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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 Hawaiʻi, 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.
"Stellar historical 'proper romance'. Based on Todd's real-life Hawaiian ancestors...Delivers a sweet and entrancing story about the power of communication to bring together people from vastly different worlds." -Booklist, starred review
"A fictionalized version of the romance between a Hawaiian princess and an English naval officer from Cook's last fateful voyage, one of the first hapa haole (half-white, half-Hawaiian) marriages on record. Todd's first adult novel is based on her fourth great-grandparents and is a delightful amalgamation of fact and fiction as well as a beautifully rendered peek into Hawaiian society before any large Western influence. Through Maile's first-person narrative and John's occasional diary entries, Todd explains ancient Hawaiian customs, beliefs, and wisdom and creates a clever, multifaceted heroine. The story is captivating. Astute and luminous, like its heroine." -Kirkus
"Sweet. A dear story of love's ability to cross the figurative and literal ocean that all too easily separates people." -Publishers Weekly
“While a romance at its heart, the narrative is embellished with rich cultural details and environmental elements. My favorite scenes were with Maile as she becomes immersed in the sights and sounds of the ocean. The budding relationship is developed with grace and gentleness. I loved Todd’s skillful illustration of the beautiful differences between Maile’s and John’s cultures. Inspired by her family history, Todd’s heartfelt connection to this story adds a special vibrancy to each page. Recommended for fans of daring female leads, sumptuous settings, and slow-burn romances.” —Historical Novel Society