FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Itching for Books.
Series: Sea Swept #1
Released: January 14, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
Seven days aboard a luxury cruise. The perfect getaway from it all.
At least, that’s what Georgia Cantwell was hoping for.
Georgia wishes she could run away from the nightmare that has consumed her life, but she can’t. With her inbox filling with menacing emails, all she can do is try to get through her sorority’s winter break cruise without anyone realizing how wrecked she is. So she really doesn’t need Jace McLaren seeing through her tacked-on smile when no one else seems to notice.
Growing up with a father in jail, Jace knows from experience that if you’re going through hell, there’s no way out but through. He has always steered away from girls like Georgia with her ice-queen attitude, but she’s in real trouble, and despite himself he pushes past her walls.
As much as Georgia tries to ignore it, Jace won’t let her pretend with him. But she can’t risk telling him the truth. Her past would ruin his trust, her family, her future—everything.
But out on the open ocean, there’s nowhere to hide. And when Georgia’s secrets come tumbling out, it might take more than Jace to save her.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Georgia Cantwell has a secret, and it’s eating her alive. Afraid of people’s judgement, her parents’ disappointment, and the very real consequences for what she’s done, she can barely function. And now she’s stuck on a cruise with her sorority and fraternity friends, including Hunter — the ex-boyfriend who dumped her when she told him the truth. No longer rooming with him in his luxury cabin, she’s traded her way down to the cheapest room available, complete with two tiny twin beds and one of Hunter’s frat brothers. Not only is Jace friends with her ex, but he’s known across campus for his womanizing ways.
Jace McLaren manages to fit in despite the fact that he doesn’t fit in. He’s not swimming in money like his friends are, and rumor has it that he’s trailer trash whose parents are in jail. And now he’s stuck sharing a cramped cruise ship cabin with prim, uptight Georgia. Only he’s noticed something off about her. Her smiles seem forced, her posture tense, and her whole being weighted down by some invisible burden. He’s seen that hopeless look before, and no good ever came of it, so despite his lack of interest in the stuck-up girl, he can’t help but reach out to her.
Everything about the story was wonderful — until the end. No, there’s no cliffhanger, and yes, everything ends on a happy note, but it’s so incredibly unrealistic. The whole story, while not exactly your everyday situations for most of us (rich college kids partying it up on a cruise), was pretty believable. Georgia’s anxiety and the physical toll it’s taking on her is spot on, but the overly simplistic way in which everything was resolved? Not so much. I don’t want to give anything away, and it’s still a great read, but I really can’t fathom anyone believing that a problem like Georgia’s could be wiped away so easily.
What a fun read! I’ve been in Georgia’s shoes as far as the anxiety goes, so I may be a bit biased, but I really loved her character. And Jace…they just don’t get much hotter than him. The simple friendship he and Georgia managed to strike up, the strained getting-to-know-you period was simple and subtle and wonderful. And don’t even get me started on the chemistry! Whereas I often find myself rolling my eyes at some of the crazy bedroom scenes in romances, theirs seemed perfect. The story didn’t resort to wild acrobatics, marathon sex sessions, or so-graphic-I-cringed scenarios. The build-up was great, and the way it all played out was even better.
Of course, it wasn’t all about the sex. Full Steam Ahead realistically captures the reckless fun of being a college student, along with the crushing anxiety felt when someone is waiting for the sky to come crashing down. And while neither of the characters were perfect (which is definitely a good thing!), they faced their problems head-on, even if it did take them a scene or two to work things out. It would have been easy to put them through a giant blow-up and kept them apart for weeks due to stupid pride or bad communication, but that sort of contrived angst wasn’t necessary, and while Georgia and Jace definitely has some tough moments, they didn’t turn into walking, talking cliches.
In fact, that is what I think I enjoyed most about the book. It didn’t follow the standard, tired formula for romance. The ex-boyfriend wasn’t an evil, selfish bastard. The best friend was wary of Jace, but it was out of genuine concern for Georgia, not some overdone, misguided attempt to protect her. There was no misconstrued situation where one of them appeared to be getting involved with someone else, and while there were certainly characters Jace and Georgia had conflict with, those secondary characters didn’t force their relationship and focus away from the heart of the story. And Georgia’s secret? It was very real and very serious, not something she needlessly built up to be bigger than it was. What resulted is a story with likeable, believable characters, really sweet romance, and a smart plot. This is the first time I’ve even heard of Victoria Chase, but you can bet I’ll be following her from now on. Full Steam Ahead would have been great for a 5th or 10th book, but for a debut? I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!