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Bride of a Distant Isle CoverTitle: Bride of a Distant Isle

Author: Sandra Byrd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cover Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Imagine you’re a woman in Victorian England, the potential heir to a grand estate, and the only daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum.

Add to that a greedy and dangerous cousin, a mysterious Maltese captain, and allegations about your own sanity, and you have the basis for Sandra Byrd’s newest novel, Bride of a Distant Isle.

Byrd has become a favorite for me over the years, and Bride of a Distant Isle once again delivers with strong characters and an intriguing storyline.

One of the things Byrd excels at are finding little-known historical niches with which to set her stories in, and with this particular read I was fascinated to learn more about the island and customs of Malta, as well as just how absurd insane asylums in the 19th century could be.

But while you’ll learn a lot reading this book, historical facts never take the place of story and the mystery will draw you in from page one.

Spiritual themes involve facing loneliness and finding your place in the family of Christ, and I strongly appreciated how the emphasis was never solely on romance, but each character’s individual relationships with God.

It’s hard to talk about all that I loved with this book without giving too much away, so I’ll just end by saying this: for readers who like well-researched books with an aura of mystery and a dash of romance, I definitely recommend Bride of a Distant Isle!

For a full description or to purchase this book, you can find it here.

(I received this book for free from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

 

 

Mist of Midnight and Coffee CupTitle: Mist of Midnight

Author: Sandra Byrd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cover rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Series: The Daughters of Hampshire

Challenge #2 in the Bethany House Reading Challenge: Read a book that begins a series.

Rebecca Ravenshaw has returned home to England from India only to find her very identity has been stolen. Someone masquerading as herself not only tried to steal her estate and inheritance–the impostor also lies buried in her family’s grave plot after meeting a sudden and suspicious demise.

Who was she? Will Rebecca be able to prove that she is the true mistress of her own estate? And what about the dashing but mysterious Captain Whitfield living in her home now? Can he be trusted, or are his intentions even darker than the rumors would imply?

Where to start with all that I loved about this book! I guess by saying that Sandra Byrd never disappoints to deliver something that’s fresh in the market and is a much-needed reprieve from predictable plot lines. She expertly chooses eras, settings, and characters that are both relevant enough to find interesting but also different enough to keep your attention.

I’ve read books before about a missionary returning to England from India, but this is the first time where I actually believed the character might have truly lived there. It was clear the author researched both England and India and made it an integral part of Rebecca’s life, which was fascinating. She was not your typical main character and I loved that.

Not long ago I spoke of how I was growing tired of romances, but this book is an example of one done right in my opinion. Several different relationships were paid attention to throughout the book, and parts reminded me of Downton Abbey because of the conversations between characters, which was so very fun!

It held my attention from the moment I started reading, and I couldn’t even begin to solve the mystery. There were several things to mull on throughout the book, and although it was dark and suspenseful enough to keep you turning pages, it ended very surprisingly in a light and inspirational way.

I am very much looking forward to the rest of the books in this series.

(I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.)

Let’s Talk Book: What’s an interesting series you’ve read lately or have started to read?

Bonus shot. Just had to include this because I thought it was hilarious. My niece came over while I was taking pictures of the book and made bunny fingers behind it. She made me laugh treating the book as though it were a person, but then again, I think I was making her laugh taking pictures of a book... ;)

Bonus shot. Just had to include this because I thought it was hilarious. My niece came over while I was taking pictures of the book and made bunny fingers behind it. She made me laugh treating the book as though it were a person, but then again, I think I was making her laugh taking pictures of a book… 😉

Roses Have ThornsTitle: Roses Have Thorns

Author: Sandra Byrd

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Queen Elizabeth I has always been a personal favorite of mine (I mean, talk about a great name, right?) so author Sandra Byrd had a tough feat ahead of her from the onset. I picked up “Roses Have Thorns” with great expectations and warned myself ahead of time not to put any undue pressure on the author. However, I can honestly say that while Byrd’s vision of Queen Elizabeth I didn’t completely match mine, I was not disappointed.

The story follows the adventures of Lady Elin Von Snakenborg as she serves as a lady’s maid to Queen Elizabeth. Readers are transported to another time and place as Elin struggles to balance both allegiance to the queen and allegiance to her heart. While threats against the queen’s throne mount, threats within Elin’s own home abound.

I really appreciate how down-to-earth the author made both Queen Elizabeth and Elin. You feel the pain right along with Queen Elizabeth as she chooses loyalty to her people over the love of her life, and with Elin you see real flaws that would be impossible not to relate to.

What I really appreciated about this story was that Byrd didn’t just stop at “happily-ever-after” and a marriage. Instead, she goes past the marriage and straight to what it means to rediscover love once the honeymoon is over. Because of that, Elin’s love story is one of the more realistic and poignant I’ve read.

I wouldn’t consider myself a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I did feel as though the author could have done without so many sexual references. While the references were always within the context of marriage and tastefully done, I didn’t feel it was necessary to know of every time the characters made love.

However, as with any Byrd book, readers are in for an emotionally gripping read with unforgettable characters who face real challenges and end up overcoming them in a way that makes you want to cheer aloud. Byrd is a master at subtlety, and all of the witty play on words were fun to find.

Although “To Die For” will remain my favorite, all the books in this series were well-worth reading, and it is with a fond farewell I say goodbye to the “Ladies in Waiting” series and look forward to more!

(I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.)

Let’s Talk Book: Okay. I’m gonna be real here, guys. My egotistical self does tend to lean towards characters and/or historical people who have my name. Tell me I’m not the only one who does that!

How ’bout it-do you lean towards fictional or historical characters with the same name as you?