New May Book of the Month: Marilyn Baron’s ‘Under the Moon Gate’

Posted: May 16, 2013 in Books of the Month

My third book of the month for May is the wonderful Under the Moon Gate by Marilyn Baron. UK readers can download the book from here, and US readers from here.

under the moon gateHere’s the synopsis: Dashing sea captain Nathaniel Morgan sails into the life of prim and proper Bermuda heiress Patience Whitestone and threatens to expose her family secrets–ruinous secrets she wasn’t aware of. The two are immediately at odds when Nathaniel moors his vessel in front of her estate and refuses to leave until he finds the cache of Swiss gold he’s convinced was buried somewhere on the property during World War II. Can Patience save herself and her family’s reputation when she finds herself reluctantly drawn to this determined “pirate”? Or will someone from the past make good on his threat to destroy them both? Their fate is inextricably linked to Nazi plots and to the beautiful moon gates of Bermuda in this compelling tale of love and intrigue.

And here’s what I have to say about the book:

“Shipwrecks, hurricanes and the Bermuda Triangle. That’s all most people remember when they think of Bermuda…”

But after reading Marilyn Baron’s new novel – which is a surefire blockbuster – you might just change your mind. For this is a brilliant read. It is a treasure trove of mystery and intrigue. It sparkles with romance. The thrills and chills are unrelenting, and the writing is witty and engaging.

Under the Moon Gate is a romantic thriller/historical set in contemporary and WW II Bermuda and there’s something for everyone here. It’s like Lara Croft meets romcom. There are aspects straight out of a “Jules Verne novel”. We meet German spies and their dangerous wartime associates (who have codenames like Nighthawk). There are comic turns, such as the “outrageous” Cecilia, and the usual witty asides we’ve come to expect from the best Marilyn Baron books (wiseacre comebacks like: “Your line died out a long time ago… in the Stone Age.”)

Ultimately though, this is a love story. It’s a love story between the two protagonists – Nathaniel and Patience – and it is also a love story, an ode, to beautiful Bermuda. It might mean “Isle of Devils” and it might be best known for its Triangle, but the Bermuda Tourist Board could do worse than using this book as one huge advert for the magical islands. (And the book is brilliantly researched: Baron drip-feeds us with little known facts about the islands throughout, so that we actually learn something in our reading. For instance: “Do you know Bermuda is home to more golf courses per square mile than anywhere in the world?”

Nathaniel Morgan is “sensitive and sensuous” he “could easily pass for a dangerous pirate.” He has come to Bermuda for “his destiny,” although he barely believes in destiny any more. He thinks: “Love and romance was for fools, and he was definitely not a fool. Not anymore.”

Patience constantly buries her head in a book. She is, as Nathaniel informs her: “steeped in the past while you ought to have your eye on the future.” (Which, as Patience herself observes, is a “strange comment coming from a historian.”)

Patience has also been hurt. They are two ‘wounded’ characters, castaways from romantic life – and indeed Baron utilises seafaring imagery throughout the book – this is one of the myriad pleasures in reading the text…

Bad luck seems to run in Patience’s family. Tragic accidents have befallen them – her parents have been killed in a car crash and she had to be “cut from her mother’s belly” and raised by her grandparents. But at 27-years-old, her prospects in the romance department “looked pretty bleak”. For one thing, she has been ‘locked away’ inside Marigold House: “her fortress”. “Her Grandfather built it to be impenetrable.” And: “To say her grandfather had been overprotective was putting it mildly. Her dating experience had been severely limited. No man was ever good enough for Patience Whitestone, according to her Grandfather. She was his ‘Princess’, safely locked away in the castle for all eternity.”

But that’s not the only troubling thing about William Whitestone. No, there’s something far more dangerous in his past. Something which breaks on Patience like a tidal wave right at the beginning of the novel. And this knowledge causes her to call into question everything she knows about her family and her beloved grandfather. How could she not know “something as basic as his true identity.”

This is a brilliant, white-water ride of a novel. It is stunningly well written. I wanted to pick out this one line in particular, as I think it is the best passage I have read in any book this year: “The past is like a link in a chain. It often holds secrets to the future. It cannot be ignored. Sometimes the bond is strong, forged of steel. Sometimes it is faint and spidery, like a golden thread of the finest lace, or elusive, like a whisper. But still the tether that ties us to the past holds. It echoes through time but no matter how tenuous the bond, the link stays strong. And I believe we are all bound together…”

I couldn’t recommend this more…

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