Title: Bride of a Distant Isle (Daughters of Hampshire #2)
Author: Sandra Byrd
Annabel Ashton is a 24-year-old teacher called home to take a trip to London with her cousin and his wife to view the World Exhibition put on by King Albert. Well, it isn’t her home, but her cousin Edward’s as he never lets her forget. He treats her as a servant sometimes or says harsh things to her, but Annabel tries to see the good in him as if he were a brother. Annabel has been told all her life that she was born out of wedlock, her father was unknown and that her mother died in an insane asylum. She has never felt she belonged anywhere as people looked down on her due to the circumstances of her birth as well as her mother’s insanity. She is also Catholic when most everyone else in England isn’t, which causes some friction. She thinks her trip is only for a couple of weeks and then she will return to school to teach, but she quickly learns that her cousin has other plans for her. Annabel, however, has taken a liking to Marco Dell’Acqua, a sea captain from Malta who is visiting her cousin in the hopes of establishing some business arrangements with him. These business dealings could save the family home as Edward will be forced to sell if things fall through with the captain. Her cousin has someone else in mind for Annabel, one who would take Annabel to satisfy debts her cousin owed.
As she spends time at home, she begins to find various things that belonged to her mother among her own possessions that lead her to believe maybe her mother wasn’t so crazy and that a big secret is being hidden. As she tries to find proof, she begins to have irrational thoughts and her greatest fear of her own sanity comes into play. She soon is trapped into an untenable situation that could be her end.
I thought this story very intriguing with a bit of a gothic feel, but not too much. There were definitely sinister characters as well as romance, deception, mystery and jealousy. I applaud the ingenious method used to cause Annabel to have irrational thoughts. I didn’t like how things were resolved with Clementine as I felt Annabel was too generous toward her. Captain Dell’Acqua was a charmer for sure! I look forward to the next offering from this author.
My rating is 4 stars.
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