Today’s review is on Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter.
**BEWARE! SPOILERS AHEAD!**
A few weeks ago I reviewed The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter, and if you happened to read that one you would know that I found it just okay, not bad, but not great either. So I was a bit nervous about reading one of her other books because she seems like an author I could really like, but I was afraid that whatever I picked up next wouldn’t live up to my expectations. However, I got over it and decided to pick up Surrender Bay, which is book one in her Nantucket series, but they can also be read as stand-alones because they aren’t really connected in anyway (I don’t know this to be a fact, but it is something that I read about, I’ll have to see how true this is in the future!). I’ll admit I was nervous, even though the story sounded interesting, I tried not to get my hopes up…but I was pleasantly surprised, I really enjoyed it, so much in fact that I read most of it in one sitting!
Surrender Bay follows Samantha Owens (known as Sam) who is a single mother and left behind everything 11 years ago on Nantucket, working several menial jobs just to get by and make at least some kind of life for her and her daughter, Caden. However, one day she learns that her estranged step-father has died and that she has inherited his cottage, her childhood home that contains a lot of bad memories. Since she desperate to give her daughter the life that she deserves, she decides to face her demons and revisit the island she once called home. While there she wants to fix up her childhood home and get it ready to sell so that she can use the money towards a better life for her and her daughter. But she doesn’t expect run into her former best friend, Landon Reed, who declared his love for her just before she left town. Eleven years later and he still pines for and is excited and surprised to see her back and sees this as a chance to win her heart, however she pushes him away with good reason, she has terrible secret from the past that if he knew could destroy any sort of relationship that they have.
Let me start out by saying, and this is based on a couple other reviews I read too, that yes, this book is marketed as a Christian fiction book and it was published by a Christian publishing house, however some readers might be surprised that there are no mentions of God, Jesus or the Gospel throughout the novel. But there is a reason for this and it is definitely still a Christian fiction book. At the back of the edition that I was reading there was a short interview with the author and one of the questions she’s asked is why there aren’t any overt references to God, her reason is that Surrender Bay, as well as the other books in this “series” are meant to be an allegory of Zephaniah 3:17 which says,
“The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His Love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.” (ESV)
And after having read the novel, I can see how it covers the phrase, “He will quiet you by His love;” without getting into it too much and spoiling the ending for those of you who are reading it, Landon’s love for Sam perseveres even though she tries her best to push him away and hurt him, which is similar to how God loves us, even though we continue to rebel against Him because we think we are unworthy of love. One line that I really liked in Surrender Bay that sort of encapsulates the theme of this book is “Love is not earned, love is a gift.” And this statement was said several times by Landon and it is one that stuck with Sam after he had said it to her.
As far as characters go, Sam is stubborn and determined to run away from her past, at times it was annoying, but when seen through the framework of this novel being an allegory, in some ways she is an accurate representation of how humanity constantly runs from God and rebels against Him. Although Landon in some ways is a representation of God’s love, he is still a flawed character in some ways, but not in a way that is disturbing. Then there is Caden, she constantly gives her mother attitude, and Sam struggles to figure out how to mend their relationship, however I would like to say that at the end of the novel the relationship between mother and daughter is restored when both of them realize what they’ve been doing wrong in regards to their actions and words towards each other.
Overall, Surrender Bay was a great read, and as I mentioned before I devoured it. While there were a few minor flaws to the novel, it was entertaining and it captured my attention from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to reading more of Denise Hunter’s books in the future, especially the other books that make up this series. 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.
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