Decision and Destiny
The sisters who co-write as DeVa Gantt have hit their stride with the middle volume of their Colette trilogy (originally self-published as one volume). With its narrower scope, engrossing storyline, and fewer competing viewpoints, Decision and Destiny is much stronger of a novel than A Silent Ocean Away, although it can’t stand on its own. It opens in August 1837 on Charmantes, the West Indies island owned and developed by the Duvoisins, a family involved in international shipping and the export of local crops. Charmaine Ryan, governess to three-year-old Pierre and nine-year-old twins Yvette and Jeannette, has become a substitute mother figure since the death of their beautiful young mother, Colette. Although Charmaine is ostensibly the protagonist, the plot centers on John, the long-estranged Duvoisin heir, a man whose cynical, sarcastic exterior masks an anguish-filled past. Though strongly attracted to his charming half-brother, Paul, Charmaine grows intrigued by the enigmatic John, for he clearly adores her young charges. While slowly revealing facets of their personalities, the action steadily builds toward a denouement in which secrets hidden for decades are finally laid bare.
Decision and Destiny is chock full of all the elements saga fans expect: drama, romance, blackmail, family rivalries, a past that hangs over the present, and strong bonds of affection, too. The Gantts have taken special care in developing their younger characters, and it shows. The three Duvoisin children exhibit realistic traits and engage in antics that are delightfully humorous without being precocious. While the tropical island setting feels authentic and tangible, the dialogue is sometimes too modern and the historical backdrop lightly sketched, though this last was a wise decision. It keeps the focus where it belongs, on the Duvoisins themselves. I can’t wait to read the final installment, out in November.