“The stunning second novel in Byrd’s Daughters of Hampshire series is captivating and compelling…The intriguing Victorian England settings will appeal to Anglophiles everywhere.” (RT Book Reviews (Top Pick))
"The traditional hallmarks of Victorian Gothic novel receive a fresh rendering in this lively second installment of Byrd's Daughters of Hampshire historical series... a sweet and gratifying read" (Publishers Weekly)
"An absorbing, transportive Victorian romance infused with intriguing details and delicious imagery. Sandra is a master of the historical novel. Engaging to the last page." (Susan Meissner, Author of Secrets of a Charmed Life )
"Lovers of wind swept moors and Bronte esque intrigue will devour Byrd’s latest romance! Annabel Ashton, like Jane Eyre before her, doesn’t accept her circumstances or let mysteries rest unsolved, but instead invites you along as she proactively uncovers truths and searches out her own happily ever after." (Katherine Reay, author of The Bronte Plot )
"An irresistible blend of mystery, impeccable research and haunting plot twists make Bride of a Distant Isle a feast for lovers of Gothic Romance! Not since I discovered the Brontës have I been so deeply engrossed in a Gothic Romance. Fans of Jane Eyre and Rebecca, prepare to be dazzled by Sandra Byrd’s magnificent Bride of a Distant Isle!" (Ella March Chase, author of The Queen's Dwarf )
From the Author
Jenny: What inspired you to take on the Gothic genre?
Sandra: I loved reading old-school Gothic romances, ones filled with atmosphere and suspense, such as those written by Victoria Holt, but I found it difficult to find many new ones still written with the "traditional ingredients."
As an author, I also wanted to update the concept a little for modern readers, and put my own spin on it, as authors will. I like more of the hero on the page than was present in many of the Gothic romance novels of years past, and I like my heroines to be a little bit less waifish and a little stronger minded than was popular then. I wanted to include just a wee bit more hard history, and I like weaving in an element of faith. But I tried my best to stick to the elements many readers expect from a Gothic romance, which might include:
- A large country house in need of attention and affection, already in disrepair. In some ways, the house represents the heroine.
- A Byronic hero, who might be questionable and always conflicted. The heroine falls in love, but she has to know before she commits - will he prove true?
- Characters--especially servants, but others, too--that may be untrustworthy; our heroine does not know and must puzzle it out.
- Psychological underpinnings, perhaps including madness or a suspicion of it.
- A supernatural element, whether naturally explained or not.
- Parents who are not present or who are dead, so the heroine must rely on her own wit and resources.
Jenny: Women in the Victorian Era were defined and constrained by strict social mores and expectations. Can you talk a bit about creating a heroine from that era that today's readers can still identify with?
Sandra: They had major constraints, and the heroines in my books cannot just solve their problems like you or I might - but I love them the more for that; they are forced to cleverly use the tools at hand. Truthfully, all of us, then and now, are constrained in some way from the full self-determination we would prefer, and perhaps that is one way we identify with them. There are always roadblocks, prejudices, laws that do not work in our favor, spiteful people, or situations that bring sorrow and which are completely out of our control. And yet ... the human spirit, a strong woman's spirit, faces those challenges head on, tries to think through what she wants, and then plots a way toward it. When roadblocks occur, she finds a way over, around, or through.That was true a thousand years ago and is still true, now.
The very freedom of our age has wrought a new set of challenges. But we still find a way to triumph. Seeing women do that, then, encourages me as a woman to do that, now. If they can be contenders, so can I!
Also - we must all be risk-takers to gain what we want: love, respect, a meaningful life, and personal fulfillment. Today's readers certainly have that in common with yesterday's women, my historical heroines.
Jenny: How does your faith shape the inspirational aspects of your fiction?
Sandra: My faith is central to my worldview and interests, so it informs the subjects I pursue in my books. Honestly, I felt it would be anachronistic to write about 19th Century England and not have any mention of or interaction with faith; it was completely integrated into daily and weekly life. I don't seek to write inspirational fiction so much as it interests me how a strong Christian woman approaches a situation in her era and setting. I don't set out, in fiction, to teach, only to show and reveal and understand through the heroine's eyes. So hopefully that makes a good story whether the reader is a Christian or not.