I didn’t realize how much I had missed Gothic romance novels until Sandra Byrd released her first book in the Daughters of Hampshire series. I enjoyed it so much that I looked forward to each subsequent book. “A Lady in Disguise” is the third and final book if the series follows the usual rule of three. I personally would love to see this author continue to write novels in this vein.
“A Lady in Disguise” continues the series with its wonderfully sinister atmosphere, heightened suspense, and characters perfectly suited to their roles. I loved how difficult it was to determine whether certain characters were friend or foe. There were moments that I suspected each of them even when I hoped I was wrong. I did begin to suspect one over the others and my suspicions turned out to be correct; however that did not affect my enjoyment of the story one bit. The dialogue between Thomas and Gillian was delightful. I so enjoyed their scenes together.
With the perfect combination of drama, suspense, romance, and faith with just a touch of humor, “A Lady in Disguise” was exactly what I had hoped. The suspense element grew at just the right rate and had me worried about whether Gillian would survive her troubles. A surprise or two along the way were the icing to the cake. My only complaint is that it ended much too quickly but then I shouldn’t read so fast. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for her readers next.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.
Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?
Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants
to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including her two historical series with Howard Books. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.
Once upon a time, many years ago, I could not get enough of the novels of authors such as Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. I loved those deliciously Gothic romantic mysteries with their constant sense of impending doom. I did not realize just how much I had missed reading those books until I got my hands on a copy of Sandra Byrd’s first novel in her Daughters of Hampshire series, “Mist of Midnight”. I literally devoured it and was impatient to read the next book of the series. Finally “Bride of a Distant Isle” arrived but I had to force myself to wait until I had fulfilled some other previous commitments before I could read it even though it beckoned to me every time I passed its shelf. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait!
Not only an orphan but also illegitimate, Annabel Ashton is at the mercy of her cousin who inherited the family estate. When she suddenly finds herself a virtual prisoner at Highcliffe Hall and learns that Edward has plans for her to marry a highly repulsive man, Annabel does not know where to find the help she needs. It becomes evident that there is no way to discern who she can trust – not even the man she has come to love. It was easy to get caught up in Annabel’s feeling of utter hopelessness and to hope again when she turned her situation over to the Lord. I loved learning of the people working behind the scenes on her behalf even when she felt the most abandoned.
Layer upon layer, the author has built a novel filled with so many twists and surprises that I became totally immersed in the story. Her descriptions of the house, its surroundings, and characters added to the perfect background atmosphere for the plot. One scene in particular was pure genius but I’ll leave other readers to guess which one. You just have to read it yourself.
I loved, loved, loved this book and once again am impatient for the next installment. I believe most readers will feel the same if they give it a chance.
A copy of this book was provided for review by the author.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
An unforgettable romance set in Victorian England, Bride of A Distant Isle is the engrossing story of Annabel Ashton, who fights to save her family home and her mother’s honor while trying to figure out if the man she loves wants her—or just wants to use her to achieve his own ambitions.
Miss Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the Rogers School for Young Ladies in Winchester when she takes a brief visit to her family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. She believes her stay will be short but soon learns that she will not be returning to the safety of the school. Instead, she remains at Highcliffe, at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge.
Annabel protests, but as the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum, she has little say. Edward is running out of money and puts the house up for sale to avoid financial ruin. He insists that Annabel marry, promising her to a sinister, frightening man. But as the house gets packed for sale, it begins to reveal disquieting secrets. Jewelry, artifacts, and portraits mysteriously appear, suggesting that Annabel may be the true heir of Highcliffe.
She has only a few months to prove her legitimacy, perhaps with assistance from the handsome but troubled Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But does he have Annabel’s best interests at heart?
And then, a final, most ominous barrier to both her inheritance and her existence appears: a situation neither she nor anyone else could have expected. Will Annabel regain her life and property—and trust her heart—before it’s too late?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A Word from the Author:I never planned to be a writer.
In fact, it took me a while to finish college. But I did, and here I am. And I now I can’t imagine not being a writer.
By day, I am an English Instructor for a local college, mother to four amazing children, and wife to an eternally patient and supportive husband.
In the evening, when I can squirrel away some quiet time, I read and write historical fiction.
I have a B.A. in English Lit. from UW Whitewater and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ.
If you have a question for me, or if you are local and would like me to stop by your book club or writer’s group, please drop me a line via the “Ask the Author” tab. I always love the opportunity to meet with others who share my love of books.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
She’ll fight for her future…but can she escape her past?
Chicago, Winter, 1891
Rachel is in danger. She s seen too much.
She creeps along the cement walls through the dank underbelly of the asylum. She d never planned to leave her quiet farm life, never thought she d find a place in the city, never imagined she d be in the kind of danger that would have her cowering in Dunning s cold, labyrinthine basement.
Jenny has finally found her place. After a childhood of abuse, she has friends, a real job, and her only wish is to give her adopted son the kind of life she never had.
A life of stability, without the risk and uncertainty of a father.
But when Jeremy, Rachel s brother, stumbles into their warehouse, asking for help to find his missing sister, Jenny s carefully constructed life begins to crumble.
I find it hard to believe it has been nearly two years since I had the privilege to review Cara Luecht’s novel “Soul Painter”. You can read my review HERE. As a long-time lover of Gothic romance, I was quite impressed with that novel and am happy to say that Soul’s Prisoner just reinforced my esteem for this author.
The dark and brooding atmosphere is the perfect setting for the evil that permeates the asylum and the suspense continues to build as the reader wonder whether Rachel will be rescued from her cruel fate. Many of the characters from “Soul Painter” make their appearance withing the pages of Soul’s Prisoner and new members are added to Miriam’s growing “family”. Once again Miriam is painting – portraits of a woman unknown to her – a woman she knows is in immense danger. The game has changed but Miriam cannot resist her calling and is somewhat surprised at her new husband’s staunch support.
What can I say without spoilers? The plot grabbed me from the beginning and drug me along to the end without letting go. Despite overwhelming evil, there was still a strong feeling of hope and faith. I liked the eclectic mix of characters. Some were malevolent, some were shining lights, and at least one saw the error of his ways and changed his course. There were a few surprises along the way and at least one budding romance. Naturally the bad guys got what was coming to them by the end but what fun reading to see how everything played out.
Soul’s Prisoner is the perfect book for anyone who enjoys historical suspense/mysteries. I have thoroughly enjoyed both books in the Portraits of Grace series and sincerely hope that many more sequels will be written. I also hope I won’t have to wait two years for the next one. I can be quite impatient when I love a series!
In “A Stranger’s Secret” the rugged coast of Cornwall is the perfect backdrop for a story filled with mystery and intrigue. Between the dire deeds of the local wreckers, a mysterious stranger, and multiple attempts on his life, this novel held my attention and wouldn’t let go.
The second novel in Eakes’ Cliffs of Cornwall series, “A Stranger’s Secret” features Morwenna, a young widow who played a minor role in the first novel of the series. Determined to preserve her young son’s heritage by preserving her late husband’s estate, Morwenna refuses to accept help from her grandparents, who she fears will try to control her and her son. When she rescues a nearly dead stranger in the aftermath of a shipwreck on her estate, Morwenna finds herself pulled into a deadly mystery and learns that her life is linked to the life of the stranger in more ways than one.
With well-rounded characters, a perfectly Gothic mood, and a plot with many twists and surprises, “A Stranger’s Secret” was the kind of novel I love to read. Morwenna’s regrets over her past actions and determination to be a good mother were admirable but unforgiveness toward her grandparents and her absent parents prevented her true happiness. The transformation of her attitude was gratifying to watch unfold and I loved how her grandparents turned out to treat her much different than she expected.
All in all, “A Stranger’s Secret” was a very satisfying novel and I look forward to more books by this author.
This book was provided for review by the BookLook Blogger
Program of Harper Collins Christian Publishing.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a grieving widow, Morwenna only wants to make a life for herself and her young son at her murdered husband’s estate. Until an unconscious man washes up on her shore, entangling her in a web of mysteries that threatens everything she holds dear.
Still grieving the loss of her husband, Morwenna Penvenan fills her days preserving her son’s heritage: the dilapidated estate his father left them. But all attempts at restoration are thwarted when she is accused of deliberately causing ships to crash on her shore in order to steal their cargo. While seeking clues to the true culprits, she finds an unconscious man wearing a medallion with the Penvenan crest enameled upon it.
Upon learning of his father’s death, David pursues answers to the many questions left in his father’s wake: Why was his father in Cornwall when he said he would be in Scotland? Why did he die in possession of a medallion belonging to a prominent Cornwall family? Why did his father take money from the family’s ship-building business? And why did someone kill him? Only after waking up at the Penvenan estate under Morwenna’s care do the pieces start falling together.
As David recovers in Morwenna’s house, they grow to care about one another, while knowing each have reasons to distrust the other. The closer they work together, the more they learn how their lives—and mysteries—are entwined. As the past continues to intrude on their lives, they must learn to ask the Lord and others for help or risk losing each other and maybe even losing their lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Recipient of the National Readers Choice Award, Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of nine books and a novella, with four more books and two novellas scheduled for release. She is a writing teacher and speaker and has her master’s degree in creative writing. She also writes articles on writing, including “Writing from the Heart While Writing for the Market” for The ACFW Journal. Visit her website at Facebook: authorlauriealiceeakes Twitter: @LaurieAEakes