The Storm Girl by Kathleen McGurl

I'm delighted to share my review of The Storm Girl, an absorbing dual-timeline novel by Kathleen McGurl.

My thanks to Rachel's Random Resources and the publisher for a copy. Please make sure to check out the other fabulous stops on this tour!

The Storm Girl

Kathleen McGurl

Dual-timeline Mystery / Romance

One thing I have to mention first: The Storm Girl is addictive! I read it on two evenings in a row!

18th century smugglers on the famous Dorset-Hampshire coast. Brave folk risking their lives, to get goods into England in order to circumvent the prohibitive taxes. And to profit a little from it, of course... But there's always a risk!

Add to that the glorious coastline, a bunch of troubled characters, and a mystery through time, and you have the perfect combination. I loved it!

In the present day, Millie Galton has treated herself to the kind of home she'd always craved, but her ex-husband had other ideas. While she is milling over the demise of their marriage, she plans to renovate the former inn she bought in Mudeford. She considers several offers, when a nosy neighbour warns her off a few, but by then it's too late. She's already engaged the services of Nick, who gets stuck into the project – and discovers a hidden cellar and tunnel. But where might it lead to?

Back in 1784, Esther struggles to keep their inn open. Her father's suffering from a poor back, and her brother ends up sailing the seas. And the man she loves – and who loves her in return – doesn't propose for lack of prospects. There's also her work with the smugglers, adding to her stress. When a revenue officer takes more than a passing interest in her and discovers their hidden cellar, she must take an important decision.

The historical setting is exquisite. We learn in detail the lay of the land, and the (often only) way of life there was for fishermen and villagers. The plot around Esther is utterly gripping. All the characters are very well-defined, and act in line with their station at the time. Her fate seems bleak, and full of dangers, yet there are also glimpses of enduring friendships, a strong sense of loyalty, and the attitudes of ordinary folks towards the Law and its officers. 

The present-day setting is quaint. Millie's house is no longer an inn, and she is free to do as she pleases following her divorce. There is a sense of sentimentality towards her past, which she soon comes to understand. Her budding romance with Nick is also credible, especially given her neighbour's interference. Who should she believe? But then, a murder is discovered, the plot of which was quite complex in some ways, which I found intriguing, but it was resolved a little too smoothly for my liking.

The Storm Girl is a wonderful tale about the fight against poverty, dangers people faced, and chances they took. It's also a story about new beginnings, and the often confusing emotions that come with these.

It's a compelling novel. Highly recommended.



The gripping new historical novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Bletchley Park and The Forgotten Secret.

A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.

1784. When Esther Harris’s father hurts his back, she takes over his role helping smugglers hide contraband in the secret cellar in their pub. But when the free traders’ ships are trapped in the harbour, a battle between the smugglers and the revenue officers leads to murder and betrayal – and Esther is forced to choose between the love of her life and protecting her family…

Present day. Fresh from her divorce, Millie Galton moves into a former inn overlooking the harbour in Mudeford and plans to create her dream home. When a chance discovery behind an old fireplace reveals the house’s secret history as a haven for smugglers and the devastating story of its former residents, could the mystery of a disappearance from centuries ago finally be solved?

Sweeping historical fiction perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Kathryn Hughes and Tracy Rees.

Buy Links:


US -


About the Author:

Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. 

She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe but home is Mudeford, where this novel is set.

Connect with Kathleen: