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Monday, July 25, 2011

Bring It Close by Helen Hollick

Bring It Close by Helen Hollick
Publisher: Silverwood Books
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length(423 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, has accepted a pardon of amnesty against his misdeeds of piracy. But old enemies do not forget the past. In particular Edward Teach – Blackbeard himself – has a bone to pick with Acorne.

Following an indiscretion with an old flame, Jesamiah finds his fiancée, the midwife and white witch, Tiola Oldstagh, has gone to North Carolina to help with a difficult birth; which is where Blackbeard now resides. He mustn't discover that Tiola is Jesamiah's woman. She'll have to hide her gift of Craft from the black-hearted pirate who has sold his soul to the devil.

With Sea Witch damaged and himself wounded, Jesamiah must take stock of the situation – but arrested for acts of piracy how is he to clear his name, avoid the noose, keep Tiola safe and put an end to Blackbeard – all while being haunted by the ghost of his father?

From the Bahamas to North Carolina and Williamsburg in Virginia Bring It Close moves at a swashbuckling pace. There is intrigue, misunderstandings, romance and adventure – all wrapped up in a blend of supernatural fantasy.

The troubled, guilt-ridden spirit of Charles Mereno (Jesimiah’s father) prowls the pages of Bring It Close striving to set right his many wrong doings during his earthly life. The spirit’s story reveals how Jesimiah suffered because of his father’s faulty judgment and how Evil personified in the person Black Beard came to be.

Jesimiah Acorne and Tiola Oldstagh maneuver to survive as they deal with Evil’s ambassador Edward Teach (Black Beard), a pirate protected by the Devil and controlled by malevolent Dark Powers. How Jesimiah is connected to Black Beard is a dark thread woven into this intriguing tapestry of this tale.

The bright, shining thread in the design is Tiola, the eternal soul of a White Craft witch-woman in a beautiful, young woman’s body. She uses her abilities as a midwife and healer for good. She has to tread cautiously since the people in the early eighteenth century did not deal kindly with witches. Neither would the Dark Malevolencies if they could locate her as the source of light and good that stands against them.

Jesimiah is a variegated thread in the tapestry, somewhat of a chameleon, who fits in with whichever segment of the population he needs to in order to stay alive and prosper. Now a “retired” pirate with amnesty, he still sails into life-threatening situations used by self-serving people who are not concerned about whether he lives or dies just so long as they get what they want.

Jesimiah, a complex character, lives by the pirate code for the most part, but an underlying morality tempers his judgment much of the time. At times he slips and finds himself isolated from his soul mate Tiola, who is his only true comfort. His inability to mentally reach her leaves him desolate as he gets into situations that bring him to the brink of death.

The supernatural elements in Bring It Close play major roles. Jesimiah’s father’s spirit, with the help of the old witch woman, crosses the eternal river to return to earth and set right his wrongdoings. His character fills in the back story that led up to the horrific childhood Jesimiah suffered that led to his pirate life. Many things alluded to in the first two books of this trilogy, Sea Witch and Pirate Code, are explained in Bring It Close. Some of the graphic descriptions make one shudder.

Helen Hollick weaves in a multitude of characters, like the durable Alicia, the determined Sam Grant, the tried and true Rue, and many others, as she creates a tale of people struggling to build lives in the New World along the eastern coast of America and the Caribbean. Evil stalks the area and flourishes on the greed and fears of the people. How Good copes, with Evil running rampant, makes captivating reading with adrenaline-pumping actions, dreadful situations, and a love as solid as a rock and as soft and gentle as a sigh. That love is the foundation for Jesimiah and Tiola’s relationship.

The organization and POV changes in Bring It Close were a little distracting for me. At times I felt pulled too far away from the hero and heroine. However, having read the first two books of the trilogy, I loved traveling with Jesimiah and Tiola as they get ever closer to their happy-ever-after.

Ms. Hollick’s incredible ability to weave in history, superstitions, moralistic judgments of the time, unique terms and sayings, levels of society, women’s place in the hierarchy, supernatural elements, and fantasy makes the story rich. Her wonderful descriptions and her spectacular character development make the story throb with life.

Bring It Close is an amazing armchair adventure into the world of pirates and settlers along the eastern coast of America in the eighteenth century.