It took me a while to read this one, and I think I was slightly less engaged than with the other books. The Scottish setting is great, and I’m always impressed by the sense of place that Kearsley conjures up. I wasn’t that big a fan of the love triangles and such, though; I-love-you-but-you-love-another isn’t one of my favourite tropes, and though it was light, it was played with her. I’d rather not have two romantic rivals.
It’s still a book by Kearsley, though, so it’s an enjoyable read: details of character and place to make you really feel like you know the landscape and the people, so you can picture the scenes. The supernatural element, well, I’m not a fan of memories-in-DNA as a plot point (Assassin’s Creed gets away with it only because I hold games to different standards, I think), so that link between the main characters wasn’t a big thing for me.
I feel like I liked both halves of the novel — the past and the present — well enough, but I’d have liked them more if either was the whole story. I’m not sure what could be made of the modern story, but it felt like the stakes were low, everything muted; it was just a frame story for the storyline set in the past.
There are some beautiful bits of description about the wintery sea, and I think whoever retitled this as Sophia’s Secret has no soul. The Winter Sea is a perfect title for it.