Book Review: Sea of Secrets by Amanda DeWees


Can she save him from the darkness in his soul… or will it destroy them both?

After her brother is killed in the Crimean War, innocent young Oriel Pembroke finds herself alone in the world. Disowned by the cruel father who has always despised her, she has nowhere to turn until she is taken under the wing of a glamorous relative she never knew: the former Duchess of Ellsworth, who has scandalized society by remarrying soon after her first husband’s death. At the opulent seaside estate of Ellsmere, Oriel thinks she has found a safe haven–but the darkly handsome young duke, Herron, believes otherwise. Haunted by the death of his father, he suspects that Ellsmere is sheltering a murderer.

Even as Oriel falls in love with the duke, she begins to fear that his grief and suspicion are turning to madness. When dangerous accidents start to befall both Herron and Oriel, however, she realizes that someone may be trying to stop them from discovering the truth about the past. And when her father comes back into her life, she learns that he may hold the answer to the most horrifying secret of all…


Although I love reading Austen, Bronte, and the classics, I have never found a book that engendered the same fondness within me as this one. The house by the sea, the tragic deaths of family members, the abused/neglected heroine, and a mystery as well. This enthralling read had me avoiding my household chores just to keep turning pages. The author’s lyrical use of prose and symbolism kept me firmly fixed in the characters’ world, so that I could hear the crashing waves of the shore, though I live miles from it. I could smell the sea, and feel Oriel’s emotional highs and lows as though they were my own. In the author’s afterward, I read that she had a crush on Hamlet as a youth, and honestly so did I. I saw the parallel of Oriel to Ophelia right away, and felt it a thrilling experience to spend a mile walking in her shoes. This is a captivating Gothic mystery/romance, and I am loath to bid goodbye to Ellsmere, but hope instead to bid farewell.

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