Author: Zana Bell
Close To The Wind is an adventurous tale set on the high seas and covering half the world. It is a historical novel set in 1868, it begins in England and travels across to New Zealand. Historicals aren’t a genre I have spent much time in but I am finding that all of the ones I do read I am quite enjoying.
This one is not set in the drawing rooms of London society, though it easily could have been had Georgiana not overheard a very damning conversation and run away in the middle of the night.
Georgiana is a young lady living with her Aunt and counting down the days until she can escape. The problem is in this day and age she can only do that with a husband which is how she came to be engaged to her cousin. She began life in the circus, there she was raised until the unfortunate passing of her parents when she was twelve. Living with her Aunt after that time hasn’t been something Georgiana enjoyed, she never quite fit in and was forever being told about how unacceptable each of her qualities was. It was a very stifling life for a girl with a passion for life so she took to sneaking out dressed as a boy and acting. It was on the way home from one such outing that Georgiana happened to overhear a conversation that would change the course of her life irrevocably.
Knowing that she won’t get far on her own Georgiana leaves home dressed in her brother’s old clothes and disguised as a boy, after chopping off all her hair to help with the disguise. She manages to find passage on a beat up ship bound for New Zealand as George Miller, her story is the truth – with quite a few omissions – she is headed to New Zealand to find her deathly ill brother.
Georgiana proves herself to be wilful and just a little reckless, she hasn’t completely thought through her rash plan. The ship is very small, sleeping quarters cramped and there are of course no bathroom facilities – just how is she expecting to hide her true identity through weeks at sea? And what exactly does she think is going to happen when she is discovered, a lone young woman on a boat filled with men for weeks on end. It is bad enough that her speech and her smooth hands give her away to be well bred and not of the same class as them. It takes her (George) a while to win the crew over and prove herself, and that’s not without its own dangers as there is at least one crew member who is not willing to accept George.
I did find it a little hard going at times because the story is written in the third person so Georgiana was she or he depending on which persona she was playing at the time, and she certainly played all her parts extremely well. Even when her womanly heart started playing games with her as she remained trapped in the disguise of a boy.
Georgiana certainly played a range of parts throughout the novel and she played them all well, and through them all she kept her story truthful, though omitted some details and changed her name. She showed her character to be loyal and unstoppable when she had her heart set on something. I grew to really like her, she was skilful and not afraid of hard work which would not have been common in her time for one of her standing.
The hero of the piece is Harry Trent, captain of the Sally, who agrees to take George on – though under protest. He is quite an enigmatic man himself and right from the beginning Georgiana can sense there’s more to him than meets the eye but it isn’t until quite late in the story that we start to uncover his mysteries and the entire drama that surrounds both he and Georgiana.
The buildup of chemistry between these two is almost palpable but it’s also quite subtle at times because chemistry between George and Harry wouldn’t be right. I enjoyed the storyline, there was adventure and plenty of intrigue to keep us guessing throughout.
We got all the ends of the story tied up so we could put the pieces together but we didn’t get the happily ever after. We certainly got the promise of Happily Every After and the potential but we were left at a moment where we didn’t see it all turn out. That left me wanting more, not because the story was lacking but just because I like to know how it all turns out, I am forever talking to the credits of movies wanting to know what comes next.
All in all quite an enjoyable introduction to Zana Bell and Choc Lit.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!