Okay, cue ‘The Love Boat’ music! (This will show your age if you actually know what I’m talking about). This story grabbed my interest when I discovered that it was a cruise ship romance. I have never been on a cruise ship so I was living vicariously by reading this. And let me tell you, I am even more envious of those who get to go on cruises after reading this. I suspect that Edwina J White has done her fair share of cruises because it all felt authentic to me.
Francesca has just celebrated her forty-first birthday. She has just sold the business she built herself from scratch and made successful over the last twelve years. Now she is going on a month long cruise to decide what to do with her life.
Cruises are bittersweet for Francesca because twenty years ago she spent one of the most incredible romantic cruises with her fiance’ and love of her life who inexplicably broke off the wedding two weeks beforehand leaving her at the altar.
Francesca is determined to relax and enjoy herself. And she does when she meets up with another friendly gal traveling alone and the handsome assistant cruise director, Ken.
The leisurely shipboard pursuits with new made friends, hot nights with Ken and beautiful, exotic ports of call are all a wonderful experience until she comes up face to face with the last person she ever thought she would see again.
Now she has a decision to make. Continue on with her present course with a man who is interested in a future with her or take a second chance on her true love from the past.
The plot was a gentle flowing story written in first person point of view that just followed Francesca’s daily itinerary from the time she left from home on her cruise through daily life on the ship/ports and all the way to the end of the story. There are a few moments of personal angst, but they do not last long. There is a great deal of time spent describing the luxurious pampering (Oh yeah, I felt my own stress level drop just reading about Francesca’s pursuits) – wine tasting, champagne, spa treatments, gorgeous designer gowns and jewels, dancing and sumptuous foods (so in the mood for chocolate covered strawberries now).
I know some who read this will find it too slow paced and gentle, but I personally give the author kudos for sticking to the true ‘voice’ of the character and her story and not just tossing in a lot of unnecessary angst and out of character behavior just to seem exciting. Francesca is a gorgeous, mature, successful business woman. I loved how her thinking, emotions and actions reflect this. There are moments when she doubts and questions, but common sense prevails.
The characters surrounding Francesca are a fun, fascinating international lot: Kiera, the happily married, but traveling alone Aussie who loves getting the down low on everything. Joanna, the trendy, rich beautiful divorcee who is always on the prowl. Michael the lower class British fortune hunter. Ken, the handsome all American charm of a cruise director. Bruce the knowing Sommelier. And Nigel, the tall handsome debonair new captain who just happens to be the man who left Francesca at the altar twenty years ago. And just like the Love Boat characters, there’s a lot of plotting amongst the passengers for their shipboard intrigues and romances.
Francesca’s Voyage is a title with two meanings- the literal voyage from Vancouver to Sydney and the symbolic voyage from loneliness and pain to trust and love. It is a story when you are in the mood for a gentle, sweet read with moments of fun, passion and poignant companionship.