#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · dual time frame · historical fiction · new release · World War II

New Release Book Review: Whitsunday Dawn by Annie Seaton

Title: Whitsunday Dawnwhitsunday dawn small

Author: Annie Seaton

Published: July 27th 2018

Publisher: Harlequin –  Mira

Pages: 384

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary/Historical, Australian

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars

When Olivia Sheridan arrives in the Whitsundays as spokesperson for big mining company Sheridan Corp, it should be a straightforward presentation to the town about their proposed project. But when a handsome local fisherman shows her what ecological impact the proposal will have, Olivia is forced to question her father’s motives for the project.

Struggling with newly divided loyalties, Olivia is thrown further into turmoil when she is mistaken for a woman who disappeared more than sixty years before. When it becomes clear that Captain Jay is also keeping secrets, Olivia realises that there is more to these sunshine–soaked islands than she ever expected.

Seeking to uncover the truth, Olivia is drawn into a dangerous game where powerful businessmen will stop at nothing to ensure their plan goes ahead, even if that means eliminating her…

My review:

The picturesque Whitsundays, in Far North Queensland, is the stunning backdrop for Annie Seaton’s latest and greatest novel, Whitsunday Dawn. Combining a tale of family secrets, history, romance and environmentalism, this is Annie Seaton at her very best.

I have been a fan of Annie Seaton’s work after I was first introduced to writing through her popular three-part romantic suspense series, the Porter Sisters, which began with Kakadu Sunset. My experience of the next two books in the series was just as fruitful and I have also dabbled in her contemporary romance, the Prickle Creek series. Now this brand new one, Whitsunday Dawn, is one absolutely superb novel.

I am a great fan of parallel time frame narratives. Whitsunday Dawn is set across two equally intriguing time periods, 2018 and 1942, but both are set primarily around the Whitsundays region. In the present day, we follow a complex and hardworking young woman, Olivia, who is determined to make her own individual mark in her father’s business. A visit to the Whitsundays is Olivia’s chance to deliver a keynote presentation, convincing the local community to accept a mine site project. It is a project that lands Olivia in hot water. This particular project makes Olivia question her loyalties and personal motivations. I really enjoyed following Olivia’s journey, her growth as a character and her burgeoning relationship with a local personality Fynn. Fynn is a big character who stands out from the crowd, he seems to have his finger in many pies, but this makes him all the more interesting. The interactions between Fynn and Olivia add plenty of spark to this appealing tale.

Running alongside the Whitsunday Dawn’s present day narrative, is a World War II based storyline, again set in the Whitsundays. This historical thread links to a present day character, known as Aunty Tat, who is suffering  from dementia, but is also having flashbacks about her sister’s life during the war on the island. Tat’s fractured memories signal a return to times past, as we learn about Tat’s beloved sister Lil and her friendship with an airman named Jack, who was based at the island during the war. This segment of Whitsunday Dawn was by far my favourite. I became completely wrapped up in Jack and Lil’s relationship. I admit that my heart skipped a beat as I found myself fretting over both these character’s fate. I couldn’t wait to return to these aspects. Seaton does an absolutely amazing job of bringing these little known facts of World War II and the impact on the citizens of far North Queensland during the war. I found the influence of the armed forces in Queensland both on and offshore fascinating. The threat of the Japanese encroaching so close to our shores and the experience of captured soldiers at the hands of the Japanese was enthralling. Seaton deserves much praise for her dedication to her research and for bringing these facts to our attention via a compelling narrative.

Seaton’s characterisation in Whitsunday Dawn is rock solid. I could visualise each character perfectly thanks to Seaton’s prose. I enjoyed each character’s separate arc and I liked the way in which Seaton was able to connect these characters to one another, in conjunction with the overarching storyline. Through Olivia, we receive an insight into the modern working young women, her hopes, fears and her experiences in love. In Lil in the past, we come to understand the expectations, oppositions, lack of choice and freedom women of this era faced, along with possible threats to their life, due to the impact of the war. Seaton excels in this area.

As I have come to expect with Annie Seaton’s novels, based on my past positive experiences of her work, the setting is presented to perfection. I believe Seaton was able to experience the Whitsundays first hand for a number of months while writing this book and I have to say it shows. There are some breathtaking descriptions of the local waters and landscape. It was the perfect armchair holiday! I just hope one day I can get to this region.

Whitsunday Dawn is truly one of those novels that has it all going for it. A precisely paced narrative, two equally enjoyable past/ present storylines, fascinating characters, a historical emphasis, awareness raising of the detrimental impact of mining/business interests in our tranquil Great Barrier Reef region and a gentle splash of love, along with suspense. A poignant ending, focussing on family connections, came as a welcome surprise to this reader.

This is one novel I am happy to award five full stars. Whitsunday Dawn is an outstanding read courtesy of Annie Seaton, an author who sits at the top of my favourites list.

Whitsunday Dawn by Annie Seaton was published on 23rd July 2018 by Harlequin Mira. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Whitsunday DawnAnnie Seaton visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Mira for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Whitsunday Dawn, is book #95 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

3 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: Whitsunday Dawn by Annie Seaton

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