Title: The Sea Before Us
Author: Sarah Sundin
Series: Sunrise at Normandy, #1
Genre: Christian Historical Romance (WW2)
Era: 1944 (WW2)
Setting: London, England (prologue set in Texas) with a bit in Edinburgh, Scotland (!!!)
Source: from Netgalley (in exchange for an honest review)
Time Taken to Read: under two days
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars (+!)
The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin
In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France–including those of her own family’s summer home–in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.
As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.
The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin’s practiced pen with this powerful new series.
I’m in love with this book! *cue excessive fangirling*
Once again, Sundin has delivered a story that stands apart from every other one I’ve read for a long time. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can help but be utterly swept away. The characters, the plot, the setting … the raw emotion of it!
I was very nervous going into this book. I picked it up with trembling hands and a nauseous stomach and tried to read slowly. I loved all her other books, so starting a new series with new characters was frightening! I had no idea if I’d like this book as much as I had her other ones, and I didn’t want to be disappointed.
Well … I wasn’t disappointed! Not one bit. This book went beyond my expectations. It’s definitely one of my favorites of Sundin’s now.
I’m going to try to sit down and write a review that makes sense, but sometimes when you really love something, it’s hard to talk about it, so bear with me.
(Also, I need a paperback copy so bad it’s not even funny.) (Also, that cover is sooo amazing! I remember when it first got revealed, I literally squealed aloud. IT’S GORGEOUS AND BLUE AND THERE’A REDHEAD AND SHE HAS A FUNNY HAT!) (I want her funny hat.)
Brilliantly put together. The angst and adventure begins on page 1 and doesn’t let up until the end. When you read the prologue, you’ll understand. It’s a shocking beginning, but effective – it drags you into the story, and you are utterly and completed hooked. (I need to learn to write hooks like that!)
I felt like the plot never sagged or grew boring. Throughout, it was an adventure. At times, the technical details of the running of the war office, the Wrens, ranks, etc., was a little difficult to track, but I got it sorted. And all the details just made it real and authentic!
Also, I never saw the plot twists coming! Wow! Some plot twists are too twisty to unravel ahead of time, y’know?
I lived through this story with the characters. With Dorothy and Wyatt – and even the side characters, like Mr. Paxton and Dorothy’s friends. It was very attention-keeping.
Is there ever a Sundin book where I don’t end up raving about the characters? I think not!
Dorothy/Dolly = the sweetest thing EVER. She reminds me of my best friend … except if my best friend were to totally restrain herself + be English (my best friend is sooo American it’s not even funny!) + SHE IS A REDHEAD WITH FRECKLES AAAAH I LOVE HER SOOO MUCH JUST ‘CAUSE OF THIS. #redheadpride
Dorothy’s character arc was also quite awesome. The lessons she had to learn were some girls today could definitely stand to hear! “Be yourself – everyone else is taken.” “To thine ownself be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, that thou canst be false to any man.”
Wyatt. His name is amazing. He is unashamedly Texan. He is sooo sweet. I love honesty in people – and he was probably one of the first truly honest characters I’ve ever come across! <3 It was refreshing and beautiful. (Especially him actually telling Dorothy about his feelings! Wyatt, if the thing with Dorothy doesn’t work out, I will marry you.) (Yes, I do realize he’s a fictional character.)
His character arc was very well-done, too. His ‘courtship’ of Dorothy was sooo adorable! I love how sweet and considerate he was. How could anyone not adore him? *glares at Dorothy for taking a whole book to figure it out* *not really ’cause otherwise the book would have been kinda boring*
I’m not sure how I feel about the rest of the books being about Wyatt’s brothers (neither of whom I really cared for from the bit we learn about in the story). I’m also deeply disappointed that we probably won’t be seeing more of Dorothy’s friends! I fell in love with them, especially Gwen. But … I guess I’ll recover. 😉
AND THERE WAS A BIT SET IN SCOTLAND, TOO!
Wyatt is a Texan. *snickers* He was so perfect.
I loved how very English Dorothy was. I felt that was very well-done. I’m not English – so if I missed something not-English about her, forgive me – but I love basically everything English (especially, oh, pre-1960s), so I was pretty happy with that.
The descriptions were quite vivid, and, at the risk of sound repetitive, I was swept away! The book as a whole swept me away, of course, but the setting was a definite contributing factor.
There’s really nothing I could say in this section that I haven’t said in previous reviews of the author’s books. I feel like I know Sundin’s style pretty well now, so every time I start one of her books, I’m just like, “Right! That’s how she says that!” Like, I pick up on quirks and turns of phrases.
That may not make a lot of sense and probably sounds a little creepy. But I’m not a stalker. Reading someone’s books multiple times does not make you a stalker. To be a stalker, you’d have to follow them on Twitter and their newsletter and Goodreads … oh, wait. *eyes widen* 😛
(I also find myself writing a little like her after I finish one of her books.) (And then have to correct myself because, hey, I gotta write like me, not like another author!)
Violence: it’s set during WW2. Though most of it takes place in London, the place is badly blown up and the dangers of air raids are very real.
Sexual: falling and love and all that jazz. Several kisses, a couple fairly detailed. Dorothy goes out with a jerk who has multiple girlfriends and is just … a jerk.
AJOR SPOILERS (highlight to read) Dorothy’s mother has an adulterous affair. She is also a jerk. (end of spoilers)
Other: a friend of mine has a manic fear of throwing up, so I’m going to mention that there’s some throwing up in this novel. 😛
I’d recommend 13 or 14+ for the spoiler (involves an adulterous affair, no details given and only talked about briefly + the angst the comes from this), but otherwise, it’s fairly clean.
I NEED TO READ THIS AGAIN. But I don’t want to reread the review copy (I feel like eARCs are meant to be read once and then discarded? It’s a funny quirk of mine), so I’m gonna have to buy a paperback copy.
Honestly, this was just so good that I don’t have words to describe it! And I know I’m repeating myself, but some things are worth repeating. Get yourself a copy!
(Also: Dear Mrs. Sundin, I promise I am not a creepy stalker. I just really enjoy good books. I promise. *crosses heart*)
Review by Kellyn Roth of Reveries Reviews