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A Review of Tides of Love, by Tracy Sumner

Continuing my mission to unearth historical romance novels set in America, I found this gem while searching through Amazon. And I’m so glad I did. Tides of Love, by Tracy Sumner is a delight!


Pilot Island, in the Outer Banks off North Carolina, 1898.

Main Characters

Marielle Claire Beaumont is a French immigrant who came to Pilot Island as a rather wild child with her widowed father. Now Elle runs a school for women and girls on a shoestring budget and lives in an ancient boarding house run by an ailing widow, whom she helps.

Noah Garrett is a renowned biologist, living in Chicago. He cut himself off entirely from his family and friends on the island for a decade due to a traumatic event which he refuses to discuss. He is the epitome of order and discipline, and wants to keep it that way.


Noah is forced to return home to Pilot Island to help build one of the first Federal Fisheries labs, because its funding requires a local to oversee the crew building it. Elle has been in love with Noah since he protected her from bullies in school, and while she made no secret of that love as a child, she hopes she is older and wiser when Noah appears, unannounced, at the boarding house.

Noah throws the full force of his renowned discipline into avoiding Elle’s company, but now that they are both grown, she stirs a passion that creeps around his emotional barriers. But she also brings up the turbulent emotions of his own trauma that sent him running from the island a decade before.

On a tiny island, only accessible by boat, they can’t stay away from each other for long.


The plot of the book is fairly straightforward, leaving room for the fraught romance and family drama to take center stage. The characters are so vivid that this works well. He is working to oversee the building of the lab, and she is trying to keep her school afloat. Their relationship grows around, and often in the way of, those goals.

Historical Worldbuilding

I love the worldbuilding in this book. It is an uncommon location, and I felt transported right to the Outer Banks over a hundred years ago. Sumner weaves in elements of Noah’s fisheries work and texts, and the research deepens the story rather than calling attention to itself. I am eager to read the rest of the books in this series to spend more time on the island with its inhabitants.


This is a small town romance, with the added element of being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. So, it is a small town with limited access to anywhere else. And it is an opposites attract romance. She is human chaos, and he is all order and discipline. The interplay is delicious. The story is also a second chances romance, of the now-they-are-all-grown-up variety. All three tropes works extremely well in this setting, and they work entirely organically with the story.

Secondary Characters

Both of Noah’s brothers are clearly drawn, very distinct, and delightfully imperfect. They play significant roles in this story and are set up well for their own stories in the following books. One of my favorite secondary characters was Christabel, the local saloonkeeper. She is wiser about Noah and Elle’s relationship than either of them are…as a good saloonkeeper should be.

Point of View

The story does not follow a strict dual point of view, where every scene is in one or the other of the main characters’ heads. It roams a bit within scenes, even finding its way into the heads of some of the secondary characters.

In Summary

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Two thumbs up. 👍👍
  • It is a historical romance set in 1898 in the Outer Banks (barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina).
  • The main characters are angsty and delightful. They both feel things deeply, and we are drawn right along with them as they sort through their baggage and find love.
  • The history is fun and unobtrusive, and it is NOT the same old, same old. I loved the setting.
  • The tropes are small town, opposites attract, and second change romance.
  • The heat level, on a scale of 1 to 5 is about a 3. There is sex on the page, and it is steamy, but it doesn’t venture into anything anyone will find unfamiliar nor does it use particularly strong language to describe the action.
  • There is some mild violence, primarily wrought by nature.

What other historical romances do you recommend?

I love a good historical romance, and it is so hard to find ones set in the Americas. As I have mentioned before, that is why I wrote Devil in Our Hearts, set in Puritan New England during a witchcraft scare. I wrote a romance I wanted to read but couldn’t find. It is the same reason I am writing my current work in progress, set during the beginning of the French and Indian war in upstate New York.

Please help me find more! I am on the lookout for any historical romances set anywhere in the Americas. Summer is coming, so let’s share the summer-reading wealth and help each other find some juicy American historical romances. Please add your suggestions in the comments section below–the more the merrier!

Image by Mary Gasaway from Pixabay

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