A beautiful romance that tells of the meeting of two cultures... A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd (Review)

I love, love that this story is about these two cultures meeting, and the
friendship and romance that stems from that. Read my full review below...

A Song for the Stars
(Proper Romance)
By Ilima Todd
Adult Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 352 Pages
April 2nd 2019 by Shadow Mountain


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 die, 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 her 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.

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My Review

A SONG FOR THE STARS is a wonderful, heartfelt story of a mix of cultures and the romance that grows between two enemies. For historical romance readers who enjoy complex characters, exotic locations, and intricately woven romances full of heart, this is a story not to be missed!

I loved these characters! I loved the way we, as readers, are introduced to Maile and her connection to the ocean and to navigating. I loved the complexity of her feelings as she faces war with her people, the challenges of her culture and of the unknown, and as she must make life and death decisions. Her beauty, love of her land and people, the way she treasures her family and the gift of life, and her strength... she was a woman to admire. I also loved John. I loved his desire to learn, his openness, his intelligence, gentleness, and strength. He was the perfect counterpart to Maile's passion. The friendship these two slowly develop and then the romance that almost creeps up on them, was sweet and meaningful. I loved the way their relationship grew, regardless of so many challenges. How both Maile and John were surprised by the feelings they developed for each other, how conflicted they both were, how they were afraid of the hurt and loss they felt would come or that they deserved... it felt genuine, making their feelings easy to relate to. I appreciated their struggles as they tried to work through things (or run from them as Maile did on several occasions, which made me laugh). Then the ending... perfection.

There is just something about these Proper Romances that are based on true stories... they feel so much more vivid and alive. Like they are weighted with the lives of those who have lived before us and formed our histories. How their choices framed the future we live. This story felt especially unique with its exotic Hawaiian location and the people these long ago English sailors found. I loved how John and Maile learned about each other, but particularly how Maile shared her culture with John. How they sustained themselves and had all they needed on their island, and how they interacted with those of their own tribe as well as outsiders. I also loved the way Maile connected with the ocean and the stars, and how she taught those things to John so he could navigate his way home. I appreciated that the author brought so much Hawaiian culture to this story, but that she didn't flinch from the harsh realities of the time and of these peoples. The white men who came did change the way of life on these islands, but not all of it was in a negative way.

In the end, was it what I wished for? A hundred times, yes! I loved every minute of this story. The history and culture was beautiful. The challenges were difficult and the danger apparent. The characters and relationships were complex. But most of all, I loved John and Maile and their romance that came from tragedy. A beautiful story that will stay with readers long after they've read the last page. Highly recommended! It's also an ideal book club read.

Content: Some violence, but clean.
Source: I received a complimentary advanced copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

Other Proper Romance Books

  The Lady of the Lakes: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott (Historical Proper Romance #2) The Sheriffs of Savage Wells
Beauty and the Clockwork Beast Forever and Forever (Historical Proper Romance) A Lady's Favor My Fair Gentleman
Heir to Edenbrooke Lord Fenton's Folly A Heart Revealed 
(Books linked to my review or Amazon.)

About the Author

Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and dives for octopus with her dad every time she visits otherwise she’s diving into books in the Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and four children. She graduated from BYU with a degree in physics and eats copious amounts of raw fish and avocados without regret. But mostly she loves being a wife and mama and wouldn’t trade that job for anything in the world.

Have you read any of Todd's other books? Have you read this one or will you be? I definitely recommend it, obviously. 😉

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