Friday, June 3, 2016

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is my favorite WWII-era novelists! Here’s a review of her latest.

Let’s begin with the summary:

One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance—and Danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War Ii means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he is her brother's best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

And now, my review:

Every time I pick up one of Sarah’s novels, I know I’m in for a well-researched, layered story. This one did not disappoint. The heroine is a multi-layered woman who believes lies about herself. (As we all do.) She feels broken and has never felt precious, or cherished. Her disability has helped shape her, but she’s also developed some outmoded coping mechanisms that will need to change. She’s so used to rejection she can’t imagine being treated any other way. This feeling of not be “cherishable” is a theme for her. I think readers will relate, especially women. We want to feel valuable and worth cherishing. I also feel readers who suffer disabilities or disfigurement will relate with her. She has to deal with the horrified expressions of others as she goes about her daily tasks. Anyone who’s had visible scars will relate with how this feels and the heroine’s reactions to those interactions.

The hero is misunderstood as well. He’s from a wealthy family and as a man of faith, he’s determined not to let himself become someone who uses money to manipulate people. He fears becoming this way.

I love, love, loved the theme of Jesus as the Anchor of our souls!! I’ve used this imagery as my tagline for my author website and business cards for years. Sarah brought up this imagery in several different ways, all of them relatable and satisfying.

Another aspect I really appreciated, beyond the author’s honest/real treatment of her heroine’s disability, was her development of a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) thread for the hero. Archer is a man of faith and prayer, but does that automatically mean his PTSD is healed? No. Does he automatically receive peace when he prays about his circumstances? Not always. I loved that approach because I believe it’s true to life. The author’s balance of faith and difficult situations, and the process of growing and learning and healing, was so well done. Sarah excels at writing this balance, and combined with her amazing research, these elements make for a great read every time.

This is the second book in the Waves of Freedom series. I appreciated having read the first in the series, and I recommend you do too, if you haven’t. But I believe readers could follow this story without having read the first book.

Five stars for this latest Sarah Sundin WWI historical. Great read! Highly recommended.