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In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.
Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her…and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca’s name, but her home and incomes.
That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father’s investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?
Publisher and Release Date: Howard Books, March 10, 2015
Time and Setting: Victorian Era, Hampshire, England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by Lady Blue
Rebecca Ravenshaw and her family left their English home when she was four years old, and moved to India, as her father pursued his calling as a missionary. During the following two decades, Rebecca’s brother died of illness, and her parents were killed in the Indian uprising. Only the actions of a loyal servant kept Rebecca safe, and as soon as she could, she made her way back to England, with intentions of moving back to her family home and beginning a new life. Upon arriving, Rebecca finds that several months ago, another young lady came to the home, claiming that SHE was Rebecca. She took up residence in the house, and began to live Rebecca’s life. Under mysterious circumstances, she died, rumored to have taken her own life. At that time, the house was deeded to Captain Luke Whitfield, a distant relative, and the presumed heir.
Rebecca, is, of course, looked at with suspicion. She contacts the family attorney and begins the process of trying to reclaim what is hers, since she has been declared dead, and the house has been deeded away. Luke, at first, doubts her identity, but chooses to play the gentleman, and moves to the gatehouse, leaving her to live in the main house until all is settled. Luke is handsome and charming. The former soldier had been looking for a place to put down roots and thought he had found it. Despite his doubts about Rebecca’s true identity, he finds her attractive, and the feeling is mutual.
Before there is even a chance for a romance to develop, many questions have to be answered, and the situation has to be untangled. Who was the woman who impersonated Rebecca, and how did she know so much about her life? Was Luke involved in her death? Is the imposter’s maid, who now works for Rebecca, friend or foe? Is Luke only interested in Rebecca so he can still have the estate if she is found to be the real heiress?
I have always loved romances with a gothic tone, the kind where you’re never sure if the hero is innocent or guilty. Sandra Byrd is a new author to me, and she has written a captivating story. Right from the start, and through the whole book, I felt Rebecca’s emotions – her puzzlement, shock, pain, and her burgeoning love for Luke. I couldn’t put the book down, as I was so anxious to find answers to all the mysteries, and everything was resolved very satisfactorily. While I personally enjoy much more heat and intimacy in a romance, Ms. Byrd was able to express a lot of feeling with a look or a light touch. Rebecca has a strong faith, which is to be expected, since she was the daughter of missionaries. This was an integral part of her character, and I felt that it was a genuine part of the story. If you’ve enjoyed some of the “old school” gothics by Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, or even Mary Stewart, I think you’ll like Mist of Midnight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sandra Byrd is a best-selling author and has earned Library Journal’s Best Books of the year pick twice, in 2011 for To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, and in 2012 for The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr. She’s twice been a Christy Award finalist, for To Die For and for Let Them Eat Cake: A Novel.
You can connect with Sandra at: her website * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter * ~ * ~ * Instagram * ~ * ~ * Pinterest.