Ilima Todd transports readers to 18th-century Hawaii in Song for the Stars

Song for the StarsA SONG FOR THE STARS, by Ilima Todd , Shadow Mountain, April 2, 2019, Softcover, $15.99 (young adult/ new adult/ adult)

Shadow Mountain’s latest proper romance, A Song for the Stars, by Ilima Todd, transports readers to 1779 Hawaiian Islands.

 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. —Synopsis provided by Shadow Mountain

A Song for the Stars was inspired by author Ilima Todd’s own family history. Her fourth-great-grandparents John Harbottle and Papapaunauapu were a British sailor and chiefess in late 18th-century Hawai’i.

I think is one of my more favorite Proper Romance novels as of late. And though the book is historical fiction, and Todd changed a few names and condensed timelines in a few places, it has a wonderful feeling of authenticity.

The organic nature of A Song for the Stars means that Todd’s pacing ebbs and flows and crashes just like the ocean, which becomes a character in and of itself in this tale.

I found the story fascinating and the characters likeable and multifaceted.

As with all Proper Romance novels, A Song for the Stars employs the “less is more” philosophy as compared to racier romance novels. I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult, and I know I would have liked it as a teen reader as well.

© 2019, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.


About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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