“A thrilling dual-time novel of long-buried family secrets.”
Saturday: Pot-au-feu for luncheon. Father willed away inheritance. Betrayed by Edward.
1832. The morning after her father’s funeral, Prudence Merryfield wakes to the liberating thought that this is the first day of her new life. At thirty-five and unmarried, she is now mistress of her own fate. But a cruel revelation at the reading of her father’s will forces Prudence to realise that taking only the most drastic action will set her free.
Present day. Eliza is gifted a family heirloom by her aunt – a Georgian pocketbook, belonging to her ancestor, Prudence Merryfield, whose existence reverberates through the lives of generations of Eliza’s family, the Ambroses. Intrigued by what she reads inside, Eliza is drawn more and more into the infamous ‘Merryfield Mystery’. What happened to Prudence who so bravely dared to defy convention two hundred years ago – then disappeared?
In the early part of the 1830s, Prudence Merryfield was blessed with a wealthy childhood but alas her mother died when she was young. She stayed with her father into her early thirties to provide comfort and family to him in his twilight years. When he died, Prudence expected to be the pilot of her own ship and able to do as she pleased.
Society in the 1800s, however, did not provide for much self-determination for young women. Her father entrusted a group of trustees to administer her substantial estate. The primary trustee is Edward Ambrose who decided that she should receive a substantial allowance each year from the trust. He guarded the trust and the property with an iron fist. Wherever Prudence went, Edward was sure to magically appear to monitor her travels.
A young orphaned waif named Bessie is found hiding in one of the hedgerows of the property’s lanes and is taken in by Prudence. She becomes the handmaid and personal servant for Prudence and is never far from Prudence’s side. Prudence decides she is too constricted by the ever-present Edward and decides to escape aboard a ship to the south Pacific for adventure and freedom. This is a mistake as the ship she and Bessie are on meets with an accident and sinks near a small South Pacific island. The marooned ladies are on separate islands and must integrate with the islanders or perish.
The author developed a very imaginative and engrossing narrative using the discovery of an heirloom to envelope the MC into a dual-time novel. The characters are believable and sympathetic. Edward Ambrose is an opportunist who places himself in control of Prudence’s fortune and properties and does his best to corral this young lady. The book enlightens the reader about the plight of the women of the 1800s and early 1900s. Treachery was rampant as men thirsted for the riches they could not obtain lawfully. Enjoy the adventure! 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Many thanks to the author and NetGalley for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Genre: 1714-1837 History of UK, Marriage & Divorce Fiction, Mystery Romance
Print Length: 386 pages
Publication Date: September 29, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: The Keepsake [Amazon]
The Author: I’m so excited to be launching The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay with Headline Review. I love reading historical fiction and I love a mystery so I’m doubly pleased to bring you both in this new story. The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay is inspired by my love of the stunning coastline of south-west Victoria, Australia, and the similarly wild coastline of North Devon, UK. Set largely in these two regions in the early twentieth century and one hundred years later, it’s a story of betrayal, redemption and family secrets. I hope you like it.
I was born in Brisbane, Australia, but have lived most of my life in Melbourne. I taught English and Drama in secondary schools before working as an editor of children’s magazines. Like many writers, I have been scribbling stories from an early age and feel confident to call myself an author.
I am represented by the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency in London, UK. To find out more, visit juliebrooksauthor.com and follow her on Instagram @juliebrooks_books.
©2022 CE Williams – V Williams