Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review: Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

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”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger,
Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

At the age of four you are taken from your childhood home in England to live with your family in England.  About 20 years pass, and India becomes a home of its own. Tragically you lose your family to disease and social unrest. It’s time to go home--  To your father’s grand house in England. Perhaps it’s the only certain thing you have in this world. Until it isn’t.  Even this sure thing seems to be taken from you. By a stranger.

Such is the premise of Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd. In 1858 Rebecca Ravenshaw returns home to her family estate, only to find that someone has come before. Taken her identity, much of her fortune, and worse, the trust of the community.  Yet there was no way to confront this imposter—she’s mysteriously passed away. And now Rebecca’s inheritance and security are to pass to a distant relative, Captain Luke Whitfield. Rebecca must overcome legal, social and personal issues if she is ever to truly regain her place at Headbourne House.

A few years ago I read The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd. This has been my only other exposure to her work, and I found it to be an enjoyable journey into 16th Century England. Mist of Midnight has a much different feel.  There’s less political intrigue and more of a gothic, somber puzzle being worked out. That said, Mist of Midnight is hardly depressing—the tone of it is just a bit more grounded and serious, with almost a dream-like quality at times. I enjoyed Rebecca Ravenshaw as a character and was fascinated with the details of her life. On a personal note, I have had a growing interest in the country of India, with Christian missions in particular, for about fifteen years. Knowing that many of the events described in Mist of Midnight are actually based on historical events made the details of the story that much more interesting to me.

As with The Secret Keeper, Sandra Byrd weaves in Christian principles and concepts into her writing. The religious overtones are not as prophetic as in the other work, but they very much are an integral part of the life of this daughter of missionaries. Rebecca enjoys reading Paradise Lost, looks for the angelic hand of God in her life, and applies scripture in her daily living. She doesn’t come across as an uptight missionary kid, but someone who loves God and trusts Him with every aspect of her life.  Regardless of whether she ultimately returns to Headbourne House, she knows that her Paradise Lost can become Paradise Regained in some form or fashion, in whatever way that God would will it.

Along with the quest to recover her childhood home, Rebecca must also contend with matters of the heart. I enjoyed her love interest in this story, and found their journey to be realistic, given the difficult situation they found themselves in.  There’s a bit of mystery in Captain Luke Whitfield’s situation, as his level of involvement in Rebecca’s identity theft is left to speculation for much of the novel.  There was a twist at the end that I found to be particularly surprising. Mist of Midnight did follow some predictable paths, but Byrd’s writing is very engaging, and the twists she threw in kept my interest.

Mist of Midnight is the beginning of a whole new series for Sandra Byrd, and I’m happy to know this. As a stand-alone novel Mist of Midnight can certainly hold its own, but knowing that there is more to come is good news. I enjoyed Midnight even more than The Secret Keeper and look forward to seeing what is to come with the Daughters of Hampshire series.

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March 25 - April 1st

About the Author

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. The Tudor series’ end cap, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

A life-long lover of Victorian Gothic romances, Sandra’s new series, Daughters of Hampshire, weaves elements of that mystical, traditional genre with inspirational and literary threads. Mist of Midnight is the series’ first book.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens, and is passionate about helping new authors develop their talent and their work toward traditional or independent publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit to learn more.

Connect with Sandra



LIW Book 1

LIW Book 2

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