Bride of a Distant Isle

Written by Sandra Byrd
Review by Susan McDuffie

Hampshire, 1851: Annabel Ashton visits her cousin Edward over the summer at the family home. The illegitimate child of an insane mother, Annabel has little choice when her cousin insists that she not return to her teaching position. Instead she remains and helps his wife entertain Edward’s business associates, in particular the odious Mr. Morgan and the far less odious Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But vague memories of her mother, who visited Malta before Annabel’s birth, haunt Annabel. Objects that once belonged to her mother mysteriously appear in her rooms, suggesting she might be legitimate, and suspicions plague her. Was her mother indeed insane? And will Annabel go mad herself?

I enjoyed this inspirational romance, and found the setting and the subplot regarding Annabel’s Maltese heritage interesting. The characters fall into the Gothic mold, but they are pleasantly believable. Annabel’s Catholic faith is an important component in the story but does not overwhelm, and readers of all religious persuasions who enjoy a sweet Victorian romance or a good Gothic read should enjoy this book.