Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

( UK Title: Sophia's Secret )

Genre: Contemporary | Romance | Historic

History has all but forgotten the spring of 1708, when an invasion fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors, and starts to write. But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory...making her the only living person who can know the truth of what did happen all those years ago - a tale of love and loyalty...and ultimate betrayal. 


As a well known author, Carrie is seeking inspiration for her upcoming historic novel.  But upon visiting her editor outside of Aberdeen, Scotland, she becomes mesmerized by an abandoned castle and spontaneously plans to reside near the structure for the remaining Winter to research her characters; in hopes that the voices in her head will settle down as well.  Yet, as her detailed dreams become written words and her fictional story reveals shocking truths, Carrie finds herself swept up in a déjà vu world that consumes her nights while her landlord's son begins to occupy her days.  And when a secretive time in Scottish history begins to become unveiled within her book, Carrie realizes she has a much closer relationship to her past and her characters than previously thought.

This was fantastically refreshing read! The story throughout had a little bit of everything that I enjoy in a good book: romance, history, mystery, an almost past-life theme, and lots of engaging characters.  It can be a bit complex with the parallel stories going on, especially near the end when those two plot-lines begin to really bounce back and forth at a quicker pace (i.e. building the anticipation) compared to the beginning of the book. Yet, I was able to easily keep everything clear, in my head, and highly enjoyed the outcome. Lots of various character relationships throughout, which boosted the emotional aspect since both stories either suffered a misfortune or had moments of intense joy around the same time -- so it was like double the pleasure or trouble. 

Most of all, the romance in The Winter Sea was hauntingly sweet and revealed just how much love can triumph over all...especially time.  And because the heart wants, what the heart wants, both female protagonists had strong romantic connections that really added spark and excitement to the tale.  Both romantic relationships carried a similar theme throughout, but were in their own way unique and oddly very connected in the end. All in all, a very satisfying book!

Likes: The "ancestral memory" aspect was quite fascinating and had me wishing I had that! :) Plus, the Scottish setting and her rented cottage by the sea sounded so charming that I was instantly daydreaming about vacationing there.

Dislikes: As much as I enjoy character development, I felt this story was somewhat lacking, especially in the "contemporary" part of the tale.  Sophia personally grew a lot throughout, but Carrie really remained the same from beginning to end. I can understand there were different time-spans going on between both tales and that can be a huge factor in the lack of development, but I really wanted more from Carrie (who was actually the MAIN protagonist) and did not receive it.

Chapter One/Paragraph One: "It wasn't chance. There wasn't any part of it that happened just by chance."

Favorite { Scene, Character or Setting }: Scene
     "He was not exactly smiling, but his eyes held deep amusement. 'I believe 'tis proper form, when running races, to inform the other party when to start.' Swinging himself from the saddle, he came and put his two hands round her waist to help her down.  
     Sophia said, 'I did not mean to race. I only--'
     'Aye,' he said. 'I ken what ye intended.' She was standing on the ground now, but he did not take his hands away. He held her very differently than Billy Wick had done--his hands were gentle, and she knew that she had but to move to step clear of their circle...but she felt no will to move.  The horse, still standing warm against her back, became a living wall that blocked her view of everything except John Moray's shoulders, and his face as he looked down at her. 'If ever ye do find my pace too slow,' he told her, quietly, 'ye only have to tell me.'"

Online Preview: Read CHAPTER ONE

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