Pub. Date: March 22nd, 2016
Series: The Daughters of Hampshire (Book 2)
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?
What Did I Think About the Story?
I have long been a fan of Sandra Byrd's writing and have read and enjoyed all three books in her Ladies in Waiting series (To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, and Roses Have Thorns) as well as the first book in this Daughters of Hampshire series (Mist of Midnight). I always know that when I see a new historical fiction book by Sandra is coming out I'm going to want to read it and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm happy to say that Bride of a Distant Isle kept her on this streak and once again provided hours of entertainment.
From the get-go I knew I was going to like Annabel. Right from the start she is thrown into one horrible situation after another - from being ripped from the school she loved teaching at to being thrown at a man she couldn't stand to having her very freedom ripped out from under her - and at every obstacle she refused to give up and barreled through to try and find the best outcome of each dire situation...and she did it all with more grace than I believe I could ever have had. I found her to be such a well drawn character, along with Captain Dell’Acqua and a most of the other secondary characters. I have to admit I wasn't as big a fan of the development of Mr. and Mrs. Everedge or Mr. Morgan (the man her cousin tried to force her to marry and who I didn't think necessarily warranted the vile disgust she seemed to feel for him, but that could just be me) but all of the other characters seemed very realistic.
I also really enjoyed the development of the surroundings our characters found themselves in. Sandra Byrd did an exceptional job of immersing me in the dark, slightly decaying Highcliffe Hall as well as the asylum we get to peek into. This whole world was so easy to see and experience along with the characters and I'm always delighted when an author is able to make me feel like I'm actually seeing the situations play out in front of me. It makes the reading experience so much more enjoyable!
I do have to say that I didn't have a very hard time figuring out the mysteries surrounding Annabel and who was involved in them. I don't want to say too much and spoil any surprises for other readers, but for me I had most of it figured out pretty soon, even if I didn't know the exact why's and how's. There weren't any big surprises or gasp-y moments, but that isn't to say that it wasn't enjoyable going along for the ride and seeing Annabel figure out what was really going on and whom she could really trust. I should also mentioned that this is clearly Christian fiction, so if you do not enjoy those elements in your historical fiction please take note. I think Sandra did a good job of never becoming too preachy (which I've experienced in other Christian fiction books and didn't enjoy) but I thought it should be noted.
I really do mean it when I say that I always know I'm going to enjoy a Sandra Byrd historical. She hasn't disappointed yet and this being my fifth book of hers I've read I have the upmost confidence that she'll continue to entertain me. Any reader who enjoys Christian fiction will especially love her books.
What Did I Think About the Cover?
I think it's beautiful! It represents the story very well, with the grassy lands by the sea and the old house on the cliffs. I can't really think of anything else I would want in this cover, so great job cover designers!!
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
I received a free copy of Bride of a Distant Isle from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Sandra! To read more reviews and find the various links to purchase a copy visit the Goodreads page HERE.