One of the things I’m really loving about Sandra Byrd’s current series, Daughters of Hampshire series (you know, besides fabulous writing and intriguing stories with mystery), is how she brings different cultures as key parts of the stories (the first, Mist of Midnight, had hints of India. Also it was one of my favorite reads last year, so go read it!). It’s not something I have really seen in books written about 1850s England, but I absolutely love love love it.
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?
Like I mentioned, I loved how Byrd brought about another culture and how it was for those in England. This book focused on Malta and since I knew next to zero about it, I loved learning more and how she weaved it perfectly in the story. Not only that, but the look at Catholicism during this time in England was fascinating too.
I also have to say the thread of mystery was done so well too. And our Annabel and Captain Dell’Acqua? Loved them!
“All will be well in the end; if it’s not well, then it’s not the end.”
This book also gets you, how shall I saw, “involved.” I wanted to be in the book, so I could have punched some people in the face (not really internet, I’d go for the kneecaps. I kid people. Kid!). Oh man, did some folks in this book make me angry…And I absolutely loved it!
So yes, if you couldn’t tell, this series continues to get better and better and I’m already looking forward to more.
Fans of Sandra will absolutely love this one and historical fans, if you haven’t read any of Sandra’s book, get on it! (She also has a fabulous contemporary novel series you should read as well!)
What’s a recent favorite Victorian novel you’ve read?
(Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)