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Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

After impulsively marrying Matthew Frazier, Ava Whalen picks up her life and moves to St. Simons Island, a picturesque island off the coast of Georgia. Ava has a fear of the ocean, but is drawn to both her new husband and St. Simons Island, where her parents had lived before she was born.

Once she arrives on the island and meets John McMahon, she discovers disturbing details about Matthew’s past and his first wife, Adrienne. Ava’s new friendship with John and the mystery surrounding Adrienne’s death makes Ava wonder if she has made the right decision. After Ava begins researching Matthew’s family history, she also uncovers deeply buried truths about her own past that are linked to St. Simons Island.

Though Karen White’s Sea Change is beautifully written (aside from a few phrases that are too often repeated) and the story is very compelling, I had a difficult time rooting for Ava and Matthew. From the beginning, Matthew is made out to be a villain. They are already married by the time the novel starts, so I never felt as if I really got the chance to know him based on his own merit. Everything that I learned about Matthew was based on opinions of others, and there were times I doubted Ava’s judgement because of her compulsive nature. I kept hoping that Ava would leave Matthew for John because he had such warm character and I felt he was more trustworthy than Matthew.

Sea Change is told from several different perspectives: Ava, Pamela (a woman from the 1800s), and Gloria (Ava’s mother). I grew very impatient as I attempted to figure out why all of these perspectives were necessary to tell one complete story. Out of the three, Gloria’s was the least interesting. It also takes an incredibly long time before the narratives begin to reveal their purpose. I personally felt that Gloria’s was unnecessary–especially since most of the important parts of her role are shown in Ava’s own narrative.

Though I wasn’t as interested in White’s characters as I had hoped to be, I am eager to learn more about St. Simons Island and the other islands that are just off the coast of Georgia. I actually know very little about that area of the United States, and would love to read more about it.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Berkley. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.