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: