All At Sea - Cheyenne Blue
What if you found a safe harbour when you hadn’t realised you were stuck in a storm at all?
Stevie arrives back in her home town of Wallanbindi after completing her degree in nursing, and she’s excited and proud to start her new job at the town’s aged care facility. The problem is that Stevie is Stephanie Sterling, eldest daughter of the Sterling family, the wealthiest family in the district and this doesn’t make life easy for her.
She feels a sense of misguided obligation to her parents, even when they are so indifferent to her studies, her achievements, so that when they do decide to throw a celebration party, it turns out to be a fancy do for a bunch of moneyed supporters for the family charity, rather than about Stevie’s accomplishments.
It also ends up being a party for the engagement of Stevie’s sister, Ash, and that’s the last straw.
Stevie storms off, well…sways off as she’s decidedly drunk, and ends up hiding on board a moored yacht, Delilah. The next day, she’s out to sea with a rather pissed off captain, Kaz, the owner of Delilah, who threatens to throw her overboard, (super start to any relationship) but ends up convincing Stevie to earn her passage to the nearest port by participating in a campaign to stop a ship dumping nuclear waste.
Kaz is an environmentalist, a warrior protector of the seas and land, and is committed to her causes. So much so that she is incapable of making accommodations for any potential relationship in her life. The inconvenient appearance of Stevie Sterling knocks out a few bricks in her wall.
I was relieved to find that Kaz had an income (app design and a former CEO of her own company). It always worries me that protestors don’t have a source of income because how could they continue their important work if they’re struggling to make ends meet. Kaz’s income and simple life (because she uses her money to fund her eco-warrior work) balances Stevie’s unwitting wealth and her unwillingness to touch her trust fund.
Cheyenne thinks of the little things. Like the location of the pub in the township. It’s important to know where it is, because a pub in any small town is a hub for the people who live there. So, we get to find out. Details like this meant that I could visualise Wallanbindi. Yes, I had an advantage because I’ve driven through places just like that. But driven through. Never stopped, and that’s my loss, because in this book, the town breathes with life.
One of the aspects of Cheyenne’s novels is that the land, the sea, the setting, is real. She makes the sea an actual character, because by making it take on a life, Kaz and Stevie grow and develop through their interactions with it. I think I’ve mentioned this aspect of Cheyenne’s writing before. Let me check. Yep, I have. In my review of the ‘Girl Meets Girl’ series.
The research that went into the understanding of the ocean, of sailing, of the literal ebbs and flows and peaks and troughs and moments of such stillness that a heartbeat fills the sky, had such depth that I’m convinced she spent a year on a yacht. I’ll have to ask.
There’s a simplicity to Cheyenne’s writing. Hey! I saw you spot that word and narrow your eyes, but simplicity does not mean simple. Oh no. Simplicity means that it flows. The sentences support the previous one, the next one, like a mate who leans a shoulder in and says, “I got you.” It’s wonderful, because it makes for a lovely read.
The relationship makes sense. There are sub-plots and mini-plots and plots that only happen for half the novel but all of them mould Kaz and Stevie’s relationship in a way that feels right.
I loved it.
Also, Stevie and Kaz? Such cool names.