Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin
With the release of The Sea Before Us, Sarah Sundin has introduced readers to her new series Sunrise at Normandy and the World War II history we know as D-Day. I can already see this series, set in England, will be best read in order of release.
The first book revolves around the story of one of three Texas brothers, Wyatt Paxton. Wyatt comes with baggage that includes his need to be a protector and his perceived failure(s) in that pursuit. As I read his parts, I kept seeing Audie Murphy, who was not only an actor but a WWII hero. As I remember his role in a military movie or two, he seems to fit the bill well—a soft-spoken, Texas gentleman.
Dorothy Fairfax is one of England’s Wrens (Women’s Royal Naval Service) struggling to win the affection of a man she grew up knowing. She’s convinced she can do so only by being what she’s not. On the other hand, Wyatt accepts her for who she is, but she sees his calm and quiet nature as totally unsuited for her.
Sarah Sundin’s stories sink the reader into a past era. Though rich in history, they never seem like a history lesson. This one is no different. Though we don’t storm the Normandy beach (Wyatt is a navy man), we feel the booms and reverberations of a destroyer’s big guns.
For me, the romance in this one was a tad lackluster. Maybe because I felt more caught up in the issues between Wyatt and his brothers. That was powerful backstory. I also thought Dorothy’s realization of love was a little too quick given a couple of pages before she was certain she didn’t feel that way. (No spoiler. It is a romance.)
I liked the contrast in the viewpoints on faith—Dorothy’s tragedies distance her from God, Wyatt’s bring him closer to God—and the way in which the author resolved the situation. There’s also a great twist in this one that appears to come out of the blue, though in hindsight, the hints are there.
Overall, The Sea Before Us is a wonderful start to the new series, and the back of the book contains the first chapter of the second story. Adler is on the way!
If you’re ever in the central Virginia area and are interested in the history behind D-Day and Operation Overlord, be sure to visit the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. It’s inspiring and the guides are amazing in their knowledge. Below, you’ll see Vierville and Dog Green/Dog White (right side), the focus of the landing in Wyatt’s story.