I often geek out when visiting historical sites. The whole “OMG, so and so ACTUALLY walked here, lived here, died here…” gets me every time. No surprise then that Juliana Gray’s dedication in “A Strange Scottish Shore” definitely spoke to me:
To all those who have stood where history was made and felt its echo.”
This is the second in what I truly hope is a continuing series about a no-nonsense administrator, Emmeline Truelove, her employer, the Duke of Olympia, and her would be paramour, the seemingly rakish bachelor, Lord Silverton. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, READ IT. It really is a necessary requirement as it sets up a lot of what is happening in the second installment.
Emmeline Truelove has taken on a new job for the Duke of Olympia as head of the Haywood Institute for the Study of Time. She travels by train to a remote Scottish village to both help facilitate the Duke’s engagement to Lord Thurso’s daughter and to examine a curious object that was found hidden in an ancient chest. Once there she is embroiled in a mystery surrounding the legend of a selkie who comes to land as a woman and becomes the eventual matriarch of the Thurso family. Is it possible that the legend is not just a fairy tale? As the Duke and Truelove attempt to solve the puzzle of the strange discovery in the chest, they find they are not the only ones interested in the legend. They must confront a foe from the past and find Silverton who has mysteriously vanished.
It’s a race through time! Okay, I groaned a little when I wrote that. I’m sure that I am not doing this justice. Writing reviews for books that you love is difficult. I don’t want to over gush and trying to explain the plot without getting all spoilery is super tough. If you are a fan of Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell mysteries: this is for you. If you enjoy time travel romances: this is for you. Witty banter your cup of tea? This is for you. It’s really a gem. I read it in a day. I couldn’t put it down but 3/4 of the way through I knew I was going to be mad at myself for not savoring it for a few days. It’s a laundry list of tags: historical fiction, romance, mystery and time travel, and it is GLORIOUS. Juliana Gray is a pseudonym for author Beatriz Williams and I enjoy Williams’ books as well, but the writing styles are very different. She seems more comfortable with her writing here. Somehow the language seems less stuffy, more relaxed and lighthearted, more tender, even though the plot does contain its share of tragedy and the characters carry hefty baggage from their respective pasts.
I loved Gray’s Author’s note:
I’m regularly brought to my knees by the psychic tug of history in historical spaces, and to me, the idea of time travel is as natural as thinking itself.”