Book Blast & #Giveaway: The Secret of Drulea Cottage (Betwixt the Sea and Shore #1) by Claire Kohler
Briony Fairborn, a midwife in eighteenth-century Scotland, comes from a family shrouded in scandal. Left with only one friend after her mother’s death, she has little hope of gaining any others, let alone finding a husband. Instead, Briony tries to live a quiet life and avoid her neighbors’ ridicule as much as possible.
But things in Everton take a drastic turn when a storm brings foreigners to the village docks.
On the night Santiago Mendes arrives, he comes with a broken ship, a broken leg, and a broken spirit that Briony finds herself profoundly drawn to. Her scarred heart slowly starts to open, and although Briony suspects he may be hiding something, she cannot help but dream of the possibility of love.
That is, until another stranger appears in town, intent on repaying a childhood debt. A dangerously handsome stranger who shows Briony that she’s even more different than she could have imagined. And that her past is far darker than she realized.
Magic, romance, and political intrigue collide as the secrets surrounding one Scottish woman begin to unravel. Secrets that she may not be ready to face.
“Capitão! Senhor Mendes! Come quick!” A sailor appeared in the doorway, his eyes distraught. “Silva went overboard!”
“Show me!” Santiago followed the sailor out, not bothering to check if Costa came too.
A monstrous storm the likes of which he’d never seen was swirling directly above the São Nicolau. Lightning descended in vicious bolts while giant black clouds blocked out all sunlight. Waves rocked the ship back and forth, making it almost impossible to stay upright. The mainmast started to bend; it wouldn’t be long before it collapsed.
Santiago gripped the side of the ship and made his way forward—
But something hit him from behind, propelling him toward the mast—
Santiago was on his back, trying to scramble out of the way, but he couldn’t quite move fast enough. The top half of the mast crashed down, landing on his right leg.
He cried out as pain tore through his body. It was so intense that he felt his mind swimming, drifting in and out of consciousness. He tried to pull his leg out, but it wouldn’t budge.
Santiago was trapped. “H-Help…”
Suddenly a silhouette appeared directly above him. Santiago’s heart leaped—
But then a pistol was in his face. With what was left of his strength, Santiago willed his eyelids to stay open. If this is to be my final moment, I’m going to make sure I look my killer in the eye.
4 out of 5 (very good)
THE SECRET OF DRULEA COTTAGE is the first book in the Betwixt the Sea and the Shore series and we arrive in Everton, a small town in Orkney, also known as the Orkney Islands, which is an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland.
Briony is the village midwife but that is the only time she is wanted. She is the illegitimate daughter of Bethany, who was also illegitimate. The villagers shun her and expect her to follow in her mother's footsteps. Briony is used to it and tries to keep out of their way, although she enjoys spending time with Adaira, her only friend. Her life changes when two men enter it.
The beginning of this story was a slow-burn, gently leading you in with old terms and descriptions of Briony's life. It really gets going once Santiago and Niall turn up. Both men have a powerful effect upon Briony, but with secrets galore, she has no idea just who or what they are.
This was a fascinating story of the Selkies, with some Portuguese political intrigue thrown in for good measure. The characters are well-described and fit neatly in their boxes. You immediately know who the good guys are, and who are the big bad, even if you don't know why.
A great start to the series that I thoroughly enjoyed and have no hesitation in recommending.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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Claire Kohler grew up in Mooresville, NC, as the eldest of four daughters. Her love of stories began at an early age, and as a child, she could often be found borrowing way too many books from the library and scribbling away in a journal.
In 2016, Claire became a full-time middle school English teacher in a public school. In her second year of teaching, she also taught social studies. After becoming pregnant in 2018, Claire decided to shift careers and become an online ESL teacher so that she could also take care of her newborn at home.
She now lives in Statesville, NC, with her husband, two children, and three cats. She is also an active member of Christ Community Church Mooresville, where she often serves as a Bible study and small group leader.
Claire plans to continue creating exciting historical fantasy novels and potentially branching out into other genres as well.