I'm going to admit right now that I'm not usually a fan of novels with a strong romantic element, so when I first read the title of Torre DeRoche's travel memoir, Love With a Chance of Drowning, I wasn't sure if it was a book for me.
However a friend assured me I would love it and the sound of a woman with a fear of the water - and everything it contains - deciding to set sail across the Pacific for a year with a man she had only just met did make me a little curious, so I decided I would give it a try.
I'm so grateful I did.
Suffice to say, it's been a long time since I have enjoyed a book so much. Usually I'm a bit of an impatient reader. I want to know what happens at the end of this book, so I can get started on the next one. I know I should take the time to enjoy the stories more, but I don't like seeing other books sitting there and not knowing what their pages contain.
However, reading Love With a Chance of Drowning, I was completely caught up in the moment and found that I didn't want it to end.
To my relief, the relationship between Torre and Ivan - the Argentinean who whisks her away from her year in San Francisco - is set up pretty quickly. There's no will they, won't they period to navigate through. Instead, all too soon, their trip is being planned and the boat prepared.
The journey will begin with a short, seven day trip to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, to test the boat, their relationship and Torre's ability to handle the ocean. They will then head out into the open water of the Pacific, before island-hopping their way to Australia, where they will arrive a year after Torre had intended to return from her time in the US.
With no experience out on the water (her fear of it is pretty extreme) Torre has a lot to learn before she sets off and because she doesn't really know what's coming, like us, or if she will even go through with the trip, I found it easy to connect with her and get caught up in everything that was going on.
It helps that Torre writes with an openness and honesty that made me feel like I was being talked to be an old friend who wanted me to fully appreciate her amazing experience (it's probably why I can't help but refer to her by her first name).
However, when the pair set out for Mexico, I found myself feeling like a pretty poor friend myself, as I wondered whether their trip was a good idea. The sickness. The weather. It was turning me off ever getting on a yacht.
As big seas force Torre to stay below, seasick and in a dreadful state for most of the journey, I really felt like I was actually there, witnessing everything. It was as if I was a particularly lazy guest, observing, but never helping out.
And letting them continue.
Because Torre and Ivan are braver than I and do decide to keep going, with Torre realising the rewards of sailing are too great to miss, and throughout the rest of their journey, you really get a warts-and-all picture of the experience. Like their desperation to see land again after spending a month alone on the ocean. But it's all told with humour - Torre is, after all, the woman who call herself the Fearful Adventurer.
When they finally reach land, I could see the value of travelling by such means, and the beauty of the places they visit is matched only by the language Torre uses to convey them. At times, I had to remind myself the story was real and I could actually go and see everything being described.
It seemed like there was no end to the beauty of the Pacific and the number of islands to explore; like a whole world was contained in just this section of the ocean. I got a surprise when I noticed I was nearing the end of the book and everything would have to come to conclusion soon.
I can definitely say that Love With a Chance of Drowning was a great introduction to the travel memoir genre and I'm sure it won't be the last one I read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it wholeheartedly.
Perhaps I won't be so hesitant to open books that include some romance in the future too.