From the desk of Katie Patchell:
In this holiday season, acclaimed novelist, Julie Klassen, returns to the Regency world with her latest historical romance, A Castaway in Cornwall. Featuring dangerous wreckers, shifty smugglers, and mysterious strangers, readers may well detect a similar refrain to the haunting melody that is Daphne du Maurier’s classic, Jamaica Inn. Readers brace yourselves: prepare to be transported outside of the lights and glare of the 21st century to an old-world bathed in mists and deafened by the roaring of the sea. Prepare to meet a heroine who, against all odds, bravely fights to reclaim what the ocean has stolen.
“Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here in Cornwall, so far from my childhood home. I feel like a castaway, set adrift on the tide…”
Laura Callaway has lived along Cornwall’s unpredictably beautiful shores since the reported death of her parents while en route to the Isle of Jersey years ago. With no closure from her own loss, Laura combs the shores for items to save from greedy locals in order to return them to the families of loved ones who have perished in shipwrecks. When a man washes up on the shore one fateful night, half-alive, by instinct Laura spares him from a wrecker’s death blow. Little does she know that this man isn’t the only survivor of the wreck, and this final survivor will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
“In a haze of confusion, Alex had seen the blurred image of a red-haired woman bending over him, her windblown hair falling around her lovely face, her eyes as dark as the depths. He’d thought the legend of the mermaid had invaded his dreams. Now he knew the woman was real…”
On waking in a strange bed on foreign shores, Alexander knows instinctively that he must keep his surname and mission a secret. If someone were to find out who or what he was, the consequences could cost his family their lives. When an enemy from his past hunts him down, Alex has no choice but to trust the woman who has saved his life so recently: the brave Miss Callaway. Thrown together by the sea yet bound together through layers of an unsolved mystery, Laura and Alex must work together to find out the truth–whatever the cost–before it’s too late.
“All around me is the sound of the sea. Not a roar but a rhythm–a watery hum, strumming like a vibrating chord, a quickened heartbeat.”
I had the amazing fortune to road-trip around the United Kingdom twice. Each country–with its people and places, mountains, and moors–was an unforgettable experience. Yet, for me, Cornwall will always stand out in memory as a bright blue gem does against a black velvet stand. Close your eyes for a moment and remember with me the winding cliff paths around Lizard Point. Listen to the sound of the waves far below and the long grass rustling against ancient stone boulders. On gray days it was as if Daphne du Maurier’s broodingly atmospheric novel, Jamaica Inn, had come to life around me. By sunlight, the ghosts of wreckers and smugglers vanished, and all was aquamarine waters and the golden sun glinting off seaside quays. A Castaway in Cornwall’s setting was a breath of fresh, salty air. It effortlessly transports readers to a unique place and will likely put Cornwall on many post-COVID travel lists.
I found the romance to be a blend of Daphne du Maurier and Anne Bronte; there is passion mixed with restraint, and life-threatening secrets bound up with a grey-shaded world where nothing is exactly black or white. The thrilling premise of a woman, lost even to herself, making the choice to save and return what was lost, was one that held strong from the first page to last. Never once did I grow tired of Laura or Alex, especially when his backstory became as important to the main plot as hers.
My only mixed response to A Castaway in Cornwall was that I wanted more. I enjoyed the tantalizing glimpse of the war between England and France and of what their proximity did to the citizens living on the coastlines nearest, but I was still left with many questions. For example, why was Alex so accepted to the people in England, even after finding out his French nationality and wartime past? Sometimes the best course really is a massive tome to while away the chill Winter evenings, and ‘more pages’ is what I would have wished for this novel.
With its captivating romance, hauntingly beautiful setting, and heart-pounding adventure, A Castaway in Cornwall is sure to appeal to fans of Regency and Gothic reads. Yet there is something else that causes it to shine even brighter; its compelling narrative of love, loss, and love again will remain in readers’ hearts long after the final page closes.
5 out of 5 Stars
- A Castaway in Cornwall, by Julie Klassen
- Bethany House Publishers (December 1, 2020)
- Hardcover, trade paperback, & eBook (400) pages
- ISBN: 978-0764234224
- Genre: Historical Suspense, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Bethany House Publishers © 2020; text Katie Patchell © 2020, austenprose.com.