+Book Review+ Close to the Wind by Zana Bell #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 25 January, 2014 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Parajunkee DesignsCTTW_packshot-newClose to the Wind by Zana Bell

Author Connections:

Personal Site | Facebook | Twitter 

Converse via: #CloseToTheWind

Illustrated By: Berni Stevens

@circleoflebanon | Writer | Illustrator

Genre(s): Fiction | Romance | Historical 

Victorian | Adventure | High Seas Epic

Published by: ChocLitUK, 7 October 2013

Available Formats: Paperback, E-Book, Audiobook, & Large Print Page Count: 352

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Acquired Book By: 

I am a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received “Close to the Wind” from ChocLit via IPM (International Publisher’s Marketing) in exchange for an honest review! The book released on 7th October 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I recently re-read “The House Girl” which touches on the true meaning behind ‘freedom’ and how to free ourselves not only from our given set of circumstances but by how listening to our inner hearts we can find the path we’re meant to be on. I found it interesting in this premise that the question of ‘freedom’ is broached again in a new vein, in regards of how to know the choices your making are leading you in the right direction. As much as when you eclipse to the point of securing your freedom what is the cost of the freedom your now living? I like books that make you think! And, definitely appreciate protagonists who are conflicted, searching, and determined!

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Book Synopsis:

What would you give to be free?

Georgiana da Silva is catapulted out of the Victorian drawing rooms and into a world of danger when she escapes her fiendish fiancé to engage in a mad dash across the world to save her brother before an unknown assassin can find him.

Meanwhile, Captain Harry Trent is setting sail for New Zealand. With a mission to complete and the law on his heels, he’s got enough trouble of his own without further complications.

Thrown together, unable to trust anyone, Georgiana and Harry are intent on fulfilling their missions despite the distractions of the other. But liberty comes at a price and the closer they get, the more they must question the true cost of being free.

Zana-Bell-author-RD-e1381951315337Author Biography:

Zana Bell lives in New Zealand. She describes herself as a big fan of Georgette Heyer and combines the elements of light-hearted romance with travel and adventure. Zana’s first book was a young adult time travel, published in New Zealand and Australia. Her second novel was an historical, based on the life and times of Charlotte Badger, convict, pirate and New Zealand’s first English woman immigrant. It was voted Single Titles 10 Best Books in 2008. She is also the author of two contemporary romances from Harlequin’s Super romance line. The first won a Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice award 2010. This is her début novel for Choc Lit and the return to her love of writing historical novels.

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Setting a course for New Zealand:

There is always a moment when a reader realises that they have jumped the moon and become fully absorbed into the story they are holding in their hands! The very moment the pages etch out of view, and your mind enchants you by placing you singularly into the world in which the characters are living. For me, it was the scene in which Georgiana realises the actions of what she set forth into motion have now landed her in the berth of a ship headed in the direction of New Zealand! The last time I was swept away into a high seas epic adventure was whilst in a darkened theater watching Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which coincidentally I had only a murmuring of a knowledge of the books by O’ Brian prior to seeing the motion picture! I went with my Da because I knew he might appreciate it a bit more than my Mum! I was so enraptured by the breadth of the story, I only dared to scant my eyes away during the scenes of surgery above decks! What I love about the world of high seas epics, is that the whole of the story is taking place within a certain diameter of space! Tight quarters, tight ship, but an expanse of a stage set against the wills of man!

I have unearthed quite a heap of stories writ in this vein of thought, but I haven’t yet squared away the proper hours to address reading them! In this way, I was pleasantly surprised to find Close to the Wind offered in the ChocLit catalogue! The appeal factor for me is the thirst for adventure and for travelling into the charted and uncharted worlds where maps do not always foretell of being. To slip away from the life on land, giving your heart to the sea and seeing where the winds take you next — there is a happy allure in this, as it’s a pure sense of freedom as you change your own stars as you journey.

My Review of Close to the Wind:

Georgiana is not only fearless in her pursuit to reach New Zealand, but she is daring in her approach of how to sail. Taken with the confidence of her years of circus training in her youth, she devises a disguise she perfected in local theatre; of a boy rather than girl! Dressed in her brother’s clothes, with her hair chopped off into a lad’s level of trim, and her chest bound with cloth, she dares herself to believe the transformation in order to save her skin whilst sailing aboard the Sally! Her guile exterior belies her a bit as she attempts to forge a distance between her female tendencies and the brave face she must constantly place forward to blend in with the crew!

As she grows her confidence to man the decks as a swab, she finds it harder to squash the affection brewing inside her heart for Captain Trent. In turn, Trent is a man of precision skill in knowing his adversities as well as knowing of whom he can trust. He sees in George (Georgiana’s ingenious name to hide the obvious!) a story of unknown depths, as he could assert from their first meeting that there was something not quite true in George’s façade. The power struggle between is cleverly writ, as Georgiana is attempting to find the stance of strength whilst surrounded by the burliness of the crew, in an ill-attempt to reach her destination. Whereas Trent is trying to maintain the clarity of his role of Captain, without having a scamp of a pup needle his yawl.

By the time they pulled into the first port, after a raging storm changed the tides for both Georgiana & Trent, we were given the chance to see each of them in a new light. The addition of the mysteriously enchanting Consuela was a happy one indeed! She softened Georgiana’s temperament towards her own self-loathing as she harboured a distasteful self-image of herself. Consuela is like a moonstone of reason for both lead characters to either take heed of and seek advice, or to run reckless of in their own directions.

Georgiana and the Captain’s path divert away from each other, hers leading to a role of Governess, whilst his leads to a new reason to grieve for her fears about where their lives are leading. The solicitous of her desire to walk against her own nature and at the very same time embrace her gender is fodder to folly. I appreciate seeing how she is distressed one minute and on the brink of fanciful thoughts the next! The story is as much of a coming-of age tale as it is a suspenseful mystery. I love seeing characters’ futures become so intrinsically entwined with each other that they start to wonder when the other wasn’t in their life. The manner in which Bell re-asserted them into their journey towards New Zealand is beyond clever!

There is a sudden depth of knowledge ebbing out of Trent’s past life which provides a kaleidoscope of emotions; as you presumed he lived his life more of a pirate than a gent. A glimpse into his rough-hewn past reveals a vulnerable vein of humanity. It’s the choices that each have to make in successive chapters which will give way to where their fates are directing them. I personally was enthralled from the first chapter until the last — not wanting the action, the danger, or the intrigue to let up even an inch! This is definitely an enjoyable read for those who like a bit of a daring risk towards seeking freedom of its most innocent ideal! As much as it is an exposition on self-identity and the assurances we all seek to understand where we belong.

Intrigue and Adventure are Bell’s mischievous graces:

I lay claim that they are mischievous graces because Bell has a way with crafting a story to where the reader is as perplexed about the outcome as the central lead characters! She gives you insightful intrigue against the passionate escapades of the adventurous crew of Sally. She has you properly endeared to the ramshackle cast long before doubt can cloud your judgement of the truer hintings of what a few characters might be attempting to keep out of sight. I like writers whose research into their topic fades gently into the back-story of their novels, to where you are feeling the story evoked through you as you read rather than feeling bogged down in a thesis of its origins. I have a cursory knowledge of tall ships and the life therein, but as Bell helps nudge us forward in the narrative, you feel as though you have stepped aboard many a ship rather than a mere few!

Her grace of giving us a responsive Captain Trent, despite his flawed nature and his qualms over his past (mere presumed, he is not giving of his internal thoughts), he responds to his crew and to his charges alike. I like how strong he is represented and how you want to support him even though there could be an element of danger if you do. In Georgiana, I could relate to the strong will of a girl trying to forge her own way in the world, as she is writ with such a hearty girth of backbone despite her tendencies to swallow in her own fears. Her natural perseverance given to her by her upbringings in the circus lend well in her role on the ship as much as her interactions with each of the secondary characters who cross her path. She’s not the atypical Victorian lass and I thank Bell for writing her in this new light of boldness! Afterall, the society balls are only one way towards happiness, and if your feet are leading your path into new areas to tread, its best to follow where they plant you!

{NOTE: I marked this as ‘debut novel’ as this is Zana Bell’s first ChocLitUK novel; but not her first novel overall.}

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This book review is courtesy of ChocLitUK,

ChocLitUK Reviewercheck out my upcoming bookish event and mark your calendars!

#ChocLitSaturdays | a feature exclusive to Jorie Loves A Story

*NEWSFLASH* : This marks my third *#ChocLitSaturdays*, where I will be spotlighting a book published by ChocLitUK! Coordinating bonus features will alight on my blog in forthcoming weeks! My next ChocLit review will be for “Dangerous Decisions”, on the 8th of February! I will be tweeting about it ahead time if you want to watch the hashtag for future announcements for this Jorie Loves A Story feature!

{SOURCES: Author photograph, Author Biography, Book Synopsis, and Book Cover were provided by ChocLitUK and were used by permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Jorie Loves A Story badge created by Ravven with edits by Jorie in FotoFlexer.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 25 January, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour Host, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Debut Novel, High Seas Epic, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Modern British Literature, New Zealand, Pirates and Swashbucklers, Romance Fiction, the Victorian era, Victorian Era

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