Yes, I have one . So far it only has a few books on it, but it’s still there. It’s for those books I come across that I find fantastic that just don’t get the recognition I feel they deserve.
When I made plans to start a blog, my intention was to mainly review books I was currently reading or have recently read. But when talking to a friend recently we got to talking about a series we’d read (and loved) a few years ago that was surprisingly not well known. I’d been in search of something new to read, and she and another friend had suggested A Silent Ocean Away, an historical romance with a touch of spookiness that was the first in a trilogy by the Gantt sisters, Deb and Val (DeVa Gantt). I checked it out, it had good ratings on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, but not many reviews. Even a quick Google search only produced roughly two pages of relevant results. I was hesitant to purchase it in case it turned out to be a disappointment, and of course my library didn’t stock the series so that wasn’t an option. But since it came so highly recommended, I went ahead and bought the first in the series.
O.M.G., what a page turner!
Immediately after finishing A Silent Ocean Away, I snapped up the other two books, Decision and Destiny and Forever Waiting. This may have been the quickest I’d ever read a series of books. After about a week of forcing my eyes to stay open so I could read “just one more chapter,” I finished all three books. I was surprised that the trilogy was so good, considering the lack of reviews and apparent interest. It immediately became my favorite series, and I read it for a second time within the next couple of months. It reaffirmed my new love for self-published authors (although it’s since been acquired by Harper Collins, so clearly somebody liked it!).
Spanning the years 1833 to 1839, these three books tell the story of Charmaine Ryan, a girl who, after her father murders her mother, travels to the island of Charmantes to take a job as governess to the three youngest Duvoisin children, Yvette, Jeanette, and Pierre. While there, she befriends the children’s mother, Colette, the young second wife of the reclusive patriarch, Frederic. She has taken ill and a cure for her seems unlikely. The town doctor, Robert, the brother of Frederic’s cantankerous sister-in-law Agatha, is unable help her. As Colette nears her death, Frederic begins to regret being so withdrawn from her and the two reunite to spend her final days together.
In the meantime, Charmaine develops a relationship with Paul, Frederic’s illegitimate eldest son, and a well-known ladies man. While he hopes to make her one of his conquests, she is looking for true love. This is around the time Colette’s spirit (the spookiness I mentioned earlier) begins to visit the members of the household.
After the outcast Duvoisin son John returns home after a long absence, the house gets turned upside down. While he is much loved by the children, his relationships with other family members are shaky at best, and Charmaine becomes no exception. The two form an antagonistic relationship that eventually turns to a loving one, forcing Charmaine to choose between John and Paul. During this time the truth about Colette’s death surfaces, and John, Paul, and Frederic put aside their differences and go on a mission to find and bring to justice the one responsible, causing a very heart-pounding few chapters.
Full Reviews w/Spoilers:
What I liked:
1. The amount of detail about the time period and way of life was impressive. Full disclosure: I didn’t fact check all of the information that was in the books, but either way, it certainly helped give the story some substance.
2. (Almost) everything that I wanted to happen did. Those who deserved vengeance to be dealt on them got what they deserved and the love stories worked out perfectly, albeit a little too conveniently in some cases.
3. It was an easy read, but the kind that’s hard to put down because of the emotion involved. I’ve read it twice now and found myself just as annoyed, happy, and angry as the first time. It’s definitely something I’d have handy if I needed to pass a few hours.
4. The authors weren’t afraid to mess with the readers emotions. Be prepared for some heartbreak, especially in Decision and Destiny.
What I didn’t like:
1. See #4 above. Ugh.
2. I’m still unsure how I feel about the ghost element. It didn’t take away from the story, it just seemed like an after-thought at times. I liked that it was subtle, but I think it could’ve used a bit more use and detail.
3. The way one of the relationships developed in Forever Waiting was just…bizarre. It probably could’ve been left out entirely and not taken away from the story at all. This was the one thing in all three books that really made my brain twitch.
4. It seemed as though the Gantt sisters decided late in their writing that they wanted everyone to end up with the endings they did, so the finale was a bit rushed, almost as though they’d gone back and added in some of the relationships that developed in Forever Waiting.
What’s great about this series is that it isn’t a steamy romance, where the sex is so often front and center with a so-so plot line behind it. This series is a sweeping historical romance that’s truly enjoyable and engaging. I would absolutely love to see it made into a television series, maybe something along the lines of Downton Abbey (because who doesn’t love that?). But either way, I recommend this series to anyone looking for something new. I was on a YA paranormal kick when I picked it up, so I was really surprised when I got so wrapped up in it. But it just goes to show, it’s always worth it to take a cruise outside your comfort zone when it comes to reading, because you never know what hidden gems are out there.