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4.8 out of 5 stars125
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 19 June 2009
I love historical romance/supernatural/ghost stoies and my favourite author is Barbara Erskine. I have read all of Barbara's books so am always on the look out for other books/authors. I have to say this book surprised me, it had me gripped from the start and I loved it. Well worth reading if you like this kind of story.
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I picked this book because it seemed to be a Barbara Erskine time slip story. Whilst it lacks the tension of a Barbara Erskine it was still good and well written. The historical bits are in the third person and the modern bits in the first person which gives it a certain immediacy. Carrie finds lots of locals more than willing to help her with historical detail when she starts writing a book about the failed 1708 Stuart uprising in Scotland. She quickly makes friends not least with the two sons of her landlord - Stuart and Graham. Her writing progresses much more speedily than normal and she seems to be almost in a trance when she's writing. But would anyone believe that she has got all the historical details right without doing the research? If you can't wait for the next Barbara Erskine then this is a good substitute.
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on 19 May 2011
I know this book was nominated for a Romance Writers' award a couple of years ago, but I wasn't prepared for how good it was going to be!

Beautifully evoked,the wild Scottish eastern coastline provides the setting for the two romantic journeys travelled respectively by novelist Carrie and poor relation Sophie in their respective eras.

I suppose one yardstick for any romantic novel is how much the writer can engage the reader's emotions, and I confess that Ms Kearsley had ne reduced to tears on at least three occasions. I will not elaborate on these as I don't wish to spoil the plot for anyone.

Ultimately, this is what I believe a romane should be; romantic! It is also taut with suspense and an excellent little history lesson on a fairly quietly reported piece of British past.
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on 23 February 2010
Susanna Kearsley has to be one of my all time favorite authors, she captures the audiences attention from the start. This book and Mariana are the best two in my opinion, I couldnt put them down and finished each of them within the day. What I love about this book is the historical events which the story is centered around is not well known, which is a refreshing change to many of the historical best sellers. If you love history and romance then Im sure you will love this book.
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on 7 March 2009
Recently, I finished Susanna Kearley's Sophia's Secret (also known as The Winter Sea). It's historical fiction, set in the present day and 1708 Scotland. In the present, Carrie McClelland is a bestselling author of historical fiction who's having a bit of writer's block, so she goes to Scotland to follow up with some of her research on the Scots invasion to recapture the throne of Scotland for James Stuart. Carrie chooses as her main character one of her ancestors, Sophia Paterson, a young woman who was deeply involved in the events of 1708. Carrie then finds that she begins channeling her ancestor's memories, thus fuelling the writing of the novel, excerpts of which make up roughly half the book.

I have to say that I've found a new favorite author! It's a shame that the author's books haven't yet sold rights here in the States, because she's an awesome writer (Kearsley says on her website that Mary Stewart is one of her favorite authors, not surprising considering that the two authors' styles are so alike). This was literally one of those books that I couldn't put down; the story is intriguing, as are the characters. Kearsley's approach to historical fiction is unique, so important in a world where the historical fiction market has been glutted. In addition, Kearley's writing style is beautiful, and the reader truly gets sucked into the story. I've never been to Scotland, but this book makes me want to pay it a visit. I have another one of Kearsley's novels, Mariana, on my TBR pile, begging to be read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 May 2009
I haven't read this author before, and, if this book is anything go by, certainly will in the future. It's a long book but it never flags: I couldn't put it down and read it over a few days. The author skilfully intertwines the historical, and largely true story of the unsuccessful Jacobite incursion into Scotland in 1708, with a modern, largely fictional strand, involving an authoress writing a historical novel about that historical event. Not only is a riveting read but it's also very well written: Suasanna Kearsley has a gift for creating fluid and evocative prose. Thoroughly recommended.
Watch out that the hard-cover version of this book has a different title The Winter Sea.
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VINE VOICEon 18 April 2011
If you like historical fiction, you will love this book, especially if you have Scottish blood in you! Anyone who knows Slains Castle (inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula) will be interested in this well-written tale based on real characters from the Jacobite Rebellion. Carrie is a feisty modern heroine, and Sophia is a lovely creation for the herione for the historical thread. All the characters are believable and well-crafted. You will cry in places, as you become gripped by Sophia's secret and try to guess how it's all going to end up..... I read this book in a couple of days on holiday, and was genuinely sad when it ended. I am definitely going to read more books by this author, I loved her style.
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on 15 May 2011
Having read and raved about "Mariana" I was anxious to read another book by this author. Sophia's secret is another very well written and interesting read although due to my ignorance about this period of history I did find it difficult to fully appreciate and understand the complexity of some of the characters. Definitely a book you need to read intelligently and concentrate on, - would recommend it but do feel that I preferred "Mariana" with regard to storyline - but that is just a personal viewpoint. Very excited to have discovered such a brilliant author (is it not pc to say authoress these days?) Will definitely read all of her novels given time.
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on 23 November 2010
Having been bewitched by 'Shadowy Horses', my first foray into Susanna Kearsley stories, I was looking forward to reading more and this book appealed to me, being of a timeslip style I like (similar to Barbara Erskine).

'Sophia's Secret' didn't disappoint. It's a wonderful, engaging, pacey, romantic, historical story set in present-day Scotland around the ruins of Slains Castle and then back in the time of early Jacobites at the turn of the eighteenth century, when the castle was complete and inhabited by supporters of the fallen Stuart dynasty.
The story starts in present day, where heroine Carrie gets her first taste of the destiny that links her with a lively episode of the past, and a glimpse of a man and his dog, who will play a vital part in her present. When she realises the pull this part of Scotland has for her, her agent helps her rent a cottage within view of the majestic Slains Castle ruins and she immediately sets about researching the past and her own ancestry with the help of the friendly locals. Through her writing, she begins to go back, to live the past as Sophia, her ancestor, who, unbeknownst to the family, lived for a while at the castle. And we get caught up in the story of the Jacobites and their attempts to place the exiled Stuart prince on the throne, as well as follow Sophia as she falls in love. In present-day, too, Carrie feels the sweet stirring of tender passion with an attractive Scot professor, though she is grappling with other emotions, like a fear that she is going mad, as she is drawn deeper and deeper into the past...
Although not as evocative and mysterious as 'Shadowy Horses', I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and closed the book with a smile and a huge feeling of satisfaction. Susanna Kearsley obviously has a love of Scotland, for she always manages to make me want to go back there, she evokes such a warmth and atmosphere for the place. And though this hero isn't quite as attractive to me as Davey in 'Shadowy Horses', he's also pretty tempting, as is the Jacobean rogue back in Sophia's time.
A really good read, and one that you won't forget quickly.
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on 4 October 2011
Having never read a Susanna Kearsley book before i didn't really know what to expect. I have to say this book is one of the most beautifully written, thought provoking stories I have ever had the pleasure to read!! I think this may just be my new favourite book. The book is partly set in the modern day, with Carrie McLelland writing a book about Scotland in 1708, and she decides to use one of her own ancestors as the heroine, however, as Carrie continues to write and do her research, it become clear that the voice of her ancestor, Sophia, wants her story to be told and what Carrie is writing now actually happened three hundred years ago.
The love story is so well crafted & the character's so well written that they really came alive in my mind. I also found the historical aspect (namely, the Jacobite rebellion attempt of 1708) of the book highly interesting and it becomes clear that the author has clearly done a lot of research, as words the real people are known to have uttered in 1708 are also spoken in the book. I feel a lot of the characters will stay with me a while, so well written were they.
I am now looking forward to reading more Susanna Kearsley books!
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