Book Review: Close to the Wind, by Zana Bell

“It doesn’t seem fair that New Zealand should have quite so many beautiful corners tucked away…” (Close to the Wind, by Zana Bell)
I love a great historical romance, so when I was offered Close to the Wind for review I jumped at the chance; I can’t say I’ve ever read a historical that is partially set in little old New Zealand!

The story starts off in 1860’s England with our heroine blissfully unaware of the turmoil and danger that is about to turn her already far from perfect world upside down.

In her haste to escape the grip of an overbearing aunt and a deceitful and dangerous fiancée, Georgiana disguises herself as ‘George’ and secures a position aboard a ship sailing to New Zealand in the hopes of finding and saving her sick brother. And so under the watchful, albeit blind-to-the-ruse eye of Captain Harry Trent, ‘George’, for the most part fits in to life at sea. But it’s not long before trouble finds our hapless hero(ine) and things are again thrown awry.

Becoming ‘Georgiana’ again, our heroine tries to fend for herself and, while thinking herself a master of disguise and cunning, takes on yet another persona (Sarah) in the hopes of throwing off the fiends on her trail.

Not knowing who to trust, yet falling victim at every turn, ‘Sarah’ finally makes her way to New Zealand to again find herself in the middle of another misunderstanding, another scuffle, and another change back to ‘Georgiana’ (are you keeping up, it’s confusing I know!) and finally sharing some tender moments with Captain Harry. And then it’s all tied up into a tidy little bow with happily-ever-afters for everybody.

Close to the Wind is well written as far as grammar and punctuation etc go, but I found it hard to get into because I felt I was being told what to see rather than sinking into the story and feeling the journey.I enjoy heroines with lots of spunk and quick wit, but I didn’t feel that from Georgiana, I found her to be rather dull; her loyalty to her brother proving to be her one redeeming quality.

I also felt let down by the lack of New Zealand in the story. If you’re going to use the tag line “Love, Passion and Adventure in 1860s New Zealand” on the cover, then you might want to make more use of its beauty and its people because other than a few phrases mentioning the mountains, the lack of decent roads, and the lightweight wooden buildings, there really isn’t much more detail. There’s no mention of the Chinese population that worked the mines or the Maori that would have also been living in and around the surrounding countryside in which Harry and Georgiana traveled.

Overall, for me the book was a slow paced, thinly veiled historical read with a touch of light romance.

A good read if you’re not going to get hung up on the lack of depth or details, but Close to the Wind was not the swashbuckling adventure I was hoping for.

3.5 Stars

Reviewed by Cath Cowley

Close to the Wind
by Zana Bell
Published by Choc Lit
ISBN 9781781890264

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