Hello faithful CRC readers! I’m back from my mini maternity break and am happy to report the birth of a baby girl on 9 March! She’s now three months old and gaining chins by the day, and will forever be my souvenir from one of my most inspiring places: South Africa.
South Africa’s latest comedy export and soon-to-be-host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah, describes this country as “Africa Lite”, given its stability, infrastructure and huge population of white people. I live in Johannesburg, which is more like Africa Extra-Lite with soaring office buildings and roads packed with Range Rovers, but the beauty of South Africa is you’re only ever a couple hours’ drive from a rugged, raw glimpse of this amazing continent.
In fact, my little family of three just got back from a long weekend in the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s public game reserve which is approximately the size of Israel. For around $13 per day we were able to drive through one of the most magnificent wildlife parks in the world, and our animal sightings included elephants, lions, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and two incredibly rare glimpses of the poaching-threatened white rhino.
This trip went smoothly, but on the drive up to Phalaborwa I was reminded of the first time we took that route. About two and a half years ago we came to Johannesburg on a reconnaissance trip, to see if we wanted to move here and take the job opportunities we both had pending. We stayed at a B&B where the incredibly well-intentioned owners wrote out driving directions for what they insisted was the most scenic route to the Kruger Park. Unfortunately, it must’ve been a while since they took that trip themselves, as they used the old Apartheid-era town names, which have since been changed. We had no idea the names were wrong so missed several exits on the highway, adding an hour to our journey.
Eventually we got going the right way, and didn’t think twice when their directions instructed us to leave the highway and take smaller roads to the Kruger. Well, we had no idea that South Africa has a pervasive phenomenon virtually unseen in Europe and America: potholes. And I don’t mean the little kind on the edge of the road that you write to your city councillor about, I mean deep, jagged, tire-bursting craters. We spent the next hour and a half navigating our rental Nissan sedan around Grand Canyon-sized potholes, in the middle of nowhere, with no sign of human life except the brief appearance of a group of women carrying baskets on their heads. Over and over my exchange with the woman in the car rental place resonated in my head: “Did you want to add tire cover?” “No, we’ll be fine.”
We arrived in one piece and with four tires intact, and full of inspiration. In my upcoming romantic suspense release, SHORT FUSE, I added a scene in which the hero and heroine drive down a pothole-ridden road in Africa…only it’s pitch-black nighttime, and they’re being chased. Arguably more stressful than worrying about paying excess on the rental car.
As Nicola Holt, head of social and corporate responsibility for Garraway Gold, takes her seat on a flight to central Africa, she’s excited about making a real difference in a country recovering from civil conflict.
And a blood-pumping bonus? The hot guy she spotted at the gate isn’t just her seatmate, he’s her ride to Garraway’s Hambani mine. He’s also a gentleman, as she discovers when he deftly takes care of a couple of unruly passengers.
Explosives expert Warren Copley is headed for a private contract job in his least favorite industry—gold mining—thanks to a temporary suspension from South Africa’s elite tactical police division, the Special Task Force. But even the darkest clouds have a silver lining, and this one comes in the form of the easy-on-the-eyes redhead who turns out to be his coworker.
As soon as they touch down they realize Hambani isn’t on an even keel. In fact, it’s balanced precariously on the machete-edge of complete destruction. And before they can discover the combustible attraction between them, they’ll have to escape with their lives. SHORT FUSE, the second installment of the Elite Operators series, releases from Samhain on 28 July!