Mist of Midnight

Mist of Midnight

by Sandra Byrd

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Overview

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476717869
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication date: 03/10/2015
Series: Daughters of Hampshire Series , #1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 319,052
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Award-winning and bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including Mist of Midnight, Bride of a Distant Isle (A Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick), and her most recent, A Lady in Disguise. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.

Read an Excerpt

Mist of Midnight

  • CHAPTER ONE

    LATE APRIL 1858

    Dusk had begun to smother daylight as we walked down the cool street, peering at the numbers above the doorways, one after the other, skirts gathered in hand to keep them from grazing the occasional piles of wet mud and steamy horse muck. It was with some relief that I finally located the right building just before closing time and opened the creaking door. I let Mrs. MacAlister in first.

    “May I assist?” An older woman stopped bustling as we entered the Winchester office of Mr. Walter Highmore, Solicitor. She peered at us from beneath thick pelts of white eyebrow.

    “I am Miss Rebecca Ravenshaw,” I introduced myself. “Here to see my father’s solicitor.”

    “Oh!” She drew her breath and steadied herself on the back of a worn upholstered chair. “Why, that can’t be. That’s not right of you to claim, neither.” Her mouth grew firm, a notable contrast with the loose flesh of her cheeks and chin. “Miss Rebecca Ravenshaw, why, she’s late.”

    “Late?” I blinked. “I don’t understand.”

    “Passed on.” She gave me a hard look, the look one offered a ne’er-do-well. “Deceased.”

    Deceased? Ah! I now understood and rushed to reassure her. “Oh, no. You must have had word from the London Missionary Society; there has been a misunderstanding. Alas, my parents were killed in the Mutiny, but I was able to escape. I’ve been in northern India these many months, waiting for transport out, and I boarded one of the first ships bringing survivors from Bombay. My chaperone and I have just arrived.” I offered a warm smile and expected, fruitlessly, as it transpired, one to be offered in return.

    She gripped the chair back firmly enough to leach the blood from her fingertips, pinched by well-bitten cuticles. “I suppose you’ve read the published details in the paper then, young lady, as much as anything,” she replied. “Available for any quick and clever charlatan. Miss Ravenshaw is gone. There is no misunderstanding, though she died here, of course, not in India. It’s cruel of you to suggest different.”

    What did she mean? I had just explained the situation to her and yet she pressed more resolutely into her mistake, questioning my character in the process. I pulled myself up to my full height and spoke calmly. “I assure you, I am quite alive, standing here before you. Would you please have Mr. Highmore call upon me at his earliest convenience?”

    She wouldn’t meet my eye but she looked over my thin, threadbare dress. “Where shall I tell him he may find you?” she sneered. “Will you be staying at the Swan? After all, Captain Whitfield has once again taken up residence on the estate.” She lowered her voice and muttered more to herself than to me, “Though not all hereabouts believe he came by it rightfully.” I inclined my head but she rushed forward into the next sentence, speaking louder, perhaps to cover her earlier indiscretion.

    “Dear young Miss Ravenshaw, buried there at the chapel, at peace, one hopes, though given the cause of death . . .”

    “Buried at Headbourne?” If what she was saying was true, there was only one explanation—an imposter had come, claiming to be me, and then had died. How very distressing for all involved. My stomach quickened as I began to realize that the easy, warm welcome I’d hoped would be put forward might not be offered. I tried to grasp the circumstances. “What did the woman die from?”

    “That’s not for me to say.”

    “Well, who shall tell me, then?” My voice rose beyond ladylike but I was tired and frightened. I held my jaw together to keep my teeth from chattering in dread. What had happened to my home? It, and my father’s accounts, were the only things left me.

    Her lips remained pursed, her eyes veiled. That someone had posed as me, and was now dead, was truly startling, but I had been through much worse in the Uprising and I must not be deterred on this last leg of my journey or all would be lost. “I do not know Captain Whitfield or why he is in my home”—I steadied my voice—“but perhaps I should make his immediate acquaintance.”

    “You’ll find him at home.” She sniffed and wiped her nose on a dusty sleeve. “Headbourne House.”

    Headbourne House was our family home. My father’s home. My home! Who was Captain Whitfield? Perhaps a second imposter claimant. The husband of this recently deceased young woman who had been posing as me.

    “When he returns, I’ll inform Mr. Highmore you called.” She all but shooed us out the door and shut it tightly behind us, snapping down the blind.

    Mrs. MacAlister gave me a sidelong look and tightened her bonnet against her brow. “How very strange.” She stepped a foot farther away from me. How little I had left to prove who I was. Nothing, in fact. Anyone who knew me was thousands of miles away by sea in a country currently rent with strife and faulty communications.

    I steadied my hands, which I’d just noticed were shaking, by clasping them together. “We shall soon put it right.” I said it, but I wasn’t sure I believed it. This situation was not only wholly unexpected, but completely unimaginable. I should think, later, upon how to deal with it, but I was still so very, very tired and needed my wits about me.

    The hire carriages, which had swarmed the streets only minutes before, seemed to have been engaged to the last and none were to be found. I finally caught a glimpse of one, much farther down the rain-slicked way, and waved. It rolled, rickety, toward us. One wheel wobbled drunkenly and another had a noticeable chip in the frame along with a missing spoke. The coachman soon brought his team to bear. As the horses came closer I shied back from them but they, unlike most horses, did not shy away from me. Rather they seemed to lean in toward me so I leapt back from their hot breath and peglike teeth.

    There were no other carriages in view. The night mists had begun to cause a light sheen on Mrs. MacAlister’s face and she shivered. “Headbourne House,” I instructed the driver without further consideration.

    “That be quite costly,” he said. He looked at me straight on; his eyes were milky and one wandered so that I was unsure upon which I should fix my gaze. I opened my purse and anxiously put a piece of silver into his hand. He kept it open and I reluctantly added another.

    He didn’t move, but I clasped my purse shut anyway. Mrs. MacAlister did not proffer a coin of her own, as might be expected, but turned her face from me. The driver nodded for us to get in but did not offer a hand. I hefted Mrs. MacAlister in first, then followed her. She was unusually quiet as the team jerked and clopped away.

    “Are you quite well?” I asked. I was weary from the journey, still ill from months of internment, and had little patience to pry forth whatever hesitancy had suddenly overcome her.

    “Certainly.” She did not look up, but her forehead cleaved in a deep line of concern. Her voice was abnormally cool and uninvolved.

    The coachman cracked his whip toward the team and they sped up. Mrs. MacAlister, who had known me and understood the suffering I had borne, no longer trusted me. Perhaps she, too, thought I was a pretender, learning of the Ravenshaw family’s death before making my way to the Residency with the other survivors. It was true, no one there had known me; they’d simply trusted me to be who I said I was.

    All the while, someone here in England had also claimed to be Rebecca Ravenshaw. She, too, had simply been believed.

    “Ye have a deep knowledge of Scripture, certainly, as one would expect from the daughter of missionaries,” Mrs. MacAlister murmured, reassuring herself, I guessed, before doubt over my identity snatched such guarantees away. “But then any well-brought-up young lady would. I didn’t know much about ye when we first met among the survivors, naught but what you told me. Told everyone.”

    “I am the well-brought-up daughter of Sir Charles and Constance Ravenshaw, missionaries in South India these many years and, as you know, am returning to England. And you are . . . a Scottish doctor’s widow?”

    She scowled. “Ye know that I am.”

    And I am who I say I am, too. I looked out of the small carriage window at the street and town; the tall, narrow buildings made of stone and brick belched black smoke, smutting everything in sight. The cobbled streets were so different from the sunny yellow, compacted dirt boulevards I was used to. Melancholy and night dropped heavily one after the other like twin carriage curtains as we traveled out of town and into the deepening green of the countryside, receding into ivy and oak. Soon all colors bent to brown and I grew increasingly fearful. Did he know the way? Was he taking us to the right place? I shook myself to clear the gloom. Silly. Why wouldn’t he be?

    The air sharpened to cold and a collection of birds warbled weakly in the distance. An unwelcome thought shadowed my mind. If it had been so easy to plant a seed of doubt in the mind of a woman who, surely, must know who I am, how difficult would it be to convince those who had already known the pretender Miss Ravenshaw that I was, actually, who I said I was?

    I clenched my hands so the nails would lightly pierce the flesh, keeping me fully present. The one and only thing I had assured myself of, with certainty, was that upon docking in England I would have a safe and permanent harbor. How could this now be at risk? I forced myself to take slow and steady breaths in time with the clopping of the horses to bring calm to my spirit.

    “We’ll be there soon, miss,” the coachman called back. “Ten minutes.”

    I tugged at my cuffs to make certain they were straight. Who was Captain Whitfield? Some crusty old naval man, perhaps, with an eye patch and leathered skin, who had found a way to capitalize on my family’s misfortune.

    Dark had now entirely fallen. I rearranged my hair and awkwardly tightened my careworn bonnet, nearly tearing off one fragile string in the process.

    How soon would I run out of money? Too soon, no matter how late it came.

    “We should have gone to the inn first.” Mrs. MacAlister’s lips thinned and primmed. I did not respond because, truthfully, I agreed with her. The carriage bounced along up a lengthy, uneven drive that beckoned in my memory, though I recalled it as being wide and bright, not overgrown and rutted, as it was now. I felt, more than remembered, that this was my home. My homecoming, which should have been marked with joy and relief, was instead conspicuously concerning.

    The house loomed in the distance, to the right of the drive, of course, which arced in front of it and then slipped off into a spur leading to the stables. I recalled the carriage house tucked behind and to the side. If it were daylight, I should be able to see the soft downs that thickly ribboned the property like a wrapped gift. As the carriage slowed, I saw the guesthouse farther in the distance.

    I believe my grandmother Porter once stayed there.

    Well beyond the guesthouse was the chapel and the family graveyard.

    Where she was now interred. “Dear young Miss Ravenshaw, buried there at the chapel, at peace, one hopes, though given the cause of death . . .”

    We pulled to a halt and the carriage rocked for a few seconds on old springs.

    “Will I be waiting for you then, for a return trip?” the driver asked.

    I nodded. “Yes, if you please.”

    He held his hand out once more and I plunked down another precious coin.

    “I’ll wait in the carriage,” Mrs. MacAlister said. “Do be quick.” She was perhaps contemplating abandoning me here and returning to the safety of town and inn. Her anxiety and mistrust traveled through the miasma and settled on my shoulders.

    “Please don’t leave until instructed.”

    The coachman nodded and this time, he helped me down. I began to walk slowly, wincing slightly, as my foot had not completely healed from the injury sustained as we’d fled the Mutiny. I passed through two stone lions on my way up the pathway, crumbling and partly obscured by moss. I suddenly recalled Peter and me roaring at them, and then laughing as they looked back, silently. Now, perhaps because of the angle of the moon, I saw only their toothy, menacing smiles. We’re still here, but you are not welcome.

    Rebecca! Take hold of yourself. Stone animals do not talk.

    Scaffolding surrounded some parts of the house, but there were long portions completely ignored and shrouded in shadows. Lamps, like eyes finally opening, began to be lit in the front rooms. Whoever was inside certainly must have heard our arrival on this still, damp night. I walked up the many steps, but before I reached the door and could knock, it opened.

    There stood an imposing middle-aged gentleman with a short tuft of gray hair.

    “Captain Whitfield?” I asked.

    “Indeed no,” came the unsmiling response. He stepped aside and there, in the hallway, stood a tall man, perhaps five years older than I, with a close-cropped dark beard, his clothing well tailored, his boots highly polished. I looked up and caught his eye and as I did, he caught mine. He was young. Attractive and well cared for, I admitted, a steady contrast to the state of the property itself. Perhaps it was my fatigue or my shock at finding him to be so unlike my expectations, but I did not look away, nor did he.

    “I am Captain Luke Whitfield,” he said, as there was no one present who could properly introduce us to one another. “And you are . . . ?”

    “I am Miss Rebecca Ravenshaw,” I said, and as I did, I heard murmuring from the small assembly of servants in the great hall behind him. Captain Whitfield’s countenance did not waver, although a tiny flicker of surprise crossed his face. “I have heard that some have said that I have died, but I assure you, I have not.”

    Captain Whitfield stepped aside and ushered me in. “All can see that you are clearly, vibrantly, alive.”

    Was he being forward? Or mocking me? My strength drained, my nerves twitching, I did not feel up to parrying either just then.

    “Whether you are actually Miss Ravenshaw, however, that is, at best, unlikely, at least for those of us who do not believe that phantoms can be summoned. Landreth, please show the . . . lady into the drawing room.”

    I closed my eyes for a second and rocked back on my feet to keep from fainting. Whitfield didn’t believe me, either. Of course, why would he? They all thought I was recently dead!

    Who could assist me in righting my claim? My family had been gone from Headbourne House for twenty years, and before that we’d attended a sparsely populated dissenting church. There might be no one left living who would even remember me or recall what I looked like as a child, much less recognize me as a woman.

    I opened my eyes and looked again at the captain, his straight back, his guarded smile. I froze for a moment, genuinely frightened for the first time that I might not be able to prove my claim.

    I shall not allow it. I simply cannot because that would leave me homeless. . . . I cannot return to India. I have no fare for passage, nor support to live there.

    He glanced out of the front door. “Has someone accompanied you?”

    I nodded. “My chaperone, Mrs. MacAlister, waits in the carriage.” She should have come inside with me.

    A young woman carried a silver tea urn into the sitting room. I glanced after her, and at the sofa, and then remembered sitting on that very sofa as a child, feet kicking well above the ground.

    “Miss?” Captain Whitfield called my attention.

    “Forgive me, yes.” I returned abruptly to the present. “My chaperone is waiting for us to return to town, after you and I have had a chance to speak together briefly. We’ll be staying at an inn.”

    He nodded. “You’ve made arrangements?”

    I shook my head. “We arrived late. But it has been suggested that we might stay at the Swan.”

    The young maid dropped a platter and the butler, Landreth, looked at her sternly.

    Captain Whitfield responded. “That won’t do. I’ll send Landreth to ask Mrs. MacAlister to join us and you may spend the night in the guesthouse.”

    “Thank you. I appreciate your offer, but the Swan will suit us admirably.”

    He nodded, and I exhaled, relieved for the first time that evening. My father had often said that I could trust an English military man and Father seemed to have been correct.

    I took the teacup, its blue-and-white pattern faintly familiar. I stared at my hand, which held the cup delicately by the handle, and blinked back tears. It looked so like my mother’s hand, unexpectedly. Perhaps it was the china pattern that brought it all back. She had not left the teaching of taking tea to an ayah; as with all English customs Mother was keen to pass along, she’d seen to it herself. I steadied myself and affected a calm voice. “I hope to speak to Mr. Highmore, my father’s solicitor, at his earliest convenience, and the situation will be resolved, of that I am certain.”

    “I shall ask him to visit with all speed,” Captain Whitfield said. “I expect you will be tired. Cook will prepare some supper for you and my housekeeper, Mrs. Blackwood, will show you to the guesthouse.”

    “But . . .” I began, bewildered. And then Mrs. MacAlister appeared in the doorway, holding her small satchel in one hand and mine in the other. Before the front doors were firmly shut I caught a glimpse of the hired carriage retreating down the long, uneven drive and looked at the captain. I swallowed hard. “I thought I’d made it clear that we would return to Winchester for the night.”

    “I insist you remain here as my guests,” Whitfield replied. “Until Mr. Highmore is able to, as you said, resolve the situation. At that point, the next step will become obvious to us all.”

    He spoke in a most gentlemanly way, but there was no doubt that his rounded words blunted a threat. Ideas ran through my mind. We were miles away from any other house, and even if I had the means and direction to make it to one of them, what should I say? I’m the long-lost daughter of the house along the road, thought dead, but truly not, slinking around in the countryside after dark with an elderly Scottish widow?

    There was no possibility of posting a letter or a telegram, save through Captain Whitfield. But this was my house. I would not let him see the fear that coursed through me. I took myself in hand and tucked that fear deep inside, hoping it would eventually dissolve.

    “That’s very kind of you.” I summoned a confident tone. “I’m certain we shall find it more welcoming than the Swan.”

    “I am relieved to hear that,” he replied with a teasing smile and a focused gaze; to my dismay, I blushed at his attention. He took my gloved hand in his own and held it for the briefest of moments, warming me through as he did. I noticed the pause before the release. “I shall look forward to learning more about you soon.” This time his words were softly spoken and I knew enough about human nature to maintain that he meant them sincerely. I let down my guard a little, too.

    Later, as Mrs. Blackwood settled us into the guesthouse, I took time to thank her and then, before she left, to ask, “Why was Captain Whitfield relieved when I replied that we’d be better accommodated here than at the Swan?”

    She busied herself with the candleholders, ensuring that the smallest drip of congealed wax was removed by her nail before responding. “The Swan is a brothel, miss. Good evening.” She blew out all lamps but one and closed the door behind her.

    A brothel! The audacity of that woman at Highmore’s office.

    I blew out the last lamp and settled into bed, knees drawn up to my chest; they knocked with chill and fear. What should I do if the situation was not able to be resolved? I had nowhere to go. How would I live? I had no profession. There was no charity available to returned missionaries; family was expected to care for them so that all new funds could be put toward fresh fieldworkers. But I had no family; my mother’s mother and sister, of Honiton, had died some years previously. And my father’s line had ended in a thin branch . . . or so I’d thought.

    Did Captain Whitfield have a claim to Headbourne House through Father? How had he ended up here?

    I sighed. Captain Whitfield, resident jailer; his insistence we remain put me ill at ease. And yet, there was something soft and genuine in his last smile. He had seen to it that our meal was not cold, as might have been expected, but warm and of the highest quality. I did not know what to make of him.

    The moonlight filtered through the window. I was afraid to sleep lest I be visited by my loved ones in haunting dreams, so I got up to peer out of it. I found I could not see but two feet ahead of me for the mist, which obscured all. Was it possible for someone to come close enough to look in the window without my seeing them? I pulled the curtains shut and then chided myself for entertaining such a foolish notion. I must be tired. Of course I was tired.

    I returned to bed and listened to the creaking of the house. After some time, I thought I heard footsteps. They grew louder and closer, seeming to approach my door. Then they stopped. I waited, barely breathing, for them to resume. Had I truly heard them at all or were they, too, foolish notions? Was my mind giving over to imaginings?

    After some minutes of quiet, I quietly slipped from the bed and pushed the elephantine walnut dressing table in front of the door.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Mist of Midnight: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
    WildflowerMom More than 1 year ago
    Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, Carrie Turansky and Linda Chaikin will want to grab this Gothic-style romance shrouded in mystery set in Victorian England. A crumbling old estate, a mysterious death, a case of mistaken identity, eavesdropping servants, a brooding landlord with veiled affections, and one brave heroine who seeks the truth, added altogether make for an intriguing read. Will Rebecca ever be able to unravel the mystery of the imposter, find someone to trust and possibly love, or be left alone after all she's been through? The mystery kept me guessing clear up to the end, with a few plot twists, and a bit of the supernatural mixed in. Looking forward to the next books in this new series, a bit of a departure from her previous historical fiction. It's well-written as usual and full of carefully researched details, including lines from in foreign languages and customs from Colonial India, plus an index of information to fill in the historical background.
    Please_Pass_The_Books More than 1 year ago
    This is classic Victorian Gothic at its best. This story is haunting and completely engrossing. Along with Rebecca Ravenshaw, I was transported from India to Victorian England, where Rebecca is thrust into the care of Captain Luke Whitfield. Sandra Byrd is a master of layered storytelling that left me eagerly awaiting the next installment of this series. I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from its publisher Howard Books and through Net Galley.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Loved it!
    hollydollyWA More than 1 year ago
    The plot was intriguing and suspenseful and I didn't want to put it down until I finished the last page! I am going to give as a gift as well! It will be one of my favorites!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A beautiful Gothic love story full of intrigue and mystery. I loved the premise and got very wrapped up in the characters, their emotions and dilemmas. The perfect book to sink into on a rainy day.
    Fitzysmom More than 1 year ago
    I like chocolate but I love dark chocolate. Just like that dark chocolate, a well written gothic romance is something to be savored. It has a nice blend of bitter and sweet that keeps you guessing as to what is coming next. Mist of Midnight is definitely a dark chocolate flavored book! In Sandra Byrd's newest book, Mist of Midnight, we travel with Rebecca Ravenshaw from the dangerous land of India that has claimed the lives of her parents and brother to her family home in Hampshire, England. Much to Rebecca's dismay she finds upon her arrival that an imposter has already laid claim to her family home. What is even worse is that person is now dead and the family estate has reverted to the dashingly handsome yet mysterious Luke Whitfield.  The journey to prove that she is indeed the real Rebecca Ravenshaw is littered with snares. Her family departed England when she was a very young child so no one really remembers her. All that would prove who she is in India has been destroyed. How can she get past the suspicion of those that are in charge of granting her title to her home?  Fortunately Captain Whitfield chooses to believe her until it can be proved otherwise. But there is just something about the handsome Luke Whitfield that makes Rebecca a little nervous. Who is he and what are his motives? He may be willing to trust Rebecca, but can Rebecca trust him? As Rebecca sets out to discover who her imposter was she stumbles even further into a dark mystery. Just when she thinks she might have figured out a portion of the puzzle, a missing piece hampers the continuing discovery. Who would be brazen enough to pretend to be her? And did she really die from self-murder or was something else afoot? There are so many delicious layers to this story. There are characters that you like but find out you shouldn't. There are characters that you don't like from the very beginning but can't exactly put your finger on the reason why. There are even characters that you think you know everything about until the very end.  If Mist of Midnight is any indication of the caliber of the Daughters of Hampshire series, then this is going to be a set of books destined for must read lists everywhere. I was provided a book to facilitate my review.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    310 pages.I enjoyed this book. This is not my preferred style of romance but I liked this novel. There is a dark mystery and at times I feared it wouldn't end well. I was intrigued to the end and was glad I finished the story! Highly recommened.
    Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
    It would be horrible to have lost your whole family and then for everyone to think you weren't who you said you were. Rebecca has this happen. It would be awful. This book has great romance and intrigue. Is anyone who they say they are. Is anyone telling the truth? I did not want to put this book down. So kept my interest. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    CathyElliott More than 1 year ago
    I’ve loved Gothic Romance since I read Victoria Holt’s Mistress of Mellyn at age eleven. When I picked up Sandra Byrd's inspirational novel, Mist of Midnight, I found the familiar Gothic feel that fans the senses. In fact, I was so engaged in the story, I spent two nights reading late into the wee hours to finish. Byrd created a winsome heroine in Rebecca Ravenshaw, disembarking in England from India after losing her missionary family in the rebellion. She plans to settle in the family home, a crumbling, yet still charming property called Homestead. To her dismay, she finds a distant relative, Captain Luke Whitfield, already installed as master of the house. And finds herself suspect on arrival. It seems another young woman has proceeded her claim as the daughter of the house. A woman who soon died under suspicious circumstances. Miss Ravenshaw’s welcome is subdued, even rejected. With so much antagonism about, Rebecca knows not whom to trust. But she is not the usual, retiring lady. She is ready to fight for her home and learn the truth. Amid carriage rides with high-stepping horses, balls and garden parties, attentions of the both brooding and handsome Captain, and with the dubious assistance of a French maid, Rebecca begins to sort out the mystery. I thought I had it figured out, but was surprised and delighted by the twists at the end. I’ve already ordered the next book, Bride of a Distant Isle. Highly recommended to all Gothic romance fans. A delicious read!
    bjdoureaux More than 1 year ago
    Rebecca Ravenshaw has spent most of her life in India, where her parents were missionaries. After their deaths in a violent Indian uprising, Rebecca returns home to England to claim her family estate. There’s one problem: someone claiming to be Rebecca Ravenshaw had returned home less than a year before, and had recently died. Now Rebecca must prove to everyone, including the charming, yet suspicious, Captain Luke Whitfield, who has taken over her father’s estate, that she is who she says she is. This is the first book I’ve read by Sandra Byrd, and it won’t be the last. I can’t even express how much I loved this book. I hated to put it down. It is just descriptive enough to set the scene without getting bogged down by details. The characters are distinct and layered. I usually stay away from Christian romance novels, because I find them to be sappy and predictable. I took a chance on this one because it is a Gothic Romance, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. The mystery kept me guessing to the end. But the important part was the romance. It wasn’t sappy. It was engaging. It’s a slow build: the tension of a wanting look, the anticipation of a touch, the thrill of an unspoken attraction. And, of course, the mystery of it all makes it feel dangerous. I’ve already ordered the second novel in this series, Daughters of Hampshire, and I plan to read it as soon as I get it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really enjoyed this book. Once I was done I started referring friends to it. I had to know who what when where why the whole book. I had to know just like Rebecca!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Well written and engaging story
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have a new favorite author!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great story with twists and turns that will leave you reading late into the night. Loved it.
    mackenzie_carol More than 1 year ago
    Mist of Midnight is the first book in Sandra Byrd’s Daughters of Hampshire series, and is also the first novel I have ever read by her. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but based on the description, I had a feeling that this would be a story I would definitely love. Considering the way I was reacting during the final chapters, I am pretty sure that I was right. Sandra has now become one of my favorite authors, and I cannot wait to read more of her books. I absolutely fell in love with Rebecca, Luke, and their story; especially because Sandra did a flawless job of writing it. Rebecca Ravenshaw and Captain Luke Whitfield are such an interesting pair! I cannot even talk about them separately since they just don’t ever need to be without each other, and besides, I feel like I couldn’t do either of them justice in general anyway. I know, I know, they aren’t together at the beginning of the book, and who’s to say they are ever together in the middle or end up together at the end, but still. Rebecca goes through so much before she returns to England, and that is very obvious throughout the entire course of this book, especially since she goes through even more as soon as she arrives. And Luke, struggling through all of the various things that he had faced before Rebecca’s arrival, makes them such an interesting pair. Both of them are so strong in their own ways, and they really are the best for each other. Whether they ever end up together or not. Now, there are a couple of things that I absolutely have to address in this review, even at the risk of accidentally including spoilers. I’m going to try, however, to get across what I’m trying to say without ruining anything that I want for you to find out on your own. So, here goes. First off, this is something that I know that I won’t spoil—unless I include the actual quote, which I won’t, though I’m dying to—but you absolutely have to get excited for the perfectly quotable line you will find on page 351. Someday, I’ll write a post of tons of my favorite quotes, and that one will be at the top. Or at least close. Trust me, you’re going to die when you read it. Also, there are two special parts of this book that I am absolutely dying to describe to you. I’ll just leave it at this, there’s something really important and super sweet that has to do with lions. Just remember that. Oh, and there’s something wonderful about a certain important person in Rebecca’s life that just might surprise you at the end. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t; that didn’t keep me from absolutely loving it, however. All in all, I really, really loved this book, and cannot imagine not giving it all five bookshelves. I had added it to my all-time favorites list long before I actually finished it, and I cannot wait to read more in this series and more of Sandra’s books in general in the future. This novel is sweet, intriguing, captivating, and more than I ever imagined it would be, and I highly recommend it. Sandra is a very talented author, who deserves tons of praise for coming up with this fantastic story. (This review is from my blog, spreadinghisgrace.blogspot.com)
    VicG More than 1 year ago
    Sandra Byrd in her new book, “Mist Of Midnight” Book One in the Daughters of Hampshire series published by Howard Books takes us into the life of Rebecca Ravenshaw. From the Back Cover: Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her…and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca’s name, but her home and incomes. That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father’s investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”? A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless. Captain Luke Whitifield may be a hero or an unscrupulous con artist out to take everything from Rebecca. We know Rebecca is really “the” Rebecca that is entitled to Headbourne House and her inheritance. However she is going to have to prove it because there was another woman who claimed to be Rebecca but died mysteriously and now the townspeople do not trust her. How do you prove your real identity in a time when there wasn’t the kind of proof that we have today? “Mist Of Midnight” is full of deceit, mistrust and some shady characters. It also has romance. This is a Gothic mystery at its finest. Start reading this book early as you will not want to go to sleep until you finish. Sandra Byrd did a great job. You will like this book as well. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
    Mirella More than 1 year ago
    What a book! Mist of Midnight is another winning novel by author Sandra Byrd! Definitely one of her best! It is the first book in the new Daughters of Hampshire series. Set in Victorian England, this gothic novel echoes the work of Jane Eyre. There is everything - an old manor, a mysterious past, suspense, romance, and a definite haunting atmosphere from cover to cover.  A young woman, Rebecca Ravenshaw, has survived the Indian Mutiny alone. Her missionary parents were both killed. She retuns to her family home in Hampshire only to find that an imposter had previously claimed her inheritance. After the mysterious death of the imposter, a distant relative, the handsome and kind, Captain Luke Winfield, had since inheritted the estate. Of course, Rebecca's sudden appearance only sheds doubt on who is the real Rebecca Ravenshaw.     Crafty characters, a blooming romance, an elegant old manor that has scene better days, and a courageous, forthright heroine grace the pages of this wonderful book. Everything about this novel impresses - from its cover to the rich story that unfolds!  I could not put this book down! Yup, it was that good!
    Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
    As long as we have someplace to call home, we have a sense of security no matter what happens in life. When Rebecca Ravenshaw left England years ago to work with her family as missionaries in India, she found a second home among the lower castes of people. People who appreciated what she did to improve their lives and it was those very same people who saved her life when the uprisings began. Her parents did not survive. All she had hoped was to head home and try to salvage something of the life she had known from her families home in Hampshire, England. What she wasn't looking for was out right suspicion on who she claimed to be. Apparently for several months, Rebecca Ravenshaw had returned to Headbourne House along with her Indian maid and only recently died leaving the estate to the only heir left, Captain Luke Whitfield. With very little to prove she is who she claims, she visits Headbourne House and confronts Captain Whitfield. He agrees to give her time at the estate for her claims to be proven that she is who she claims without being left on the street with nothing and no one to care for her. He agrees to move to the guest home for the time being until their solicitor can iron out who gets the estate and all it's withholdings. The more Rebecca digs into the mysterious death surrounding the women impersonating her, the most suspicious she becomes that the one did not commit suicide and may have been murder. But if that is the case, is she now running the same risk? Why would someone want Rebecca murdered? Who had the most to gain if she were dead? Does the charming and handsome Captain Whitfield have anything to do with the apparent ease at which he acquired the estate after the imposters death? What will happen if Rebecca can't prove who she is? I received Mist of Midnight by Sandra Bryd compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions contained here are my own. This is such a wonderful novel because it combines the aspects of a traditional regency alongside a bit of suspense and mystery. It keeps you guessing who is responsible until almost the very end and now I can't wait for more novels in this series. Rebecca Ravenshaw is the epitome of a strong women who isn't about to let her dire financial situation and what people think of her, keep her from taking back what is rightfully hers even if it means stepping on a few politically correct toes to do it. Hands down a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. This is the first novel in the Daughters of Hampshire series!
    girlsmama More than 1 year ago
    Unforgettable.... “Um, I forgot”- isn’t this a response that mom’s constantly hear from their darling cherubs who perhaps didn’t complete their list of chores?  Well I have to say, after reading Sandra Byrd’s captivating Gothic Romance novel Mist of Midnight, that was my response- “Um, I forgot how much I love a great Gothic Romance novel!, especially when penned by the hugely talented Sandra Byrd who weaves the historical parts of the novel  into the story seamlessly . It just adds to the enjoyment for the reader and lends some authenticity to the time period of the story. (Read the author’s notes in the back of the book- so fascinating!)    Mist of Midnight hits that perfect balance in the story  between , that sort of dark Gothic mystery  where things “go bump in the night” and a delightful romance that springs up between the two characters.  We have the lovely Rebecca Ravenshaw, a child of missionaries who lost her whole family overseas in India to both illness as well as the Rebellion that took place there.  She is now tired and heartbroken and is coming home to England to take up residence in her family’s estate Headbourne House in Hampshire England. One slight problem is that she discovers that there was an impostor who had come to Headbourne House just previous to her, posing as “Rebecca Ravenshaw” and claiming her inheritance as well as her home. She then died under suspicious circumstances. So when she, the real Rebecca Ravenshaw, shows up, the town is skeptical ,as many haven’t seen her since she was a little girl. In residence in Headbourne House, is the very handsome Captain Luke Whitfield who is a distant relative next in line to inherit Headbourne House with the supposed death of Rebecca Ravenshaw. Luke is everything that the perfect gothic hero needs to be, as he is completely swoonworthy, but has that edge to him where you wonder exactly what his secrets might be- (think Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre)- is he a good romantic hero or is he going to murder you in your sleep?  This keeps Rebecca, and the reader, off balance throughout the story right till the end as the mystery of what happened at Headbourne House with the impostor comes to light.   Also in all good gothic tales the residence, or House, is almost  always like a character unto itself  within the story as there is usually some mystery within the house and Mist of Midnight does not disappoint in that respect either with mysterious messages showing up on the walls and rooms that are locked up where Rebecca cannot enter,  letters hidden in the attic, etc.  Sandra Byrd knows her stuff and I was completely engaged in this story from the beginning until the end (which was delightful by the way.)  I would never give away an ending, but I will say that there was an especially endearing little twist that I was not expecting at the end that I thought was very charming and fun to read.   All in all, a really wonderful read and I was delighted to see that the author just mentioned via social media that she had finished the second book in this series and all I can say is – “sign me up, I’m in “ and this time, there will be no forgetting how much I loved this book and how I am thoroughly anticipating the next one! 5 stars I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
    amybooksy More than 1 year ago
    Mist of Midnight is a fabulous book! I was captivated from the very first page. I enjoyed the mystery that surrounded the plot. Once the mystery was solved, I could not believe the twist. The characters are engaging, the setting was great, the plot was again fabulous. I recommend this book and look froward to book 2 of the series. 5 stars. I received this book from Howard Books in exchange for my honest opinion which was given.
    Mirabelle8 More than 1 year ago
    A real page turner! A beautiful Gothic love story! 5 stars I love Gothic love stories! Mist of Midnight was perfect for me! This novel is the first one in Sandra Byrd's new series Daughters of Hampshire. It's a real page turner, it kept me sitting at the edge of my seat until the last pages. If I could resume it in three words, they would be betrayal, trust and love. Ms. Byrd, slowly built up the suspense to keep my interest! I loved her main characters Rebecca and Luke! The story starts as, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands. Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India and is returning home only to find out that Captain Luke Whitfield is residing there. She, now, has to prove her identity to everyone to be able to fully access her heritage. Will she be able to trust Luke? Is he the man he pretends to be? Who has betrayed her and her family? Who was the imposter? Will she find out the truth? Will love be in the air for these two strangers? This story is set in Victorian England! I really enjoyed this captivating Gothic suspense! Sandra Byrd was a new author for me, but, now, after having read Mist of Midnight, I will surely watch for her next book! To be released on March 10th. I received a free copy from NetGalley and Howard Books, in exchange for an honest review.
    Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
    Wednesday, March 4, 2015 New Novel by Sandra Byrd! Mist of Midnight, © 2015 Daughters of Hampshire, Book One I await new historical fiction writings by Sandra Byrd. Love the depth of her telling! Arriving after long travel and weariness, Rebecca Ravenshaw is met with open ridicule and contempt. Rebecca Ravenshaw, indeed! Miss Ravenshaw was buried at Headbourne House estate. Who is there to prove her identity? How can it be? Homecoming in the dark of night and circumstance as an uninvited stranger? My home stolen, twice. My mother and father departed and my life in India. My brother, Peter, to cholera years earlier. Despair; would it ever depart? My life as a daughter of missionaries vanished, swiftly fleeting. In an instant I am propelled forward to vague memories of being at Headbourne House in earlier days. Consequences not of my own making, laid out before me. Timing, perhaps, how could it have been avoided? The time lapse of escaping to come home. How do you leave the home you've known, to come home? A viable question. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. --Deuteronomy 31:8 As the story unfolds, I am wondering if there is a clue remaining from twenty years earlier ~ in storage ~ massive building that it is! Her identity must be reckoned with to free her to live fully. This is a wonderful author. I enjoy her books. So in-depth and consuming as you turn the page to continue their day. Flawlessly beyond a frivolous thought, you will be entertained and surprised, as real life comes upon us. I highly recommend her stories. Completely captivating and well-written, in time period and activity. Meaningful, as Truth prevails. ***Thank you to author Sandra Byrd and to Howard Books for this Advance Reading Copy for review as part of the CBA Blog Tour. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***