When Tides Turn
My parents were big fans of 1940s and 1950s cinema and those films hold a high nostalgia factor for me. I love the fashions, the glamour and glitz and the dramatized emotions. And the language: “Aw, shucks!” and “Gee, whiz!” spoken in place of “F” bombs but with equal fervor always bring a smile to my face. Sarah Sundin writes novels that read like you are watching a film from that era. Her latest book, When Tides Turn, is no exception.
Blonde haired, blue eyed Quintessa “Tess” Beaumont is known not just for her bombshell good looks but her outstanding fashion sense and fun loving nature. But there is a dark side to being a party girl, which is that everyone thinks all you’re good for is a good time. Burned badly by two recent relationships and tired of people who think her capable of nothing more than selling great outfits and accessories at Filene’s department store, Tess makes a decision. She’s done with being Princess Quintessa, apple of daddy’s eye and eye candy for every man she meets. She joins the newly formed WAVES, determined to prove once and for all that she is every bit as useful as she is decorative.
Lt. Dan Avery almost had his career as a naval officer derailed by a gal with a pretty face. He’s determined that will never happen again and – shocker – sworn off women altogether. That worked great till his brother started seeing Mary, Tess’s best friend and he found himself sitting next to Tess in church, at clubs, at dinners – it seemed the girl was suddenly everywhere. And it becomes truly everywhere when her first WAVES assignment has her working in Dan’s office at the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit. He’d wanted to head out to sea before Tess joined the unit but with her in the office his desire has turned from a want to a need.
This is a romance novel so we don’t so much play the will-they-won’t-they game as we do the how-and-when-they game. It’s clear these two are deeply attracted to each other, not just in the physical sense but in the emotional sense as well. They have tons in common – known each other since infancy, share a large group of friends, attend the same church(es) and enjoy doing a lot of the same activities. The only thing keeping them apart is a pesky war and Dan’s commitment to devote himself completely to the Navy.
The good news here is that Dan isn’t just being stubborn. He has a mentor, Admiral Howard, who is unmarried and is insistent that is the only way to truly devote yourself to your career. Dan also has some childhood experiences which have led him to believe that real men work real hard. He doesn’t have any space in his life for frivolity and to his mind, Tess is all about the frivolous.
Eventually Dan gets over that but wouldn’t you know it, that’s the cue for Tess to go off the deep end over the issue. After the two share their first kiss and he makes the horrible, hideous faux pas of calling her beautiful she comes completely unhinged. How dare he see her as just another pretty face! For the love of heaven, why?? Of course the two work things out but for me this was a touch too much melodrama and disrupted the flow of the story a bit.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the book. The pacing is a bit slow but that worked given the sweet nature of the tale. I liked the French spy mystery that ran as a background plot throughout the text and appreciated its resolution. The characters work well together and I wholly bought into their HEA. While I would say that the religious factor is high, with mentions of faith liberally sprinkled from beginning to end, that seems appropriate since the book is clearly labeled as an Inspirational Romance.
I think fans of the Waves of Freedom series will appreciate this conclusion to the set and Sundin’s readers will find exactly what they are looking for in When Tides Turn. It may not be her strongest work but those who enjoy her writing will still find plenty to love about it.