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Bride of a Distant Isle #2, in the Daughters of Hampshire series, by Sandra Byrd
Believed to be the illegitimate daughter of a madwoman, Annabel Ashton is at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge. Now the only home she has known, Highcliffe Hall, is being sold and Annabel has been promised in marriage to a man she fears. But certain items have made an appearance which indicate that Annabel may not be illegitimate after all – that she may, in fact, be the heir of Highcliffe Hall – if only she can prove it.
Number of Pages: 500
Vendor: Christian Romance Series
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.81 (inches)|
Series: Daughters Of Hampshire
DollyNew MexicoAge: 45-54Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Fabulous & filled with mystery & gothic flavor!March 16, 2017DollyNew MexicoAge: 45-54Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Sandras second in the Daughters of Hampshire series beguiled from the first sentence. The heroine, Annabel, survived a series of tragic, often hopeless circumstances. Yet, each bitter experience renewed her strength & determination. Despite intense personal suffering, Annabel exuded grace, courage, dignity, & compassion. Choosing to overlook her own needs & desires, Annabel helped others at every opportunity. This required an abundance of both creativity & self-sacrifice since shed been stripped of even the most basic resources. Even more demoralizing, the threat of being forced to marry a man with several disturbing habits. While the marriage would have improved her cousins situation, it would most likely ruin her life. Although each attempted escape was blocked by a mysterious but capable assailant, Annabel remained brave, noble, & resourceful. Any hope of finding a different path required mustering every ounce of reason, logic, & cunning. Focusing on a solution grew even more difficult as a series of bizarre incidents made Annabel wonder if she might have inherited her mothers insanity. Sandras clever provision of only the most subtle hints made it impossible to stop reading until the conclusion brought all the pieces together. In addition to this most admirable heroine, Sandra filled this fabulous literary adventure with goose-bump producing gothic flavor, rich historical details, steadfast faith including a glimpse into supernatural provision, & a dangerous but oh-so dashing hero. These & many other ingenious details made this an absolute must-read whether you already love Sandras writing or will be meeting her on these pages for first time.
girlsmamaEdgewood, WAAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Bride of a Distant Isle- Hold on for the ride!July 10, 2016girlsmamaEdgewood, WAAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Well. 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 Byrds 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 Annabels 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 DellAcqua 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 Annabels chamber, beautiful combs that were clearly her mothers 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 mothers past and help to unravel the secrets that have been kept silent for far too long.
There is so much more that I cant 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.
English LadyUK,Age: 25-34Gender: Female4 Stars Out Of 5Romance, Mystery and Madness in Victorian HampshireMay 19, 2016English LadyUK,Age: 25-34Gender: FemaleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 4Id heard many good things about Mist of Midnight, the last novel in the Daughters of Hampshire series when I requested this one. I decided to read the prequel first, although it was not really necessary as they are both standalone books and there is no connection in terms of the characters.
Im more used to Regencies then Victorian gothic thrillers cum Romance, but Mrs Byrds series would appeal to all fans of historical fiction set at this time I believe. The setting was immersive, and the story kept my attention pretty much from the outset.
There have been other stories exploring madness and the treatment of those considered mad in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, but I think this one was one of the best. The subject matter was treated sensitively, and was realistic in the context of the tension between the family members. In a way, even the audience and the protagonist arent sure if everything was as should have been.
There were similarities between this and the last book, as it has an English heroine with a rather exotic background. In this case she is half Maltese, believing herself to have been the illegitimate product of an affair between and English gentlewoman and a Maltese soldier. Annabel is strong and intelligent, although a little vulnerable, and the details about Maltese culture and customs are well researched and well incorporated into the story. There was also an interesting twist with her being Catholic- and unusual and perhaps daring step in Christian Fiction. It was necessary to make a lot of the detail work, and was never really an issue with me.
Theres and handsome dashing hero who may or may not have honourable intentions (like last time), and a suitably awful antagonist, plenty of mystery and intrigue with original twists and turns and a satisfying conclusion. In a way, it gives seasoned historical romance readers all they would want, without so much of the mushiness and cheesiness one gets in some novels. As last time, I did notice a few Americanisms which stood out, but apart from that, no major complaints. I only wish international reviewers like me could get print copies of books like this more easily. Never mind, I shall strive to buy it at some point.
I received an electronic version of this title from Howard Books for the purposes of review. I was not required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed are my own.
KavRCanadaGender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Captivating readMay 17, 2016KavRCanadaGender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I'm basking in the warm glow of Gothic Romance Reader Bliss right now. I've mentioned before how much I adore this genre, right? Ever since junior high when I discovered Victoria Holt. And good Gothics are few and far between in the Christian market. So you can just imagine the sweet ecstasy I've been in since I first opened this book.
Each page is steeped in mystery. Deliciously thrilling plot twists, sinister foreshadowing, and a bevy of intriguing characters who run the gamut from bad to good. And it's up to Annabel to figure out where their loyalties lie.
I adore Annabel. She refuses to allow herself to be defined by her circumstances. As a woman, she has little say in her future but that doesn't stop her from digging in her heels and engaging in her own game of subterfuge. Her faith is the beacon of hope that sees her through the most trying of times. I loved her dedication, her desire to seek divine counsel and her strength to stand for what she believes to be true. Very inspiring.
And now it's time for me to wax poetic over the Maltese captain. A swoonworthy hero with his own agenda. Even though Annabel can't be certain whether he is friend or foe, she can't resist his charm...and either could I. Oh goodness, but you'll need a fan for this read. Or maybe just stick your feet in the freezer periodically. This captain exudes toe-curling masculinity at every turn of the page. Be. Still. My. Heart.
Sinister tension builds as the story progresses. Who is for Annabel? Who is against her? And who will emerge triumphant at the end? With all that page-turning intrigue, Byrd held me captive right up to the very last page. .
BlueroseAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Perfection!May 4, 2016BlueroseAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0I always enjoy books by Sandra Byrd, but her "Daughters of Hampshire" series has taken my love of them to a whole new level. The first book in this series, Mist of Midnight, was one of my favorite reads of 2015(though I forgot to put it on the official list...that's what I get for not keeping up with my reading like I should). It's on my reread list, and I'm greatly looking forward to the revisit for many reasons. I have no doubt that Bride of a Distant Ilse will also be on my favorites list this year, and any year, for that matter. I loved every single minute of reading it!
In Bride of a Distant Ilse, we get somewhat of a Cinderella tale. Annabel Ashton is considered the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died within an insane asylum. She depends completely on her cousin, Edward, and his wife, Clementine. When their money starts running out, Annabel's situation gets more and more desperate. When strange objects start appearing, things get more and more mysterious.
I have to mention the romance. It was done to perfection! It wasn't overdone, but was incredibly sweet and melted my heart. I've had zero tolerance for romance within books lately, but I didn't roll my eyes one single time while reading this story. THAT is a huge compliment coming from me! ;) Sandra proves that one doesn't need all that extra "stuff" that most all Christian authors insist on these days to keep things "real". Seriously, it was perfect, and I'm grateful that I was once again able to enjoy a sweet romance without my sarcastic side coming out.
Despite the fact that the romance portion was beautifully done, there's a great deal more to the story than that. That's really such a small portion of the book. There's also so much historically to learn from the book, and it's all done in an interesting way. That is another thing I love so much about Sandra's books. They're like "living books" for me! (Charlotte Mason/homeschooling term)
While this book is considered Christian Fiction, I really do think that it will be enjoyed by a wide audience. Annabel is Catholic, and that plays a huge part of the story. I have to admit that my knowledge of Catholic things is hugely lacking, but this story gave me a small glimpse into that world, and I can't help but appreciate that.
In the end, I have to say that Bride of a Distant Ilse is an amazing story, and one I can easily recommend, especially if you enjoy Gothic Victorian romances. I loved it, and I can't wait for more from this series!
*I was provided a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.