First of all, here's the front cover.
My first impression of the cover was that it was a little overly drama-romance-ish. Also that I really liked the girl's hair.
Aaand because I'm bad at synopses, here is what the back cover says...
"It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.
When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them."
Like many back-cover synopses, I have a few disagreements with that one and how it does or does not represent the book. But I won't bother critiquing it... I'll just move on.
So, this is the... fifth book by Sarah Sundin that I've read. So, I kind of read all her books the same way. I get annoyed by a number of things in it but the things I liked outweighs what I didn't, and after a while I find myself wanting to read the next one, which I proceed to do and then go through the exact same things all over again.
Also, a lot of them follow a Very Similar Pattern. The ones I've read, anyway.
1. Girl meets guy. There is some obstacle keeping them them from becoming An Item, but they find themselves attracted to each other anyways. To personality, but also to looks. The two are probably equally mentioned, but the latter gets a bit too detailed for my taste, particularly on the guy's side. (The guy is going to think about the girl's figure. A lot. And her legs will be mentioned multiple times. You might also get a description of the guy's hairy chest. ...ew?)
2. They become really good friends and fall in love.
3. This step sometimes being skipped: whatever barrier was in the way goes down at least temporarily.
4. They both are almost convinced that the other person IS interested in them, and things are on their way to going splendidly.
5. A Big Huge Misunderstanding occurs, in which one or both of the parties make Assumptions, there is a Severe Lack of Communication, and the book is practically asking to be thrown across the room.
6. The two main characters basically don't talk to each other (or if they do, there is a big Reserve there) for a certain period of time.
7. Very close to the end, confessions are made, they finally understand each other, all is happy, and there's a lot of smooching.
Bonus: Whatever is the guy's part in WWII, you will get a lot of technical details about what he does. Personally, these do not interest me. I'm only going to know vaguely what's going on anyways, so reading the details just goes over my head and bores me. While I do like picking up interesting historical facts from fiction, I don't really care about the facts, as long as they're not being misrepresented.
But let's talk about this book in particular.
The first thing that sounded interesting to me is that the girl is a secretary. (If SS writes about a teacher next, I will be thrilled.) The Wings of the Nightingale series was about flight nurses, and while that was interesting, it wasn't exactly my thing. I prefer the home front. A Distant Melody was about a girl who didn't really have a job, and I liked that pretty well too, but as far as occupation/position in life, Mary Stirling is the one I feel I have the most in common with. I want to be a secretary as it is... but if I could jump back in time 50-100 years, well, it would be even better. The typewriters! The phones! And learning shorthand would be way cool!
Anyways. The thing that I found the most fascinating about this book, though, was the whole setting of it. It's about this time period I never thought about-- when America was basically in WWII but not 'officially', and there were all these people trying to convince everyone that we shouldn't go into the war. Since it's all history and, you know, it happened... I just don't tend to think about the fact that there was opposition. (And I've never been a war nerd.)
The interesting premise was enhanced by a thread of mystery. This pleased me exceedingly. I loved that the heroine of the novel sort of became a down-to-earth amateur detective. When I say down-to-earth, I mean that it wasn't at all cheesy. While she enjoyed Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, her part of the story remained more realistic.
Brief detour to talk about Jim. Okay, so he was far from perfect. But I didn't expect him to be perfect, and I found he actually annoyed me a lot less than most of Sarah Sundin's male main characters. (Cough... I am supposed to be honest here.) He seemed to have a lot more sense. The others tend to make infuriating mistakes. He definitely was not without the thoughts mentioned in #1 above. In fact, this time through I kept track of what I call the "Typical Dumb Guy" content. A tally mark for each time I was eww'ed by something-- and, in one case, it went so far that it deserved two. Anyway, it added up to 13. (A lot of them were very focused in certain points of the story, haha, rather than sprinkled throughout... so at least I didn't have to read them in every chapter.)
(To be fair, I also kept a Dumb-Girl-Thoughts count, too-- generally related either to detailed physical attraction or the desire for having a guy 'notice' you-- and that added up to 8. I think it might actually have been a little more than the heroines normally have.)
Anyway. As I was saying, Jim didn't make an infuriating mistake like I was expecting-- actually Mary was the one I was most annoyed with during point #5.
For the record, though, I still liked her. In fact she might be my favorite so far. She was definitely an introverted character, although not reserved like Mellie Blake in With Every Letter. She was more open and friendly, but she has a fear of Attention.
And Jim was definitely my favorite of the heroes... seemed the most level-headed but still interesting. And didn't think that things that weren't Decidedly Masculine were, like, beneath him.
I also really liked that the basis of their relationship was friendship for a long time. Because I think that's how the best relationships start. If you can't be really good friends with the person... well, you're going to miss out on a lot. I like it when people click, and enjoy each other's company. It just makes me happy.
I would definitely rate this as the most exciting of Sarah Sundin's novels. It's also the one I would be most likely to recommend.
Another thing I like about her books is their readability. I can just carry it around places and read it while I'm waiting for things, which I have to admit is a bit difficult to do with classics sometimes. So I got it done much more quickly.
Now, this time I kept tabs on the book as I was reading it... so if you're interested in seeing those, you can go to my Goodreads, here.
Okay, ratings... I'm going to give it 4.5 out of 5. This may surprise you after all I've said negatively about it, but all in all I really DID enjoy it a lot, and out of all her books it's the one I'm most likely to want to read again. (Which is quite convenient, since now I own it. Thanks, Revell!)
Aaaand since this review was kind of bluntly honest, I doubt I need to put any disclaimer stating that it is. Because I think you can tell. Heh, heh.