By: Juliana Gray
Publication Date: September 2017
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: September 24, 2017
A mystery, time-travel and interesting characters combine to make for an intriguing read in book number two of the Emmeline Truelove series.
In August of 1906 at King’s Cross Station in London, we find researcher Emmeline Truelove preparing to board a train to north Scotland. Truelove, after being summoned for an urgent matter by Max, the Duke of Olympia (one of her closest friends and a fellow researcher), sets off straight away with her leather portfolio in hand. In the Orkney Islands, Truelove is not exactly sure what mysterious objects and artifacts she is going to find, but one thing is for certain, the train hasn’t even left the station and she’s already faced with some strange events and familiar people - including someone from a past expedition in Naxos, which leaves her with an ominous feeling. As the train embarks to their destination, Truelove is met with a ghost from the past warning her of danger, as well as Lord Silverton, sent by the duke to ensure her safety and well-being. As night arrives, they settle in at a hotel. After sharing dinner together and settling in for the night - Truelove taking the bed and Lord Silverton at watch on the couch - Truelove awakes with a distinct feeling something is very wrong. She is, of course, correct. Lord Silverton is gone, and so is her portfolio.
The Duke of Olympia is waiting for Truelove the next day at the Thurso terminus and immediately senses trouble. Lord Silverton’s disappearance and the theft of Truelove's portfolio only seems to heighten the mystery of what is going on. It’s clear that they have an awful lot of work to do. After finally getting to see what brought her to Scotland - a mysterious trunk with a hidden pocket holding a Selkie suit - it’s time to find the connection and get to work. Before they can dig too deeply, however, a man from Naxos, named Hunter, appears, clearly with a mission to get something or hurt someone. Hunter can’t harm the duke, because the duke has what Hunter needs - the ability to travel through time - so right now Truelove is his way of getting what he wants from the duke. After a battle that leads to Hunter falling out a window into the rocks and water below, they believe they are safe and carry on with the mission. After much contemplation, they come to the strange discovery that perhaps Silverton has travelled back in time and that the Selkie suit, just maybe, might have to do with an ancient legend. Truelove, deciding to travel back in time to find Silverton and explore the mystery at hand, may have found a bit more than she had bargained for. Fortunately, Silverton’s skills and Truelove’s mind help to guide them around every mysterious and dangerous turn their travels take.
This book was slow to start, mainly because it was a little confusing. The story is very clearly a part of a series, and frequently references events from the first book, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. For this reason, I recommend reading that book before diving into A Strange Scottish Shore, as I believe a good deal of character development is in book one - although you can generally figure out what must have happened between characters before. As the story progresses, it becomes clear what is going on and pieces begin to fall into place. The connections between people, places and time are not exactly obvious, but it is possible to put the pieces together as more information is presented. A Strange Scottish Shore is full of action, excitement and love, all while not being overly romantic or cliche. In fact, very little about this book is cliche. I look forward to the next in the series - I hope there is one after what appears to be a cliffhanger in this story. Stick with this book, if you are thinking of putting it down, you’ll be oh so glad you didn't stop reading.
Quill says: A Strange Scottish Shore is a captivating mystery that will leave you guessing at every turn.