A Strange Scottish Shore
Emmeline Truelove #2
By Juliana Gray
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove, north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing, which, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea in ancient times and married the castle’s first laird.
But Haywood and Truelove soon discover they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide, and when their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, the mystery takes a dangerous turn through time, which only Haywood’s skills and Truelove’s bravery can solve…. (Goodreads)
A Strange Scottish Shore is the follow up to the first book in the Emmeline Truelove series A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. Whereas I thought Pursuit suffered from an identity crisis, and I was so unsatisfied with it that I almost did not give this second book in the series a try. I am really glad that I did as it is a vast improvement. This time around, all of the elements – Mystery, Romance, Time Travel – all work together to make an exciting adventure worthy of reading.
Emmeline Truelove has resigned her position as secretary for the new Duke of Olympia Max Haywood to be the director of his new Institute for the Study of Time. When Max is away at a shooting party in Scotland, while there to get to know a potential bride he comes across a strange suit. Could the legends of a selkie who married the first laird of the area be true? He beckons Emmeline to join him and, unbeknownst to her, asks his friend Lord Silverton to keep an eye on her and the important papers she carries. Of course, Silverton has additional instructions, and when he disappears while chasing down the thief of said papers, Emmeline cannot help but believe that something bigger is going on. When she and Max encounter the redheaded stranger again, he makes some pretty fantastic claims. This leads Emmeline to believe she knows “when” Silverton has disappeared to, and asks Max to “send” her there, even though neither of them knows how the time travel works. Emmeline does indeed find Silverton…in the fourteenth century. Now what to do? How to get back home? Regardless of the outcome, they are in for one heck of a ride.
Emmeline is a fantastic protagonist written in the same vein as Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody and Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell. She is a bit bossy, a little know-it-all, but with a huge heart and intellect that makes her wise beyond her years. This book focuses mostly on her relationship with Lord Silverton, and their chemistry and growing relationship is a lot of fun to watch as it unfolds. I am a little surprised by the turn things took but pleased. I cannot wait to see what is in store for them next. Silverton was my favorite character in Pursuit and he continues to be my favorite here. Considering he was all glitter and charisma before, here he is sincere, humble, and quite lovely. We do not see much of Max, but her plays a crucial role. The supporting characters are varied and interesting, and I love seeing how various people and plot threads are beginning to come together to show the bigger picture.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered about how Max’s abilities and the time travel work, and I am sure they are not easy to write about. You can tell that Gray has put a great deal of thought into her time travel scenario, and we are just beginning to see how it will all unravel. Complicated, indeed.
I really enjoyed A Strange Scottish Shore and impatiently wait for the next installment. Though it can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading A Most Extraordinary Pursuit first for better understanding of the characters and events that have led up to book two. Recommended for fans of Edwardian heroines, time travel, and romance with a bit of mystery.