Thursday, May 26, 2016

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin & Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton

Anchor In The Storm, by Sarah Sundin

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?

My Thoughts:
This novel, the second story in the Waves of Freedom series by Sarah Sundin, is the first of the series as well as the first of Ms. Sundin's novels that I've read and I have to say that I was enraptured by this historical romance diving literally into the throes of World War II and the threat of German U-boats determined to debilitate our country. But this story goes further into history when women rose to the challenge by filling vacancies left by the men who bravely volunteered to serve our country.

There was much I loved about this story. Lillian Avery's plight as a woman pharmacist was difficult enough but add in her handicap and Ms. Sundin created a character I was rooting for from the very beginning. Her strong-willed personality and determination to make her place in the world was refreshing as she didn't come across as a weakling in need of rescuing by a strong handsome prince ... or sailor-and yet, here comes Archer Vandenberg, a young handsome Navy officer who woos Lillian just like Gene Kelly or Frank Sinatra would. The sweetness of a bygone era is evident in the affection shared by the two main characters and left me swooning.

Ms. Sundin did such a great job creating romantic tension between Arch and Lillian that when it came time for the "break-up" it left me pretty devastated for the viciousness and audacity each character played in their role. The heartbreaking moment was so finite that I didn't see how any true resolve or forgiveness could come in the short number of remaining pages and yet it did come and I was left feeling like it was rushed and unnatural for two people who loved each other so deeply and then hurt each other just as deeply to reunite with just a surface conversation about a bracelet.

The plot was unique and a little predictable since Lillian comments on exactly what will happen before it happens very early on in the story but I truly enjoyed following her story along with Arch's. I learned a great deal about the devastation the German U-boats caused our country during the war and Ms. Sundin tells a good story incorporating what I consider the best of that era.

This is the perfect story for those who love a man in uniform, the quick-step of the big brass bands, then you'll enjoy Anchor in the Storm.

*I received Anchor in the Storm from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of this book here.

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun, by Lynne Hinton

Sister Eve, a motorcycle-riding nun with a natural (or is it supernatural?) gift for solving murders returns to the enclave she once called home and quickly finds herself confronting yet another mysterious death.
Someone has poisoned Dr. Kelly Middlesworth—a researcher on the life and ministry of 17th-century’s revered “Blue Nun”—and a set of irreplaceable historic documents have disappeared before they could even be examined.
When all evidence seems to point to the victim’s brother, Sister Eve sets out to expose the killer and learn the explosive truth those missing manuscripts might contain.
Chasing a killer is dangerous work, and as her two worlds collide, Sister Eve may need some heavenly help simply to survive.

My Thoughts:
This novel is part of The Divine Private Detective Agency Mystery Series by Lynne Hinton and takes Evangeline Divine, a motorcycle riding nun into a mystery deep in the Southwest. This is the first novel I've read in the series and while this novel is perfectly capable of standing on its own-I do believe I lost something in the translation of who Evangeline Divine is and why.

The story starts at a rapid pace with the murder and the sudden investigation Sister Eve finds herself in. However, it was hard for me to believe she had any kind of detective experience as she trampled through the crime scene and made what I'd consider serious mistakes for someone who's trying to decide if she'd be better off as a nun or a detective. Throughout most of the story I struggled with her ability to do either ...

Ms. Hinton gives a lot of information about the location and setting of this novel, which takes place in New Mexico. A place I'm very familiar with as I grew up there. I found most of her details accurate but overwhelming. I wanted to see Sister Eve detecting when all I really got was her wondering and thinking about the murder suspect; the mystical Sister Maria de Jesus de Agreda; the inconsequential interest in a male detective; and the unfair removal of women from the convent. Add to this the in-depth research shared about the native New Mexico Indians and I was left wondering what purpose Sister Eve really had in solving the crime. It felt a little like a history lesson throughout most of the book.

There's a mystical element to the story and the crime is solved in what amounts to be less than a week and with only a handful of clues by a nun whose hunches guide her most of the way. There are several strong secondary characters; an allusion to a possible romance that's never fully played out; and some unanswered questions.

I believe Ms. Hinton has honed in on a unique storyline with a nun as a detective but I didn't feel like she quite pulled off the believability for me enough to make me pick this book over other novels in this genre-even if it takes place in my hometown.

*I received a copy of Sister Eve and the Blue Nun from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of the book here.

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