These books, the first two in a trilogy set in the 1830’s are written by sisters Deb and Val Gantt (DeVa). In A Silent Ocean Away Charmaine Ryan takes employment as a governess to the three youngest children of Frederic Duvoisin on his private Island in the West Indies. Charmaine bonds quickly with the children, as well as their mother Collette, Frederic’s second and much younger wife. The innocent Charmaine feels something entirely different for Frederic’s illegitimate son Paul, who has quite a reputation as a ladies man but does he truly care for her or is she just another conquest? Of course the Duvoisin family has plenty of deep dark secrets – what was the cause of the argument between Frederic and his legitimate son John that lead to Frederic’s stroke? What is the cause of the enmity between the two elder sons? Despite a bit of a rocky start that might be improved with some serious editing (I understand that the book was originally self-published), Charmaine’s story was compelling enough to keep me turning the pages wanting to know what was going to happen next. 3.5/5 stars.

***Small spoilers possible if you haven’t read the first book***

Decision and Destiny continues the story as widowed patriarch Frederick Duvoisin unexpectedly marries his first wife’s sister Agatha, while his estranged son John returns to the island and old resentments are reignited. Charmaine continues on as governess to Frederic’s three youngest children helping them with their grief over the death of their mother, while his illegitimate son Paul is still determined to seduce the innocent Charmaine. John’s visit enables him to reestablish a loving relationship with his younger siblings, but his bitterness at his father’s rejection continues to eat away at his soul, and he takes much of that out on Charmaine whom he assumes to be a wanton seductress.

Will Frederic and John resolve their differences? What secrets does Agatha have and who is the mysterious blackmailer holding them over her head? Which of the two brothers will Charmaine chose? Is it possible that Collette’s presence is still in the house guiding the family’s fate? A major tragedy eventually strikes the family – will John and his father be able to finally heal the old wounds? Hate to tell you, but there’s still one more book in the series and that’s not out until later this year so we’re all going to have to wait for the answers.

While I found the writing in this volume much improved over the first book, it’s still not as tight as I’d have liked to see it. I kept wondering what an author on a scale of Du Maurier could have done with this storyline and taken a good book and made it into something awesome. That said, I did enjoy it and had a hard time putting it down and will be reading  Forever Waiting: Colette’s Appeal when it comes out. There is a lot of day to day activities between Charmaine, the children and Paul and this might be a bit too slow paced to some readers so be warned – if that’s not your bag these might not be the books for you. 4/5 stars.

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