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.
|Size||5.5 x 8.5|
|Published||Shadow Mountain 2019|
|Audiobook Narrator||Justine Eyre|
|Audiobook Runtime||Approximately 8 hrs.|
Loved this story!
I love the Proper Romance series--historical and contemporary--and was thrilled a slightly different culture and time period were being added to the series. I think this book is a perfect addition and fits right in. The cover is gorgeous and the setting described, lovely. The history was fun, and I enjoyed being transported to this new setting, time, and culture. When I finished the book today, I did so, content that I'd read the book. That said, it took me a really long time to read from start to finish, and I think the biggest reason was that I never did get used to the first-person present-tense point of view. I don't read a lot of books with that POV, and I found it distracting. Besides that, however, I loved Ilima Todd's use of language. Her descriptions are beautiful, the emotion raw and real, and the themes poignant. This book is an important read. A great balance of culture, lesson, and romance. Knowing it was based on a true story about the author's ancestors made the story itself more intriguing. I'm glad I read it and look forward to more from this author.
I’ve read books by this author before. But this one’s a different genre than she’s written before. And she’s done a really great job with it. There are so many things to love about it.
Let’s start with Maile. I couldn’t help but picture Maile a bit like Moana from the Disney film. She’s the daughter of a Hawaiian chief, way back in the 1700’s. I loved the way Maile had her fiance that she’d known all of her life, Ikaika. They were to be married soon and life seemed perfect. And then disaster struck. Maile finds herself with a dead fiance and taking care of his killer, John.
There were a lot of things about Maile that I loved. She was so strong. She dealt with the passing of her fiance and best friend. And she moved on and was able to forgive John. But at the same time, she kind of protects herself and builds a bit of a wall. She was fierce, willing to help protect her island and family in any way she needed to. But she was also soft, taking care of John’s wounds as best as she could.
I loved the way the author puts John’s point of view. She uses his journal entries. That made things seem a bit more real and beautiful. It also shows the reader a side of the characters that they usually don’t get to see. A more intimate side. John is an amazing man. I think it would be hard to be a sailor in those times and live in the conditions that would have been prevalent on the ship.
Everything about the plot does a great job pulling the reader in from the very first page. I didn’t want to return from my “trip” to the beautiful Hawaiian islands and the people who lived on them. And when I got to the end and realized that this one is based on the authors own ancestors, well, that just made the whole book even better for me.
This is a book you won’t want to miss!
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.
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.
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.