The Beekeeper’s Daughter
This dark romance set on Exmoor in late 19th-century England spans more than a decade in the lives of the two main characters. Annabel, the beekeeper’s daughter, and Jevan, the blacksmith’s son, develop a fierce and obsessional bond during their teenage years. Both are impulsive, wild, and volatile.
Annabel exerts an intuitive mastery over her father’s bees. As the daughter of a witch, she also has an ability to affect the natural elements through her emotions. When Jevan abruptly leaves to attend school in London, Annabel feels betrayed and refuses to ever speak with him again. Jevan returns a few years later to discover that the heir of a powerful family that owns Gothelstone Village is courting her. She declines the young gentleman’s marriage proposal until forced to accept it as the only means to free Jevan, who has been imprisoned by the sinister and secretive patriarch of the Saltonstall family.
Desire ignites again between Annabel and Jevan, with their romantic encounter turning into a brutal physical assault when he vents his rage over her marriage. In spite of this, Annabel’s love compels her to continue seeing him and to devise a plan to eliminate her arrogant, controlling husband.
An idyllic country setting effectively belies the story’s unsettling darkness. Annabel’s mystical connection with her bees is well integrated into the action of the plot, which incorporates romance with elements of mystery and the occult, and culminates in rapid-fire startling revelations and an explosive final battle of wills, with evil supernatural forces. The lovers are vivid and flawed individuals who become victims of circumstance in different ways. Despite a heroic light cast on them in the end, an ambiguous shadow lingers.