Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.
From the blurb, I thought this was going to be about Lillian finding out about her roots and trying to research where her family came from and what happened to them during WWII, but that part of the plot doesn't come in until a little over 2/3s of the way through the book. Instead, it starts out with Johann Blumenthal fighting in WWI for Germany, then follows through to his son Paul at the dawn of the Nazis taking over power and Paul's eventual attempts to get his family out of the country. When things are looking grim for them, it then drops that storyline and jumps forward to the 1960s to Lillian, where I thought the story was going to start.
It was a bit jarring to start off, since I wasn't expecting the story to be so linear, but in the end, I found it more effective getting to know the Blumenthal's and seeing their attempts to stay in Germany as long as they could before realizing - perhaps too late - that they needed to flee to save themselves. It was disheartening to see them doing everything they could to be good Germans, in a Germany that cared about them less and less, and to see the small steps that began to segregate the Jews from the main populace more and more until the Nazis were in power and didn't care about being quite so subtle anymore.
This is compounded when they end up in Capetown in South Africa - they're safe there, but all around them is apartheid - which was implemented based on Aryan propaganda and laws.
I did feel at times that the characters were there more to serve as plot points, and Charolette suffers the most from this since she mostly just reacts while Paul is making all the preparations. Knowing how many women worked in the underground and resistance forces during WWII, I would have liked to see Charolette take a more active role.
I also would have liked more time to get to know Lillian so her story arc could have more weight, but seeing her so driven to find out everything she could about where she came from and what happened to her family was touching nonetheless.
The narrator, Jane Oppenheimer, who I first heard narrating The Moonlit Garden, was an odd choice I think for this story. She has a very mellow and soothing voice, which dulled the tension from a story that really should have been tense.
Ironically the last of this series that I read, but the second book. I listened to this on audiobook and I loved the narrator Xe Sands. Thomas Luca Morgan is a rogue and that's clear from the beginning. I liked that he immediately saw that Maddie wasn't what she was pretending to be. The villain seemed the most heinous in this book to me, especially for some of the people he hires to get rid of Maddy. Just enough seafaring to make the theme fit the title. Great chemistry between the leads, and I like that Maddy is fairly savvy and sassy and stands toe to toe with Thomas/Luca. Hard to say which book is my favorite, they're all great. I think this one stands out because Maddy is cynical enough to handle a guy like Luca and they felt very well matched to me.
Aidan Turner as Thomas Luca Morgan
Kaya Scodelario as Maddy Russell
Reread on Audiobook Fall 2018:
It was great listening to this on audiobook. Xe Sanders is a lovely narrator, with a talent for female and male voices. She endowed Adrian with all the roguish sensuality that his character emanates. She also captures Briony's mix of no-nonsenseness and vulnerability.
Liam McIntyre as Adrian, Lord Kilmartyn
Claire Foy as Bryony Russell
Reread in December 2018/January 2019 on Audiobook:
This was great on audiobook. Xe Sanders has a great voice for both male and female voices. She makes the hero sound purringly sexy and her accents are great too. Listening to this reminded me of how fantastic a writer Anne Stuart is. I can never get enough of her writing.
This is a nice sort of homage to "Like Water for Chocolate" or "Simply Irresistible" but without magic. I love that Sophie's thing is cooking. In the kitchen and in the bedroom with the sizzling hot Alexander. As always the banter and flirting is superb, but then it's an Anne Stuart romance. When all three of the couples (Russell sisters and their spouses/beaus are together, it's magic).
My Casting Choices:
Henry Cavill and Alexander, Lord Griffiths
Clare Bowen as Sophie Russell