Present Day – Canadian novelist Carrie McClelland travels to Aberdeenshire Scotland to write her latest novel which is set in the historic Slains Castle. Once there, she finds that the book is almost writing itself as she seems to be writing from memory, not imagination. Could it be genetic memory? Meanwhile, she is appeasing her agent and best friend with the vast number of pages she is writing, and finding a present day love of her own.
1707 – Sophia Paterson is living at Slains Castle with her distant cousin. She is caught up in the intrigue of castle life and finds herself drawn to a man who has a high price on his head. The man she has come to love is a Jacobite who conspires to bring the James Stewart back from France to once more rule as Scotland’s King.
Oh… what a book! A dual-time line historical love story that cannot fail to stir your emotions. Separated by three hundred years, the timelines evoke the connection of people to a place and explore the possibility of genetic memory.
I’ll confess that I read this book many years ago, long before I began blogging. When I saw it was re-released and offered on NetGalley, I wanted to see if my feelings about the book might have changed over the passing years. Rest assured, this is a novel that can withstand the passage of time.
Like the narrator, Carrie McClelland, I was born and raised on the shores of Nova Scotia (New Scotland), so the sea is in my blood.
Rich in well-researched Scottish history, this is a dual love story. The sense of place is all prevalent and I could almost smell the sea and hear the waves crashing on the rocks. Set for the most part on the site of Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, this novel spoke to my own Scottish heritage.
This book will be loved and appreciated by all fans of historical fiction, most especially by those readers who appreciate the unexplained, and those who enjoy the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Some would term this book a ‘romance’, but I disagree. It is no more a romance that “Outlander”. It is a love story overshadowed by some turbulent and often tragic Scottish history.
Love, genetic memory, déjà vu, serendipity and a history-rich Scottish castle. What more could you ask for?
In short, I loved all 528 pages of this wonderful book. Highly recommended!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley.
Published: January 5, 2021 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
ISBN: 9781982156749 – ASIN: B08BZWB2JK – 528 pages
(I also own the 2009 Allison & Busby trade paperback edition) YouTube video which will give you a sense of the setting for “The Winter Sea“.
Susanna Kearsley (born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada) is a New York Times best-selling Canadian novelist of historical fiction and mystery, as well as thrillers under the pen name Emma Cole. In 2014, she received Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best Paranormal Romance for The Firebird.
Visit Susanna Kearsley’s website and/or follow her on Twitter @SusannaKearsley