Leave a comment and enter below for a chance to win a copy of Sarah Sundin’s newest book, “The Sea Before Us.” Winner will be announced in the next Author Spotlight feature. Congratulations to Lisa Ann Phillips for winning Irene Hannon’s book, “Pelican Point.” Please email my assistant christenkrumm {at} gmail {dot} com to claim your prize.

Award-winning author Sarah Sundin artfully blends emotionally rich romance with historical accuracy and heart-pounding scenes in book 1 of the new Sunrise at Normandy series.

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a Wren in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France—including those of her own family’s summer home—in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together, both Wyatt and Dorothy must resist their deepening feelings for each other. Dorothy’s bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

Booklist stated that Sundin’s Waves of Freedom series was “an inspiring and triumphant labor of love.” The Sunrise at Normandy series will also blaze to life under Sarah Sundin’s practiced pen as she explores the tense days leading up to the monumental D-day.

Can you tell us about your newest release? Is it part of a series or a stand-alone?

The Sea Before Us is the first book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, which follows three estranged brothers as they fight on D-day from the sea, in the air, and on the ground.

As D-day approaches, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton is teamed up with Dorothy Fairfax, a British officer. Once they piece together family and reconnaissance photos to map Normandy, will Wyatt’s bombardment plans destroy what Dorothy loves most?

Is anything or anyone in this book based on real-life experiences?

Although none of the characters are based on real life—other than the historical figures—some of their experiences stem from real life. Wyatt is dealing with shame resulting from the sins he committed against his brothers—and I’ve battled shame in my own life. Also, Dorothy is remaking herself to attract the man she adores—and when I was younger, I tried to remake myself as well. I loved walking with both Wyatt and Dorothy and watching them grow.

The story itself is based on actual historical events, mainly the Allied planning for D-day, the work of the “Wrens” (Britain’s Women’s Royal Naval Service), and the naval actions on that historic day, but also the “Little Blitz” in London in the spring of 1944 and what life was like for the British during the war.

Who was your favorite character in this story, and why?

They say never work with children or animals, and for a good reason. My favorite character was Bonnie Prince Charlie, Dorothy’s Scottish terrier. Not only does Charlie add humor, but he brings back good memories for Dorothy and shows Wyatt’s good heart. Not to mention Charlie’s vital work exposing Nazi spies posing as squirrels in Kensington Gardens.

Compared to your other books, was this one easy to complete or challenging? Any idea why?

In many ways, it was one of the most challenging. The first book in any series is always more work as I get to know a new cast of characters and research a new setting. In this case, this California Girl author chose to write from the point-of-view of a hero from Texas and a British heroine. It was important for me to get their voices right without sounding like stereotypes and to reflect English viewpoints and culture.

What was the hardest scene in this book to write? What made it difficult?

Naval scenes are always difficult to write—I have to be accurate, show the excitement and terror, but not bog down the reader with terminology and technology.

Personally, the most difficult scenes to write were between Dorothy and her grief-paralyzed father. All she wants is connection, but he’s shut her out. In a way, they speak different languages, and it was heartbreaking to write.

What did you (or your editors) edit out of this book?

More importantly, I like what we edited in. My agent told me the beginning felt slow and quiet. I tightened it up to increase the pace, but it still felt wrong. The day I turned it in to my editor, I was slammed with the idea of writing a prologue and I casually mentioned it to my editor. She said, “Write it now!” I’m so glad. The prologue shows the event that thrust the three Paxton brothers apart several years before the series begins, and I love how it turned out. Plus, we get glimpses of Adler Paxton (a fighter pilot in book 2, The Sky Above Us) and Clay Paxton (an Army Ranger in book 3, The Land Beneath Us).

What’s the most difficult thing about writing from the point of view of the opposite sex?

I actually love writing from the male point-of-view, maybe because I have two grown sons and I love watching how they act and think. The hardest part for me is remembering that the male brain intensely focuses on one thing at a time, not darting between topics.

Purchase a copy of The Seas Before Us
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Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep, Anchor in the Storm, and When Tides Turn in the Waves of Freedom series, as well as the Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. Her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal. Her popular Through Waters Deep was a Carol Award finalist and named

to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. Sarah lives in California.

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