Wealthy Andrew Eliot should be living a charmed life. But instead he finds himself faced with the prospect of a loveless marriage. Together with his fiancé and her brother, Andrew boards the Titanic, with the intention of using the trip to New York as an opportunity to get to know one another. Andrew has agreed to the business, but he is far from pleased and longs for a chance at true happiness.
Matthew Ahern is a working class bloke who hopes America might be his chance at a new start. He manages to get himself work on the Titanic, never realizing he will meet the love of his life just hours before one of the most famous tragedies in history takes place. Andrew and Matthew courageously decide to embrace their momentary happiness amidst a desperate struggle for survival.
I jumped at the chance to read Ocean of Secrets, because in my heart I’m still an eight-year old girl fascinated and horrified by the ill-fated maiden voyage of the luxury liner Titanic. Unfortunately, Ocean of Secrets failed to capture my interest or to fully develop any of its storylines. I give the author credit for using the Titanic as an intriguing backdrop for the story, but the main narrative simply wasn’t strong enough to develop any real momentum. Additionally, there were parts Ocean of Secrets that seemed reminiscent of scenes in James Cameron’s Titanic, which I found rather frustrating because the novel failed to develop an original voice.
Matthew and Andrew make a rather sweet couple even if they do suffer from an obnoxious case of insta-love. They are rather flat as individual characters, but they have a comfortable rapport that works despite their lack of fully formed personas. While their devotion to one another is somewhat unrealistic given the rapid development of their relationship, once they’re together they develop a sweetness that is endearing. Neither character goes through much development. Instead they seem to exist in the moment, which I found worked given the nature of the disaster building around them. The plot moves fairly quickly and evenly, but the author never really incorporates the Titanic as a character and I felt this was a real opportunity missed. Information about the ship is dropped into the action almost as an after thought, but we never get a sense of the opulence, the arrogance, or the terror surrounding the fateful night of April 14.
Perhaps my biggest issue with Ocean of Secrets was the cartoonish antagonists. Andrew’s fiancé and brother are revealed early on to be con artists who are both creepy and ridiculous in their desperation to secure a marriage to Andrew. They are caricatures rather than true characters and they never feel credible. Instead they serve only to disrupt the otherwise easy flowing plot and every time they were on page (which was a lot) they brought my interest to a crashing halt. They were a real detriment to the story and perhaps without them, I would have enjoyed Oceans of Secrets a bit more.
Ocean of Secrets was an uneven retelling of the Titanic tragedy. Andrew and Matthew are rather weak characters, but they made an oddly engaging couple. While I would have liked to see more of their relationship, given the nature of the story, their swift courtship makes a measure of sense. The overall plot found itself cluttered by a pair of silly bad guys and the almost casual use of the Titanic as a backdrop rather than an integral part of the wider action. While I remain fascinated by the historical context of the Titanic, Ocean of Secrets failed to capture either the emotion the ship’s passengers or the chaos of her swift demise. Unless you’re just a diehard history fan, I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.