THE CALL OF THE SEA by Sian Ann Bessey
GENRE: Inspirational Historical/Viking Romance
PUBLISHER: Covenant Communications
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2022
On the eve of her betrothal to a nobleman she’s never met, Rhiannon seeks comfort on the shores of the sea she loves so well. But instead of offering peace to her uneasy heart, the ocean heralds doom with the arrival of dreaded Viking ships. A vicious raid leads to the death of her beloved father and leaves Rhiannon’s life in tatters. Heartbroken, she travels to Ynys Môn, where she takes up residence at the royal court of Owain Gwynedd.
Leif loves voyaging on the open water. As the son of a Viking chief, he’s accustomed to his people’s practice of plundering and looting. But when one of his companions ruthlessly kills an old man in front of the man’s beautiful daughter, Leif is haunted by the memory. Desperate to find forgiveness for the atrocity he allowed to occur, he’s offered a chance at redemption through the kindly teachings of an Irish priest and the unexpected arrival of a royal fugitive. Suddenly thrust into the midst of the Cymry’s political turmoil, Leif is reunited with the dead man’s daughter―Rhiannon. Forced to work side by side to uncover the truth behind the turmoil, they come to discover that love can grow from even the most tragic of beginnings. But with such incompatible backgrounds, surely a future together can never be theirs.
When I think of Vikings, I don’t think of Ireland or Wales. And yet, in The Call of the Sea by Sian Ann Bessey, that’s exactly what we have – a mix of the Irish, the Welsh, and the Vikings all sharing page time and settlements. I found this, and the apparent gap in my world history education, fascinating and did some of my own research to learn more after closing the page of this intriguing novel. I love novels that inspire me to educate myself, don’t you?
We first meet Rhiannon on one of the worst days of her life and, even though we only barely know her yet as readers, be prepared for your heart to break for her shattered one. From the beginning, before the day turned tragic for our heroine, I could tell she was a character I would love. Her heart is big, her courage runs deep, and her spirit is strong. Even in the face of deep grief, these traits – and her love of the sea – remain consistent. And Leif… happy sigh. He is my favorite kind of hero… the redeemed rogue (or, in his case, the redeemed Viking). That devastating day for Rhiannon is the catalyst for Leif’s redemption, for his turning from the Norse gods, investigating the faith of the Irish, and ultimately deciding to follow Jesus. And then to watch a romance develop between Leif and Rhiannon… to me, this is such a beautiful picture of grace. And that’s the perfect way to describe The Call of the Sea, too.
Bottom Line: Other than Biblical fiction, I don’t usually go much earlier in history than the late Middle Ages in my reading, but I’m so glad that The Call of the Sea by Sian Ann Bessey took me to the shores of Wales and Ireland in the time of the Vikings. The setting was unique (and exquisitely described), the history fascinating, and the characters compelling. Not to mention that each of the various story threads that make up the whole of this novel are woven seamlessly together to paint a bigger picture of the damage done by sin and the healing that comes from forgiveness. A Viking novel that will even appeal to non-fans of this particular historical era – with a gentle romance that’s icing on the cake.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. In the interest of full disclosure, my company JustRead Tours was also paid to coordinate an unrelated blog tour – finished before I wrote my review – for this title. It did not affect my review in any way. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion
Sian Ann Bessey was born in Cambridge, England, but grew up on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales. She left her homeland to attend university in the U.S. and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in English.
She began her writing career as a student, publishing several magazine articles while still in college. Since then she has published historical romance and romantic suspense novels, along with a variety of children’s books. She is a USA Today best selling author, a Foreward Reviews Book of the Year finalist, and a Whitney Award finalist.
Although Sian doesn’t have the opportunity to speak Welsh very often anymore, she can still wrap her tongue around, “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.” She loves to travel and experience other cultures, but when she’s home, her favorite activities are spending time with her family, cooking, and reading.
Connect with Sian by visiting sianannbessey.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.
Sian Ann Bessey is offering a print copy of The Call of the Sea to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Call of the Sea by Sian Ann Bessey?