Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin (review)

anchorinthestorm_sundin_revellI received an e-galley through NetGalley of Anchor in the Storm in advance of it’s release date but until recently watching the documentary series “The War” on Netflix, it was easily put aside for books set in other time periods.  Turns out, reading it after the documentary series was perfect timing as it familiarized me with the state of U.S. defenses at the beginning of our involvement in World War II.

This was everything I didn’t know I wanted in a World War II story, including main characters who have been hurt in the past and fear that they will never find someone to love them for who they are.

Lillian hadn’t met Jim’s best friend, Archer Vandenberg, who came with a pedigree as hoity-toity as his name, but she didn’t relish the thought of sharing Christmas with some snooty society boy. (pg. 10)

Lillian Avery also fears that she is hard-hearted, but knows that she is strong and will continue to overcome obstacles, including her employer’s reticence to hire a “girl pharmacist” even before he was aware that she is crippled.  Archer (Arch) Vandenberg harbors regrets and longs for someone to see the man and not the family money.  As an ensign in the Navy, he is also fighting to hide the affects of surviving the sinking of his ship.

This woman wasn’t like the society girls angling for the best husbands or the shopgirls digging for gold.

Not Lillian Avery. She’d gone to college to learn, not to snag a man. She had a career and plans and dreams and didn’t want Archer Vandenberg or his wealth. And his good looks and charm didn’t seem to affect her.

If he could win the heart of a woman like her, it wouldn’t be due to his name or looks or money, but due to who he was inside.

That would mean something. (pg. 16)

Halfway through, I suddenly thought “this story just makes me happy.”  Not only was the romantic story arc pleasing, combining a charming man and a wholesome girl from a large Ohio family, but following Arch onto his ship and Lillian into the drugstore and joining them on their attempts to uncover a drug ring that linked their workplaces was both interesting and entertaining.

For months, he’d longed for her love, to be loved for who he was, but he wasn’t prepared for how a love like that could reach the darkest corners of his soul, unsettling him, renewing him. (pg. 214)

Strong themes of faith, perseverance, and acceptance shone through this story as Arch and Lillian each separately long for a stronger faith, but fear that they are not capable.

Lillian’s head wagged back and forth. Her heart was as ugly as her stump, and both needed to be concealed.

“Oh, sweet girl. You may be able to hide your feelings from people, but you can never hid them from the Lord.”

Lillian spun to the older woman. She kept a polite distance from God. If she opened up to him, he’d see just how cold her heart was.

But didn’t he know that already? (pg. 66)

Secondary characters were well drawn and all added to the story by their presence, particularly the character of a seaman, Warren Polansky, who (along with Arch’s society girl ex, the shallow and scheming Bitsy) could have been pulled straight from a 1940’s movie, where he would have provided comic relief and contributed to the dramatic storyline.  And it is the secondary characters that now have me wanting to read the other books in the author’s Waves of Freedom trilogy, as they each feature one of Lillian’s brothers and one of her roommates in the lead roles.

A recommended read.  I loved this combination of history, conflicts, faith, romance, and overcoming obstacles.  I also loved how this struck just the right note in evoking both the period as it was and as it has been popularly portrayed.

Anchor in the Storm (Waves of Freedom, #2) by Sarah Sundin | Revell, May 2016 | paperback or ebook, 400 pages

This review refers to a print copy borrowed from my local library.  I also voluntarily received an e-galley for review purposes through NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

From the Publisher:

One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance–and Danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy–even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves–and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.


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