cover image The Exile of Sara Stevenson

The Exile of Sara Stevenson

Darci Hannah, Ballantine, $15 paper (382p) ISBN 978-0-345-52054-8

The remote Cape Wrath lighthouse in 19th-century northwest Scotland provides a perfect setting for Hannah's debut, an underwhelming historical romance in which correspondence, ghosts, and true love travel through time. Headstrong 19 year-old Sara Stevenson, fictional daughter of real-life lighthouse designer Robert Stevenson, is exiled to the lighthouse after her love, Thomas Crichton, gets her pregnant. As she stubbornly awaits the return of her lost sailor love and the birth of his baby, literature lover Sara corresponds with an Oxford antiquarian and receives reluctant assistance from Willy Campbell, a taciturn light keeper haunted by the past. When Sara learns her parents have arranged to take her baby, she asks the Oxford antiquarian to come to her rescue, but unbeknownst to her, there's a very large obstacle in his path. The slight gothic trappings lack foreboding menace, and what could be a delicious love story fizzles into a poorly conceived exercise in spiritual uplift. (Aug.)