The Memory Keepers, J'nell Ciesielski

The Castle Keepers Review

The Castle Keepers by Aimie K. Runyan, J’nell Ciesielski, and Rachel McMillan follow the Alnwick family across multiple generations and three wars. In each novella, an Alnwick returned from war to find that they had battles to fight on the home front.

My Review of The Castle Keepers

The Castle Keepers is a collection of three novellas: The Truth Keepers by Aimie K. Runyan, The Memory Keepers by J’nell Ciesielski, and The Dream Keepers by Rachel McMillan.

I have reviewed each novella in the collection before giving my overall opinion of the book.

My review of The Truth Keepers

I enjoyed watching as Beatrice came into herself. Prior to her marriage, her mother’s forceful personality overshadowed her. It was very interesting to see her refusal for her mother-in-law to do the same.

The Truth Keepers will remind readers that each of us is stronger than we know. Sometimes we tap into this inner strength in the midst of our trials.

My review of The Memory Keepers

I love Elena! Her outlook on life was refreshing—why choose to dwell on sadness or hard times when you can remember and anticipate the joy?
Elena’s sunny outlook had a positive influence on Tobias and was just what he needed to pull himself out of his postwar depression.

He saw himself through her eyes and remembered that he was precious, regardless of what he looked like.

The romance between Elena and Tobias was sweet and will remind readers that God has created the perfect partner for each of us.

The Memory Keepers will remind readers that hard times will come, but we don’t have to focus on them. We can choose instead to focus on the joy that is present, even in our trials.

My review of The Dream Keepers

Alec is determined to create something life-changing out of the property that had been his family’s albatross for years. He begins an experiment with Austrian psychoanalyst Brigitta.

Together, they provide a haven for the men who return from war, where they can heal until they’re ready to return home.

The romance between Brigitta and Alec flowed out of mutual respect and caring. I enjoyed seeing these two work to help the men who’d been scarred by what they’d seen in the war.

The Dream Keepers will remind readers that beauty can come out of ashes. With hard work and determination, it is possible to redeem what had been lost.


My Overall Review of The Castle Keepers

I enjoyed all three novellas in this collection. The authors did a masterful job of depicting the effects that war can have on those who return.

I also enjoyed the way they wove the curse that supposedly hung over Alnwick Castle through each story, showing where it began and the beginnings of the family moving away from it.

The Castle Keepers will remind readers that people will form opinions about us that are sometimes erroneous, but we get to choose how we will respond. We can strive to change their opinions of us, barricade ourselves away from it, or choose to live in spite of it. Ultimately, the choice is up to us.

I listened to an audiobook version of The Castle Keepers. Ann Marie Gideon did a great job portraying the characters, and I enjoyed hearing her read.

I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher through NetGalley; a positive review was not required.

About The Castle Keepers

Leedswick Castle has housed the Alnwick family in the English countryside for generations, despite a family curse determined to destroy their legacy and erase them from history.

1870. After a disastrous dinner at the Astor mansion forces her to flee New York in disgrace, socialite Beatrice Holbrook knows her performance in London must be a triumph. When she catches the eye of Charles Alnwick, one of the town’s most enviably titled bachelors, she prepares to attempt a social coup and become the future Marchioness of Northridge. Then tragedy and scandal strike the Alnwick family, and Beatrice must assume the role of a lifetime: that of her true, brave self.

1917. Artist Elena Hamilton arrives in Northumberland determined to transform a soldier’s wounds into something beautiful. Tobias Alnwick’s parents have commissioned a lifelike mask to help their son return to his former self after battle wounds partially destroyed his face. But Elena doesn’t see a man who needs fixing—she sees a man who needn’t hide. Yet secrets from their past threaten to chase away the peace they’ve found in each other and destroy the future they’re creating.

1945. Alec Alnwick returns home from the war haunted but determined to leave death and destruction behind. With the help of Brigitta Mayr, the brilliant young psychoanalyst whose correspondence was a lifeline during his time on the Western Front, he reconstructs his family’s large estate into a rehabilitation center for similarly wounded soldiers. Alec’s efforts may be the only chance to redeem his family legacy—and break the curse on the Alnwick name—once and for all.

Three beloved authors share stories of the Alnwick family through the generations, revealing how love and war can change a place—but only its people can unshackle it from the misdeeds of the past.

Multiple historical timelines following generations of one family.

About Aimie K. Runyan

Aimie K. Runyan writes to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. She has been honored as a Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice selection, as a three-time finalist for the Colorado Book Awards, and as a nominee for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer of the Year.

Aimie is active as an educator and speaker in the writing community and beyond. Her next books, The Castle Keepers (in collaboration with J’nell Ciesielski and Rachel McMillan) and A Bakery in Paris will release in 2023 from Harper Collins. Also from Harper Collins, Aimie’s contemporary Women’s Fiction debut, The Memory of Lavender and Sage, will release in early 2024.

She lives in Colorado with her amazing husband, two (usually) adorable children, two (always) adorable kitties, and a dragon. To learn more about Aimie, please visit

About J’nell Ciesielski

Bestselling author and with a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by.

When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies.

She is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at

About Rachel McMillan

Rachel McMillan is the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, the Three Quarter Time series of contemporary romances set in opulent Vienna, and the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries praised for bringing an authentic 1930’s Boston world to life while normalizing the fictional conversation surrounding mental illness.

She is also the author of Dream, Plan and Go: A Romantic’s Guide to Independent Travel and A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide: which explores her love of made-for-TV Christmas movies.

Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada.

About Narrator Ann Marie Gideon

Ann Marie Gideon is an Atlanta-based actor and voice artist. She graduated with a BFA from the University of Memphis, trained at the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy, and has performed in theaters across the United States.

Ann Marie has been narrating audiobooks continuously since 2013 and has developed a love and passion for crafting a story through narration. With over eighty-five titles under her belt, she specializes in young adult, self-help nonfiction, contemporary female fiction, and romance.

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