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The lovely title of this Christian novel hints at its themes of shipwreck, youth lost and romance by the sea. In the waters beyond a small town on the Pacific coast, a shipwreck is being salvaged that will disclose secrets from the past. Martinusen (North of Tomorrow) tells her story from the viewpoints of three women. Claire O'Rourke is a San Francisco reporter recently returned to her small hometown of Harper's Bay for a short visit, but a contrived plot device leaves her back home for good and looking for work at The Tidal Post, a local newspaper. Her path soon intersects with that of Sophia Fleming, a 70-something reclusive author whom Claire has admired since childhood. When a salt-damaged book washes ashore, some long-buried secrets are illuminated through the journal entries of Josephine Vanderook, a passenger on an ill-fated ship. As the story unfolds, Martinusen introduces enjoyable characters: "Cap Charlie" is an old salt who makes lattes and espresso below decks; Claire's potential love interest, Griffin Anderson, is a scrap junk sculptor whose work is displayed on town roofs. Despite some good descriptions, Martinusen often overwrites ("glaze drips likes a lazy yawn onto the table") and the pacing, mired in description and wordiness, drags. The city-girl-returns-to-her-hometown theme has been done to death in CBA fiction, and the somewhat unfocused story never really takes off. However, Martinusen has potential, and despite the problems in this story, her talent shines through.
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Cindy Martinusen Coloma is the best-selling author of several novels including The Salt Garden, Beautiful, and Orchid House.