Lillian Avery has a lot counting against her.
I mean, she is a girl trying to make it as a pharmacist in Boston. A girl with a prosthetic leg. A girl who doesn’t show her emotions enough, or so her sister tells her. A girl who asks far too many questions, or so her employer tells her.
Which makes her the perfect person to uncover the secrets of a unseen, but very profitable drug ring right there in Boston.
She unintentionally brings her brother’s best friend Arch Vanderberg along for the ride after he discovers effects of the drug ring aboard his own ship in the Navy. The world is at war for the second time and they can’t afford to have anything slowing them down with U-boats on the attack.
But they find the dangers they’re hunting down are far closer than they ever imagined . . .
This. This book. I’ve read a handful of Sarah Sundin’s books by now, and this may be my favorite of hers so far. Lots of things brought me there.
First off, I LOVE Lillian’s character. Finally, a female character who doesn’t just burst into tears at any sight of trouble. As someone who personally doesn’t show her emotions easily, I related a lot to her. Lillian’s fear that she’s cold-hearted because of the way her sister treats her and the fact that she doesn’t show her emotions easily struck me very deep as well. I loved how she found at the end that just because she has strong opinions doesn’t make her any less worthy and any less of a lady. Definitely a strong female protagonist that I could root for. (And her lack of melodrama about her leg! I love it!)
Another character that grabbed me was actually Warren Palonsky. Even though he was just a side character, I went from being unsure what exactly he was about to rooting for him to help Arch succeed in his mission. I’ll try not to give away the ending, but his tragic end made me so sad . . . I may or may not have theories about how it didn’t actually happen.
I loved how she portrayed anxiety and PTSD so realistically and sensitively. I enjoyed seeing Arch work through it and eventually overcome it.
All in all, the whole cast was really well done from main characters to side characters and everyone in between. Their relationships added a good layer of tension to the plot.
And speaking of the plot! Wow! I had a hard time tearing myself away from it. The battle at sea and the battle on land against an unseen drug ring wove together seamlessly. I loved that Lillian was actually part of the active investigation. I had actually suspected the main culprit at the beginning of the book, but then the author had completely talked me out of him as the villain until . . . wham! Surprise! He was the villain all along! It was amazing.
I loved the ending, too. Life didn’t just get to go on as normal. (tries to find a way to explain without spoilers) The characters’ lives were drastically changed, but they found a way to live with a new normal (as opposed to floofy happily ever after where nothing changes and everybody gets along perfectly). I mean, I’m not against floofy happily ever afters, but I don’t think it would have fit this story, and it was a nice addition. Because real life doesn’t always tie up perfectly.
So there you have it. Anchor in the Storm is worth weighing down your anchor for a few hours and diving in.
It’s been twenty years since the Great Fire. Sylvie Townsend is still protecting those she loves with the fury of the flames she faced that night. She hasn’t any time to open her heart to anyone who might break it again, especially not violin instructor Kristof Bartok, who has his own set of problems to protect—namely, his reckless brother, Gregor.
Sylvie’s father may be gone, but the little girl Sylvie promised to look after is not. But Sylvie fears she soon will be. Rose is dangerously obsessed with finding her birth family. And she may just be in the sights of someone just as obsessed with finding her own family.
I hadn’t really read the backs of the covers all that closer, so I was a little surprised to find out this book happened twenty years after the original Veiled in Smoke. It was something different to me who usually ends up reading YA fiction with YA protagonists. In fact, it was just something different for the historical fiction genre, period.
At first, it started a little slow. After Veiled in Smoke, which opened in the Great Fire, it took me a little longer to get my bearings. But all the setup was very important to the story, full of tension, and well worth it.
Sylvie’s journey of wanting to know when to let go and when to hold tighter continues from the first book, and is every bit as wonderfully done. It made me think, to be sure. There were several points in the story that I read how Sylvie responded and thought, “I couldn’t have done that.”
Kristof and Gregor’s relationship amazed me. It took such a different direction from the typical “prodigal son” narrative. Kristof’s journey of realizing he has no one’s approval to earn and that he cannot always be his brother’s keeper got my attention. Their past with their father broke my heart. (And now I am wondering if Gregor is the subject of a future book?)
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to think of the villain the first time they revealed her. But the climax solved all that. She was insane. Really. It was kind of chilling to read.
Honestly, I didn’t like Rose very much at all at the beginning. She was really rude—I mean, Sylvie had done so much for her, and Rose just kept throwing it back in her face, making snide comments, and writing nasty diary entries about her. But maybe that was the way I was supposed to see it, to see it from Sylvie’s perspective instead of Rose’s. And I am happy to report that Rose improved and became a much more likable character that I could even cheer on as I neared the climax. It was neat to see her mature in her decisions. (Come to think of it, Rose could be the subject of a future book, too . . .)
Ivan was a really intriguing character, in a kind of scary way there for a while. I’ll try not to spoil the ending, but his character arc had a really beautiful ending, and I would love to see a forthcoming book about him.
As with Veiled In Smoke, oftentimes some important scenes were glossed over in a few paragraphs of exposition as characters remembered the scenes. Some of these scenes created gaps in the pacing that pulled me out of the story. For me, the scenes would have been more meaningful if I’d gotten the chance to see them, instead of just hearing the characters tell me what happened. There was at least one scene I’m thinking of that kind of hit me out of nowhere—Beth was Sylvie’s friend, and then the next scene she’s mad that Sylvie didn’t get there earlier and then decides not to be friends because Kristof came with her? It was very abrupt, unless I missed the foreshadowing earlier in the book. I can also think of one monologue by a side character that seemed a bit on the abrupt side as well.
The book dug deep into what love and protection really mean and gave me characters to cheer for and discover their mysteries long until the end. As with Veiled in Smoke, I had no idea where it was going until I reached the end. And as with Veiled in Smoke, it did not disappoint.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!