Historical fiction author Sandra Byrd pens a second novel in her Victorian England series. Bride of a Distant Isle tells of young Englishwoman at the mercy of her cousin who promises her hand in marriage to avoid financial ruin.
Annabel Ashton, teacher at a nearby day school, visits her family home, only to discover her cousin Edward plans to marry her off and sell their family home. As an orphaned illegitimate daughter of a Maltese man and mentally ill Englishwoman, Annabel has few options. Fighting to save her family home and her mother’s memory, she discovers old secrets and mysterious happenings. Is Annabel going mad like her mother? Could Annabel be legitimate and the true heir? Does the dashing but brooding Captain Marco Dell’Acqua from Malta have Annabel’s best interests at heart?
Sandra Byrd uses a first-person narration, filled with the best elements of a Gothic novel (mystery, romance, a Heathcliff-like hero, and plot twists!), where the intriguing story grabs the reader’s attention and keeps it until the spine-tingling conclusion. Annabel’s faith helps her in the midst of a very challenging situation, especially when Edward has her confined to an asylum. Her escape is a wonderful plot twist! Bryd’s heroine is Catholic, so the teachings and practices of the Catholic faith in Victorian England are interwoven. The author also includes a note about the Christian faith during Victorian times, as well as poisoned honey and insanity.
Recommended for public libraries and school libraries, and fans of Bronte and Victoria Holt will especially enjoy this series. The final book in this series, A Lady in Disguise, will be released on 2017.
Carol R. Gehringer