Mist of Midnight: A Novel (The Daughters of Hampshire)

Sandra Byrd

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands. Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes. That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”? A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

Howard Books 384 pages

  • Reviews

Ivy D Truitt

about 1 year ago

3.5 Stars Returning to her family estate after twenty years in India and the loss of her missionary parents in The Mutiny, Rebecca Ravenshaw doesn’t expect to discover an imposter has not only preceded her but also passed away, leaving a mystery in her wake. Now Rebecca must prove her claim and adjust alone and friendless to what feels like a foreign land rather than home.

There are obvious differences in MIST OF MIDNIGHT and the Gothic’s I’ve read in the past. MIST OF MIDNIGHT doesn’t have the dark, oppressive, air of foreboding they all had in common. Rebecca’s movements are less restricted also. Rather than being confined to an isolated manor house or small village with few characters, MIST OF MIDNIGHT has Rebecca visiting the large village of Winchester to shop and see to errands, attending functions and balls, hosting picnics, being called on and making calls, and even venturing to London. In addition to these differences, there was no point where I believed Rebecca’s life was truly in peril; her well being and security perhaps but never her life. However, there is a lack of certainty regarding who is trustworthy. Who’s a friend and who’s a foe? I questioned each characters actions, honor, and possible motive(s). The central mystery involves Rebecca’s impersonator and her death. Who was this woman? How did she manage to arrive and lay claim to Headbourne and Rebecca’s monies before Rebecca could even obtain safe passage from India after the Mutiny? What happened to the woman’s Indian maid? Was her death truly self murder or did someone remove her for their own self serving reasons? There are whispers and obvious snubs surrounding Luke, Captain Whitfield, dating from the imposter’s death and burial. As a distant relative her death benefited him greatly. Is he what he appears or does his friendly, thoughtful exterior hide sinister motives? Is Miss Delia Dainley’s offer of friendship and assistance genuine or are there strings attached? What about Rebecca’s French ladies maid, Michelene, who also served the imposter? What secrets is she hiding? The servants are borderline insubordinate with Rebecca excluding Landreth. What’s behind their manner? A plethora of questions for inquiring minds.

The defined, realistic characterizations are enhanced by Ms. Byrd’s incorporation of India, its culture, languages, and history into MIST OF MIDNIGHT. Its inclusion adds depth and historical interest, rounding out the story nicely. As to the ending (not the epilogue) I’m still of two minds. I’d classify MIST OF MIDNIGHT as light gothic with strong historical element and authentic (formalized) romance. Nice change of pace from recent reads so I’m definitely on board for the next book in the series.

Reviewed for Miss Ivy’s Book Nook Take II, Manic Readers, & Novels Alive TV

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

about 1 year ago

Was this woman the "real" Miss Ravenshaw or was the Miss Ravenshaw that was at Headbourne House a few weeks ago the "real" Miss Ravenshaw.

Rebecca Ravenshaw arrived with her chaperone from India after her parents were killed in an uprising and she was the only one in the family that had survived. Miss Ravenshaw had no place to go but back to her family mansion in England. When she arrived, everyone was shocked beyond belief.

How can this be Miss Ravenshaw when she committed suicide not more than a few weeks ago and is buried in the estate's cemetery. Is this Miss Ravenshaw the imposter or was the f​irst Miss Ravenshaw the imposter? Was the first Miss Ravenshaw murdered for her inheritance? Will the current Miss Ravenshaw have the same fate?

MIST OF MIDNIGHT has a hint of sinister to it. None of the characters can be trusted especially her cousin Captain Luke Whitfield. As the days go on, though, Rebecca falls in love with Luke and he seems to return the affection, but is he simply pretending to have affection for Rebecca? Is he the one who killed the imposter so he could inherit the family mansion? Will he also murder Rebecca for the family mansion?

​We the readers will be taken into English society and attend balls and mingle with the English aristocrats as we try to figure out who is genuine, who is an imposter, and who is only out for money.​

MIST OF MIDNIGHT dragged a bit at the beginning, but the mystery and intrigue kept me going. As mist covers the estate grounds at night, it adds suspense, questions, jealousy, and finally love. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Iola Goulton

12 months ago

Having survived the Indian mutiny of 1858 which killed her parents, Miss Rebecca Ravenshaw returns to her family home in England only to discover that the property has been awarded to a distant relative … and that she is the second Miss Rebecca Ravenshaw who has arrived to claim the property.

She comes to an agreement with Captain Whitfield, who generously allows her to stay in the house until her claim can be proved—or disproved. Rebecca knows who she is, so this leaves a mystery: who was the imposter, and how did she know so much about the Ravenshaw family that she was able to pass herself off as Rebecca. How did she die … and is Rebecca safe in this strange environment where she has no friends?

I liked Rebecca. Growing up as a missionary child in India meant she wasn’t as sheltered or naïve as many ladies, although she still managed to make a couple of errors of judgement (virtually compulsory for gothic romance). The story is written entirely in the first person, something I’m seeing more and more of in historical fiction. I know some readers don’t like first person, but I do, and Rebecca is a sufficiently strong character that she can carry the story.

My complaint with Mist of Midnight is an issue of basic theology (which, for Christian fiction, is a pretty big complaint). Romans 5:8 (NIV) says: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t wait for us to repent and confess our sins in order to forgive us: He died first, in the hope we would repent and ask for forgiveness. This is also illustrated by Jesus when He tells the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), where the father forgives the son before the son repents and asks forgiveness.

Yet in Mist of Midnight, Rebecca says, “Scripture requires repentance before forgiveness can be offered.” I disagree, and while this doesn’t affect the story and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story (which I enjoyed a lot), it misrepresents the gospel in a way that would make me uncomfortable recommending this book, especially to a non-Christian.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.