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Review: Tides of Passion

Tides of Passion audiobook cover. A pretty young woman in a voluminous gown sitting on rocks by the sea.
Tides of Passion by Tracy Sumner.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 10 hrs 53 mins.
Publisher: Tracy Sumner.
🔥Steamy content!🔥

Tides of Passion, Garrett Brothers, Book 2 by Tracy Sumner follows spirited suffragette Savannah Connor to a small Southern coastal town, where she immediately locks horns with the devastatingly-handsome local Constable, widower Zachariah Garrett. An enemies-to-lovers romance, this audiobook proves that sparks often fly when two world collide.

Audible Summary: "She is his greatest temptation. He is her forbidden desire... 

Spirited Savannah Connor is passionately committed to stamping out social injustice. Yet, when she arrives in Pilot Isle, North Carolina, ready to take up a new cause, she quickly finds herself on the outs with the town constable. 

Zachariah Garrett is the most arrogant, infuriating, maddeningly attractive man it’s ever been her misfortune to meet. And suddenly, Savannah is fighting a whole new battle - this one against her own yearning for a man who is impossible to resist.

Ever since his wife’s death two years ago, Zachariah Garrett has dedicated his life to keeping the peace. And avoiding love. But Savannah Connor isn’t an ordinary woman, and she proves hard to ignore. She’s a beguiling beauty with the power to awaken emotions Zach thought he’d never feel again and the tenderness to help him forget his fears. And risk his heart once more.

Tides of Passion was originally published by Zebra Books, a Kensington Publishing imprint, and was awarded the Reader's Choice Best Historical and the Beacon for Best Historical. 

©2011 Tracy Sumner (P)2019 Tracy Sumner."

Set in North Carolina in 1898, Tides of Passion is a steamy American historical romance that proved very easy to listen to, despite not having heard the first book in the series. While there are a few 'spoilers' for the first book, I think, it certainly worked well as a stand-alone.

I'm not familiar enough with the period to know how historically accurate the costume descriptions and language were, as a lot of the dialogue in American historicals always seems very contemporary to my British (Regency-tuned) ear. For example, I thought that D. H. Lawrence (no relation) was credited with the first recorded use of "sex" to mean intercourse, and not until the 20th Century, but words often entered colloquial speech years before being recorded in writing anywhere that survived long enough to become academically interesting, so perhaps it's not impossible for Elle? to use it in the context, albeit a few decades early.

I liked the inclusion of the women's rights movement, but thought it was a shame that - for much of the book - it only seemed to inform Savannah's perspective in an antagonistic sense, and was often presented as being wholly at odds with femininity. That is, of course, common to militant campaigners of the time - and sometimes still - but I would have liked to see Elle leading by example a little more and showing that it is perfectly possible to be happily married to a man and not consider that to compromise her principles. She did this at times, but there almost seemed to be an air of contrition about her newfound happiness in marriage, and Savannah viewed it with a lot of suspicion. There was a sense that one could not be a good suffragette and a good wife, with the women softening and embracing more feminine sides as they fell in love. This might have felt like a more equal compromise if the husbands supported their wives' principles, but Noah is shown to be no more open-minded than the oyster factory owner despite Elle's influence, and she had not taken enough interest in her husband's work to have been aware of his practices. It would have been fantastic to see their values and beliefs incorporated more fully into their lives and families, rather than just being used as a point of conflict. This was sweetly addressed in the epilogue, but it was a shame not to have integrated it a little more earlier on. 

This book was quite nicely written, with some pleasing descriptive passages making it feel very gentle in places, such as: "The kitchen was warm and sweet smelling, even with the underlying sour odour of cooking greens. The windows were open, yellow curtains with tiny daisies sucking in and out like a deep breath."

It was nice to be able to lose myself in the story and just let the pretty words flow over me like the waves around Pilot Isle. Listening on a very fatigued week meant that I needed something that was relaxing but not dull, and this fit the bill, with the feisty relationship between the protagonists helping stave off any stagnation.

It was very refreshing that, although Savannah was doing something which was not usual for the era and was considered scandalous, she understood the importance of noting that she felt safe with Zach, and was reassured that he would stop if she asked him to during any of their encounters. She believed that she was safe to explore her own liberation with him, and he in turn did not treat her like he was handling a sprung trap designed to ensnare him.

I enjoyed the quotes from principled men and strong women at the beginning of each chapter, tying Savannah's story to the activists and abolitionists who made writing it possible.

I also appreciated the chapters that were from Zach's perspective, giving us a glimpse of his thoughts, needs, and desires with equal merit to Savannah's. The intimate scenes were sensual rather than graphic, with the focus centering on the feelings generated by their union more than the nitty-gritty of the coupling itself. That makes it a good 'medium-heat' book for anyone who wants more steam than they can find in a sweet book, but doesn't want all the gory detail. The intimacy finds a good balance between Savannah's perspective and Zach's, exploring the lust and excitement of both.

When this story began, one of the things I liked most was the open communication between the hero and heroine. I hoped that this meant it would not become one of those books where a single conversation could have averted the huge misunderstanding that drives the plot and keeps the lovers apart. Sadly, their candour diminishes in inverse proportion to the deepening of their affections, and their behaviour becomes rather immature as a result. I struggle to respect characters who make big decisions based upon false assumptions they have fostered while refusing to discuss something important, especially when there are children involved, and wish their final hurdle had not been of that nature.

Other than that, it was a nice seaside escape to a small town far away in time and place, and was very easy to listen to. I liked the Garrett brothers and the community in Pilot Isle, and will be checking out the other audiobooks in the series.

The narrator, Kimberly M Wetherell, performed the book well, with a friendly voice, nice tone, and good pacing. I wussy her voice for Zach had been more rounded and resonant, but it's always difficult for female narrators to really deliver a swoon-worthy hero.

I'd recommend this audiobook to anyone who likes historical romance or enemies-to-lovers romance, and doesn't mind a few crossed wires along the way.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in the hope of an honest, unbiased review.

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