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Publisher's Summary

History has all but forgotten...

In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...

Please note: This novel has also been published under a different title: Sophia's Secret.

Please note, this title is the original recording, which is now known as Sophia's Secret

©2010 Susanna Kearsley (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Winner, Romance, 2012
"Rosalyn Landor provides delightful Scottish accents for many of the characters Carrie meets inside and outside her novel....Landor adds a poetic edge to her storytelling while at the same time giving a dreamy aura to the historical side of the story." ( Audiofile)

Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks for Outlander Fans


Have you been swept away by the Outlander series, the epic time travel romance spanning eight books (and counting) by Diana Gabaldon? If you’ve made it through the entire series and still want more high-stakes historical adventure, passionate romance, and time-traveling twists, we have some great recommendations for you. While nothing can quite match up to the magic of Claire and Jamie’s love story, these audiobooks will capture your heart!

What listeners say about The Winter Sea

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Please don't compare it to Diana Gabaldon's books

I seem to remember reading a review here or there which indicated that people who love Diana Gabaldon's work will love this book too. I agree with this statement, but I also feel it does this book a disservice.

Yes, it is about the Scottish resistance to the Hanover dynasty, beginning in the 18th century. And it features a beautiful young damsel and handsome Scottish rebel. But in my opinion, that is basically where the comparison ends.

Kearsley has given us, basically, two novels in one; and there is no time-traveling involved. Her modern-day protagonist is an American novelist with Scottish ancestry who moves to a Scottish village near the sea and falls in love with a 'local'. The historical plot is about a young 18th century woman who has lost her nuclear family and moves in with relatives who live in a castle/manor house close to the same village that features in the modern plot.

These two timelines connect during the novelist's dreamstates. And, since she is a writer, the dreamstates become the source of her new novel. In addition to her artistic interest she soon finds that, since her father is a history/geneology buff, they can combine interests by sharing information - each researching the same material on opposite sides of the Atlantic . The two of them sort out the lost details of the young couple's romance. By doing this, they also end up connecting the dots to their own ancestry. (All while the protagonist is also trying to sort out a tricky familial relationship concerning her lover.)

I really love this story. It is moving, well-written and engaging. As a writer, I enjoyed her portrayal of the various ways authors can approach their craft.

The only thing that bothered me had to do with the narrator. I know that the modern protagonist is a woman in her 30's, and so have no problem with the mature voice given her. But I felt that the way she used her voice when mentioning her prurient interest in the man who becomes the character's lover is overplayed. To me, that type of tone is more realistic when used by a male character. The protagonist is a feminine intellectual with heightened sensitivies. Hearing her description of a man's physical attractions in what I would almost call a 'predatory' tone of voice adds a "smarminess" which I find at odds to her character. I think she should have played those lines straight. They would have been more powerful. (Come to think of it, I'd find it smarmy if used by a male character.)

But otherwise, the narrator does a beautiful job. I am always amazed at how female narrators are able to recreate a variety of male voices. Plus, her ability to switch from one accent to another is so natural that I only thought about it in retrospect - after I read the book and was allowing the phrasing of this review mix in the "soup" of my subconscious.

So don't compare it to Outlander and you will love it.

51 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bravo!!!

I was transported to another place and time with the beauty of this story and the superb narration by Rosalyn Landor. One of the two main characters is a contemporary American writer, Carrie, as she writes a novel set in early 17th century Scotland about the return of exiled King James to the Scottish throne during the reign of England's Queen Anne. The second narrator is the 17th century heroine, a young Scottish woman named Sophia, who takes the reader back to this time of intrigue, deception and danger, and two satisfying love stories. The two timelines are seamlessly interwoven and the narrator's skill at changing accents makes it easy to follow the two narrators, Carrie and Sophia, as the novel shifts back and forth between them. For those who enjoy historical fiction with detail, a sense of place and time, and romance you might find this as completely satisfying as I did.

59 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing Read

I was recommended this book when I'd said I enjoyed Historical Romances. I must say I wasn't disappointed. It does grab your attention and keep you wanting to read more and not miss even a small detail. The narrator Rosalyn also does a wonderful job with the different voices and puts quiet a bit of emotion into her readings.
If you are looking for heady mind boggling sex then this is not the book for you.
It was full of romance and very subtly done so you can listen to the book even with toddlers in the back while on a long drive. I was so taken by Susanna Kearsley that I went ahead and bought the rest of her books on audible and listened to them too. All of which have proved to be just as entertaining.

51 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • MJ
  • 07-29-11

Get Out Your Hankies

I've given this book a rating of four stars because I enjoyed it overall. If you like Diana Gabaldon (who's book, "Outlander", I would give five stars+) you may like this book. I have read one other book by this author called "The Shadowy Horses". I think I prefer "The Winter Sea". Though both books are enjoyable, this one was far more interesting as to its historical content. Kearsley gives a concise history of the Jacobites and the House of Stuart. If you are at all interested in Scottish history, give it a listen. It is also quite sad in some parts. I am not an overly-emotional person, but found myself crying at one point. In order to avoid spoilers, all I can say is: stick it out to the end. I thought she did a good job of tying things up, but I would have liked a little more......oh well, I guess I just hate to end a good read. It's kind of like losing a friend!

99 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Ahh, Romance

This is a 3-for-1: two romances and an historical novel. Its proportions are about that, 2:1. Ms. Landor does her usual great narration, which, for me, saved this book (I am a romantic but not a romance reader). Good fluff with a bit of history thrown in.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Love it

This is one of those rather rare books that you know you will feel sad when it is ends . . . I have not finished it yet and am already missing the characters/friends who are so real that the setting just wrap around you and enfolds you in cozy warmth or wintry sea air. Beautifully and sensitively written . . . don't miss it. It's a story within a story and very thought-provoking as to the origins of the creative process. Very sweet and wonderfully narrated audiobook. Rosalyn Landor does a fabulous job creating the characters and moods. I can hardly put it down. I wish I could listen non-stop -- very engaging story(s). Some mighty strong and attractive male characters here and brainy women.

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Scottish love story mixed with history....

I'm not a huge fan of romance novels but I like historical fiction and this book gave me both in good measure. The reader was superb in speaking with an authentic Scottish accent that is so much a part of the Scottish experience. And the female lead was intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful, and discerning - all good qualities that enhance a love story. Thank goodness the male characters were presented in mostly the same fashion, not an idiot among them! I don't think anyone who enjoys a good love story would be disappointed in purchasing this book.

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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WONDERFULLY REFRESHING- EXCEPTIONAL STORY & TWIST

I absolutely LOVED this book!!!!!! I love Diana Gabaldons Outlander series and although this is not directly related. it was just as perfectly written and narrarated!! Wonderful book-- two books for the price of one in this audo book! Must buy to understand! :-)

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Continuing love for Jacobite tales....

I very highly recommend The Winter Sea to any reader, especially romance and historical fiction lovers.

Is Carrie McClelland writing another best seller, or telling Sophie's (Carrie's ancestor) stunning story of courage, heartbreak and love? You will fall in love with Sophie & John Moray as Susanna Kearsley tells a story that will stay with you and make you want to revisit often.

I liked all and loved some of the "Outlander" books. This is as good as the best of Outlander. I was truly captivated.



The Winter Sea will not disappoint.

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Suspend Disbelief

If you've ever seen the movie Somewhere in Time, you know that sometimes for a story to work, you have to suspend disbelief and just let the magic unfold. That's what you have to do here. The author will try to help you along the way with characters telling you why the setup actually has a logical sense to it, and if you choose to believe for the duration of the book, it seems to work.

The idea of the protagonist as historical romance novelist was actually pretty interesting. I'm a fan of the creative process, and I wondered if the author mirrored her character in regards to the process of writing her tales... with the possible exception of genetic memory. All of the characters in this story, in both time periods, are three-dimensional people, and that's the kind of thing that helps to sell their stories. The settings and situations are likewise fully formed in all senses; Kearsley's writing style is geared perfectly for this, neither over-explaining nor under-explaining as many writers are apt to do. There's enough there to form an image in your mind, and not enough to beat you over the head with it.

The flaws with the novel are exactly the ones you'd expect to find in any romance novel. If this is your chosen genre, they're not necessarily flaws. The tropes are the same, and the possible endings are constrained to a select few (I won't spoil which of the handful she uses here). The author even has her characters hang a lantern on the stereotypes of the historical fiction genre, pointing out that if a man writes it, the book is bloody, whereas if a woman writes it, it ends with a kiss. While this is true to an extent, Kearsley toes that line between playing up to the stereotype and flinging it aside. In the end, it's still a romance novel and all that implies, but the history still shapes it into something worth reading, giving the characters motivation and limitations within the scope of the lives they lead.

This book is a slow read, but it doesn't plod haplessly. It's more like a stroll through the lives of these characters. You get to know them, and you find yourself liking them. This keeps you coming back to finish the story. I've seen some reviews where people find the history to get in the way, and where the author force feeds it to you. My argument would be to address the idea that this is historical fiction, that history is what gives this story its depth, and if that's not for you, why would you read it? The history presented herein is a bit of an info dump at times, but that's how the research goes when digging into the past; you find a new avenue to pursue, then the knowledge is unlocked in fragments. I think it comes across very well here.

Rosalyn Landor's performance here is stellar. She has accents down, and even her male characters are believable. She ensures that you can relate to the story, which is always necessary for the fullest enjoyment.

9 people found this helpful