Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review & Guest Post - A Star to Steer Her By by Beth Anne Miller

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Review by Suze
 
 After a traumatic incident Ari has become afraid of the sea, which is inconvenient because she's been approved for her dream program, a semester at sea. It used to be her ultimate goal to spend ten weeks studying the water and animals, learning to navigate a boat and witnessing the abundance of beauty nature has to offer. Now she's scared instead, but she's determined to make the best of it and maybe she'll be able to conquer her fears and rediscover her love for the sea.

Being on a ship comes with strict instructions. Ari has to stick to one rule in particular, she can't fraternize with the crew. That's going to be really difficult because when Ari meets Tristan she knows she likes him a lot more than she's supposed to. Will they be able to keep their relationship purely platonic? Ari recognizes a certain type of grief in Tristan. What has he been through and will they be able to help each other to get through the worst of their sadness? Will Ari's semester at sea be a success or a disaster?

Ari is a strong and fierce person. She's willing to go far to reach her goals and I loved that about her. She's also sweet and helpful and she's smart in many different ways. Her impulsive nature sometimes gets her in trouble, but she always follows her heart and I liked that very much about her personality. Tristan is her soul mate, it's clear from the start that they have chemistry, understanding on a deep level and plenty of love. Because they aren't supposed to be together their love has a forbidden element, which made it extra interesting to read about. I immediately liked their easy conversations, their ability to heal each other's deepest psychological wounds and their amazing sparks. What they have is special and their time on the ship makes their connection even more intimate.

A Star to Steer Her By is a beautiful love story. I immediately fell in love with the stunning descriptions of the sea, the gorgeous animals and the attractive, but dangerous water. I liked that the story isn't only about finding true love, but also about friendship, challenging yourself and pushing boundaries. Beth Anne Miller clearly knows what she's writing about. I loved how well she describes the unpredictability of the water, the rules and lingo that are being used on a boat, the importance of having a diving partner and much more. It almost felt like I was on the boat together with the students and I actually learned quite a few things while reading a story I thoroughly enjoyed, which is something that put a big smile on my face.

Ari has been through something terrible and Beth Anne Miller describes her emotions in an empathic and understandable way. The water isn't without dangers, but Ari is a survivor and I loved that about her. I liked that Beth Anne Miller mixes precious romance with moving scenes, adrenaline rushes and interesting information. A Star to Steer Her By is an incredible impressive story that captivated me from beginning to end.

Advice

If you love reading about the sea and like original romantic stories, you will definitely enjoy A Star to Steer Her By.

About Beth Anne Miller

 
My first book, written in elementary school, was bound in pink fabric and was about—what else?—a girl and her horse. I soon began cheating on horses with the sea, becoming an open water scuba diver at age 14. That love of the sea led me to a college semester aboard a schooner. I returned with fond memories of the exhilaration of being on a ship under full sail, less fond memories of hurling over the leeward rail on a daily basis, and a sailing bug I couldn’t quite shake.

In addition to horses and the sea, I have a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts), which I explored with my first novel, INTO THE SCOTTISH MIST (The Wild Rose Press, 2011), and carried into my new novel, A STAR TO STEER HER BY (Entangled Embrace, March 2017). A native New Yorker, I work in the publishing industry and am always looking ahead to my next voyage, whether a short one on a dive boat or whale watch, or, with luck, a longer one on a tall ship. You can find me online at www.bethannemiller.com



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Guest Post

Sea, Scuba, & Story: How My Love of Scuba inspired A Star to Steer Her By
by Beth Anne Miller

I’ve been a scuba diver for—well, let’s just say a long time. It all started because my dad had gotten his certification when I was ten or so, and I would look at his photos and listen to his stories, and knew I wanted to learn to dive, too. The summer before I turned fourteen (I think now you can get started as early as ten), I did the PADI Open Water Diver course, about six weeks of classroom and pool work, culminating in my certification dive on eastern Long Island in September. For anyone not familiar with the Atlantic waters off Long Island, they are not clear. And they are not warm. But I gamely struggled into a wetsuit and strapped on all the gear and trudged into the surf with the instructor. A short time later, I was officially certified. Dad got into his own gear, and we did a short dive together. I forgot to mention that this early in my diving tenure, I did not have a prescription mask (I do now), and couldn’t see more than a few inches from my face, especially in the low visibility of the water. At one point, Dad handed me something, which I squinted at and then recoiled slightly when I realized it was a lobster (we put it back).

I was lucky enough to take annual family vacations to various Caribbean islands, where Dad and I would go diving. Later, my brother joined us, too. And oh, how I looked forward to that moment when I would open my eyes after plunging into the water and see a reef or wreck below me, the feeling of weightlessness in the water after staggering around under forty-plus pounds of gear on the rolling deck of the dive boat, the near-silence of the undersea world, broken only by the hiss-whoosh of my breathing and the occasional boat overhead.

As I became a more experienced diver and got good control of my buoyancy, it was just amazing to idly drift around a reef and study the amazing creatures—green moray eels emerging sinuously from their holes, their mouths opening and closing to reveal their sharp, curved teeth; colorful parrotfish munching on coral; big-eyed squirrelfish hiding under ledges; turquoise-and-yellow angelfish meandering around the coral head. Feather-duster worms waving elegantly in the current, only to immediately suck back into their holes if I got too close. Silvery barracuda with their low-lung jaws, hanging motionless and menacing over a wreck; reef sharks cruising over the reef like they owned the place.

My love of diving led me to pursue a marine biology degree. The college I went to offered a semester-at-sea program, and one of the highlights was a wall dive in San Salvador, Bahamas. Undersea walls are interesting to dive, because they often drop off into extremely deep water, which can bring in larger creatures like manta rays and hammerheads. I always find myself anxiously squinting into the blue, always on the lookout. You also really have to watch your depth so you don’t end up in the abyss.

That experience formed the backbone for my book A Star to Steer Her By. When I started writing the story—a (highly) fictionalized version of my own semester at sea—I knew I wanted to incorporate scuba scenes because as my heroine developed on the page, I knew that diving was an integral part of her character and her journey. Recalling my many years of diving and my own semester at sea, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be an avid diver, planning a career around that love of the sea, and then something happens to make you afraid to get back in the water. To want it so badly, but to fear it even more—to be afraid that everything you’ve wanted, everything you’ve been working toward, might be lost to you.

And that’s where my heroine, Ari Goodman, finds herself at the start of the story—wounded in both body and spirit, afraid of the water, afraid of what her future holds if she can’t find the strength to overcome that fear. It’s with the help of Tristan MacDougall, a young man who is haunted by his own demons, that she begins to take those first steps toward healing that wound in her soul.

With A Star to Steer Her By, I hope I was able to convey my own love of the sea, both above the surface on the deck of a tall ship, and beneath the surface with a scuba tank. Maybe it’ll pique your interest enough to get scuba-certified yourself. It’s worth every penny.

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for review. Sounds like a great book.

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  2. Thank you for the wonderful review and for hosting me on With Love For Books!

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  3. It's a really vivid setting!

    --Trix

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  4. I'm not one for being on the water, but I love reading about sea stories.

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  5. It sounds like a great read.Thanks for sharing :)

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  6. 1 item added to Irma's Wish List :) Sounds great! Thanks for the review.

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  7. I've always loved the sea. When I was little I even wanted to study marine biology!

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  8. I love the sea and most marine animals, especially penguins. Thank you for sharing.

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