NEW ZEALAND: A MICROCOSM IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN
by Vonnie Hughes
I’m a New Zealander, so even though I’ve spent the last fifteen years in Australia, I still know New Zealand better than I do Australia. So I tend to set my romantic suspense novels in New Zealand.
The land outside the cities is deceptive. Many a traveler has discovered that the meek and mild temperate weather changes in the blink of an eye, and that the gentle looking mountain peak in the distance hides crevasses and unclimbable escarpments. Likewise the placid rivers (“creeks”) can turn into raging rivers after only a day’s torrential rain. It might be one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to dangerous animals (there aren’t any) and be peopled with friendly folk, but like most inhabited places, Man is the main predator.
Hence my first romantic suspense/thriller published by The Wild Rose Press. It’s called Lethal Refuge and has all the elements of quintessential New Zealand as its setting. There’s the impenetrable bushland (a lot of the countryside is clothed in tight-knit trees and bushes so that a person gets lost every easily. It can be deceptive).
Lethal Refuge deals with the apocryphal New Zealand witness protection unit which has been compromised to the extent that no one—not the team psychologist, members of the unit’s committee, even the police team involved—are safe. Most of all, the relocatees, many of whom have testified against criminals, are in the worst danger, because someone knows their secrets and he’s killing to ensure his own safety.
My second romantic suspense is titled Innocent Hostage and is set in a district in which I used to live – the North Shore of Auckland. Innocent Hostage was released by The Wild Rose Press. It is about Breck Marchant, a member of one of the NZ Armed Offenders’ Squads i.e. SWAT teams. The squads are unique because they are made up of ‘ordinary’ police who are seconded in times of need. Innocent Hostage is available in both paperback and e-book form.
Sloane here, I had the pleasure of reading Innocent Hostage. This is a compelling story with the right amount of twists and turns and red herrings that kept me enthralled and guessing to the last page. Here’s a little to tease you.
Two years ago, Breck Marchant handed his son, Kit, over to his ex-wife, Tania, even though it tore him apart. She knows all about kids. Thanks to his own upbringing, he hasn’t a clue. But when the boy is held hostage, Breck steps up to the plate. Somehow he’ll make this father thing work and hold down his dangerous job at the same time even though the odds are against him.
Ingrid Rowland is Kit’s preschool teacher and she has known Tania for years. As far as she can tell, neither Tania nor Breck know the first thing about being parents. She fears for Kit’s future. When Breck turns to Ingrid for help with his son, she sees a different side of him. As Breck and Ingrid work to protect Kit and hold on to their careers, they begin to work together to fight off a puzzling series of vicious attacks. Then a startling revelation culminates in a murderous turn nobody sees coming.
Toeing the inside of each stair tread he climbed the stairs that led to the bedrooms. As he got near the top, he hesitated. More perfume, different from the smell of soap powder hung in the air. Tania’s perfume, strong and poignant. It was called Chloe. He ought to know. He’d bought enough of the stuff.
He stopped. Was she here? Had she been here? That stuff lingered for a long time. Their apartment had stunk of it for weeks after she’d left.
“Tania?” he whispered.
A disturbance in the air was his only warning. He ducked as something whizzed over the top of his head. Then he was shoved aside as a dark figure pushed past him. Breck clutched at the banisters, his feet shooting out from under him on the slippery carpet. Shit! Scrambling to his feet, he bounced down the last couple of stairs and chased the stocky figure careening down the hallway.
His quarry wrenched open the front door. Dusk had settled and it was almost dark outside. He managed to grab his attacker’s coat and began reeling in the interloper like a fish. But the man wriggled out of his plastic raincoat and fled towards a blue pick-up truck waiting at the curb. His balding head gleamed under the streetlights. Someone inside the vehicle leaned over and flung open the passenger door, revving the engine just as Breck aimed a solid punch at the back of the attacker’s neck. Reeling against the car door, the man half-collapsed on to the front seat of the truck, his legs hanging out the door. The driver floored the accelerator and the blue truck jerked out from the curb as if the driver was unfamiliar with the gears.
Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.
Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.