Author: Angie Frazier
Page Count: 336 pages
Genre: historical, fantasy, romance, young adult
Copy for review provided by Around the World Tours in exchange for an honest review
50 words or less: Camille Rowen is about to get married and become a respectable member of San Francisco society in 1855. She's quickly thrust into a world that gives a whole new meaning to the word adventure. Oh, and maybe true love has been hiding in plain sight the whole time?
I was really impressed by this story, which, incidentally, can count for the 2010 Debut Author Challeng. Everlasting was a cute, sweet, interesting story that weaves together several diverse genres with remarkable aplomb. The result is a story that, while a little bumpy in parts, still presents action, adventure, history, colorful characters, and a sweet, PG romance with a well-done happily-ever-after.
Camille Rowen is trying to simultaneously navigate the ocean and San Francisco society in 1855. She's seventeen, which means that going on voyages with her ship captain father is almost a thing of the past, as she's engaged to Randall, one of San Francisco's most coveted potential husbands. This should make her webbed toes tingle but really makes Camille feel like she should run for the hills.
This wouldn't have been a bad idea, especially when Camille stumbles upon a letter from her mother, who Camille thought had died years ago. Turns out Camille's father has been hiding a whole boatload of secrets and chose to share them with Oscar, a sailor on his ships who he promotes to first mate for what is ultimately a doomed voyage. While Camille is reeling from the secrets her father is forced to reveal, reeling from the loss of her father, and reeling from a near death experience, she has to try to reconcile her impending marriage to Randall with her growing feelings for Oscar; those feelings are more than reciprocated which only stirs the pot that much more.
Anyway, Camille and Oscar end up on a quest together to try to provide Camille with some closure and also to prevent an incredible power from being stolen by an incredible scumbag. The supporting cast is remarkably vivid for having relatively little face time or description. The author does an excellent job of packing a lot of detail into a relatively short story.
I loved the unconventional setting of the story (Australia) as well as the way the paranormal and historical elements were woven together. This is the kind of book where your imagination can fill in all sorts of gaps; this book takes "show, don't tell" to heart and it definitely works.
One small thing that I especially enjoyed that I don't come across often is that Randall, Camille's betrothed, is a completely regular guy. He definitely has expectations of Camille that Camille doesn't appreciate, but they aren't ones that any other guy in that time period would not have had. He's young, good looking, rich, socially acceptable, you name it. Most of the time the betrothed is either a complete idiot, a villain in disguise, old and senile, comically inept, or generally present as a foil to the hero. Here, Randall is a great catch except for the minor detail that Camille is in love with someone else.
That reminds me of the only thing about this book that really didn't work for me. I wasn't really convinced that Camille would be able to just waltz back into society in San Francisco after her adventures and misadventures in Australia. Without giving too much away, it becomes apparent that her father wasn't being honest regarding their financial position, and Camille's marriage to Randall, while ensuring that Camille was well taken care-of, would also pull their fat out of the proverbial fire. I think Camille is kidding herself if she thinks that everyone will ignore that she was off in the wilds of Australia doing God knows what with who knows who and welcome her back with open arms in light of the fact that her fortune is gone and her reputation is in question. This is 1855 after all, and Camille was well aware that her father's position protected her from a lot of criticism. Even though it would have taken months and months for news to get anywhere at that time, I kind of feel like this was a pretty naive attitude for someone with as much common sense as Camille to have.
Beyond that? This book was delicious. I definitely recommend checking it out, and hopefully a second installment will appear at some point, as the raw material is definitely there.
Overall Grade: A-