The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (published as Sophia’s Secret in the UK)
My Nook is still trying to figure out what I like, so I’m trying to give it a push in the right direction by searching for books similar to my favorites. Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea turned up as a Diana Gabaldon read-alike, so I was duly intrigued. I love Gabaldon and eighteenth century Scotland (when it was still a bit wild and rebellious), and I had been experiencing some serious withdrawal with regards to both. The Winter Sea did not disappoint.
The story moves swiftly between the lives of writer, Carrie McClelland, and Sophia Paterson, a young woman who is sheltered by the Countess of Erroll at Slains Castle. Working on a new novel, Carrie is drawn to Slains during a weekend trip to Scotland, feeling that there is something about the place that will make her new novel come to life. Centuries before, Sophia is also drawn to Slains Castle after the death of her uncle leaves her without a guardian. A newcomer in a strange place, Sophia soon finds herself welcomed by the Castle’s residents and becomes enmeshed in a series of events that have both personal and political implications as loyal Scots, and friends to the Count and Countess of Slains, take part in a plot to restore Prince Charles to the thrown.
Initially, I questioned the dual time frame, but when the connection between Carrie and Sophia emerged, I found myself enjoying the novel more and more. Both timelines are fully realized, as are the characters that people them, so neither plot feels lacking. While not as fast paced as Outlander, Kearsley’s narrative style soon had me craving more (hello, Nook wishlist).