It's 1857 and Laura Foster is happier than she's ever been. After years of thinking she might never find a husband, she has married John Foster, the man of her dreams. As the book opens, Laura and John are on their honeymoon, sailing the Atlantic on the SS VanderVere. Their destination is New York, where Laura will meet John's family.
But then tragedy strikes as their ship heads straight into a hurricane. In a mass of chaos and terror, the women and children are rescued and whisked aboard the Cutlass, another boat not large enough to hold the husbands and fathers. The 400 men have no choice but to stay behind and hope and pray for the best. In one heart-wrenching moment, Laura is separated from her brand new husband. Now she must face the fact that she may never see him again. That she may become a widow only days after her wedding.
The VanderVere sinks and many perish. John manages to climb onto a small raft, which is actually a piece of the ship, with two other men. They drift for days without sign of rescue, and witness man after man lose their hope, strength and will before slipping off their rafts and disappearing into the depths of the ocean. John struggles to hold on to the raft. But, more than that, he clings tightly to his faith.
On board the Cutlass, Laura is dying inside as she misses John terribly. So she won't break down, she steps in to help where she can and listens to other women share their stories. She also meets and befriends the captain's slave, Micah, and his dog Crabby. Micah's faith and positive attitude, despite the horrific things he's endured, inspires Laura to trust God, even in the midst of this tragedy.
When the Cutlass docks, Laura finds herself alone and not knowing what to do. A woman she met on the ship invites her to stay with her while she figures out her next step. Through a series of events, she meets John's family. She also realizes just how trustworthy God is and how His hand has been at work in more ways than one.
THE DEEPEST WATERS is first a love story. Author Dan Walsh proves, without a doubt, that men can write beautiful romance novels. Walsh has been compared to Nicholas Sparks, who is known for emotional love stories with unique and interesting storylines. Walsh certainly gives him a run for his money. He is an excellent storyteller, bringing more than just romance to his stories. As in his first two novels, THE UNFINISHED GIFT and THE HOMECOMING, THE DEEPEST WATERS includes action, adventure, tension, drama, historical interest, and even a hint of mystery. The best part, and the aspect that sets this book apart from Sparks, is the element of faith, expertly woven across the pages through the characters he's created.
THE DEEPEST WATERS was inspired by real events, which I find fascinating. Although the names have been changed and the details fictionalized, there really were two newlyweds aboard a ship called SS Central America in 1857. The ship did sink. The newlyweds were separated and miraculously reunited. If you are a fan of the movie The Titanic, except for its tragic ending, you'll enjoy this book.
Overall, this is an uplifting story of faith, love, courage and hope. Through the memorable and endearing characters and fresh plot, we see how God works all things together for good. And, in the case of THE DEEPEST WATERS, for very, very good.
Watch for Walsh's next novel, REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, due out in September.
Reviewed by Lynda Schab on April 1, 2011