Miss Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the Rogers School for Young Ladies in Winchester when she takes a brief visit to her family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. She believes her stay will be short but soon learns that she will not be returning to the safety of the school. Instead, she remains at Highcliffe, at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge.
Annabel protests, but as the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum, she has little say. Edward is running out of money and puts the house up for sale to avoid financial ruin. He insists that Annabel marry, promising her to a sinister, frightening man. But as the house gets packed for sale, it begins to reveal disquieting secrets. Jewelry, artifacts, and portraits mysteriously appear, suggesting that Annabel may be the true heir of Highcliffe.
She has only a few months to prove her legitimacy, perhaps with assistance from the handsome but troubled Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But does he have Annabel’s best interests at heart?
And then, a final, most ominous barrier to both her inheritance and her existence appears: a situation neither she nor anyone else could have expected. Will Annabel regain her life and property—and trust her heart—before it’s too late?
Sandra Byrd’s Bride of a Distant Isle is quite the intriguing read, as it incorporates great romance and mystery into a well-described Victorian England setting. The novel centers on Annabel Ashton, who returns from her teaching position to her family home, where family obligations and well-kept secrets disrupt her plans and set her on a course toward an unwanted arranged marriage, an insane asylum, and most importantly, the charming Maltese captain, Marco Dell’Acqua. The well-paced storyline unfolds around Annabel with suspenseful and emotional twists and turns all the way to a very satisfying ending, and I really enjoyed it. Fans of historical fiction should not hesitate to add the captivating and gripping Bride of a Distant Isle to their to-read lists - I recommend it and now can’t wait to read more from Sandra Byrd in the future.
Thanks to Howard Books, I received a copy of Bride of a Distant Isle and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.