14 August 2008

Book Review: Out Of The Blue by Belinda Jones

Selena Harper always thought she had the perfect job: working on a luxury cruiseship, she's whisked around the world from Alaska to Zanzibar with excitement and adventure awaiting her in every port. But as she prepares for her latest shore-leave - and finds herself unexpectedly deserted by her newly-engaged best friend - she begins to wonder if life on the ocean wave really is her dream come true. Why is she the only one who isn't settling down? And how can she be feeling homesick when she has no home?

On a whim, she agrees to spend a week on the idyllic island of Crete, in the company of Alekos, a man she's convinced is an incorrigible womaniser. Steeped in mythology, the island soon starts to work its magic on Selena - and, more worryingly, so does Alekos. Is he really the cad she's always thought him to be? Or could it turn out that his home is where her heart is?

I've read 2 of Belinda's previous novels, both set in the USA and I adored both of them, devouring them both in just a couple of days, loving every word that was written and just escaping into the fantastic writing of Jones and her wonderfully descriptive scenery which creates the worlds her characters live in. Luckily for me, this book was exactly the same, with vivid descriptions of people, places and feelings all adding up to a hugely enjoyable and brilliant escapist novel.

I've never been to Greece, or indeed Crete, yet after reading this, you almost feel like you were there along with Serena and Alekos! Jones really seems to have the knack of describing a place in such vivid and vibrant ways that it immediately sets the scene in your head and you just want to immerse yourself right into the warm sea and soft sand. Her descriptions of the windy roads, old fashioned buildings, monasteries and general way of life in Crete opens up a new world to the reader and allows you to escape into Serena's world for the time you are reading the book.

The story itself isn't really anything new, or that hasn't been done before in the chick-lit genre. Right from the beginning really, I could sense how things were going to end up, it was just how the story would get from a to b that was the fun part. The story had a few twists and turns along the way but ended up at the expected conclusion (for me anyway) but that didn't quash my enjoyment of the book in any way. In fact, it was Jones' writing skills that make her books so enjoyable for me. She gets right into the heart of the story, transporting you along with the characters, on a rollercoaster of feelings and beautiful scenery along the way.

The characters were all well-written, as I've come to expect from Belinda Jones' books and make the story all the more readable. Serena was a very good leading lady, taking the reader along her emotional turmoil with her, although I did find her a tad indecisive and annoying at times! She really seemed to have a funny approach to Alekos's character which did infuriate me slightly, but I guess this is just part of the puzzle of the story unfolding along. Alekos was clearly the arrogant man you're meant to hate at the start but whom you warm to throughout the book and Jones has written him very well and I quickly found myself warming to him. Other characters include Greg, an English tourist whom Serena befriends, Serena's best friend Jules and a few minor characters throughout the book. All together, they are a good cast and weave a good story well enough to actually get into the characters.

The book is actually written in the first person from Serena's point of view which allows the reader to get right into her mind and follow her all around Crete and Athens with amazing descriptions along the way. As usual, Jones has created another marvellous escapist bit of chick-lit which is guaranteed to bring a little bit of sunshine into your mind despite this awful English weather. I could fully imagine myself sitting along with Serena on the Crete beach, with the sea lapping and the sun beating down, and to tell you the truth, I was really disappointed when this book ended! It was a joy to read, wonderfully descriptive detail of Greece, a nice set of characters, and a fun story overall. Definitely recommended, and another hit from the fantastic Belinda Jones!

Rating: 5/5

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