Hello dear bookish friends!
I feel like I should first thank you all for your sweet comments about my pregnancy. I am always surprised how much pregnancy affects me and I appreciate your support! I suppose I should accept that blogging and reading will come in spurts over the next few months. And that’s okay! Thank you for being patient with me as it takes me longer than usual to respond to comments and to post new reviews. I appreciate you being here!
Today I am here with a review of London Tides by Carla Laureano. I first heard about this book a few years ago when I first read (and loved!!) Five Days in Skye. This is the first sequel to that novel and was re-released last year by Tyndale House Publishers. This novel surprised me and fascinated me. It is intense, hopeful, raw and beautiful all at once.
- I love love love London so the fact that this book is mostly set in London was fantastic for me. I can picture many of the major landmarks referenced in the novel. If anything, I would have liked even more London descriptions. I just love that city so much.
- This novel explores intense emotional themes about war, loss, death, and physiological trauma. Some of that intensity really surprised me. And I wouldn’t read this book with kids under 16. It offers a lot to discuss but the violence would be overwhelming for younger readers.
According to Goodreads, “Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.
She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace . . . only for her to choose photography over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together . . . or tear them apart for good this time?”
First, it was fascinating to get inside Ian’s head. He is quite standoffish and aloof in book one. We know his heart was broken but we don’t really have more details than that. It’s clear he isn’t happy but why? It is a fascinating journey to learn about his heartbreak. To learn about his dreams and hopes for the future. And to see everything come together in such surprising ways. I was shocked by what he had given up in the past. I was surprised to see how much he still was willing to sacrifice. And I was so very happy when he finally went after his dreams.
Grace was a surprise for me. I didn’t expect her trauma or her emotional journey. At times, her past is haunting and overwhelming. The details about her life as a war photographer were scary, graphic, and emotional. I can’t believe all she’s been through and everything she is still working through. While her love for Ian is genuine and raw, it is also imbalanced and sometimes unhealthy. It is such a journey for Grace to reconcile her past with her present and be able to move forward. I was happy for her in the end to see things come together.
This love story was intense, passionate and fragile. Laureano writes a beautiful romance full of swoon worthy kisses and intense emotional moments. But this one went beyond happily ever after. It digs deep into the insecurities and instabilities of both Ian and Grace. For most of the novel, I wasn’t sure they would really make it. I felt the same impatience that Ian expressed–like if they didn’t move fast enough, it would all slip through their fingers. The ending is both tragic and hopeful.
Overall, this book was not what I expected. And sometimes, I didn’t enjoy the intensity. I was surprised how complicated these characters were and how unattainable their dreams felt. I have to admit that I think my favorite part of this book are the scenes in Scotland back on the Isle of Skye. I loved seeing all the old familiar characters from book 1 and seeing at least one happy ever after come together. All that being said, I am glad that I read this novel. I learned more about a unique side of war in photo journalism that was unknown to me before this novel. Reading is not only about staying in a genre or setting or with characters that are familiar to you. While there are certainly genres, characters, and settings that I call favorites, I also appreciate stories like this that broaden my horizons a bit–stories like this one.
Now I am anxiously awaiting when book 3 comes out this summer. I am really excited to get Serena’s story in this one!
What are some of your favorite novels set in London?
What novels have you read lately that surprised you?