The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea

by Susanna Kearsley

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A New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!

"I've loved every one of Susanna's books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly's delicate touch with characters—sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won't let go!"— DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander

A hauntingly beautiful tale of love that transcends time. A modern American woman travels to Scotland to write a novel about the Jacobite Rebellion— only to discover that the vivid scenes and the romantic hero she's imagining actually exist...

In the spring of 1708, invading Jacobites plot to land the exiled James Stewart on the Scottish coast to reclaim his crown. When young Sophia Paterson travels to Slains Castle by the sea, she finds herself in the midst of the dangerous intrigue.

Now, American writer Carrie McClelland hopes to base her next bestselling novel on that story of her ancestors in the dim, dark past . Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she starts to write.
But as Carrie's mind slips back in time, she learns of the ultimate betrayal that happened all those years ago, making her the only living person who knows the truthand that knowledge comes very close to destroying her.

Don't miss the next enchanting novel from Susanna Kearsley, Bellewether, coming August 2018!

Other bestselling books by Susanna Kearsley:
The Rose Garden
A Desperate Fortune
The Firebird

Praise for RITA Nominee, The Winter Sea:
"Lifts readers straight into another time and place to smell the sea, feel the castle walls, see history and sense every emotion. These are marks of a fantastic storyteller." —RT Book Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402261084
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 12/01/2010
Series: Slains Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 29,894
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Susanna Kearsley's writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. Her books have been translated into several languages, selected for the Mystery Guild, condensed for Reader's Digest, and optioned for film. She lives in Canada near the shores of Lake Ontario.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and RITA award winner, Susanna Kearsley is known for her meticulous research and exotic settings from Russia to Italy to Cornwall, which not only entertain her readers but give her a great reason to travel. Her lush writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. She hit the bestseller lists in the U.S. with The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden, both RITA finalists and winners of RT Reviewers' Choice Awards. Other honors include finaling for the UK's Romantic Novel of the Year Award, National Readers' Choice Awards, and the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize. Her popular and critically-acclaimed books are available in translation in more than 20 countries and as audio books. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1

It wasn't chance. There wasn't any part of it that happened just by chance.

I learned this later; though the realization, when it came, was hard for me to grasp because I'd always had a firm belief in self-determination. My life so far had seemed to bear this out-I'd chosen certain paths and they had led to certain ends, all good, and any minor bumps that I had met along the way I could accept as not bad luck, but simply products of my own imperfect judgment. If I'd had to choose a creed, it would have been the poet William Henley's bravely ringing lines: I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul. So on that winter morning when it all began, when I first took my rental car and headed north from Aberdeen, it never once occurred to me that someone else's hand was at the helm.

I honestly believed it was my own decision, turning off the main road for the smaller one that ran along the coastline. Not the wisest of decisions, maybe, seeing as the roads were edged with what I'd been assured was Scotland's deepest snow in forty years, and I'd been warned I might run into drifting and delays. Caution and the knowledge I was running on a schedule should have kept me to the more well-traveled highway, but the small sign that said 'Coastal Route' diverted me.

My father always told me that the sea was in my blood. I had been born and raised beside it on the shores of Nova Scotia, and I never could resist its siren pull. So when the main road out of Aberdeen turned inland I turned right instead, and took the way along the coast.

I couldn't say how far away I was when I first saw the ruined castle on the cliffs, a line of jagged darkness set against a cloud-filled sky, but from the moment I first saw it I was captivated, driving slightly faster in the hope I'd reach it sooner, paying no attention to the clustered houses I was driving past, and feeling disappointment when the road curved sharply off again, away from it. But then, beyond the tangle of a wood, the road curved back again, and there it was: a long dark ruin, sharp against the snowbound fields that stretched forbiddingly between the cliff 's edge and the road. I saw a parking lot ahead, a little level place with logs to mark the spaces for the cars, and on an impulse I pulled in and stopped.

The lot was empty. Not surprising, since it wasn't even noon yet, and the day was cold and windy, and there wasn't any reason anyone would stop out here unless they wanted to walk out to see the ruin. And from looking at the only path that I could see that led to it-a frozen farm lane drifted deep with snow that would have risen past my knees-I guessed there wouldn't be too many people stopping here today. I knew I shouldn't stop, myself. There wasn't time. I had to be in Peterhead by one o'clock. But something in me felt a sudden need to know exactly where I was, and so I reached to check my map.

I'd spent the past five months in France; I'd bought my map there, and it had its limitations, being more concerned with roads and highways than with towns and ruins. I was looking so hard at the squiggle of coastline and trying to make out the names in fine print that I didn't see the man till he'd gone past me, walking slowly, hands in pockets, with a muddy-footed spaniel at his heels.

It seemed a strange place for a man on foot to be, out here. The road was busy and the snow along the banks left little room to walk beside it, but I didn't question his appearance. Any time I had a choice between a living, breathing person and a map, I chose the person. So I scrambled, map in hand, and got my car door open, but the salt wind blowing off the sea across the fields was stronger than I'd thought it would be. It stole my voice. I had to try again. 'Excuse me...'

I believe the spaniel heard me first. It turned, and then the man turned too, and seeing me, retraced his steps. He was a younger man than I'd expected, not much older than myself-mid-thirties, maybe, with dark hair whipped roughly by the wind and a close-trimmed dark beard that made him look a little like a pirate. His walk, too, had a swagger to it, confident. He asked me, 'Can I help you?'

'Can you show me where I am?' I held the map towards him.

Coming round to block the wind, he stood beside me, head bent to the printed coastline. 'Here,' he said, and pointed to a nameless headland. 'Cruden Bay. Where are ye meant to be?' His head turned very slightly as he asked that, and I saw his eyes were not a pirate's eyes. They were clear grey, and friendly, and his voice was friendly too, with all the pleasant, rolling cadence of the northern Scot.

I said, 'I'm going north, to Peterhead.'

'Well, that's not a problem.' He pointed it out on the map. 'It's not far. You just keep on this road, it'll take you right up into Peterhead.' Close by his knee the dog yawned a complaint, and he sighed and looked down. 'Half a minute.

You see that I'm talking?'

I smiled. 'What's his name?'


Bending, I scratched the dog's hanging ears, spattered with mud. 'Hello, Angus. You've been for a run.'

'Aye, he'd run all the day if I'd let him. He's not one for standing still.'

Neither, I thought, was his master. The man had an aura of energy, restlessness, and I'd delayed him enough. 'Then I'll let you get going,' I said as I straightened. 'Thank you for your help.'

'Nae bother,' he assured me, and he turned and started off again, the spaniel trotting happily ahead.

The hardened footpath stretched ahead of them, towards the sea, and at its end I saw the castle ruin standing stark and square and roofless to the swiftly running clouds, and as I looked at it I felt a sudden pulling urge to stay-to leave the car parked where it was and follow man and dog where they had gone, and hear the roaring of the sea around those crumbled walls.

But I had promises to keep.

So with reluctance, I got back into my rental car, turned the key and started off again towards the north.

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Winter Sea 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1053 reviews.
poosie More than 1 year ago
From the beginning, the author's words lulled me into this wonderful romantic / suspense, set in present day Scotland and 1708 Scotland. Carrie McClellan, (main protagonist), is a bestselling author who specializes in historical fiction. She moves to Scotland to write her next book in order to research and absorb the character of the environment. This is a haunting and enchanting story with a hint of the supernatural that will keep you totally absorbed in the true love and sacrifice backbone. There are many twists and turns, surprises and believable mysticism to hold your interest until the end. Another book to savor! A truly exciting read!
ZQuilts More than 1 year ago
I knew that this was going to be a special book in the first pages. Most often it takes me 20-50 pages to convince me that I am going to want to blaze through a book - but this one was different. "The Winter Sea" is, indeed, both a historical novel as well as a romance. The book comes with a "side order "of very well done paranormal, genetic memory, interest thrown in for good measure. Basic Plot: A well know historical fiction writer, Carrie McClelland, travels to Scotland to research the material for her book in progress and to get a feel for the area where the main action will take place. Her main character is Sophia Patterson, named for an ancestor who, coincidentally, had lived in Scotland in the early 18th century and had been an relative of the Duchess of Slains castle. The Duchess was an instrumental figure in the times of the Jacobite rebellion and, Sophia resided with at Slains Castle at this time. The book is really two stories in one: the 'old 'story playing out during 1708 and the Jacobite rebellion, the 'new' in present day Scotland. Carries rents a small cottage from a local man , Jimmy Keith (who retains the decided burr of the local dialect) who has two sons, Stuart and Graham. Both sons begin to fall in love with Carrie - although only one of the sons 'feels right'. As Carrie's research intensifies, and her need for for more information increases, she calls on her father to fill in details about their ancestor's story. Gradually as her research and writing, as well as her love interests, progress, Carries finds herself swept up in more than just words on on paper. She finds herself caught in a time warp of sorts. Her flashes of insight feel more like memory than writing and her love for one of the brothers feels more compelling than just a present day love interest. As Carrie writes her book she finds that she is, in fact, recounting her own story - a story that began during the Jacobite rebellion and a love that has lasted through time. Her flashes of deja vu are more than just images - they are images that are filled with remembrance and as real to her as her present day life as a writer Susanna Kearsley is an amazing writer. She weaves the two plots flawlessly and fluidly. Well researched history about the Jacobite rebellion and it's main characters blend effortlessly with present day information about Scotland. What a gifted writer Ms. Kearsley is! This is one book that I wish had gone on - it took me away and put me in with the characters. I couldn't put it down - what more can a book do for a reader? If you have never read anything by Susanna Kearsley this is THE place to start. What a treat you will have before you! Her previous work 'Mariana' is another well crafted, slightly other worldly novel that had much the same effect on me as I read it. Oh! I want more from this author! I can compare my enthusiasm about this book to my love for other authors such as Sarah Dunnett, Sharon Kay Penman, Susan Higginbotham and Vanora Bennett to name just a few.
Tribute_Books_Reviews More than 1 year ago
The Winter Sea is one of those novels that a reader doesn't come across too often. It is a creative tour de force. Sometimes a writer catches lightning in a bottle, and Susanna Kearsley has done just that. The idea behind the plot is ingenious. It centers on author Carrie McClelland as she journeys to Scotland to write a historical fiction novel concerning the 1708 Jacobite Rebellion. In many ways, life imitates art as the reader gets a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Kearsley's writing process as shown through Carrie's work habits. It's a fascinating look behind the veil of a writer at her craft depicted through a character of her own creation. Brilliant! The novel is broken down into two settings - modern day Scotland with Carrie and 1708 Scotland with Sophia, a dependent of the countess of Slains Castle. The chapters are intermingled throughout the book with numerical designations such as chapter 1, 2, 3, etc. for the present and Roman numerals for the historical segments such as I, II, III, etc. What provides the bridge between the two worlds is Carrie's ancestry. She discovers that Sophia actually resided at Slains Castle, and not just in her mind. To top it off, she is related to a woman she initially believed to be a figment of her imagination. As Carrie delves deeper into the story, she begins to unearth facts about Sophia previously unknown to her through dreams, deja vu and genetic memory. The story already happened. In fact, it seems to be writing itself with Carrie serving as merely its vessel. The inherent love story also spans the centuries. Carrie's attraction to history professor, Graham is immediate when she happens upon him and his dog at the ruins of Slains Castle. However, Graham's playboy brother, Stuart, tries to stake his claim her attention for his own. While back in the early 1700s, Sophia is enchanted by John Moray. However, as a loyal servant to the exiled King James, he is a man with a price on his head in his native land. In planning the 1708 rebellion and bringing the Stuart king back to the throne, his life is in constant danger. A life he does not want Sophia to have to endure. Before Moray is recalled from Slains Castle to return to the Scottish court in France, he weds her in a secret ceremony in the hope that one day they will be reunited. Kearsley has a knack for embodying her characters with a down home sense of charm. None more so than Jimmy Keith, father of Graham and Stuart. With his Scottish lilt of "quine" and "roast a bit of beef," the elderly gentleman and landlord of Carrie's rented cottage, is a welcome addition to the novel's pages. Another excellent example is Moray's Uncle Graeme who comes to comfort Sophia at Slains Castle when his nephew is in the heat of battle in France. An interesting note throughout is Sophia's fate. Carrie uncovers through historical documents that she married a man named David McClelland, her ancestor. What then happened to Moray? The answer to that question builds up to a heart-wrenching conclusion. The title - The Winter Sea - is also quite moving. When Sophia is alone and worried that she will never see Moray again, his Uncle Graeme reminds her that without the desolation of winter there can be no ever-renewing hope of spring. It is a hard lesson about accepting the bad in order to appreciate the good, but it is a lesson worth learning and relearning throughout life. Overall, all writers wish for the psychic inspiration Kears
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this wonderful book! It is a story that keeps you entertained for hours.
fvreader More than 1 year ago
While I typically don't care at all for books with supernatural qualities, I really enjoyed this one. This historical details were excellent, and the second plot did not distract at all from the historical tale. I found myself wanting both heroines to find happiness. The book was hard to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read if you like historical fiction. However, if you picked this up because you're looking for something like Diana Gabaldon's stories, be prepared -- this is primarily a love story and the "meat" of the story is not the historical element. The history serves as a backdrop for a predictable romance. It's worth the time to read if you want something fun, quick, and light.
gl More than 1 year ago
In Carrie McClelland, Susanna Kearsley gives us an interesting lead character. Carrie's a bestselling author who specializes in historical fiction and it's fascinating to read about her life. Each time she begins a novel, she moves to the place where her novel is set - she lives there, gets to know the topography, the people, culture and history. The place starts to speak to her and the characters come alive. When the book opens, she is living in a cottage in France and heads to Scotland to meet her literary agent. During the trip to Scotland, something calls out to her and she decides to relocate herself and her characters from France to Scotland. Suddenly, in Scotland, everything comes together. Carrie creates Sophia Paterson, named in part after Carrie's ancestor. The story comes together quickly, almost as if Carrie inexplicably knows details of the real Sophia's life. As Carrie meets a handsome stranger, her life -- and growing romance -- echoes that of her main character. And both stories draw you in with the romance, plot twists, and engaging characters. I loved The Winter Sea. It drew me in from the start and I found myself reading faster and faster just to find out what would happen next to Sophia and to Carrie. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend The Winter Sea. ISBN-10: 1402241372 - Paperback Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc. (December 1, 2010), 544 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just FYI, I was trying to figure a plot to this book before buying and came upon the fact that it has been re-released as "Sophia's Secret". Look up that book to get a good plot description of The Winter Sea.
Brandy Hower More than 1 year ago
A double story line keeps you from ever being able to put this down! The history is accurate and not too thick with the details, the chapters weave from one storyline into the next and she never leaves you hanging. The characters are not only accurately portrayed historically, but believable and as in Sophia's case endearing and warm and tangible. The love story is very gripping and passionate. I loved this book and will reread it! Sophia and John... I only wish their story continued! You have a series on your hands!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is better. I bought the ebook because of the comparison. Diana Gabaldon writes lusty swash buckling stories. The Winter Sea is all heart, warmth and family that stitches time together. Before I reached the end I was sure it had to be the first in a trilogy at the very least. At the end I was dismayed my time with this story was over but pleased not to have to wait for another book to appreciate the ending. Sophia and Moray are with me still and I wish I could close my eyes and see them still. It is a wonderful journey and I have the rest of the author's books on my wish list!
Kasey Patton More than 1 year ago
Couldnt put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found it to be slow, esp at the beginning and very predictable. It lacked passion that I have missed since reading the Outlander series by D Gabaldon. I don't mean the sex either. The characters in this book had no personality or zest with the exception of the older duchess who was a minor character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didnt finish. After 148 pages just no grabbing me. A romance novel at best.
osaka More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why everyone is raving about this book.  It was so slow I told myself I would give it to page 100 and if it didn't get better I would give up.  (I rarely give up on a book.)  That's exactly when it started to get more interesting.  I was speed reading because I couldn't wait to get to the end.  This book needs more history and I don't even think it can really be called a romance novel.  
Torilea62 More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful read. A quick, entertaining story a bit reminiscent of Diana Gabaldon. I loved the characters, the way the storyline went between present day and the past, and the setting. The Winter Sea was satisfying on every level. I experienced a gamut of feelings and was very disappointed when the story ended but I will reread it again gladly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! I had found it hard to get into at first but once I got going I couldn't stop. Someof the historical parts I found a bit confusing but besides that this book was amazing. I am looking forward to read more by susanna kearsley!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know much about Susanna Kearsley, so I don't know if this was indeed a first effort or if it just read like one. Pros: Held my interest, some gripping suspense here and there, good juggling act with two different stories in two different centuries. Cons: The thick Scottish brogue was virtually unreadable in parts (namely Jimmy, I dinae wanna hae tae raede tha agin), hate to say it but the suspense fizzles out a lot, it reads like a "Mary Sue" story quite a bit. I'm interested to read another one of her books and see how it compares.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in years. Beautifully written. The author has expertly and thoughtfully woven a rich and honest historical account of a love that spans 300 years. She was dilligent in keeping accurate historical facts and figures which made this exquisite novel that much more enchanting. I could not put it down. Cant wait to read more from this talented author!
Mosaicdog More than 1 year ago
Just finished this lastnight. Don't think twice about getting this book, it is a great story told from a fresh viewpoint.
PanolaJD More than 1 year ago
The Winter Sea ( UK Title: Sophia's Secret ) by Susanna Kearsley Rating: 4.5 Genre: Contemporary | Romance | Historic History has all but forgotten the spring of 1708, when an invasion fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors, and starts to write. But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory...making her the only living person who can know the truth of what did happen all those years ago - a tale of love and loyalty...and ultimate betrayal. As a well known author, Carrie is seeking inspiration for her upcoming historic novel. But upon visiting her editor outside of Aberdeen, Scotland, she becomes mesmerized by an abandoned castle and spontaneously plans to reside near the structure for the remaining Winter to research her characters; in hopes that the voices in her head will settle down as well. Yet, as her detailed dreams become written words and her fictional story reveals shocking truths, Carrie finds herself swept up in a déjà vu world that consumes her nights while her landlord's son begins to occupy her days. And when a secretive time in Scottish history begins to become unveiled within her book, Carrie realizes she has a much closer relationship to her past and her characters than previously thought. This was fantastically refreshing read! The story throughout had a little bit of everything that I enjoy in a good book: romance, history, mystery, an almost past-life theme, and lots of engaging characters. It can be a bit complex with the parallel stories going on, especially near the end when those two plot-lines begin to really bounce back and forth at a quicker pace (i.e. building the anticipation) compared to the beginning of the book. Yet, I was able to easily keep everything clear, in my head, and highly enjoyed the outcome. Lots of various character relationships throughout, which boosted the emotional aspect since both stories either suffered a misfortune or had moments of intense joy around the same time -- so it was like double the pleasure or trouble. Most of all, the romance in The Winter Sea was hauntingly sweet and revealed just how much love can triumph over all...especially time. And because the heart wants, what the heart wants, both female protagonists had strong romantic connections that really added spark and excitement to the tale. Both romantic relationships carried a similar theme throughout, but were in their own way unique and oddly very connected in the end. All in all, a very satisfying book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished this book and I couldn't put it down! The story and characters just drew me in. I usually do not read this type of novel (romance), but the way it was written, intertwining the past with present kept me reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the characters and the story was awesome.but there were just too many details. I got bogged down on so many names. It was worth the read.
DorieUebel More than 1 year ago
There are those rare and treasured books that make you sad when you reach the end, and make you wish you could go right back to the beginning and start again, experiencing the story again for the first time. This was definitely one of those books for me. Carrie McClelland is an author of historical fiction and is in Scotland to meet with her agent Jane, as well as do research and begin her newest story - the 1708 Jacobite invasion that nearly restored the exiled James VIII to Scotland to reclaim his crown. Slains Castle at Cruden Bay features prominently in the story, so Carrie arranges to rent a cottage nearby with a view of both the sea and the ruins of Slains Castle. When she begins the story however, she is taken by surprise by both her characters and the story. Carrie is then astonished to find that what she believes is her creative fiction is historical fact. She begins to realize she may be experiencing genetic memory of one of her ancestors and their part in the events of 300 years ago. The chapters alternate between Carrie's life in modern day and the experiences of her ancestor Sophia in 1708. Usually when a book is written in this manner there is one story I tend to prefer over the other. This was not the case in this book and both storylines were equally well written, entertaining and filled with characters that I cared about. There were also romantic interests in both timelines which were touching and both the conclusions were satisfying. This story was absolutely wonderful from the first page to the last! I become fully vested in all the characters and was very sorry to find myself at the end. I will definitely be looking for more from this author.
Jamie31OH More than 1 year ago
Thank you B & N for the great buy. I look forward to another story by this author.
BLUEEYEBE More than 1 year ago
In this great romantic / suspense story is about a writer in the present time who travels to Scotland and stays at a cottage in Cruden Bay near Slain Castle to research materials for her novel about the Jacobite uprising of 1708. It cleverly imports genetic memory and uncontrolled yet compelling voices from the past. Carrie quickly becomes immersed in not only the writing of the novel that seems to be frenetically writing itself, but by her elderly landlord, Jimmy Keith of the Doric tongue and his two attractive sons. This is a wonderful, exciting read that I think most would enjoy.