(Review) Mist of Midnight, Daughters of Hampshire, Book One by Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Howard Books/Simon and Schuster.
Genre: Fiction, Victorian England, India, Gothic romance, mystery.
Source: Free copy from Howard Books and CBA Tours in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
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In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands. Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an impostor had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes. That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real impostor. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”? A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.
The time period for the story begins in 1858. The place is Hampshire, England.
Mist of Midnight is described as a "Gothic romance." I believe it has a mystery element, but there is no horror. I was not frightened while reading the story, but I felt a mistrust in some of the characters. Actually, most of the characters seemed to be holding something back, or appeared to be. Later, I understood why their actions showed me their mistrust.
Rebecca Ravenshaw is the main character and heroine of the story. She is a savvy young woman. I enjoyed reading a story with a strong Victorian age female leading character. I dislike stories of damsels in distress who are not able to think or contemplate wise words and actions. She is not foolhardy, nor is swept away by emotions. A fainting couch is not needed for Rebecca.
I love it when animals are characters in a story. Bravo for adding a smart cat to the story-line.
I loved reading about India during the mid 1800s. India is a country that I've little knowledge of its history and culture. The caste social system is expounded on in the story, as well as the history of the Indian Mutiny.
An important feature in the story is God and mission work. Rebecca's parents left England and were missionaries in India. Rebecca was active in working alongside her parents. She knows Scripture and is a prayer warrior.
Rebecca has an abiding love for India and its people. England is a stranger. This added a fresh take to the story. Rebecca is English, yet has little memory of England and its current Victorian culture.
When I first heard about the book I missed it that it's Christian. If I'd known, the review would be posted on my other blog only. If you are turned off by Christian prayer and Bible verses than this is not the book for you.
About the author:
Sandra Byrd is a best-selling author and has earned Library Journal's Best Books of the year pick twice, in 2011 for To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, and in 2012 for The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr. She's twice been a Christy Award finalist, for To Die For and for Let Them Eat Cake: A Novel. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published April 2013
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