked.

"Hold on as tight as you need."

And that is how the story progressed. Him being the most noble unofficial gentleman in the most sensitively, brutish way. As gruff as he came off, his gentle heart was shown in all he said and did. He was dreamy in every possible way. Tressa was the kindest most generous lady whose heart was open to everyone and everything. She didn't know all that she was searching for until the distractions were removed for her to find the Greatest Treasure.

Spiritually, the author had a beautiful way of incorporating God's nature into the story. By using the grapevines into the story, the author created another character which reflected God's beauty physically. Her metaphors were insightful and gave me many deep thoughts to ponder.

I can not believe this is only the author's sophomore effort. I enjoyed Lady Jayne Disappears and was excited for, this, her next book. She writes like an old pro and has fresh ideas for storylines and ways to incorporate God's love into every aspect of the story.

I won this book in a blog giveaway but was not required to leave a review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Profile Image for Stephenia McGee.
Author 26 books619 followers
September 30, 2021
This was one of those books I was desperate to finish but couldn't stand to see end. Politano's voice is rich and layered, bringing forth characters who come alive on the page. Pared with an intriguing plot and a beautiful faith message that stirs the heart, this story has everything I love in a dynamic read.
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 6 books72 followers
June 11, 2018
What an absolute delight it was to read A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano. Ripe with analogies and a handsome hero, this is a book you will not be able to put down.

Did you notice my use of the word "ripe"? This wonderful book, while a great read that will get you lost in the main mystery, uses John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing," as it's central theme.

​Tressa Harlowe is an heiress without a fortune and is not sure who to trust when old beaus, family and strangers appear on her doorstep after the death of her father. All of them are looking for her father's lost treasure, and Tressa is finding it hard to decide who to trust. But with the help of Donegan Vance her, her vineyard manager, she learns who to believe in the most.

​I loved the mystery, the romance and the lessons learned. I highly recommend this book!

Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing.
Profile Image for A.M. Heath.
Author 14 books289 followers
August 16, 2018
What I Loved: This was a prime example of fine Christian fiction. From the moment the story began, I was captivated by Tressa, her world, and her story. And as it unfolded, I was treated to an interesting new mystery. The conclusion of the mystery wasn’t clear from chapter one, so it was nice to go on the treasure hunt with the rest of the cast. The romance was sweet and clean. But what really stood out to me was the way Politano crafted the story to include tips on keeping a vineyard to mirror the Christian life. Again, and again, and again I found myself being convicted, refreshed, and reminded of various areas in my relationship to Christ. If you read this novel, keeping in mind the Biblical context of Christ being the vine and you being the branches, there is so much more waiting here for you than just an entertaining story! Bringing the focus back on Christ is what makes Christian fiction such a valuable form of entertainment, and Politano kept the focus where it ought to be in the most natural way.
Oftentimes, with a vineyard setting, the reader may see things such as wine tastings but that wasn’t the case here. The focus was solely on the growth of the grapes and not the producing of wine.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend A Rumored Fortune to all Christian Fiction fans but especially fans of Christian Historical Fiction. I give it 5 stars.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House through Net Galley. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own.
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