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MIST OF MIDNIGHT by SANDRA BYRD REVIEWED

Mist of Midnight
By Sandra Byrd
Published by Howard Books
ISBN#978-1-4767-1786-9
374 Pages

Back Cover: 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”?

REVIEW: This captivating mysterious cover peeked my interest first. It set a mood and begged me to look inside. I didn’t know what I would find because I was clueless as to what a “Gothic” Romance story was. I’m willing to try anything once so I jumped in. I found this author note to the reader most helpful. She says, “I love Gothic romances, a little creepy around the edges, the kind of book where in your devoutly hope the hero is who you want him to be, not who you suspect he might be. I especially love those with a historical and British bent, with a heroine who is both vulnerable and strong.”

There was no wimpy heroine in this story and yes I hadn’t a clue if this guy was good or bad right up till the end. The heroin grabbed my attention from the start as the story opens in 1858 in Bombay. It’s been twenty years since Rebecca has been to Hampshire, England. Rebecca Ravenshaw has traveled from India to finally settle home. She bangs on the door, “Rebecca Ravenshaw, here to see my father’s solicitor.”

“Oh!” The woman drew her breath and steadied herself on the back of a worn upholstered chair. “Why, that can’t be. That’s not right of you to claim, neither.” Her mouth grew firm…”Miss Rebecca Ravenshaw, why she’s late.”

“Late?” I blinked.

“I don’t understand.”

“Passed on…deceased!”

I hopped into this novel without reading the back cover so I was just as surprised by the news as Rebecca Ravenshaw. What? An imposter had posed themselves as Rebecca Ravenshaw to claim her inheritance and home; now that young lady was dead! This was definitely not the home coming she expected.

Rebecca takes a carriage to Headbourne house; the family home, where she meets Captain Luke Whitifield. He is currently living there. He is a distant cousin she’s never met. He’s next in line to inherit the home upon her passing. The Captain reminded me a little bit of Rhett Buttler. He could be a hero or someone out to take everything from Rebecca. Did he play a role in the death of the imposter in order to get his hands on the estate and the inheritance? Everyone wondered.

The Captain was surprised that Rebecca Ravenshaw was one tough cookie. She may not know all the formalities of proper society because of her upbringing in India but her father and mother educated her on the ways of the world and keeping the main thing the main thing. Her parents were missionaries and killed in the line of duty. The Captain along with others; tested her to see if she was the “real” deal. They wouldn’t be fooled again.

Rebecca’s the kind of girl that would hear something go bump in the night and/or see a light flash outside her window go get a gun then walk outside to investigate. On the other hand Captain Luke Whitifield was all warm and fuzzy around Rebecca. He could be so charming even to those giving him the cold shoulder in the community. Who was this man? Was he for real? And how was she supposed to prove she was the “real” Rebecca Ravenshow? She needed God’s help. She needed a miracle!

This author is brilliant at infusing this story with mystery, suspense, and an intriguing romance all the while spreading suspicion to everyone at the Headbourne house and a few in town that could have conspired to get her to leave town and/or learn they might have had a hand in the demise of the imposter. The reader and Miss Rebecca get a bit jumpy as the tension rises and the story unfolds.

This book would make a great book club pick. There is so much packed inside these pages. I highly recommend this wonderful novel to read for fun. This is the first story I’ve read by this author; it won’t be the last. This book is a keeper!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Publisher I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

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