A top-grade historical with richly-evoked textures of daily life and fugitive moods.
Publishers Weekly (US) November 2000
A passionate affair between Damaris Sterne, an orphaned fishergirl living in the English seaside town of Whitby, and Bram Stoker, future author of Dracula – married and 20 years her senior – is the focus of Roberts’s atmospheric, well-researched historical romance.
The story opens with a chance reunion of the couple two decades after their affair. The once-impoverished young girl has become successful in the male-dominated world of shipping, and is now a wealthy widow. Stoker, longtime business manager to the era’s eminent Shakespearean actor, is old and frail…
He and ‘Damsy’ met during a lethal gale that inspired the storm in Dracula. She lived with her cousin Bella, and the girls hawked fish. Enterprising and feisty, Damsy also posed for photographs sold as picture cards to tourists… [She] matured during her passionate liaison with Stoker… acquired a knowledge of trade that led to marriage, a career and good fortune, while not escaping treachery and sorrow along the way. As a rage-to-riches heroine, her mind-set and self-assurance are ahead of their time, but this gothic romance offers the dramatic thrills common to the genre, and adds the cachet of imagining the source of Stoker’s classic. It’s a cut above similar novels.