About the Book
Book: Surf Smugglers
Author: Melody Carlson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: August 15, 2019
In the summer of 1917, US troops join the allied forces in the Great War. Back in Sunset Cove, Oregon, other battles wage. Anna McDowell continues to fight old fashioned stereotypes as she runs a newspaper committed to truth. Despite opposition, she’s determined to expose ongoing rum-running and prohibition lawlessness.
Adding to Anna’s frustrations, her good friend Dr. Daniel seems to run hot and cold. He loves Oregon, and maybe Anna too, but he’s pulled by his East Coast family responsibilities. Even the lure of a new modern Sunset Cove hospital doesn’t seem enough to keep him in Sunset Cove.
Meanwhile, Anna’s strong-willed daughter Katy continues to develop her dress shop by inviting family friend Sarah Rose to help out. But the woman’s presence tests the small town’s tolerance. And Anna’s concern that her daughter is growing up too fast is confirmed when Katy’s romantic life takes an unexpected turn, which Anna fears is influenced by the pressure of a devastating war that is not only changing the entire world but Sunset Cove as well.
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About the Author
Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.
More from Melody
Although this is likely not a series that I would necessarily gravitate toward on my own, I am glad that I have had the opportunity to read and review each of the three books thus far. Ordinarily, I prefer action and some mystery or suspense when reading fiction, and while there is arguably a bit of this in the Legacy of Sunset Cove series, the true foundation is built on relationships and people. In the first book, I admittedly had a somewhat difficult time connecting with and truly engaging with the characters. This improved in book two, and “Surf Smugglers” presents a blossoming and maturation of the central figures that is realistic and endearing.
If there is a single word that captures the spirit of “Surf Smugglers”, it is “change.” Melody Carlson draws credible parallels between the United States entering the war in 1917 and the battles that each character, as well as the town of Sunset Cove itself, likewise faces. There is a suspicion of continued rum-running, and with the war coming closer to home due to the draft, shortages of both employees and goods become more common. Even women’s fashion adapts, becoming more austere and less frilly. Developing a local Red Cross chapter and making other amendments to the town further highlight how war influences even more backwater locales.
Most compelling, however, is Carlson’s portrayal of the community. The people reflect the challenges and transformations of the time period, because “history did not change itself overnight.” In “Surf Smugglers”, I appreciated the inclusion of a colored woman as one of the important secondary characters, and the ensuing implications. Similarly, there is a theme of second chances and of not judging or forming an opinion too hastily. I know that I have struggled with this myself, and having it raised as an issue in the novel is a reminder of how we should model the redemption that our Savior has given us. One of the characters who matured the most is Katy. Her approach to life, “Take chances and make changes”, leads her to plenty of new experiences. The spiritual element in the narrative is light, and I think that this series would appeal to any readers who enjoy historical fiction, historical romance, and coming-of-age stories.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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