Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bride of a Distant Isle (Daughters of Hampshire, Book 2) by Sandra Byrd


"Malta is a small island, wholly surrounded by blue," he said, his gaze searching my face, "perhaps the very color of your eyes. Our homes and buildings are sculpted from butter-yellow stone and are hung with black lanterns so each can find his way in the dark."
-excerpt from Bride of Distant Isle
Book Summary:

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?
(Book Summary Courtesy of Simon and Schuster)

My Review:  

The story was intense from the moment I began reading!  There were good guys and gals, bad guys and gals, and those that were an enigma, that you just couldn’t quite figure out.  It had all the elements of a gothic romance, a mysterious hero, the supernatural, and those eerie spaces. Bride of a Distant Isle was riveting from beginning to end.

I loved the romance part of the story.  The hero hails from the same place as the heroine's father, the island of Malta.  Byrd weaves the story in such a way that the romance moves in slow fashion, unfolding slowing over the 350+ pages of the book, and you don’t know the outcome until the very end.  

I also enjoyed learning about some of the history of Catholicism in the story. The main character, Annabel, is Catholic as is her mother. It was interesting to see the practices of the time period, the attitudes toward Catholicism of some, and how some things unfolded for Catholics after the Protestant Reformation.

My least favorite part of the book, but pivotal to the storyline, was the disturbing look inside the asylum, which was commonly used during that period in history.  If you visit Sandra Byrd’s website, she shares a list of common, albeit outrageous, reasons for people being committed during that time period.  


Sandra Byrd is always excellent in her research, and her novels are like taking a step back in time.  We get to “see” British history, food, dress, architecture, design, culture, and common social practices.  Additionally in this book, we get to learn about some of those same elements of the island of Malta.

I had heard of the island of Malta before reading the book, so it was interesting to see it as part of the story. Malta is the island the apostle Paul arrived on after the shipwreck in the book of Acts. You can find the story in Acts 27-28.

The story is very clean, which is something I appreciate. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction or gothic romance.  It was definitely a bit more intense than the first novel in the series, but with a definitive theme of redemption. You can see the review of the first in the Daughters of Hampshire series here.  

Many blessings to you as you live out your own redemption story!

In Him,
Beth


For more background information about Bride of a Distant Isle, or Sandra Byrd, please visit her website at www.sandrabyrd.com.

Disclosure Statement: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a favorable review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


6 comments:

  1. What a lovely review! Thank you for taking the time to read and spread the word!

    Best wishes,
    Renee

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  2. Wow! What a great sounding book. Thanks Beth

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    Replies
    1. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

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  3. Thank you, dear Beth. I so appreciate you!

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    Replies
    1. You are so very welcome Sandra! Thanks for sharing your gift!

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