Review: The Secret of Seavale by Blake Smith

YES! Another book read for a review!! For a while there, I was worried I would flag again, readers. Luckily that does not seem to be the case!

We have a special book under consideration today. It is a Regency romance and cozy mystery, neither of which are my usual go-to tales. But this novel looked quite appealing, so I decided to give it a go.

I am very, very glad I did. Here is the blurb for The Secret of Seavale*:

A cottage by the sea, nestled in a respectable neighborhood. It should be a safe haven…

Elizabeth Markham has run away from school and seeks the house of her godmother, six miles outside of Portsmouth. Seavale Cottage is a place of peace, and Elizabeth will be safe under Mrs. Brownhurst’s care.

But she arrives at Seavale only to discover that Mrs. Brownhurst has gone away, leaving Elizabeth to fend for herself. She finds assistance in her servants and in her very obliging neighbor, Captain Randall, and all is well until Seavale is beset by strange nighttime happenings. Elizabeth is about to discover that her place of refuge holds more danger than she ever dreamed, and she must gather all of her courage and resources if she and her friends are to survive the secret of Seavale.

The tale starts out with Miss Elizabeth Markham on her way to Seavale. Having had absolutely enough of her school, she has decided that she has all the education she requires and will now end her career there. Mrs. Goodman, the headmistress, has a good deal more sensibility than sense, and Elizabeth can no longer countenance her behavior. The “good but dull” girls at school are no great help in the matter.

But that is the past! Driving to Portsmouth in the Mail carriage with other passengers, Elizabeth thinks of Seavale, home to her godmother Mrs. Brownhurst, who is kind to her and likes Elizabeth a great deal. As such, Miss Markham is certain she will be welcomed to Seavale Cottage even though she did not write to let Mrs. Brownhurst know she was coming. Indeed, to keep her escape from school a secret, she hasn’t breathed a word to anyone about where she is going or what she is doing!

This comes back to bite her. The Mail drops her off at the White Hart in Portsmouth, but due to her lack of funds, Elizabeth must walk the remaining six miles to Seavale. It is not proper and most others would not want her to do it. A woman walking six miles unescorted? That is asking for trouble!

Yet Elizabeth has no other recourse – until Captain Charles Randall drives up in his gig and asks if she is in need of any assistance. Grateful for a ride, Elizabeth acquiesces and asks to be driven to Seavale.

Frowning, Captain Randall states he will be happy to take her, but warns her that the cottage will be shut. Mrs. Brownhurst is in Bath and not at home.

Stunned, Elizabeth thinks he must be mistaken. Knowing the neighborhood as she does, she does not recognize Captain Randall and assumes that he must be new to Seavale. In that case, it is quite possible that he is in error.

Upset, she insists on going to the cottage. Captain Randall takes her but she soon finds his information is accurate: Seavale is locked up snug and tight, and since she has no key, there is no getting in straightaway. Talk about an embarrassing situation!

Luckily, for all his grumpiness, Captain Randall is a gentleman. He takes Elizabeth first to the cottage of the gardener asking him to open Seavale cottage, then drives to his home to collect his housekeeper, before driving them back as a storm breaks and rain comes down in buckets. With the housekeeper, Mrs. Greystock, to help her Elizabeth manages to make the house livable and comfortable. After seeing her safely settled Mrs. Greystock leaves, promising to be back in the morning to help Elizbeth make breakfast and finish setting the house to rights.

Going to bed, Elizabeth settles in as her long journey catches up with her. But in the middle of the night, she hears strange thumping noises coming from downstairs. The sounds are not usual to the house – having spent time in Seavale with her godmother before, she knows the house well. These strange thuds are not normal.

So Elizabeth gets up and goes downstairs to investigate the cellar. Nothing seems out of the ordinary but she does pick up a “sharp smell” that is not natural to the house, either. It goes away after a while, but she is disturbed enough by the night’s events that she discusses the matter with Mrs. Greystock in the morning.

Worried for her safety, Mrs. Greystock brings the matter to Captain Randall’s attention. He comes by again to check on Elizabeth and suggests she take Mrs. Greystock’s niece to act in the capacity of a housekeeper. Though annoyed that he would intrude on her business thus, Elizabeth cannot make anything for herself beyond tea and toast. The idea of having someone young enough to be pleasant company while sharing the house with her is appealing and she agrees to the suggestion.

But this does not stop the strange noises in the basement or other odd goings-on at Seavale. Something is afoot, and if she is not careful, Elizabeth may find herself in a situation far more dangerous than she imagined!

I really and truly enjoyed The Secret of Seavale, readers. It is a sweet and quick read, so to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I read it over several days. This was a good thing as it allowed me to appreciate the novel in more depth than if I had simply binge-read it, though that was extremely tempting. Yes, the book really is that good!

One thing that struck me from the first chapter on is that Elizabeth is a rather independent young lady quite certain of herself and her decisions. It is rather unusual for the time period, I think, but it is not unpleasant and did not throw me out of the story. Instead, at some points, I was tempted to tell Elizabeth off for insisting on having her way when it might be better for her if she were a little more circumspect. But that is a sign that the character has a life of her own, for only living people can thus vex a reader (and a writer)!

You will not go wrong if you pick up The Secret of Seavale in either ebook or paperback*, readers. If you want a nice cozy mystery and a sweet romance, this book will hit the spot for you perfectly. It is a very good tale and highly entertaining, whether one reads it fast or slow. Do not wait – pick up The Secret of Seavale today!

*These are Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through them, this author receives a commission from Amazon at no extra charge to you, the buyer.

If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth. She has also had stories published in the Planetary Anthology Series. Another story was released in Cirsova Magazine’s Summer Issue in 2020, and she had a story published in Storyhack Magazine’s 7th Issue, Cirsova Magazine’s 2021 Summer Issue, and another may be read over at Ember Journal. Vol. 1* and Vol. 2* of her series – The Guardian Cycle – is available in paperback and ebook as well. Order them today!

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