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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sandra Byrd: Bride of a Distant Isle

By Kelly Bridgewater

Description (from Amazon):

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?
From Amazon
My Thoughts:

I have read Sandra Byrd’s “Ladies in Waiting” series, and I really enjoyed learning more about the historical woman of Henry VIII’s court. It brought their struggles and dilemmas alive for me. I haven’t gotten around to reading the first book in Byrd’s” The Daughters of Hampshire” series, even though I do own it. With the picture on the cover, I was afraid that I wouldn’t like it. I really don’t like stories that look like they take place in the west or regency women. But Byrd had surprised me.

I really liked the mystery aspect of Bride of A Distant Isle. It began pretty close in the first chapter where I learned that Annabel had to live with her cousin because her mother was sent to an insane asylum when she was four years old. I wonder, along with Annabel, why her mother was not believed and sent away. I enjoyed how mysterious items that proved her mother wasn’t lying kept showing up among Annabel’s belongings. I couldn’t wait to figure out who her father was, was her mother actually married, and who was giving her mother’s things back to her. The mystery kept my attention.

Byrd does a good job at allowing me to feel like I was roaming around Hillcliffe Hall with Annabel and her family. I felt the cold from outside without actually being told it was getting winter. I liked seeing the paintings that were stored away in the attic hidden from human eyes. There weren’t big moments of description. Just enough when I entered a new room to situate me in the setting.

I really liked Annabel’s character. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to her cousin and Edward and follow her heart to prove her mother wasn’t crazy. I enjoy characters that are strong enough to stand up for what is right even when they are facing unsurpassable odds against them. Byrd allowed Annabel to stay focused even when her cousin and his wife tried to prove that she was crazy like her mother.

A true Gothic novel, Sandra Bryd in her latest addition to “The Daughters of Hampshire” series Bride of A Distant Isle captured my attention with the mystery and characters I have come to enjoy reading about. I recommend Bride of A Distant Isle for fans of mysteries and fans of middle nineteenth century writings.

I received a complimentary copy of Bride of A Distant Isle from Howard Books and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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