Thursday, April 11, 2002

Sea of Hope by Penelope Marzec

Awe-Struck E-Books, 1587490447, $4.50 disk or download

Paperback version $11.95

To say Doria Hanrahan is experiencing loss is putting things rather mildly. A recent mugging which left bruises on her body and memory compels Doria to leave her tony New York City apartment and job for the security of a sleepy harbor town she once despised. She suffers the loss of her sense of security.

Back home, there is nobody to comfort Doria as she grieves the loss of her father; at least, Doria perceives there is nobody there. Her only surviving relative is the local priest, and he is quite busy comforting his flock as they are thrust into the wrath of a hurricane. Doria suffers the loss of companionship.

Her only opportunity to gain financial and personal freedom, she believes, lies in the possession of her late father's trawler - a sale would bring enough money to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant. Doria's suffering experiences new heights, however, when she learns her father willed the boat to Murray Santoro, and he does not want to sell. Tensions rise when cash-strapped Doria insists on joining the trawler's crew as cook for a brief excursion, and when she learns some disturbing common knowledge about Murray she wonders if he is more threatening than the stormy weather tossing the ship around the coast.

Mending fences with humankind as well as God is the central focus of Sea of Hope. Through Doria, author Marzec personfies the fragility of the human spirit as it is haunted by loss - by death, crime, and suspicion - and healed with faith. While this book is billed as an inspirational romance, one could argue that Sea of Hope should not be pigeon-holed into just one genre. The elements of romance are strong in the tense scenes between Doria and Murray, through Marzec also offers readers some very well-written adventure scenes as Doria's harbor hometown braces for the storm. Sea of Hope is a book that appeals to any reader.

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