Charmaine Ryan’s loving mother raised her as best she could despite her deadbeat and abusive husband in Richmond, Virginia just before the Civil War. As a teenager, Charmaine finds work in a wealthy home as a companion to help make ends meet at home. When her mother dies at the hands of her father, she is lucky that the Harrington family takes her in. She is safe from her father, but she is leary of men like him. When an opportunity to live on the Caribbean island of Charmantes as a nanny for the wealthy and powerful Duvoisin family arises, Mrs. Harrington, who has family ties to the island, encourages Charmaine to apply for the position. She wants Charmaine to have the best opportunities and make a wonderful match for herself. With her mentor’s encouragement and company, she sets sail for Charmantes. There, Charmaine encounters a family in crisis. Both parents are ill and the conflict between the adult children of Mr. Duvoisin threatens to tear the entire family apart. Although she has the complete support of Collette, Charmaine must fight for her position within the family and protect her dignity from the advances Paul, Duvoisin’s second, bastard son. Things only get worse when John, the heir to the Duvoisin fortune returns to the island.
A Silent Ocean Away, written by sisters, Deb and Val Gantt, is the first installment in a trilogy about Charmaine and Colette’s legacy to her family. This entire saga was written as one tome, but it was split into a trilogy when it was published. Because it was a joint effort, they published the novels under the pen name DeVa Gantt. It is clear when reading this book that the women put a lot of work into polishing the story and the writing. The story and the characters are consistent from the beginning to the end. I want to know what happens to each of the main characters. I want to know if Paul’s business on his island is succesful and what John’s intentions were when he returned to Charmantes. I want to watch the children grow up and see how both Colette’s and Charmaine’s care impacts them. Most of all, I want to know which brother Charmaine will choose or if she will find someone even better suited for her.
One disadvantage to reading a series is that not all of the clues, foreshadowing, and character development is completed in the first installment. Agatha and her brother, who is Colette’s doctor, are villainous characters and I wanted to see them get their comeuppance. At the end of A Silent Ocean Away, however, there was no true resolution to that storyline. With such a well though out and written story, I’m sure that my waiting will be rewarded. On the other hand, I will be disappointed if it is not. With a traditional novel, I would know this by the end of the novel.
A Silent Ocean Away is a wonderful read that will sweep you away with the tide if you let it. In the bleak weather of late winter/early spring, it was so nice to escape to the warm dry air of Charmantes to experience Charmaine’s trials and joys. Once she made her way to the island, I had a difficult time putting the book down. When I finished it, I desperately wanted to pick the second installment up to continue along with Charmaine and the Duvoisin family. If you enjoy romantic sagas, DeVa Gantt is a must read this summer. I would strongly suggest buying Decision and Destiny: Colette’s Legacy while you’re at it. Sure, I haven’t read it yet, but I would hate to be stranded on the beach somewhere finishing up A Silent Ocean Away without the sequel nearby. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
For a history of the Collette trilogy that I posted for the Historical Fiction Lovers Book Club, click here.