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Book: Open Sea
Author: Maria Gudin, translated by Cynthia Steele
Published: September 4, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Provided by Thomas Allen & Son for review
I received a copy of this book for free for a review. This does not impact the content of my review.
Spain, 1639. When Len de Montemayor’s family is killed, she thinks her life is over until an aristocratic family rescues her. Len finds a soul mate in their son, Piers, and as they grow up together, their friendship becomes a love so intense that it comes with a promise: it will last forever. But with the outbreak of civil war, a dutiful Piers knows his fate is with the Royal Navy, leaving Len waving from the shore as he sails toward an uncertain future.
Piers finds himself in the throes of battle, but unlike his shipmates, he is allied to no cause but the sea. As war rages on, he eventually returns to find his home a burned shell of its former glory, his family slaughtered, and every trace of Len gone. Thinking that she died in the fire that killed his family, Piers is heartbroken and escapes to a life of privateering on the same vast ocean that divided them.
A stirring adventure of high-seas piracy, betrayal, and war, Open Sea is, above all, an epic novel of true love. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts on This Book
This book sounded amazing. But…when I picked it up and started reading, I quickly realized it wasn’t the book for me.
Open Sea is beautifully written but it is a slow moving novel in a lot of places and doesn’t follow a straightforward path. The story is not told chronologically, which I found difficult to follow. It frustrated me to jump from Len’s childhood (that I was finding quite interesting) to years later where she is in a different country with completely different people having suffered a tragedy of some kind. Reading where Len was later in her life made me quite curious to find out how she got there. But as I kept reading, I realized that it would be many, many pages before I found any answers. The novel is 444 pages long, after all.
I picked up Open Sea for the promise of a great romance. But, it’s less a romance and more a historical epic with a thread of romance in it. At least that’s how it felt to me. The historical setting plays such a huge role in the plot. A significant portion of the story is about the problems caused by religious and political affiliations, such as the anti-Catholic sentiments and the schism between the king and the House of Lords, and the war between the Spanish and the British.
There was a lot of specific history and it wasn’t what I was looking for in a romantic read. I like a little bit of historical context, but when chapters of the novel explore political strategy and history rather than romantic tension, I get bored. For a good portion of the book, Len and Piers, the two main characters, believe each other to be dead and their separate stories are told. Again, not what I was looking for in a romance novel.
This book wasn’t the right read for me. I didn’t finish it. Instead, I passed it on to a friend of mine who loves to dive deep into detailed historical novels. I think it’s much more up her alley.
Have you ever DNF’d (did not finish) a book? Why?