The tides of life – and love – ebb and flow, and author Carla Laureano masterfully captures the emotional intensity that can be left in the wake of both tragedy and triumph. Ian and Grace play off each other beautifully; the backdrop of London the perfect setting for their rekindled romance. I found myself consumed by London Tides from the first word until long after I finished reading the final page – the themes of value and forgiveness, trust and healing, are not easily shelved in one’s spirit simply because the book is closed.
London Tides is heavier (and a little edgier) than its prequel Five Days in Skye, but then again war-torn countries, broken engagements, and PTSD are not topics to be glossed over nonchalantly. After her years as a noted war photojournalist are forced to end in tragedy-induced retirement, Grace Brennan is returning to the place she considers home – London and perhaps Ian MacDonald, the man who got away. Or rather the man who let her get away. Ten years earlier, she had left his engagement ring on the counter and his heart in pieces when she set out to chase her dream. Now she’s back, and to Ian’s stunned disbelief she wants a second chance to rekindle any spark that might be left between them. He had given up his championship rowing career – maybe even the shot at Olympic gold – for her, but she had chosen her dream job instead of him. Can he trust her not to repeat the past when opportunities begin to come her way? What about Grace’s apparent PTSD – how will that affect their attempts at starting anew? And what about what Ian wants for once? So. Many. Obstacles. Is there a happily-ever-after in this story?
I really appreciated the fact that, even though Ian and Grace had lived together when they dated ten years ago, they made different choices this time around. This line really stood out to me from one of their dates: “It would have been the perfect seduction scene, but now it was even more romantic because she knew he intended nothing of the sort.” That doesn’t mean they were without sparks though – oh no. As long as Ian is around, there will be sparks! “Heavens have mercy. If she had any doubt whether their chemistry had survived a decade apart, it was long gone.” Do you see that goofy grin on my face? Grace had one too though by the end of that scene, so at least I’m not alone.
Finally, it was delightful to see familiar characters when the family gathers for a special event back in Skye, and we readers feel right at home and warmly included in all the festivities. We also got to meet Ian’s mom – who I could live without – and Uncle Rodney – who I adore! I laughed out loud when Rodney told Ian, “Your life is between you and God. And don’t give me that look. I know I’m a drunk. God loves me anyway.”
Yes, I laughed – but that really is the main theme of the book. God loves us anyway. He loves us when we walk out on Him. He waits for us to come home. He loves us when we make mistakes in our youthful immaturity. He wipes the slate clean even when no one else does. He loves us (and He sees) when we make sacrifices for everyone else but no one makes sacrifices for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He loves us when we feel insignificant. He tells us we are His dearly chosen children. He loves us when we feel we no longer have a purpose or an identity. He reminds us that He started a good work in us and He will finish it. And all the pain and violence and hatred and evil in the world that seems to be winning? He sees it. He hates it. He will overcome it.
With a lifted heart, waiting anxiously for the next book in the series, I give London Tides 4 out of 5 stars!
(Note: I received this book as part of the London Tides blog tour from Radiant Lit. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes. Review copy provided by the publisher.)
London Tides is available for purchase from Amazon.com.
About the author: Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.