Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Barb reviews A Cry from the Deep by Diana Stevans

Today’s book review is from team member Barb, she blogs at


Barb chose to read and review A Cry From The Deep by Diana Stevan


The south of France’s Provence region, New York City, and Ireland’s beautiful Donegal Bay are some of my favorite places on earth. So when I realized they were the settings for Diana Stevan’s debut novel, A Cry from the Deep, I was excited to receive a review copy.

Margaret is a young woman in late nineteenth century Ireland praying that her sailor lover James returns before she needs to wed another man. When his boat is spotted, she joyously prepares for their wedding and joins him on his ship, the ill-fated Alice O’Meary. In our time, Catherine is a young underwater photographer and mother attempting to recover from the traumatic dive that destroyed both her career and her marriage. When she’s lured away from her lavender farm in the south of France by the chance to document the hunt for a historically significant treasure-laden shipwreck off the Irish coast, she joins the unethical treasure hunter Kurt Henessy and handsome nautical archeologist Daniel Costello. Returning to New York with her young daughter Alex, Catherine’s flea-market purchase of an old gold ring unites the two women from across the centuries as Catherine begins to experience Margaret’s story.

Some of the first romance novels I read—Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Daphne du Maurier—had a slightly removed quality, as if they were reporting on feelings or events instead of experiencing them. Diana Stevan’s debut novel reminds me of them. Of course, writing from different point of views is hard enough. Integrating those alternating POVs across centuries is especially daunting. Dialog and action have to be believable, and characters need a voice that’s individual and memorable enough to immediately identify them for readers. If the main characters’ voices in A Cry From The Deep had been more individual, or displayed more diversity in terms of dialog and personality, it would have been easier to overcome that feeling of distance and connect with them.

For me, this book was three separate stories that didn’t fully integrate. First there was a ghost story, where the connection with Margaret was intriguing, but only hinted at the reasons behind it. Were Catherine and Daniel resurrected versions of the earlier lovers? If not, what did Margaret want them to do? Next, the treasure hunt with pirate-like Henessey was interesting but somewhat repetitive when it came to the dives. Finally, the love triangle with Daniel and ex-husband Richard took the form of Catherine’s internal speculation. For the book to be successful in any of its triple incarnations, I would have liked to see the pivotal Big Moment, where blood, bodies, or at least sex is overwhelming and life changing.

Stevan’s command of grammar and structure is impressive, and her technical descriptions of the dive process were interesting. But her descriptions of the locations I love were bare bones. I felt that the story could have happened anywhere without any particular impact. Because it was well-written, a strong attempt, and an interesting premise, I would give A Cry From The Deep three and a half stars. I think Stevans is a talented writer and this is an impressive debut. I’d love to see another book from her, especially if she lets her characters take some risks.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Noelle reviews A Cry From The Deep by Diana Stevan

Today’s review is from Noelle, she blogs at


Noelle chose to read A Cry From The Deep by Diana Stevan


A Cry From the Deep

I chose to read this book more or less as a challenge. I do not like the romance genre, but this book’s description intrigued me. A back and forth in time (I’m a time travel aficionado) along with some serious scuba diving off the coast of Ireland. I’m Irish, what more could I want?

Bottom line, I really enjoyed this read. The story is character driven, with not a lot of sex and heaving bosoms, but a real feeling of love between the four main characters: Margaret O’Donnell and her true love, seaman James Gallagher from the 1850s and Catherine Fitzgerald and Daniel Costello from modern time.

James returns to Margaret from a long voyage, just before her marriage to a truly dislikeable man, Barnaby Athol. They drown at sea on the day of the marriage, supposedly as the result of a curse Barnaby had put on them that day as revenge for being jilted.

A century and a half later, Catherine Fitzgerald, well known underwater photographer, is pulled from her lavender farm in Provence, France by the lure of a deep sea dive on a Spanish treasure boat off the coast of Ireland. The National Geographic wants her to document the find and any treasure recovery because the leader of the dive, Kurt Hennesy, has been linked to scavenging of such finds previously; her documentation will provide the basis for a special, while perhaps keeping Hennesy in line. Catherine is haunted by dreams from a near-death experience on a previous dive, but she convinces herself she needs to get back into the water.

The adventure begins when she buys a very old Claddagh ring, a wedding ring, whom the outdoor market vendor got from a man who found it in a cod caught off the Irish coast. You can see where this is leading! It fits Catherine perfectly, but when she wears the ring to bed, her dreams become more intense, with a breaching sailboat and an old man with a white beard trying to save her. Then she meets Daniel Costello, a member of the crew and a nautical archeologist to whom she is relentlessly drawn. Unfortunately, Daniel is already engaged to an overbearing society woman.

But wait! There’s more! Wonderful descriptions of colorful underwater life to which even this snorkeler could relate, a truly caring and perhaps still interested ex-husband, a daughter Catherine leaves with him while on the dive and worries about losing – perhaps to the ex-husband’s new girlfriend? – visions of a woman in a white dress who appears while Catherine is diving, and a very real elderly man with a white beard she meets while walking about the Irish village where the crew is staying- is he a ghost? Not to mention the growing feeling between Catherine and Daniel, complicated by his engagement, and the stealth of Captain Hennesy.

There was enough tension to keep me reading as fast as I could. I recommend A Cry from the Deep. Give it a look!

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Terry Reviews A Cry From The Deep by Diana Stevan

Toady we have a book review from team member Terry, she blogs at


Terry chose to read and review A Cry From The Deep by Diana Stevan


3 out of 5 stars

I was looking forward to this book, as it deals with the subjects of reincarnation and time slips between the 19th century and the present. When Catherine Fitzgerald, an underwater photographer, buys an antique Claddagh ring, she is troubled by nightmares that set her on a path to fulfil a promise of love made centuries before. As she begins to unravel the mystery of the woman who haunts her dreams, she has to come to grips with her own struggle to find true love. Will it be her ex, psychiatrist Richard Egan, who still loves her, or Daniel Costello, the handsome but unavailable marine archaeologist on the dive team?

It’s a very good story idea, it’s well thought out, feasible, and there are no plot holes or errors of continuity. The (American) English is perfect, and the proofreading was virtually faultless, which is always a big plus. The subject matter of diving for historical artefacts is extremely well researched; I read in the back of the book about how much work the author had done on this and was impressed; it will probably appeal to anyone who is interested in this subject.

So why only three stars?

I found the narrative rather old fashioned. The romantic side of it is a bit Mills and Boon, with the occasional throwing in of something more ‘earthy’ that seemed a little incongruous. Also, I found the delivery and dialogue a tad wooden throughout; aside from Hennessey, the brutish head of the diving team, one character’s dialogue was indistinguishable from another’s, with a relaying of information as opposed to painting a portrait of the person. Ms Stevan has used accurate regional dialect cleverly, but I never had the feeling of different ‘voices’, and could not see any of the people in my mind’s eye.

The point of view changed to another character, Daniel, on a few occasions, and this new outlook made the story perk up. My attention was also renewed when Catherine began to unravel the mystery, in Ireland; I thought the Irish section was the best, and I imagine well researched too (I’ve never been to Ireland, so can’t say). However, I felt this could have been done in a much more intriguing way, perhaps with alternating between past and present so that we knew more about Margaret and James; the piece set in the 19th century is so brief that I had all but forgotten about it by about a third of the way through. The mystery would have been far more compelling if it had been unleashed gradually, rather than the reader being told more or less everything at the very beginning. Throughout the book there was too much exposition (dialogue used to give necessary background information, executed in an contrived manner) and ‘telling, not showing’ (delivering statements to tell the reader what a character is like, rather than allowing a picture to build up via his/her speech and behaviour, and others’ reactions to them).

To sum up – it’s a competent debut novel, a really good idea, but it wasn’t for me. However, a review can only ever be one person’s opinion, and readers who like a more conservative approach to dialogue and romantic developments might well enjoy it very much; I see that it has other, more positive reviews and I imagine the author’s style will develop. I’d like to thank Ms Stevan for supplying a review copy of this book, and wish her luck in her writing career.

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