REVIEW: The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine
Reminiscent of the Gothics of the 1970s, THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES by Sarah Maine takes the reader on a stimulating stroll through two time periods, igniting the senses with a classic mysterious aura. The moodiness of the location easily placed my mind on holiday in the past while unraveling the mystery in the present.
It took me a month to read this book due to my hectic life, but I’m so glad I savored it. THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES was a respite, the calm that soothed my personal storm. I relished the words and breathed in the atmosphere while anticipating the quirky characters and the darkness descending very slowly over their lives.
As with most classic Gothic romances, the house becomes a character – a watching, listening entity, keeping its secrets until the end. In 2010, Harriet “Hetty” Deveraux inherits Muirlan House in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Anxious to get started on her renovation ideas, as well as running from the stifling binds of her current boyfriend, Hetty visits her recently acquired estate without warning to the caregivers or her boyfriend. The locals aren’t very enthusiastic about renovating Muirlan House as a hotel. Hetty is determined to find out why they’re reluctant, as well as whether she can afford to recondition what seems to be in ruin.
When human remains are found under the floorboards of the house by contractor James Cameron, Hetty begins to wonder if her project will survive the stigma of a possible murder. James Cameron is also a mystery begging to be solved. Is he friend or foe?
Meanwhile, the reader is taken back to 1910 when the original owner, famous artist Theo Blake, returns to his home with a new wife. Beatrice met Theo at a gallery showcasing his paintings and he fell for her immediately. Anxious to show Beatrice his inspiration, Theo takes her to his sanctuary along the coast where he works on his bird illustrations and personal collection. Hoping to be inspired to paint again, Theo traipses off alone with his easel, leaving Beatrice to find her own entertainment. Beatrice walks the land and becomes acquainted with the locals. She gradually becomes alarmed by Theo’s seeming obsession with Cameron Forbes, a young man who helps him catalog his birds and manuscripts.
Throughout their stay in the country, Theo insists that Beatrice play hostess to his relatives and business associates. Their parties and activities are fun to witness, showcasing what life was like for the landowners of this time period in comparison to those who serve them. Political unrest exists, adding to the mystery. Beatrice and Theo’s lifestyle is often unnerving because it’s so relaxed, when all I sometimes wanted to know was what was going to happen to lead us to why or how the bones ended up under the floorboards.
Theo and Beatrice’s houseguests are often ridiculous and over-the-top, which enhances the authenticity of the time period when women weren’t quite in control of their lives. I was ready to pack the guests’ bags more than once just for Beatrice’s sanity. I really loved her as a main character and rooted for her to find happiness.
Back in present day, Hetty is discovering her own joy. Will she be brave enough to follow her dream, jumping into unpredictability, and leave the naysayers behind her? Or will she take the safe route to a satisfactory but more controlled life?
Even though this story takes place partly in the present, it will entertain historical lovers most significantly. More historical fiction with a touch of romance and mystery, this novel will appeal to a wide audience, but I especially enjoyed the detail of the birds and mammals along the coast. It also has many of the favorable attributes of a well-planned historical saga where the characters break society’s rules and their lives unravel because of their actions.
Author Sarah Maine has a gift for writing a scene in which the reader can imagine themselves there in person. Ms. Maine also creates a coastal background alive with controversy, especially appealing to nature lovers. I can’t wait for BEYOND THE WILD RIVER, Sarah Maine’s next historical novel set in North America which will release in 2017. I’m highly intrigued by her talent and this next location ignites my curiosity even more.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies and The Zest Quest. Digital ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.
The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine
Category: Gothic Historical Women’s Fiction with contemporary, mystery and romance elements
Publisher: Atria Books (August 2, 2016)
Rated 4 out of 5
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