Surf Smugglers by Melody Carlson – Book Review, Preview

Posted September 1, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways /

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Surf Smugglers by Melody Carlson - Book Review, Preview

Surf Smugglers by Melody Carlson – Book Review, Preview

Surf Smugglers

by Melody Carlson

Series: The Legacy of Sunset Cove #3
Series Rating:
Published by WhiteFire Publishing
Publication Date August 15, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance, Mystery
Setting: Oregon World War I Era - 1914 - 1918
Main Character Ages: 35-60, 15-18, 25-34
Written for: Adults
Pages: 300


In the summer of 1917, US troops join the Allied forces in the Great War. Back in Sunset Cove, Oregon, other battles wage. Anna McDowell continues to fight old fashioned stereotypes as she runs a newspaper committed to truth. Despite opposition, she's determined to expose ongoing rum-running and prohibition lawlessness.

Adding to Anna's frustrations, her good friend Dr. Daniel seems to run hot and cold. He loves Oregon, and maybe Anna too, but he's pulled by his East Coast family responsibilities. Even the lure of a new modern Sunset Cove hospital doesn't seem enough to keep him in Sunset Cove.

Meanwhile, Anna's strong-willed daughter Katy continues to develop her dress shop by inviting family friend Sarah Rose to help out. But the woman's presence tests the small town's tolerance. And Anna's concern that her daughter is growing up too fast is confirmed when Katy's romantic life takes an unexpected turn, which Anna fears is influenced by the pressure of a devastating war that is not only changing the entire world but Sunset Cove as well.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

Also in this series: Harbor Secrets

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It seems there aren’t as many books about the time surrounding World War I as there are for World War II. And of those, fewer that take place here in the United States.

I enjoyed seeing this coastal town in Oregon at the beginning of our involvement in the Great War. In Surf Smugglers, the town continued to have problems with rum running and it was dealt with a little. Bigger issues were prejudice, lack of adequate medical care when more than just a doctor was needed, and the entry of the US into the war resulting in the implementation of the draft.

Katy’s complete lack of prejudice towards Sarah Rose and her obliviousness to the fact that people had prejudices was refreshing. I liked Katy’s fierce love for the woman who had helped raise her and how protective she was.

The concept of standing up for what is right and calling attention to it can occasionally have the opposite effect from the one you are expecting was intriguing. Anna’s editorial on the evils of rum-running and the one on prejudice had the best of intentions. And received some less-than-favorable results.

The undercurrent of faith throughout the story is more along the lines of what is found in “Inspirational” fiction instead of the more overt way it usually appears in Christian fiction.

The story was good, though it felt like it was lacking depth. Scenes that could have been charged with emotion or filled with action weren’t. I did feel for the characters in their various predicaments but found myself checking to see how much further I had until I was finished.

I did realize before I read this that I went from Harbor Secrets, the first in this series, to this one, book 3. While there is an assumption that you know the background, I didn’t feel lost having not read the second book. I do recommend, however, that you start with the first before reading this one.

If you enjoy historical fiction and would like to learn more about what life was like on the Oregon Coast during this time, this could be a fun read for you.

More from Melody

My favorite way to learn history is through historical fiction—both by reading and by writing it. And I’ve discovered that World War 1 (previously known as the Great War, since WW2 had yet to happen) is quite fascinating. As well as incredibly sad. But I’m amazed at how science and technology evolved so quickly in this era. Whether it was advancement in automotive, communication, medicine . . . the culture was rapidly changing. And the war pushed it along at an even faster pace.

Another factor that makes this era interesting is prohibition. Oregon, my home state and where I set my series, was one of the earliest states to adopt prohibition of alcohol—in 1914. As a result, Oregon became ripe territory for bootlegging and rum-running along the coastline. And because my series involves a small town coastal newspaper that’s run (gasp!) by a woman, it gets even more interesting—and exciting!

Speaking of women, the suffrage movement was approved in Oregon in 1912—also well ahead of the rest of the nation (and the main reason that prohibition passed). My theory on why this happened is that the brave women who’d made the arduous journey West (via perilous wagon train or long hard voyages on clipper ships) were strong and opinionated and tough. And many of them were sick and tired of drunken slacker husbands. Also, thanks to Oregon’s amazing land donation act of 1850, many of these women were equal landowners to their husbands—and land equaled power.

Of course, what these suffragette-prohibition supporters didn’t realize is that banning alcohol would make matters worse because bootlegging and rum-running suddenly became a very lucrative business. The crime rate soared and the booze continued to flow freely. But all this makes for good newspaper stories, keeping our female editor in chief rather busy. In the first two books of the series, Anna McDowell has her hands full with trying to run her ailing father’s newspaper, restoring family relationships, and staying ahead of the growing crime element in Sunset Cove.

By book three, Surf Smugglers, Anna has her feet under her and doing a good job of standing up to the criminal element in their region. But by now the Great War is really heating up and the United States must get involved. Of course, this means that many young men, as well as Anna’s very good friend Dr. Daniel Hollister, are being shipped overseas to serve. Meanwhile, there is plenty of trouble at home. And the rum-runners, who despise the newspaper’s support of prohibition, target Anna’s good friend Sarah Rose because she’s a woman of color who’s sought refuge from the big city . . . and naturally things get dicey.

I’m currently finishing up the fourth and final book of the Legacy if Sunset Cove series, and I’m sad to think my ‘history lesson’ in this interesting era is drawing to an end. Not only have I learned a lot, I’ve really come to love the McDowell family . . . and I’m getting worried that not all the men from Sunset Cove will survive the brutal war. Of course, this is fiction . . . but the war was very real and the losses were great. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the war to end all wars like they’d hoped, but I appreciate the sentiment . . . and continue to pray for world peace.

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To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize of three of her books: Harbor Secrets, Riptide Rumors, and Surf Smugglers!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


About Melody Carlson

With around 250 books published and 7.5 million sold, Melody Carlson is one of the most prolific writers of our times. Writing primarily for women and teens, and in various genres, she has won numerous national awards—including the Rita, Gold Medallion, Carol Award, Christy, and two career achievement awards. Several of her novels have been optioned for film. Melody makes her home in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband near the Cascade Mountains. When not writing, Melody enjoys interior design, gardening, camping, and biking.

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2 responses to “Surf Smugglers by Melody Carlson – Book Review, Preview

  1. Vivian Furbay

    Thanks so much for the generous giveaway! i would love to read all three books. Hope they are print books.