'The creature had already begun to shed its skin!'
And so begins a young woman's unwitting disguise taken from legends. If one has to hide then masquerading as a creature from local tales is as good as any I suppose.
Bride of the Sea compels with a dramatic opening where a young Spanish woman, Celestina, is forced to choose the wild seas rather than stay aboard her father's ship at the mercy of his sailors. They believe their misfortune has been caused by having a woman onboard ship. Celistina's father's ship supported the Armada. After escaping the firestorm the English threw at the Armada, the ship is blown of course into the North Sea by a raging storm. Celestina's father was lost overboard.
Fortunately the leap to certain death left the unconscious Celestina washed up on a beach, where she rescued by a widowed Scottish Highlander Laird, Niall McDonall, who believes her to be a Selkie. Evident to his eyes was the skin like silk that the creature had started to shed. The truth is made even more confusing by Celestina uttering Celi when asked her name, which Niall decides confirms his suspicions. This mistaken identity from a legendary tale leads to a dance of half truths between the two. Out of fear of being thought an enemy Celi is forced to disguise who she is and how much she understands.
Selkies, the stuff of magical stories, are reputed to bring good luck. Niall does find that things start to turn around on his holdings, including finding out the harsh truth about his wife.
He has three daughters whom Niall is not managing at all. They are really rather delightful and take to Celi, unknowingly helping her through the minefield she has stepped into. All are likeable characters. I do have a hard time reconciling Niall's belief that Celi is a creature out of legends, however this is 1588, beliefs and superstitions about the natural world were a fact. All in all, if one can suspend reality, a pleasant and somewhat intriguingly different romance between a Spanish lady and a Scot's Laird.
A NetGalley ARC