Character Spotlight ~ Sarah Sundin’s Jim & Mary with a giveaway

Through Waters DeepMeet a naval officer and a secretary in

Sarah Sundin’s

WWII Romance

Through Waters Deep

Revell Books

The Story

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit.

A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

Introducing Jim and Mary

Brief physical description



Ensign Jim Avery: tall and broad-shouldered. He has dark brown hair and hazel eyes and a boyishly handsome face.

Mary Stirling: She has dark brown hair and silvery blue eyes and a sweet, quiet beauty.


“Jim” – This is the photo I sent Revell when they were designing the cover. The model resembles Jim physically, this is the naval officer’s uniform he wears, and his friendly grin is pure Jim!

“Mary 1” and “Mary 2” – These pictures remind me of Mary, especially her sweet expression.

Somehow, Revell took my feeble offerings and turned them into a drop-dead gorgeous cover. The cover models are just how I picture both Jim and Mary in my mind!

Strengths and weaknesses

Mary 1

Mary 1

Jim is friendly and easy-going, gets along great with people, and works hard. However, with his easy-going ways, he dislikes making waves and making unpopular decisions when people might get hurt—a problem for a naval officer!

Mary is quiet and analytical and efficient, modest and sweet-natured. Her weakness is her unwillingness to call attention to herself in any way, which sometimes holds her back from doing what she needs to do.

Quirk (if any)

Jim has scars on his palms from a childhood accident. When he’s stressed, the scars bother him, and he rubs them.

Mary carries a notebook with her everywhere she goes, and she loves to take notes. This habit will serve her well when she’s investigating a suspected case of sabotage at the Boston Navy Yard.

Your inspiration for the character

When I first had the idea for Through Waters Deep, Mary’s role depended on her being quiet and unassuming, a person who asks a lot of questions and rarely talks about herself…the sort of person that people open up to.

Mary 2

Mary 2

Jim needed to be Mary’s foil, cheerful and outgoing, and a bit oblivious to this young lady he’s known since childhood.

Background to the story

While researching World War II, I was struck by what happened in the United States from 1939-41, when Europe had been embroiled in war for over a year but the US remained neutral. I was surprised that American warships escorted British convoys across the Atlantic, and that German U-boats sank one US destroyer and damaged another, killing over 100 American sailors…before Pearl Harbor! Also, while the United States was truly united during the war, in the years of neutrality, bitter arguments divided isolationists and interventionists. Rumors of sabotage and spies ran rampant. I decided to tell the story of a US naval officer on convoy duty in 1941, and an unassuming secretary at the Boston Navy Yard who becomes convinced that a saboteur is at work.

Thanks Sarah!

Sarah Sundin is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015). Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. A mother of three, Sarah lives in northern California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. You can find her at

Relz Reviewz Extras
Review of On Distant ShoresWith Every LetterBlue Skies Tomorrow & A Distant Melody
Character spotlight on Georgie & HutchTom & MellieRay & HelenJack & Ruth & Allie & Walt
RBC Book Club interview with Sarah ~ Part 1 & Part 2
Visit Sarah’s website and blog
Buy from Amazon: Through Waters Deep or Koorong

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66 Responses to Character Spotlight ~ Sarah Sundin’s Jim & Mary with a giveaway

  1. I love history, and WWII is no exception. I love the intrigue, the struggles, the setting, the courage, and the transforming stories of the time.

  2. World War II was served by the Greatest Generation

  3. What fascinates me is what people endured during this time period. It affected everyone in a different way, but all were affected somehow.

  4. World War II was served by the Greatest Generation and my parents were part of that group of fine Americans. I don’t think we can ever learn enough from them and I don’t think we can ever thank them enough!
    Thanks for writing about this important time in history.

  5. I’m fascinated by the courage and sacrifice of not only the men who served in WWII but also the women on the home front. Many women stepped outside of traditional female roles to take up new jobs and then stepped down from these jobs when the men returned home. It seems a time of history that brought out the best in Americans.

    • It certainly did. It also brought to light some of the problems in America (notably racial prejudice), but the light caused change to come – like the desegregation of the US armed forces.

  6. Deanne Patterson

    WWII was a time we saw people stepping outside of themselves to help others in a way they never thought they’d be able to. We have so much to learn from the people of this time period !

    • We certainly do! We feel so good when we recycle our plastic water bottles, but that generation lived by the motto “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” And they helped in the community and in the war effort in a huge way.

  7. Cool.

  8. Brittany Keating

    That’s an interesting question. I’ve never really thought about it. I think a big part of it is just that it is the era of my grandparents. My grandfather was a veteran , so that personalizes it for me in a way.

  9. Our Country grew and changed during this time. Interesting to read about these changes.

  10. I’ve always found it interesting to read about what the women did during World War II , when the men were away and the women were waiting for husbands and boyfriends to come back home again.

  11. What fascinates me the most about WWII is how there are so many different aspects! There are so many different countries involved so countless stories can come from them.

  12. What fascinates me about WWII are the men who served in the war and the women who supported them from back at home or in the hospitals. I love meeting vets, and I especially love hearing their love stories about their wives :)

  13. When I was young I was fascinated with the holocaust and its survivors. As an adult and married to a veteran (not of WWII,) I have more of a respect of the American soldiers who fought for our freedom. My husband and his patriotic love of history has taught me so much.

  14. A lot of things are fascinating to me about WWII. I read a book (don’t recall the title)a few years ago on the treatment of Japanese Americans and that really opened my eyes as to things that were happening here at home during the war.

  15. What fascinates me about World War II was the way couples met each other and how they stayed together

    pattifritz2000 at yahoo dot com

  16. WW2 was a terrible time in our history (just like any war, I suppose). But I’ve found as an adult, history is fasinating no matter the circumstances. It’s what has shaped our country into what it is now (good or bad). Thank you for the character spotlight on today’s blog. Always interesting to know how the author pictures their characters and who they have to “model” them!

  17. There are several things that fascinate me about World War II. First, that the war was so widespread.The unity in our country that Sarah mentioned has not been evident in the wars during my lifetime. I also find it interesting that little known facts (like the sinking of a US destroyer before Pearl Harbor)are being revealed in fiction. That is one reason that well-researched historical fiction is my favorite way to learn about history. I know that a book by Sarah Sundin has been well researched, so I can trust her facts.

    • Yes, unity is definitely not present today :( I found it fascinating that America was so bitterly divided in 1940-41, but then really came together after Pearl Harbor. Sadly, it often takes great tragedy to show us that we’re all on the same side after all.

  18. I think what fascinates me about WWII is the simplicity of the era. Yes there was a war happening on every front it seemed and I don’t want to negate the seriousness of that, but I think times then were just simple. :)

    • It’s strange, isn’t it? We do see the past as simpler, and yet I doubt people living back then would have described their lives that way. Maybe it’s because they didn’t have all the noise and clutter of our 24/7 “I texted you five minutes ago – why haven’t you texted me back?” age.

  19. One thing I love about WWII novels is that it features “The Greatest Generation”. I also enjoy WWII novels because its historical and I typically learn something new about the time period from every WWII novel I read. In addition, reading about WWII and the way that one group of people was slowly moved toward poor choices is a good reminder to all of us of what can happen an inch at a time.

  20. I love history! What fascinates me about WWII is the incredible stories of sacrifice, heroism and courage by so many different individuals.

    Thank you so much,
    Stephanie C.

    • What grips me is that most of the men and women who were actively involved were ordinary people. That inspires me to think that most of us ordinary people could also step forward and do great things.

  21. I think that relationships in that time were far more intensive than they are today,
    because you never knew if you would see each other again.
    And I think that people back then, had a different view on life, as their parents had lived through WW I… I think they cherished little things in life more than we do today, because they knew how short-lived everything could be.

    • I agree. Knowing your loved one might not survive makes you cherish each moment. In the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I was in SF and my husband of 6 weeks was on the far side of the Bay – before cell phones. I knew he had to take the Bay Bridge home. I’d heard on the radio that the bridge had “collapsed” (only one section had). For five hours, I seriously thought I might be a widow. Our reunion was very emotional :)

  22. After reading all of Sarah Sundin’s books, I can’t wait to read “Through Waters Deep”. As the daughter of a WWII Navy man and the mother of a Navy man, this book will be especially interesting to me.

  23. It fascinates me that my Dad was actually in Japan when it was bombed. He wasn’t at the site but went there after and saw all the devastation. I sure wish i would have asked him more questions about it before he passed away.

  24. I love reading books on WWII be it fiction or non fiction. There are just so many different stories and I never seem to read the same thing twice. I love talking to the WWII vets about their experiences and it’s amazing how each story is completely different from the others. I guess what fascinates me the most about WWII is how it effected everyone (man, woman, child and country) differently be it at home or in the war zone.

  25. I love it all!

  26. I’m not really sure why I am so taken with WWII. That time period has always interested me, as well as the Civil War era.

    • Isn’t it interesting how we avoid conflict in real life – and seek it out in fiction? I’d hate to live through a major war, but I love reading stories set in those time periods!

  27. What do I like about WWII? That’s a loaded question! 😉 But I have to admit the European theater of the war is my favorite part along with saboteur and spy stories. So of course I am going to be adding another tome to my TBR pile (shelf? tower?) with your book, Sarah. :)

  28. As an WWII impressionist everything fascinates me but I am most drawn to warbirds. I can watch them fly all day, the sound of a P51 is like no other! My fav is the Corsair and B17 but truly I love them all!!!

    • Hello, kindred spirit :) One of the highlights of my life (aside from weddings, births, all that) was flying in EAA’s B-17, Aluminum Overcast!

      • Oh wow how amazing!! That is on my bucket list, I live only 2 hours from the CAF where B29 FiFi resides and also B17 Texas Raider and one of these days I will fly in both. 😀 I have flew in a PT 17 Stearman at the CAF, the pilot even let me fly it, one of the best days of my life!!

  29. I never had been a big fan of WWII books until I read Sarah Sundin’s books! I love how she make the facts interesting and weave them into a fascinating read.

  30. I think the strength and tenacity of the people all over the world is an amazing part of WW2. And it is a part we are rapidly losing as the aging population is decreasing. We are losing our link to these verbal historians, the ones who really lived it.

  31. Loved this sweet story. :)

  32. I love this era, the clothes, hair, cars… I just adore it all! Besides that though, the stories of hope and courage often bring me to tears. Admist all the horror, there are some truly amazing stories of triumph!

    • You nailed the appeal for me, Lea :) In 2015, we look at our unpleasant circumstances and wonder how we can prevail…but then we learn about how people prevailed in truly horrific conditions…and we gain hope and courage.

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