Book Review: The Sea Before Us

41NNh0YVijL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_I was looking forward to reading this book from the moment I heard about it. Her last few series have been centered around B-19 pilots, the Nightingales, the WAVES, and now, three brothers, estranged before the war and brought together by an event: D-Day. And so begins the first book, The Sea Before Us, from the Naval perspective of the oldest brother, Wyatt. The following two books will be titles The Sky Above Us 2019 (Air Force), and The Land Beneath Us 2020 (Army Rangers).

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France–including those of her own family’s summer home–in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin’s practiced pen with this powerful new series.

Sarah’s books are always a good mix of “I learned something” and “That was such an amazing story.” In this case, she really gets into the details of planning for D-Day. Particularly the use of family photos to help plot out the beach, which is both historically fascinating and poignant to the character as it’s a photograph of her own family vacation spot that seems to keep coming up.

I loved Wyatt and Dorothy. Sarah’s characters always seem to carry the upbeat sensibilities and humor that we associate with the 1940s, but they have their own distinctiveness and struggles that I think readers will find relevant as Dorothy wrestles with her tense relationship with her father, and Wyatt deals with the guilt over what happened all those years ago with his brothers. Birth order and sibling relationships play out so classically in their characters, I found myself both chuckling and crying.

Filled with captivating descriptions, historical detail and endearing characters, Sundin’s newest novel has yet to steer from the charm of her first. Sarah’s books always make me think, “If this were a movie, it’s the sort of thing I would watch with both my parents.” Enough sentiment and romance for my mom, and the kind of military history that would intrigue my dad. I’m very much looking forward to reading The Sky Above Us when it releases in the spring. You can find it available for pre-order here. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy The Sea Before Us as much as I did.

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