The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection
Coming March 1, 2017 from Barbour Publishing
- The Distant Tide by Heather Day Gilbert ~ 1170 Ireland
- A Song in the Night by Amanda Dykes ~ 1715 Scotland
- The Forgotten Hope by Maureen Lang ~ 1798 New York
- A River Between Us by Jocelyn Green ~ 1864 Georgia
- The Swelling Sea by Joanne Bischoff ~ 1890 California
Who hasn’t dreamed of finding a message in a bottle? Two summers ago my son fished a bottle with a message enclosed out of Salem Harbor in Massachusetts. The sender had written her contact information inside and after calling we learned the bottle had not traveled far. This was not the case for the bottle in The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection, which traverses continents and centuries with it’s secrets carried inside.
A bronze bottle forged in a monastery (843 AD) connects the 5 novellas of this collection. Interestingly, it never passes directly from the characters of one story to the next and each time the bottle finds a new owner, the contents inside are different — suited to the receiver. Regardless of what was inside, the bottle always brings with it SPERO (hope). Therefore in addition to the object itself, a common theme links the novellas.
I believe the stories with the most interesting settings and tidbits of history were those set in Ireland, New York, and Georgia. In The Distant Tide, Vikings invade Ireland on a mission of vengeance, but when their leader is captured, the kindness of an Irish princess leads Ari Thorvaldsson to reconsider everything. My familiarity with Gilbert’s previous Norse tale God’s Daughter, helped me to understand the warrior nature of Vikings as well as to explain how Christianity could have grown in Ari’s homeland. Set in New York during the late 1700’s, Lang’s character Abigail intrigued me with her desire to marry a man who would allow her to continue practicing medicine. Through her ministrations to patients, readers get a fascinating look at medical procedures and superstitions we find laughable by todays standards. Finally, Green’s novella showcased the plight of Southern mill workers who were displaced in droves under the order of General Sherman. Green’s hospital scenes were reminiscent of those in her book Widow of Gettysburg (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️).
In conclusion, all 5 authors did comparably well creating/maintaining romantic tension. I was pleasantly surprised by Maureen Lang, who has earned herself a new reader. My favorite secondary characters Eugenia Bettredge and Ronan came from Dykes (also a new author for me) and Gilbert respectively. Overall, The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection was a good read with some stories possessing more depth and intrigue than others.
With thanks to Barbour Publishing for offering a review copy through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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