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Book Review: Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

by Sandra Ardoin

War is coming. Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?

Cover Art

I am a fan of Sarah Sundin’s World War II novels and snatched the chance to read her newest release, Through Waters Deep, the first in the Waves of Freedom series. I admit to not reading all of Ms. Sundin’s books, but this is a little different from the ones I have read. Most of it takes places stateside, before the war, and centers more on a mystery than actual battle action.

The story begins several months before Pearl Harbor and revolves around the struggle between interventionists who want to rush to the aid of the British and the isolationists who think we should mind our business and let them fight it out with Hitler.

Mary Stirling is a secretary at the Boston Navy Yard. A past hurt has convinced her that seeking attention is prideful and a sin. She goes out of her way to remain in the background. But when she begins taking notes of conversations at a naval yard filled with sabotage suspects, Mary is thrust into the middle of an FBI investigation.

Ensign Jim Avery is a “floater.” After a traumatizing childhood accident, he floats through his days never making waves or the bold decisions that might prove problematic for others.

Jim has never gotten over his high school infatuation with his best buddy’s girl and Mary’s friend, Quintessa. For Mary, Quintessa is the golden girl, while she is silver. She’d never even try to compete with her best friend.

When she and Jim meet again at the Boston Navy Yard, a new found friendship that blossoms into something more becomes threatened by the weakness in each character.

He laughed at something his friend said, and in a flash, Mary was sitting around a table at the soda fountain with her best friend Quintessa Beaumont, Quintessa’s boyfriend Hugh Mackey, and Hugh’s best friend, Jim. All of them enraptured by Quintessa’s effervescence.

Jim’s gaze drifted to her, and he gave her the mild smile men gave silver girls like Mary, without the spark reserved for golden girls like Quintessa.

I kept picturing a young Jimmy Stewart in the role of Jim Avery. He wasn’t the “suave” leading man he wanted to be or we’re used to reading about. The character had that boy-next-door, somewhat naive, but lovable, buoyancy of a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

To be honest, for the first third of the book, I wasn’t keen on Mary’s character. With her drive to imitate Nancy Drew seeking out saboteurs, she came across as a little immature to me, but her fears were realistic and her loyalty to Quintessa redeemed her. 

What I found fascinating about the book and writing was Ms. Sundin’s ability to make this reader feel at home in 1941, whether it was on a Boston street or on a destroyer in the northern Atlantic. She didn’t interrupt the flow of the story to explain technical or outdated terms—and there were plenty on instances on the ship where that could have happened—yet nothing was confusing to me. It all made sense.

I can’t say Through Waters Deep was my favorite of Sarah Sundin’s books. I thought the beginning (after the inciting incident) dragged a bit, but it is well worth the read. In fact, I hit a certain point that interrupted my bedtime. That’s an accomplishment! 🙂

Let’s dig a little deeper:

The hero and heroine clearly have their internal issues. Deep down, they both deal with the same thing, just in a different way. They each have a need or a desire to put themselves “out there,” to be bold. Have you ever been in a situation that required you to be bold and you held back? Did you regret it, or was it the right thing to do under the circumstances? 

For a fun aside, take a look at the video of the making of that lovely cover:

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Revell Publishing, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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