Spoiler Free Review 😊
Reviewed by Mary Anne Landers
Whisper to the Waves is a good contemporary romance that with a little tweaking could’ve been an excellent one. It was published by RCA Marketing in 1982 in its Sapphire Romance series. These were American reprints of British originals; this one was first published by Hamlyn Paperbacks in 1981.
All I know about the author is that “Helen Beaumont” might be a pseudonym. She wrote romances under at least three other names. And there’s more than one author with this name.
Whoever she was, she displays here a keen sense of just what makes a story romantic. And emotional; this one is full of drama. All centered on a heroine I can readily admire and identify with, a woman of deep feelings and a truly romantic disposition. Her story is a moving and memorable read. I would’ve given it five stars if not for–well, more about that later.
Are shipboard romances real?
Sadie Wyman works as a nurse aboard the ocean liner Konkordia, under the ship’s physician Dr. Kelvin Moore. They’re having an affair, which is against company policy. The rule they break isn’t enforced, but they prudently keep their relationship under wraps. Sadie is deeply in love with Kelvin. But what does he feel about her? She’s the only viewpoint character, and his heart and mind are hard for her to read. But she sure can tell when his eye roves!
As the ship sails from England en route to a month-long Mediterranean cruise, Sadie encounters, for the first of many times, passengers Grant and Lois Halliday. They’re a grown-up brother and sister, but products of a dysfunctional family, and it shows. He’s a brawny Australian who bullies his nervous, frightened sibling. Grant is as exuberant and outgoing as Lois is depressed and withdrawn. Sadie feels instant sympathy for the pathetic young woman. And just as quickly, animosity towards her overbearing brother.
Meanwhile, Sadie lands on the black list of Kelvin’s senior nurse, Teresa Gray. Why? Sadie doesn’t know. She can’t figure out her resentful colleague, though not for lack of trying.
Then there’s passenger Bill “Jeff” Jefferson, an affluent American restaurateur. He’s looking for love; his search quickly focuses on Sadie. When Grant isn’t berating Lois or needling Sadie, he enjoys himself with a fellow passenger, the gorgeous and glamorous Paula Cummings.
Love on the rocks
Then stuff happens. A lot of stuff! Which I won’t divulge; I hate spoilers. Suffice it to say there’s plenty of plot. Some of it transpires at the ship’s ports of call. The author gives us a vivid sense of these exotic places and working aboard a cruise ship. A real page-turner, this story keeps a reader wondering, “What happens next?”
And herein lies the first of two problems I have with “Whisper to the Waves”. The middle and latter sections rely heavily on a series of surprises. Each of the three major male characters is hiding something. Actually, Kelvin hides two things; I’ve mentioned one, but there’s something he won’t reveal even to Sadie. In the course of an eventful cruise, these secrets come to light. And boy, do they make life complicated for our heroine!
There’s a right way for an author to handle surprises and a wrong way. The former is to work into the storyline in advance clues, hints, and foreshadowing. These bits at first seem minor, irrelevant, or contradictory. But they prepare the reader for when the author drops a bombshell. Once that happens, the reader gets a pleasurable sense of, “What a surprise! But it all makes sense now.”
Here the author properly sets us up for only one major surprise. The rest come out of left field. There’s either too little preparation or none at all. A reader might justly react by thinking, “What a contrivance!” Well, this one did.
Loved her, hated him!
But that’s merely a matter of plot mechanics. A far more serious problem with this romance is the hero. It’s easy to tell early on who fills this role, namely Grant. And he’s perfectly dreadful. An arrogant, self-centered, cynical control freak. No redeeming characteristics. Not my idea of a hero.
What does Sadie see in him? Why would Grant want a woman like her, who can’t be bossed around? And who won’t settle for less than real love, something she can experience and give but he can’t? Big mystery. Well, actually no mystery at all. Many readers and writers think it’s romantic when two incompatible people become a couple.
Obviously, I’m not one of them. So in this respect, Whisper to the Waves flounders. But otherwise, it’s smooth sailing!