I loved so many things about this book! It begins in England in 1868, when 19-yr-old Georgiana overhears her fiancé and his business partner discussing some shady business. Because of what she hears, Georgiana decides that she must get to New Zealand immediately and check up on her brother, who went down there in search of gold.
Then comes one of my favorite tropes: girl masquerading as boy! On a ship, no less! Harry is the dashing captain of a swarthy crew, wanted by the law, off to New Zealand on the slim chance that it will help his fortune. Georgie talks her way onto the ship at the last minute posing as a young lad. She was raised in the circus, oddly enough, and wins over her crewmates with high climbs, somersaults, and impersonations.
Before that gets old, Georgie’s gender is revealed and Harry tries to abandon her in Madeira and get her on a ship back to England. Georgie is not one to let anyone else decide what she should do, though, so of course she doesn’t follow Harry’s orders. Then things get almost madcap as both Georgie and Harry journey on under assumed identities, speaking to each other in public only as propriety allows.
But, when no one’s around, every now and then Harry calls her Georgie, and I swooned. Swooned, I tell you! It’s such a great setup, with each of them knowing just enough about each other to build a connection. Harry is so strong and brave and handsome, and at one point when he comes to the rescue I got a giddy thrill, and I felt like I was watching The Goonies — even though it was nothing at all like The Goonies — because it was heroic with a knowing wink. Harry has a gorgeous sense of humor.
The plot heads to Capetown, then New Zealand. There’s a bad guy, or two. It’s all very exciting. I was put off by Georgie’s immaturity at times, because even when Harry was trying to keep her safe, she felt that she knew better. It’s a happy book, though, so the results of her impetuous decisions were mostly serendipitous.
The only way to end a book like this is with things wrapped up in a tidy bow, and that is delivered. I was surprised by Harry’s resolution, so things weren’t overly predictable. I would have liked more heat with the romance, though. Maybe a little more angst, more longing, more innuendo-filled glances. As it is, their feelings were suppressed for so long that the acknowledgement comes late in the story, and there’s no sex. Which is fine, but I would not have minded some descriptions of Harry in the throes of passion, not one little bit.
*ARC Provided by Choc Lit
Click to purchase: Amazon
Close to the Wind
by Zana Bell
Release Date: August 29, 2013
Publisher: Choc Lit