"The Winter Sea" by Susanna Kearsley
Wow. This was an amazing book.
I don't think it's a secret that I love the Scottish time period surrounding the Jacobite Uprisings. After all, "Outlander" is my all-time favorite series. So I figured I'd enjoy this book, centered around the doomed '08 Jacobite Uprising.
The book is really two books in one. An author visits the castle Slains in Scotland to begin writing her book about a character involved in the '08. As she writes, she starts to have, for lack of a better work, waking dreams, dreams that allow her to write things that are uncannily real to the history. There's the book that centers around the author, her burgeoning romance with a local historian, and her struggle understanding how she could be having the same memories as her ancestor. Then there's the book about the '08, full on intrigue, betrayals, love, love lost, and all the details in between.
One of the things I loved about this book is it's the first book that succinctly and absolutely explained the '08, the Jacobites, the fight for the crown, and the switching of alliances to me. Anyone who reads historical novels knows how confusing keeping up with who's who can be. There are too many Henry's, Charles's, and Edward's, and the Duke of York is a title, not a person, as the title stays but the name continually changes. "The Winter Sea" did a fabulous job of explaining the '08 and the reasons behind it without bogging things down.
I must admit, I cried at the end, and I truly regretted closing the book when I was done. The hallmark of a 5-Star rating, for me, is missing the characters, and I am already missing them.