I first discovered Ms. Sundin's works when I read her stellar debut novel A Distant Melody (Wings of Glory Book 1) in 2010. I'll be honest, what first attracted me to her books was the cover. Whoever is responsible for the cover-art on all of her books; it's simply stunning and really captures the essence of the period. The art-work on her most current series, Waves of Freedom is my favorite by far.
All of her books have elements that make a great story. Compelling storytelling, dynamic and complex characters all the while incorporating a strong gospel message.
It's also evident that Ms. Sundin has done extensive research into the WWII time period when she writes her stories. She even mentions in her author's note that had relatives that served during WWII.
Through Deep Waters (Waves of Freedom Book 1) has all the elements of her previous novels except this one has a different feel. The romance is blended with mystery and intrigue. Set in historical Boston pre-WWII, Through Deep Waters, follows quiet, lovely, Mary Stirling, a Boston Yard Navy secretary who is skilled and observant. She suspects foul play on the USS Atwood. Handsome Naval officer Ensign Jim Avery stationed on the USS Atwood joins forces with Mary to help her uncover the saboteur. While working together to find the culprit involved in the sabotage on the USS Atwood, Mary and Jim find themselves slowly falling in love with one another. Their romance was so sweet. I loved the fact that Jim and Mary are childhood friends and Jim is now seeing Mary in a different light.
Mary has so many qualities that I as a reader wanted to emulate. She's a hard worker, detail-oriented, quiet, and unassuming.
I liked that both Jim and Mary are flawed, imperfect Christians. To me, this made them more real and relatable. I liked that Ms. Sundin had both Jim and Mary dealing head-on with their sins and shortcomings instead of merely brushing them under a rug or acknowledging them and not taking any action.
Part of the appeal of Through Deep Waters was the tone. I felt that I was dropped into a film from Hollywood's Golden Age that had everything in it; romance, mystery, and adventure. One film in particular came to mind: Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942).
There's a line that Jim says to Mary "Every since we said goodbye I couldn't wait to say hello" and I can just see Cary Grant spouting that line and having his leading lady swoon over it...who are we kidding? I was swooning over that line!
Anchor in the Storm (Book 2 in Waves of Freedom) follows the story of Lillian Avery (Jim's sister) and Arch Vandenberg (Jim's best friend) at the outbreak of WWII.
Lillian is excited and energized to start her new job as a pharmacist in Boston.
Ensign Arch Vandenberg's attentions annoy her at first, but eventually she has a change of heart.
Large amounts of drug prescriptions being filled by doctors cause Lillian to suspect a possible drug ring and Arch observes his men becoming drowsy from medication prescribed by the ship's doctor; the two team up to solve the mystery.
The romance between Arch and Lillian was fascinating to watch unfold.
A quality that I liked about Lillian's character is despite the fact that she has a prosthetic leg she doesn't let that get her down. She is independent and has a 'can-do' spirit which I found encouraging and refreshing.
What I loved most about this book was the over-arching message that if we are in Christ Jesus He is Our Anchor. This reminder gave me hope and cheer. Mr. Avery (Lillian and Jim's father) said it best "...Jesus is your anchor, your hope in any storm, your sure refuge." (Sundin, 28).
Ms. Sundin is my favorite author for WWII historical fiction...I've yet to find any author who tops her in this specific genre. Having enjoyed all 3 of her series (Wings of Glory, Wings of the Nightingale, and Waves of Freedom) I'm hard pressed to recommend one series over the other. What I can tell you is whatever series you pick you're sure to love it!