cover image Bride of a Distant Isle

Bride of a Distant Isle

Sandra Byrd. Howard, $14.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1789-0

The traditional hallmarks of a Victorian gothic novel receive a fresh rendering in this lively second installment of Byrd’s Daughters of Hampshire historical series (after Mist of Midnight). Annabel Ashton returns to her ancestral home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea, hoping to elude her cousin Edward’s plans to marry her to his creditor Mr. Morgan. The morally corrupt Morgan gifts Annabel with ominous oddities such as a frog petrified in amber. While Annabel struggles to determine which of her friends will stand by her, her feelings grow for Marco Dell’Acqua, a dashing, mysterious ship captain who shares her mixed Maltese/English heritage and the Catholic faith that upholds her in her distress. Following the genre’s traditions, the courageous, capable heroine navigates a number of sinister challenges: family and staff who may or may not wish her well; closets, caves, and attic rooms in which people have been barricaded against their will; speculations of madness; poisoned honey; and personal items from her long-dead mother that strangely appear and disappear. Annabel’s quick mind and kind heart call to Marco, and the two find love and satisfaction in this sweet and gratifying read. Agency: Browne and Miller Literary Associates. (Mar.)