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The Mermaid and the Bear

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  36 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted
Kindle Edition, 221 pages
Published October 18th 2019 by GWL Publishing
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Shelley Wilson
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! Historical romance is not my preferred genre to read but I’m committed to stepping out of my reading rut and was hooked in by the blurb and promise of faery castles and misty locks. I was swept up by Isobell’s story and the flow of the prose.

The plot was well developed and follows Isobell’s story as she sails to Scotland to escape a wicked man. We’re introduced to a colourful cast of characters from the motherly cook, Bessie Thom, to the charismatic Thomas Manteith whose
Steve Wiggins
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite parts of reading challenges is being exposed to books I might not otherwise read. As I mentioned elsewhere (Sects and Violence in the Ancient World), I read Ailish Sinclair’s blog. She mentioned her debut novel The Mermaid and the Bear and since debut novel was a category in this year’s Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, I put one and one together and, remarkably for me, came up with two. I’m not Scottish, but I read for my doctorate at Edinburgh, so I have a fondness for ...more
Elizabeth Lloyd
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Scotland in 1597 was not a place to be a woman, especially a woman of faith, opinions or healing gifts. But Isobell has fled from her London home to avoid marriage to a cruel Englishman and has found kindness and friendship in a Scottish castle. Hiding her wealthy background, she starts work as a kitchen maid but her clumsy mistakes reveal her lack of experience. While Bessie, the housekeeper guards her secrets, Isobell must be more cautious with Agnes, the spiteful governess and Christen, the ...more
Wee Lassie
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the best book I read all last year. I'd recommend The Mermaid and the Bear to anyone who loves a good book, well-rounded characters and heart-stopping suspense.
Terry Tyler
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book via an ARC from the author, for Rosie Amber's Book Review Team. The fact that it was free has not affected this honest review.

I chose this book from the review team list because I've loved looking at the author's marvellous photos of Scotland on her website for some years now; I hoped that anyone so artistic and with such a love for the area in which this story is set would be a fine writer too, though this doesn't necessarily follow, of course—but I'm pleased to say that I was
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A beautiful story told through the use of equally beautiful prose. Set in Scotland in the 16th century during the time of witch trials, Ailish Sinclair's THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR tells the tale of English maiden Isobell who escapes her home and the evil intentions of the cruel man she's been promised to marry. Fans of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER will enjoy this book. With that said, there is something more poetically moving about Sinclair's novel. That sentiment does not detract from OUTLANDER. ...more
N.A. Granger
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ailish Sinclair has written a captivating romantic fairy tale for adults, set in 1597 Scotland.
Isobell has been pledged by her father to marry a man she calls Wicked Richard. Together with two boys, Ian and Jasper, she flees her intended husband and a life of privilege in London, sailing in the hold of a ship to a smugglers cave below a remote castle in Scotland. There she will work as an assistant cook.
With no training for her menial job, she is taken under the wing of Bessie Thom, the castle
Jenny Gaitskell
The Mermaid and the Bear is a charming mix of dark history and romance, lightly dusted with its own magic.

Isobell leaves Shakespeare's London to escape marriage to a murderous brute arranged by her calculating older brother. A lover of faery tales and ancient myths, she hopes Scotland will match her daydreams. Though not much good as a kitchen maid, she falls in love with the castle, its kindhearted people, the landscape, and then she meets the laird.

Told in Isobell's warm and witty voice, the
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautifully written story!
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a pleasure to read. A glimpse into the past, complete with joy and sorrow. All lovers of Scottish lore will like this, and be sure to follow the author of Twitter for some beautiful photos!
Sheri J.
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I teetered between 4 and 5 stars, but decided this book is indeed amazing since it had the perfect combination of good, fun storytelling and authentic and 'deeper' historical context. Before I go into detail, I'll declare this an entertaining and satisfying read with a playful and dear aspect that kept it at the top of my reading list each time I considered what to pick up on an evening. I loved the characters and was eager to return to their story-world.
With a topic of witch trials, I somewhat
S.J. Higbee
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Historical romance isn’t my go-to genre. But I was intrigued by the talk of faery castles and mermaids. Isabell is a delightful character who pings off the page. The first-person description of her struggles with seasickness is riveting and dramatic, establishing Sinclair as a talented writer with a flair for words. There is a lushness to the prose throughout, which could so easily have tipped into sentimentality, or just become a tad annoying. It doesn’t.

What Sinclair is able to do is write
Helen Culyer
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This enchanting tale set in the sixteenth century comes complete with a mysterious castle, ancient stones, and a handsome laird. I know...what more could you want?

Well-written, easy to read, and a lovely book to curl up with at night. The witch trial scenes were more gruelling than I expected, which added a darker element to the tale and makes you appreciate just how brutal life was for women living during this period.

The themes of spirituality, faith, and friendship run throughout the book and
Sally Boocock
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did enjoy this book but felt all the action about witches was crammed into the last 100 pages. I really admire the way history was bound into the fiction story but would have liked more about witches. In places it was quite atmospheric and the characters were great except some who were so wicked. All in all a good read and I look forward to more from Ailish Sinclair.
Anya Pavelle
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book! I'm an art historian and fond of Scotland and references to the faery realm, so the historical texture and imagery the author weaves into this plot engaged me as I read the book.
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an astounding and beautiful novel. It's hard to say much about it without spoiling things for those who are interested but have not read it yet. It is about a woman in London whose father has betrothed her to an abusive lout, so she flees to Scotland, where she takes a position as a kitchen maid in a laird's castle, and the events that unfold thereafter. Truly a magical book and so beautifully written!
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In reality a 4.5 but I am rounding it up because it did make me cry and laugh, and any book that gets to me in that way deserves to be rounded up.
This book was recommended to me by another goodreads member. The plot sounded intriguing, so I decided I would give it a go.
I was worried when I started the book, as the start felt a little slow, and some of the writing felt a little rough. It felt a little unpolished and quite honestly like something written by a new author that had not fully honed
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Ailish Sinclair trained as a dancer and taught dance for many years. She now lives beside a loch with her husband and two children where she writes, dances and eats a lot of cake (chocolate).

Her historical novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, featuring the 1597 Scottish witchcraft panic, is out now.

Contemporary novel, TENDU – a tale of love, dance and obsession – is coming in 2020.