Category Archives: Sapphire Romance

whisper to the waves

Category Romance Review: Whisper to the Waves by Helen Beaumont

category romance
Whisper to the Waves by Helen Beaumont
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1981
Illustrator: Unknown
Imprint or Line: Sapphire Romance
Published by: Hamlyn Paperbacks, RCA Marketing
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 181
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: arkansasannie


Category Romance Review: Whisper to the Waves by Helen Beaumont

Spoiler Free Review 😊

Welcome Aboard!

Whisper to the Waves by Helen Beaumont 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 Grant is as exuberant and outgoing as Lois is depressed and withdrawn.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 blacklist 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 with 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 Grant 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!

[RATING-REPORT]


Synopsis

‘Shipboard romances are for fun, not for real.’

So she said, but Sadie Wyman, nursing sister on board Konkordia, found it difficult to practice what she preached when the ship’s surgeon was so devastatingly attractive. She was falling seriously it love with Dr Kelvin Moore. But then Kelvin himself went down with a perforated appendix, and Sadie was in for some big surprises — not least of which was the identity of the big man with the Australian accent who had antagonized her on sight …

Whisper to the Waves by Helen Beaumont
CATEGORIES: , , , , , , , , ,

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Out of the shadows

Category Romance Review: Out of the Shadows by Stella March

Out of the Shadows, Stella March, Sapphire, 1982, cover artist unknown

(Note: This review was written by the newest member of our Sweet Savage Flame family, Mary Anne! We’re delighted to welcome her aboard as she has so much valuable information and opinions to share with us. Mary Anne is a reader, reviewer, and writer. Read more about her on our About page.)

Sapphire Romance

5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sapphire Romances

Sapphire Romances was a line of American paperback romances, mostly contemporary, issued by RCA Direct Marketing in 1982. I’m pretty sure they were available only through mail order; there’s no price on the covers. The books were reprints of British originals and The Hamlyn Publishing Group often appears on the copyright page. The venture lasted only a little while, but produced some remarkable reading.

Out of the Shadows by Stella March was first published in 1967 and has been reprinted several times. This Sapphire edition was published in 1982.

The Plot

Diana Farrington, a young woman living with her family in the English countryside, gets the shock of her life when her parents reveal something they should’ve told her much earlier: she was adopted. She takes the news poorly, to say the least. Diana falls into what sounds like a fugue state, a temporary mental disorder that makes her lose touch with reality and run away with no destination.

Luckily she ends up spending a night in the barn at the country estate of Alan Weymouth, a wealthy London businessman. He’s intrigued by this wanderer. She’s lovely, charming, adventuresome. And as mixed-up as he is.

Alan seems enviable on the outside. But he’s harboring a secret, a “sword of Damocles” hanging over his head by a hair. Years before, when he was a commercial airplane pilot, a mechanical failure led to an accident that left a bone chip suspended inside his skull. Further head trauma might dislodge it and kill him. It can be surgically removed, but the odds on him surviving the operation are only fifty-fifty. Understandably, Alan decided to do nothing—except take care to avoid further accidents.

He tries to persuade Diana to reconcile with her parents; she refuses. He’s more successful in getting her a sales job at his Harrods-like department store in London.

Alan and Diana become close. Inevitably they fall in love. They’re clearly made for each other. But their unresolved issues make for complications. Which is as far as I’ll go in describing the plot. I hate spoilers!

My Opinion

I love this novel because it does what I think a romance should first and foremost do. It presents the story of a love that deeply moved me. I could feel everything the protags feel. And they feel a lot, from the heights of joy to the pits of despair. Alan, Diana, and their relationship well and truly come alive. I can easily relate to this couple.

If you enjoy a ride on an emotional roller coaster, if you go for romances that depict how love can change everything, and do so more convincingly than in the usual redemption storyline, I heartily recommend Out of the Shadows.

A bit about the author, drawn from her Wikipedia page. Stella March was the pen name of Marjorie Bell Marshall. She wrote twenty-three romance novels published between 1956 and 1986. From 1967 to 1969 she was the Chairman of the Romantic Novelists Association, the British equivalent of the RWA. She died in 2020, at age 104.

You read that right, folks.

Reviewed by: Mary Anne Landers