Young Adult - Romance
315 Pages
Reviewed on 04/27/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

E. L. Schoeman started her first novel when she was sixteen. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada. Isabel is her debut novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

E.L. Schoeman’s Isabel is a medieval love story about a noble girl, Isabel, who falls in love with a stable boy, Matthew. Refused to be bound by her noble status, Isabel rides horses, engages in sword fights, sleeps in the stables and often speaks her mind. Her love, Matthew, is not just a plain stable boy as everyone thinks. His troubled past is equally rivaled by his determination to become a knight. Unable to withstand the girl’s fiery independent nature any longer, Sir John Scotch convinced Isabel’s adopted father, William Wentworth, to take action and send Matthew away. Sir John Scotch then hires the charming James as a spy to turn Isabel against Wentworth. However, Isabel finds out about the deception and from that point on she realizes that she must decide her own fate.

In terms of characterization, Schoeman has done an exceptional job to make the characters come alive. Readers will definitely care about them, and the emotions are narrated well to make anyone feel the joy, laughter, sorrow, and fear that the characters have to go through – especially the protagonist, Isabel. This novel is a tragic medieval romance, but there is a slight twist of the supernatural that boosts its charm. The prose is flowery enough to tug the hearts of the romantics. The story flows along well and is well-crafted. The bonds formed between characters in the book are skillfully depicted and easily convinced me about either the love or hatred between characters. On the whole, this YA romance novel would satisfy even mature readers.

Samantha Rivera

Isabel Hawkins is a strange girl for her time. More in love with riding horses and spending time in the dirt with the boys than dressing up and attending fancy parties, she is nonetheless drawn to some flights of fancy. In fact, Isabel is drawn to three very different boys; three boys who are not at all suitable for her and who could never be accepted by her world. The boys all seem to adore her as well, but they each have secrets that could destroy everything. Could any of them someday be good enough for her and could any of them ever claim her heart completely? It’s a question that will be difficult to answer in Isabel by E.L. Schoeman.

I have to say I was absolutely amazed by this book. I found myself wanting to read more and more and wishing I could read faster just so I could find out what happened next. There are so many characters and Isabel is pulled in so many different directions, but at the same time every one of them is developed enough to make you truly like them. I found myself wishing that James would be the one she chose and then Ben and then Alex and Matthew. From one page to the next, I never knew what would happen and I never knew which boy would win her over in the end. Isabel is a story that will keep you flipping pages long into the night and early hours of the morning because you won’t be able to put it down.

Lisa Jones

Isabel, by E.L. Schoeman, is a remarkable story about a young woman named Isabel. She is wild, free and loves life and she also possesses an incredible beauty. It is a gift so powerful that it captures the hearts of men within moments. William is her guardian and has been her protector from her youth. He allowed Isabel to experience a life full of freedom and happiness and this enabled her to be the woman that she became. As life proves to be unpredictable, she begins to fall madly in love with Mathew and he with her. However, they both know that everything will be against them as Mathew is only a stable hand with nothing to offer her financially, but Isabel does not care about material things. They pledge an oath of marriage between themselves under the moonlight. Their glowing world of happiness is abruptly shattered with the arrival of St John and he is a very powerful man. He has desires upon Isabel and he always get what he wants. With his manipulation, William orders his beloved Isabel to conform to sobriety and be more lady-like, attending balls and suchlike. She meets some interesting characters at this time in her life, the first being James who strangely reminds her of Mathew somewhat. James has fallen under her spell and will not play any part in being a spy for St John. The next character she will meet will be Alex, otherwise known as The Ghost. He, like James, is a thief of the night, the Prince of Thieves in fact, and he also finds himself under her spell. With so many hearts to be captured by this remarkable beauty, the outcome can only spell trouble. Mathew wonders if his protection and that of her brothers will be enough to save her from the clutches of the evil St John.

E.L. Schoeman delivers her debut novel in Isabel, and I kid you not it is outstanding! I found the character of Isabel to be captivating and as a reader I was drawn to her immediately. Her zest for life was unique in the way in which it enticed you into the novel from the start. The forbidden love of Mathew was lovely and even in the end, in the darkest hours, he never left her side. The plot had layers of hidden depth which I found remarkable for a first novel and the story itself was just beautiful. The relationship that Isabel has with her brothers touched my heart. Her bond with William was strong and when he finally confessed the truth to her, I found it so lovely. I simply cannot sing the praises of this incredible book enough and I recommend it to all.

Mamta Madhavan

Isabel by E.L. Schoeman is a romantic tragedy where the author has masterfully woven a range of emotions into the life of a woman trying to find true love. Not many boys are attracted to Isabel Hawkins, mainly because of her personality. She is more of the adventurous type who loves horse riding and sword-fighting. Though she is the adopted daughter of a nobleman, Isabel falls in love with Mathew, a stable boy who is dreaming to become a knight. Sir John sets a spy to find out what she is up to and what follows is the unfolding of the many secrets of Isabel and her life.

The plot is that of adventure, intrigue, betrayal, love, passion and much more that will keep readers engrossed till the very end. The medieval theme is refreshing and there is something mysterious about the plot. The secrets that surround the lives of the knights, noblemen, and people in power during that era have been captured well by the author. The characters are strongly portrayed and grow beautifully along with the plot. The passion Isabel feels for Mathew is palpable as the story progresses. The story is intriguing and it will make readers guess at what is going to happen next.

The imagery is rich and striking and creates a great visual impact on the minds of readers. There are a few twists and turns in the plot that add to the suspense element in the theme.