When Tides Turn (Waves of Freedom #3) by Sarah Sundin

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: March 2016

Tired of being viewed as just a pretty face, Quintessa Beaumont enlists in the Navy’s newly formed WAVES program for women. Not only will it aid in the war effort, it will give her the chance to prove she can also be useful. However, in her pursuit of demonstrating she can contribute more than beauty, Tessa becomes embroiled in a case that reeks of sabotage and spies.

No-nonsense Lt. Dan Avery longs for the sea, instead he’s stuck behind a desk. But he’ll endure anything to make admiral, including hold on to his land legs a while longer and swear off love. So he’s less than thrilled when vivacious, fun-loving Tessa bursts onto his radar. She’s exactly the kind of distraction his mentor has warned him about, and Dan is determined to keep her far away.

Sarah Sundin does it again! When Tides Turn hits the trifecta with a beautifully-blended story of love, intrigue, and faith. Well-researched history, heart-warming characters, and a historical setting that pops to life make this novel impossible to set down.

Despite my immense love for Jim Avery (Through Waters Deep), I think his no-nonsense brother has taken his place as my favorite hero in the Waves of Freedom series. I don’t want to give anything away, but just wait until the scene in which Dan gives Tessa one of the sweetest gifts ever. I’m pretty sure I melted into a puddle right then and there.

As always, the characters are exquisitely developed as they face life and faith obstacles many of us can relate to. Sundin has a knack for understanding and addressing the human psyche. Though Tessa and I are night and day different, I could connect with her and found I, too, struggle with a lot of her fears and worries. It was a reminder that despite people’s differences; we deal with a lot of the same issues.

I strongly recommend When Tides Turn to anyone looking for a great historical romance with a hint of mystery. If you haven’t read the first two installments, I encourage you to start there, not because they are imperative to follow this book, but because the series is too good to miss.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.

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The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

the-captive-heartGenre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: October 2016

Fearing her vile employer, governess Eleanor Morgan escapes to the colonies. But upon arrival, the family she is meant to work for fails to pick her up. Penniless and alone, Eleanor has no choice but to marry a man she has never met.

Rough and untamed, Samuel Heath knows the land like no one else. He provides for himself and his daughter as a trapper and tracker. However, Grace needs more than he can offer. She needs a mother, but no woman of virtue would marry a murderer. So Samuel hires the elderly Mr. Beebright to bring a mother for Grace from a newly-arrived ship.

Samuel and Eleanor’s arrangement starts off on rocky footing, their vastly differing backgrounds clashing. Nonetheless, needing each other, they strike a truce of sorts, and as they come to know and understand the person they’ve married, feelings emerge.

Proper collides with wild in Michelle Griep’s The Captive Heart. A marriage of convenience, a young child in desperate need of a mother, and a rugged land, the story vaguely reminded me of Love Comes Softly, though for the most part, the similarities ended there delivering a tale all its own.

Despite the protagonists’ shaky first encounter, Samuel’s selfless and protective nature quickly endears him to the reader. Like Eleanor, one quickly learns to see past his rough-around-the-edges personality to the soul beneath. I loved discovering his backstory. Between the combination of Samuel and the stunning setting Griep brought to life, I was half tempted to chuck modern-day, town living for a simple cabin in the middle of the woods — minus the bears and the repugnant creep that had it out for Samuel and Eleanor of course!

The Captive Heart is the first book to make me teary eyed and sniffly in a while. I won’t say why because I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, just prepare to have your heart broken. Griep created compelling and intriguing characters that kept me flipping pages eager to find out what would happen next.

I would recommend this story to historical fiction fans and readers looking for a romance heaped with danger and sprinkled with faith.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.

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The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel

The-Whiskey-SeaGenre: Drama, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 2016

As the daughter of the town’s late prostitute, Frieda Hope knows hardship. She is accustomed to whispers and rejection, and vows to provide a better life for her sister, Bea. When Silver, a kind fisherman, takes the two girls in, Frieda finds refuge and solace on the water. However, her plans crumble when Silver sells his boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks.

The elderly fisherman believes Hicks will make a good husband for Frieda, but she has other ideas and convinces the young veteran to teach her how to repair boat engines. Nonetheless, it quickly becomes evident that her mechanic wages won’t cover putting Bea through teacher’s school. Determined to make Bea’s dream a reality by any means necessary, and now in the height of the Prohibition, Frieda becomes a rumrunner, succumbing to the lure of making big money fast. Things start to look up, especially once she meets a handsome Ivy Leaguer bent on winning her over. But choices have a way of catching up and Frieda finds herself grappling to find firm ground.

I don’t often read historical fiction and I’ve never picked up a Prohibition era novel, but The Whiskey Sea had me riveted from beginning to end. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be bittersweet. Ann Howard Creel pens a story of hope, heartbreak, and the choices in between.

I watched helplessly as Frieda steadily advanced toward a precipice of bad decisions, yet I couldn’t resist becoming entrenched in her story, desperately wanting to be her friend and help guide her out of her downward spiral. By the end, I felt that, for the most part, Frieda was repentant for her choices and actions. Though in an area or two, I did wonder whether she was sorry for what she’d done or for the outcome.

Hicks’ steadfastness, loyalty, and sense of morality made him my favorite almost immediately. My appreciation for him only grew as the story progressed. The author brought the setting to life so vividly that I could taste the ocean brine, see the coastal shoreline, and hear the cawing seagulls and breaking waves. Days after finishing the book, I still feel like I stand on the brink of that world. I need only to close my eyes and I’m back with Frieda, Bea, Silver, and Hicks.

As a fan of The Magic of Ordinary Days (both the book and Hallmark movie) also written by Creel, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to review this story. While the characters, setting, and time period differ greatly, a common thread and theme exists between the two. 

Readers should be aware that, while not predominant, there is some foul language, and though not described in graphic depths, there are moments of intimacy.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

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Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance

within-the-veilGenre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lyrical Vine Press
Publication Date: June 2016

Feya and Alasdair should never have crossed paths. A young Scottish woman with Gypsy blood, she lives in the squalor of the Edinburgh tenements. He is a British palace guard who comes from wealth and prominence.

Desperate to feed her starving siblings, Feya hatches an ill-fated plan that lands her on the wrong side of the law and forced across the highlands under the watchful eye of her cold, yet handsome captor.

Alasdair didn’t imagine he’d end up stuck transporting a feisty, redhead to Stirling when he caught her attempting to infiltrate one of the queen’s palaces. With his fiancée arriving soon and his father pressing political agendas, the timing couldn’t be worse.

When their journey suddenly becomes one of survival, the unlikely pair must push their prejudices aside. In doing so, they make surprising discoveries not only of themselves and each other, but also those around them.

Beautifully crafted, Within the Veil delivers a tale of hope, forgiveness, and learning to see more than skin deep. Brandy Vallance addresses painfully poignant topics such as racism, giving the novel relevance despite its historical setting. Infused with vivid imagery and a strong sense of color, the story popped to life, plunging me into the middle of Scotland — a country I love to visit though I’ve only ever been there in books.

I enjoy stories that teach me new things. Within the Veil does exactly that. To avoid spoilers, I’ll stick to general terms but a character experiences a neuropsychological phenomenon. The author never refers to it by name in the novel due to the time period, yet she masterfully recreated it on the pages. Though I had only ever vaguely heard of this condition and know next to nothing on the subject, through said character I felt like I experienced it for myself. It made the story unique.

Readers easily rally behind Feya and Alasdair. I cheered for them as their walls crumbled and love flourished, and I held my breath as their enemies closed in. Feya’s feistiness often made me giggle, and her devotion and love for her siblings is admirable. I understood Alasdair’s frustrations with the stubborn gypsy girl, even as I wanted to tell him to get over it and just tell her how he felt. Granted, then there wouldn’t have been a story.

I did struggle a bit with a specific turn at the end — mostly due to its unexpectedness. Again I want to avoid spoilers, but a character is forced to change life directions. Unfortunately, the author never hinted at the hidden passion, making the new path feel tacked on at the last minute as a means of reaching a perfectly wrapped-up ending. Alluding to this suppressed dream throughout the tale would have remedied this.

I recommend Within the Veil to readers looking for a sweet, spirited romance or anyone wanting to visit Scotland for a few hours.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

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Anchor in the Storm (Waves of Freedom #2) by Sarah Sundin

anchor-in-the-storm-sarah-sundinGenre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: May 3, 2016

All her life, Lillian has fought prejudices — as a woman and as a disabled person. However, when America joins World War II, she has the opportunity to prove herself as a pharmacist and show that her gender and disability don’t hold her back. While her new employer makes it clear he doesn’t want her around, Lillian throws herself into her work determined to become indispensable. Figuring out why large prescriptions of sedatives are coming through seems like the best place to start. If only her brother’s best friend, Archer Vandeberg, would find another woman to pester with his attentions.

With his good looks and money, Arch is used to women fawning over him, but not Lillian. His charm seems lost on the fiercely independent pharmacist. The harder he tries to flirt, the more she seems to dislike him. Assigned to a destroyer that hunts German U-boats, Arch discovers his men struggle with nerves and staying awake — a potentially deadly combination during a time of war. Worried that his men could be self-medicating, Arch follows the trail only to discover the Lillian may have unwittingly landed in the middle of a dangerous plot.

Anchor in the Storm reunites readers with Lillian and Arch whom we briefly met in the first installment of the Waves of Freedom series. As always, Sarah Sundin brilliantly portrays the 1940s. Though undoubtedly hours of research go into her stories, I never feel like I’m reading pages of study or history. Rather, I’m transported to the past and experience the era and lifestyle for myself.

I loved that Lillian isn’t your typical heroine. She doesn’t fall under the “perfect,” “model-like” category often prized by society. However, her inner beauty and resilience quickly shine through and overshadow her physical disability. If only we did the same in real life and stopped judging others by what we see on the surface. I enjoyed watching Lillian and Arch’s romance develop even though Arch fumbled on more than one occasion. His mistakes only served to make him more real.

While book one in this series, Through Waters Deep, is still my favorite, Sundin spiked the tension to new heights as the climax of Anchor in the Storm unfolded. I gasped for breath as the author wrenched me back and forth between two nerve-racking events. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy historical fiction with a taste of romance and mystery.

Review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity Group. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.