A Song for the Stars

by Ilima Todd

A song for the stars

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Paperback SKU 5211777

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Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him dies, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook's translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with Maile's homeland and her people—and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John's guilt over the death he caused, and Maile's guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she's kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.


John Harbottle's Journal
4 February 1779

I fear we've overstayed our welcome.
My relief when the captain orders the ships ready to depart is palpable. Our duty is to search for the Northwest Passage, after all, not indulge ourselves in the pleasures of this paradise.

Yet what a paradise it has been.

Never on our previous two voyages have the natives been more accommodating, more praising, than here in this protected bay. Even the captain, whose demeanor has been despondent of late, has emerged a new man while ashore, as though the water here is a life-giving elixir. One must only drink to become transformed-translated into a more celestial state.

The natives revere the captain as divine, much to our advantage. Even as we make preparations to leave, we are inundated with such quantities of food and gifts that we haven't the room to hold it all. But perhaps the captain has seen what some of the sailors have as well-the natives grow impatient. Suspicious. What they expect us to do or say I know not, but after a month's recovery on the island, it is past time we take our leave.

I wasn't the only one who questioned Cook's divinity. There were many relieved expressions among my people when the white men finally sailed their ships out to sea. There are only so many pigs one can hunt on an isolated island to give as gifts to the foreigners. I was beginning to worry we wouldn't have enough supplies for our own needs.

I try to see the white men as he does. As revered guests. As a blessing. But there's still a part of me waiting for the trick to reveal itself, the proof that they're really a curse in the end.

This time, I know those white clouds low on the horizon are not clouds at all, but the large white sails of James Cook's Resolution and Discovery. And this time, I know he will not be welcomed.

Product Details

Size5.5 x 8.5
PublishedShadow Mountain 2019

About the Author

Ilima Todd

Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and currently resides in the Rocky Mountains. She never wanted to be a writer even though she loves books and reading. She earned a degree in physics instead. But the characters in her head refused to be ignored, and now she spends her time writing science fiction for teens. When she is not writing, Ilima loves to spend time with her husband and four children.

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Average rating:

(based upon 3 reviews)

By , Submitted on 2019-04-16

A Song for the Stars is an excellent addition to the Proper Romance line from Shadow Mountain. It is quite different from the other books in the line, but a wonderfully written account that kept me intrigued. I loved that the main characters were the author's fourth-great-grandparents.

I don't recall having known about how Captain James Cook was killed. The author does note that she adjusted some things for the sake of the story, but much of what was shared (both about Cook and the history of the people) was eye opening and makes me want to learn more.

This is very different from Todd's dystopian novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't help but think of Moana and Pocahontas (the Disney versions) while I was reading the book. I loved the strong female lead, and the sweet romance that developed (against the odds). I'm looking forward to reading this again.

So Lovely!
By , Submitted on 2019-04-09

This story was so lovely. I felt transported to another place and time and my heart expanded with every turn of the page. Knowing that this story was based on the true story of the author's ancestors made it even more intriguing. The whole story felt fresh and new- so unlike all the other books I've been reading lately.

The Hawaiian people have such a rich history. Their culture and customs have always fascinated me. Imagine being from another continent and country and coming across these people for the first time in history. This book sparked all kinds of thoughts in my mind.

I love the feeling of being caught up in a story and not wanting to put it down. This book reads so beautifully and I just loved it. The emotional feelings were all there along with the flutters in my tummy at the slightest touch of a pinky finger. I feel fortunate to have been able to read this book. It's one of my favorites this year so far.

Content: some violence, death, peril.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

By , Submitted on 2019-04-02

What a fabulous story. I love books that create a desire to read anything the author has written. This story was engaging from beginning to end. It covers an area in the 18th century that is not commonly written of. Hawaiian history is amazing. I felt like I was right in the middle of everything. My heart broke when Maile's fiance was killed. Maile's turmoil about John. The difficults the island faced as well as the English sailors. Everything was woven together seamlessly. What an amazing story. Everyone should read this book. Not only is it for the romantic at heart, but the historian, the adventurer, the sailor, the navigator. It's for everyone, and I would highly recommend it to any and everyone.

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