Well, I have to say that if one feels like being transported to 19th century England, complete with all the mystery, intrigue and romance of a wonderfWell, I have to say that if one feels like being transported to 19th century England, complete with all the mystery, intrigue and romance of a wonderful Gothic novel, do pick up Sandra Byrd’s “Bride of a Distant Isle", the second installment in her Daughters of Hampshire series. The author executes a brilliant gothic novel, complete with the setting being one conducive to things that go “bump in the night” with an English Manor called Highcliffe positioned right next to a sea whose water pounds mercilessly against the land creating all kinds of atmosphere and “thickly salted mist that clouds vision like a cataract”. Oh yes, Sandra Byrd sets the scene perfectly.
Our heroine Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the Rogers day School for Young Ladies In Winchester but is at the mercy of her not so merciful cousin Edward, who has been helping with her financial provision. Edward has decided that to further his business connections that cutting Annabel’s financial assistance which will prevent her from teaching, while also trying to arrange an advantageous marriage to help him with his failing finances. The problem is while the man may be of good financial means, his character is truly that of a fiend, which of course plays well into the Gothic themes of the novel. While the villain is admittedly awful, our hero, a Maltese captain named Captain Marco Dell’Acqua is about as swoon-withy a hero as they come. He is at Highcliffe, also on business, looking to help his people the Maltese by forming a business alliance with her cousin Edward. As mentioned, Marco is truly a dreamy hero, but author does a wonderful job of keeping you just a little off –balance at times in wondering, is he really a good guy or… not? Both Annabel and Captain Dell'Acqua have much in common as they both have a link to Malta- for the Captain, it is his home and for Annabel, all she knows of it is that her father was from there, but she knows nothing else as she always lived under the shame of being “illegitimate”. Dell'Acqua has secrets of his own, and its fascinating to read how those unfold. Some of my favorite parts in the novel were the chemistry between these two. I loved their “hidden meaning” gifts that they would give to each other throughout the story, very romantic and always a message meant only for each other. I loved that special touch to the story.
As the novel unfolds, and mysterious items start showing up in Annabel’s chamber, beautiful combs that were clearly her mother’s as she saw a painting with her mother wearing them, a special necklace, a wedding cap, all of these items link her to the mysteries of her mother’s past and help to unravel the secrets that have been kept silent for far too long.
There is so much more that I can’t even really touch on all of it- poison, madness, deception and the list goes on and on. This novel kept me turning the pages and wanting to escape from 2016 back to 1851 so that I could find out exactly how it would all turn out in the end. The story truly comes to a fever pitch and there is a lot of twists and turns that make it so much fun to read and so many secrets and sub-plots to emerge as the novel goes on. If you loved her first novel in this series Mist of Midnight, I am absolutely certain that you will love this one even more! Don't miss this special story, it is worth the ride!!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. (less)...more