5 Books Like The Winter Sea (By Susanna Kearsley)

The Winter Sea is the first novel in the Slains trilogy from Susanna Kearsley. It was first published in 2010, followed by two sequels: The Firebird and The Vanished Days.

Books Like The Winter Sea (By Susanna Kearsley)

Carrie McClelland has been struggling with coming up with her bestselling novel. She intends to set it in France, but after visiting Slains castle, she decides to remain there and change the setting of her book.

She names one of the characters Sophia Paterson, who also shares a name with one of Carrie’s own ancestors.

As she writes, she finds herself remembering her ancestor’s past, and writing about it in her novel.

The more she learns about Sophia, the more she finds out about the era in which she was alive. Carrie feels compelled to discover the truth and understand what happened when the Jacobite fleet landed in Scotland.

If you’re looking for your next read after The Winter Sea, then why not consider adding these to your reading list?

Take a look at Outlander, Into the Wilderness, The Little Shop of Found Things, The Scribe of Siena and Tempted by the Runes to read next.

Themes In The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea (The Scottish series, 1)

The Winter Sea is a historical fiction novel set in Scotland that combines history with contemporary romance.

It offers a unique perspective on time travel, using genetic memory instead of fantastical elements to explore this theme.

Genetic Memory

The Winter Sea focuses on Carrie McClelland experiencing the memories of her ancestor, Sophia Paterson, when she goes to Slains Castle in Scotland.

As the novel progresses, she uses these memories to write her bestselling historical novel and uncovers secrets of the past that only she has access to.

Time Travel

There are two storylines taking place in The Winter Sea. Carrie’s storyline takes place in the modern era, while Sophia’s story takes place in the 1700s.

Compared to other time travel novels, Carrie doesn’t travel back in time directly, and instead finds herself seeing the 1700s from her ancestor’s perspective.

Historical Fiction

At its core, The Winter Sea is a historical fiction novel. It tells the story of Sophia Paterson in the Spring of 1708, and focuses on the invading Jacobite fleet who plan to place the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Contemporary Fiction

Alongside the historical fiction storyline is a contemporary novel that focuses on Carrie’s relationships and her desire to uncover what happened in the past.

She heads to Slains to find inspiration for her next bestseller, and finds herself embroiled in a quest for truth.


While historical fiction is at its core, there are two distinct romances taking place.

Sophia and Carrie are both in relationships, and their romances are significant driving factors for the plot.

Books Like The Winter Sea

Outlander — Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Starz Tie-in Edition): A Novel

The Outlander series by Diana Cabaldon is critically acclaimed and has been well-loved since the first book was released in 1991. There are currently nine main novels within the series:

Claire Randall is a former combat nurse, and she and her husband have reunited after the end of World War II.

They go onto a second honeymoon in Scotland, when Claire walks through a standing stone and finds herself transported from 1945 into 1743.

Claire enters a marriage of convenience with the Scots warrior James Fraser, who she quickly falls in love with.

Now an outlander in Scotland, Claire needs to survive in this land using her knowledge from the future while she and James grow closer to one another.


  • Adapted into a successful TV series on Starz.
  • The historical aspects are well-researched, and the novel itself is incredibly well-written.


  • There is some violence that some readers may find distasteful.

Themes: Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Romance.

Into The Wilderness — Sara Donati

Into the Wilderness: A Novel

Into the Wilderness is the first of six books in Sara Donati’s Wilderness series. These books include:

In December of 1792, Elizabeth Middleton left her family’s estate in England to join her father and brother in a remote mountain village in New York.

While there, she meets Nathaniel Bonner, a white man adopted by the Mohawk people and raised by them under the name Between-Two-Lives.

Elizabeth is determined to teach the children in the village, but she finds herself at odds with her family and the local slave owners. Throughout the novel, Elizabeth falls in love with Nathaniel, despite her father’s wishes.


  • The characters are developed and have compelling storylines.
  • It’s a page turner, which makes it difficult to put down.


  • It’s not the most historically accurate.

Themes: Historical Fiction, Romance.

The Little Shop Of Found Things — Paula Brackston

The Little Shop of Found Things: A Novel (Found Things, 1)

The Little Shop of Found Things is the first of four novels in Paula Brackston’s Found Things series. The series consists of:

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London to have a fresh start in Marlborough. They take over as owners of a haunted antique shop, where Xanthe has an affinity with the items she finds.

After examining a silver chatelaine, she is transported back to the seventeenth century, where she discovers an injustice.

The spirit in her home takes her mother hostage unless she saves the spirit’s daughter, but when she meets Samuel Appleby, she finds herself distracted by her goal, and she’s no longer certain if she wants to succeed.


  • It has a compelling plot that promises an interesting read.
  • Delves into the relationships between mothers and daughters.


  • Some readers may not enjoy the novel’s slow pace.

Themes: Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Romance.

The Scribe Of Siena — Melodie Winawer

The Scribe of Siena: A Novel

The Scribe of Siena is Melodie Winawer’s debut novel, telling the story of accomplished neurosurgeon, Beatrice Trovato, traveling back to Italy when her brother passes away.

Having difficulties with her career, she goes to resolve her brother’s estate and cope with her grief.

As she sets her brother’s affairs in order, she discovers a conspiracy to decimate the city of Siena, and finds herself transported back to the year 1347.

Here, she meets Gabriele Accorsi, and finds herself captivated by medieval Italy.


  • Offers a distinct setting in fourteenth-century Italy.
  • Allows you to jump into a fantasy world where you can suspend your disbelief and go on an adventure through time.


  • The main and supporting characters aren’t too developed.

Themes: Historical Fiction, Time Travel, Romance.

Tempted By The Runes — Christina Courtenay

Tempted by the Runes: The stunning and evocative timeslip novel of romance and Viking adventure

Tempted by the Runes is the fourth book in The Runes series by Christina Courtenay, however, some readers say it can be read as a standalone novel. If you’re interested in The Runes series, it consists of:

Madison Berger visits Dublin with her family to attend a Viking reenactment festival, where she finds a small knife that allows her to travel back in the past.

When she ends up in ninth-century Dublin, she is saved from being attacked by Gier Eskilsson, who left his family to go on an adventure of his own.

He is drawn to Maddie, who appears to share a connection with his sisters-in-law, and so he believes that they’ve been brought together by fate.

Together, they work to build a settlement from scratch, where Maddie’s knowledge is incredibly useful.


  • Well-researched on Viking settlements and offers an immersive story set in the past.
  • Offers an interesting take on relationships between a woman from the 21st century and a Viking settlement.


  • While they do say you can read it without reading the other novels, it’s recommended if you don’t want to spoil earlier books for yourself.

Themes: Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Romance.

Final Thoughts

The Winter Sea is one of many romantic novels that encompass the time slip genre. It has been compared to the Outlander series, which if you haven’t read, then it should join your TBR list.

Other books you should read next include Into the Wilderness, The Little Shop of Found Things, The Scribe of Siena, and Tempted by the Runes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Winter Sea Part Of A Series?

The Winter Sea is the first of three books in a series.

What Is The Winter Sea About?

The Winter Sea focuses on Carrie McClelland as she travels to Scotland to write her historical fiction novel about the 1708 Jacobite Rebellion.

While there, she remembers the memories of her ancestor which she uses to write her novel.

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Noah Burton