Second Survivor

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
312 Pages
Reviewed on 04/21/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ammaarah Seboa for Readers' Favorite

Leah Moyes’ Second Survivor is a touching story about love, loss, and survival. Isabel Marie Fontaine becomes the second survivor after washing up on the coast of Menorca, Spain, as a result of the Général Chanzy shipwreck. Saved by a local farmer, Miguel, Isabel assumes the name Maria to protect herself, and for the first time in her life, she’s able to make her own decisions. Miguel and his wife Anita, take Isabel in and treat her as the daughter they never had. While living with them, Isabel meets their neighbor, Francisco Carrasco. The attraction between the two is instant, but Isabel lives in fear of her true identity being discovered and handed over to the villain of her future, Thomas Chastain.

This was truly a wonderful story that captivated me with every turn of the page. I loved that the Général Chanzy shipwreck of 1910 inspired Leah Moyes to write Second Survivor. In the author’s note, she says that after participating in an archeological dig in 2018, her head spun with ideas of a second person surviving the shipwreck as opposed to just Marcel Badez. Moyes has spun a beautifully crafted story that speaks of sorrow, family obligations, and new beginnings. I also loved that each key character had their own POV so that we, as the readers, can grasp the bigger picture without too much being given away. One of my favorite quotes from the novel is: “The sea is ambiguous, its secrets lie beneath the surface,” It’s something that resonates with Isabel as well as the villain Thomas Chastain. It reminds us that just by looking a little deeper, we are able to see a clearer picture.


When Miguel stumbles upon a lifeless body on the shore, little does he know that his life and that of his loved ones are about to change forever. He cannot even imagine that his swift actions are paving a way for answers to questions, and prayers, they did not even know they had. Isabel has everything money can buy, but what she longs for most is freedom. Freedom to choose her own path in life and create her own future. When the unimaginable happens, she is faced with a difficult choice, to choose herself at the expense of the truth or to choose the truth at the expense of her long-desired freedom. Thomas on the other hand is treading the thin line between love and hate. His troubled past has poisoned his mind against all he once held dear and true. Now his sole driving focus is the burning desire to leave it all behind, at whatever cost. Their stories are weaved together by hope, desperation and deception.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is well written, easy to read and engaging. Though local languages and dialects are included in the story, mostly in conversation, it is not overly done. But rather serves as a reminder of the different languages, places and cultures involved in the story. I also loved that the story is told from different POVs, making it easy for the reader to follow a broader view of the characters and their inner conflicts. This is a great read for people who enjoy clean historical romance.