Juliet Graham fervently counts the days until her twenty-first birthday, when she can claim the inheritance that will grant her the freedom she has always craved and the guardianship of her younger brother. Until then, she is trapped under her aunt Agnes’s domineering will. When forced to accompany the family to a house party at Shaldorn Castle, Juliet’s only objective is to keep to herself. That is, until a chance encounter with a boorish stranger stirs up an unexpected whirlwind of emotions in her. Thrown off-balance, Juliet does the unthinkable: loses her temper and insults the man—who turns out to be her unwilling host, the Duke of Halstead. Fully expecting to be sent away, Juliet is surprised when the brusque and callous duke instead takes an interest in her.
Drawn to the duke in unguarded moments, Juliet finds herself more and more intrigued by the man who shuns Society’s rules as completely as she does, and over the next few weeks, their unlikely friendship deepens into a connection neither expected.
But even as Juliet comes to recognize her true feelings, her scheming aunt issues an ultimatum that threatens the future she was just beginning to hope for. Juliet must choose: either break the promise she made to herself years ago, or lose the man who has captured her heart and soul.
I was engrossed in reading Where the Stars Meet the Sea from the very first page. It begins with a scene that unexpectedly introduces us to the two main characters and their personalities in such an intriguing way. It gave me the shivers.
Juliet and her much younger brother are orphans. Their dad was a sailor and so the family was disapproved of by relations and society. They are now under the guardianship of their highly disapproving aunt. Juliet is anxiously awaiting her next birthday when she will become her brother’s guardian.
In the meantime, Aunt Agnes divided the two from each other by sending Harry away to school. Harry is miserable there though because of the bullying he receives from some of the other students. Juliet fears he will run away to sea if something does not change soon.
Juliet is compelled to visit the Duke of Halstead’s nearby estate with her aunt and cousins. Her aunt hopes to arrange a marriage between her oldest son and the dukes sister. Unfortunately, she also reveals her unyielding expectations regarding Juliet’s future.
I felt an affinity with the heroine and hoped she would succeed in building a happy life despite her aunt’s intimidation. Juliet’s scandalously honest discussions with the duke were very amusing. Her unique way of addressing him intrigues the shattered duke. He withdrew from life after a tragic riding accident left his leg disfigured and in constant pain. Slowly he begins to interact more with her and others again despite the fears he gruffly conceals. I found myself crying multiple times for Juliet and the duke’s emotional wounds. I longed to see them take this chance with each other to heal.
A flicker of interest lit his eyes as he studied me for a long moment, his head angled as if he were appraising me. “If you can manage punctuality for once, meet me at Roecliffe Chapel tomorrow at four.”
My brows arched toward my hairline. That was the last thing I might have expected.
“I thought to give you a tour—before you had a chance to trespass.” His face held no humor, yet I sensed a degree of pleasure in his words, as if he enjoyed teasing me about our previous two meetings.
My mouth formed a surprised O, and a warmth crept up my neck, spilling onto my cheeks. I could not fathom what might have possessed him to extend such an invitation after the tongue-lashing I’d given him yesterday afternoon. And after I’d nearly bowled him over just now.
“I see. You prefer to take your chances with our ill-tempered rector, then?”
“No, no,” I rushed to say. “It’s not that. I was only surprised at the invitation.”
“Then, I suggest you agree before I change my mind.”
I nodded. “Yes, of course I’ll come.” My stomach rolled as though I’d just climbed aboard a ship.
“At four tomorrow, then. Don’t be late.”
There were some similarities to Jane Eyre. The theme, being seen and loved for who you are, is soul enlightening. The melancholy duke reminded me of Edward Fairfax Rochester. Another character also particularly reminded me of someone from Jane Eyre but I do not want to spoil it for you by saying more! However, this is not a retelling of that book. The plot is very unique.
Aunt Agnes is not the only character with a strong determination. This leads to some delightful scenes that remind me strongly of Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s speech to Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.
The possible return of several other characters intrigues me. I would love to read more novels telling their stories too. I loved every minute of reading this enchanting book and anticipate rereading it several times.
Get a copy of Where the Stars Meet the Sea. You will love it. Be aware, each page you read makes it only that much harder to stop. You will devour it rapidly!
I received a free advanced reader copy of this book but plan to purchase a second copy soon as it was a great read. All opinions are completely my own.
About the Author
At a young age Heidi perfected the art of hiding out so she could read instead of do chores. One husband and four children later, not much has changed. She has an abiding love for Peanut Butter M&Ms, all things autumn, and any book that can make her forget she is supposed to be keeping her children alive.
She currently lives in a charming old town just north of Boston, in southern New Hampshire. Heidi loves to stay in touch with her readers! For authorly insights, fun giveaways, and sneak peeks, you can keep up with her on social media and by signing up for her newsletter.