Shelter From the Storm by Penelope Janu is my first 5-star read of 2023. Penelope Janu is one of my favourite authors, and I look forward to reading her newest release each year.
Shelter From the Storm was something special, whether it was the way it was written, or the main character Patience herself, I found myself fully absorbed in this story, I felt I was reading every single word and at a slower pace than I normally would (this wasn’t the case, it just felt that way), I don’t really know how to describe how reading this novel made me feel other than I felt I was reading something special.
Patience is the second of the Cartwright sisters to tell her story as we met Phoebe in Clouds on the Horizon.
When the story starts Patience, a lieutenant in the navy is on base after being discharged from her ship. The reasons surrounding this draw attention to the power a commanding officer can have over their subordinate and how hard it can be for women especially to deal with unwanted behaviour from other officers. And this isn’t only within the armed forces but in all different jobs and circumstances.
Patience has an affinity for numbers and often looks at things differently because of this, she uses counting to deal with stressful situations and can look at things and reel numbers and statistics off the top of her head. I felt a real connection to Patience, though I don’t deal with stress and anxiety quite the same way, she spoke to me on a deep level. Patience is described as secretive and self-contained, and as her background and fears are uncovered it makes sense why she is the way she is.
Patience has a past with Hugo a biologist who is working on an important project. It has been years since Patience had her heart broken by him, but the impact it made on her has reverberated through her life and continues to do so. When they are reluctantly brought together again, the depth of emotion they are carrying from their previous friendship strikes deep in both.
The romance in this novel is full of so many ghosts and emotional baggage and I loved being there with Patience and Hugo as they work their way through their messy past and unpack everything in order to discover if there can be a future for them together. I felt Patience’s emotions, her heartache and confusion about what she was feeling in my own being as I read her story. And Hugo was one special man, but then I’ve found Penelope Janu only knows how to write wonderful male characters as her leads (and side characters). I loved that Hugo completely ‘got’ Patience and accepted and loved her the way she was.
Hugo’s family were a great support system for Patience along with a few side characters I’ve met before. Patience and Hugo’s coworker Rick was also a great character, I appreciate that Penelope Janu gives us such a vast variety of people with an array of characteristics, in Rick’s case he is a neurodiverse character and I think she did a really good job of portraying one of the ways this can play out in an individual.
Another thing I really enjoy about Penelope’s novels is her love for the environment and how I always learn something new from each novel, in this case, I learnt a great deal about frogs and their habitats and the ecosystem that surrounds the waterways they live in.
This was a wonderful novel and is one of my favourites by Penelope Janu so far, a story of self-discovery, healing and being brave enough to go after what you truly want. I am really looking forward to the third Cartwright sister, Prim’s story next year.