From the publisher: A beautifully told and intriguing mystery about two generations of Scottish women united by blood, an obsession with the past, and a long-hidden body.
A Viking legend. A family story. And the excavation of an ancient mound amid the family drama of a storied mansion. These three timelines are woven together to form the plot of Sarah Maine’s Women of the Dunes.
Libby Snow is an archaeologist with a particular family interest in the legend of Ulla, a woman running from one brother and in love with another over 1000 years ago. Libby gets permission to excavate Viking ruins on Sturrock land in Ullaness off the coast of Scotland. Stern but attractive Rodri Sturrock manages the estate for his absent brother Hector. Libby keeps secret her family’s connection to Ullaness – her grandmother’s grandmother had moved to North America from this part of Scotland, carrying an ancient cross with her.
The story weaves together tales of star-crossed lovers. Excavation reveals the bones from more than one body, from more than one time period. The setting on the coast of Scotland is breathtaking. The plot takes some predictable turns, foreshadowed by the legend of the past, but surprised me at times as well. And I was happy when one villainous character proved not to be “foaming at the mouth stark raving mad,” as happens so often (too often) in mysteries, but a narcissist who acts entirely true to their spiteful nature.
Women of the Dunes is even better in my opinion than Maine’s first book, The House Between Tides. The characters are well developed, and humor is done with a light touch. My favorite scene happens in Chapter 13, when Libby’s pretentious boss comes to visit the manor house and Rodri and his housekeeper Alice put on a lordly homeowner/simpering servant act for him.
Women of the Dunes is a definite recommend from me for anyone who enjoys a historical mystery/romance and the wilds of Scotland. Women of the Dunes is available for checkout at the Galesburg Public Library, as is The House Between Tides.