Such a joy to be here today – thanks for hosting the VBT for my 1NightStand release, Once Upon A Stormy Night.
Since you guys are a UK-based blog, I’ll take the off chance that you’ve heard of Mauritius, where I’m from, and where this story takes place. (In case you’re wondering what on earth this mad cow is talking about, Mauritius is a tiny speck of a tropical island, in the southern Indian Ocean. Tourist hotspot and highly-sought honeymoon destination for Europeans *grin*)
But you know what? Mauritius might be this super-spiffy island whose pictures don’t need to be Photoshop-ed to showcase all the glorious hues of blue in its lagoon and coral-reefed sea, but the inhabitants live a different reality than the one most people the world over know.
Love in the time of culture – this is how I could sum the situation when someone is looking for love in the contemporary Mauritian society. Never mind that this melting pot of culture has Hindu & Muslim Indian-origin folks, most of whose ancestors originally came to work as indentured laborers after the abolition of slavery; descendants of these African-origin slaves; Chinese migrants from the provinces of Canton and Hakka who came as traders; descendants of the original white settlers from France and England, with the occasional Irish thrown in. If you want to find love in Mauritius, you’re pretty sure you have to go through a society mama or a barrage of nosy old aunties who pick and discard prospective suitors with extreme prejudice, irrespective of cultural and/or ethnic origin. Old biddies here speak the universal language of gossip and society matchmaking!
This is the situation both Simmi Moyer, my heroine, and Lars Rutherford, my hero, face when they try to swim against the tide of society-driven matches and marriages. Thank goodness for the likes of Madame Eve of the 1NightStand agency, because it is she who brings these two kindred souls together.
But what they do on that one-night blind date is up to them. Neither is looking for love, but it still finds them…once upon a stormy night.
Thanks for having me over today! Absolute pleasure to stop here with ye all.
From Mauritius with love,
British billionaire Lars Rutherford came to the tiny island of Mauritius to take over directorship of his best friend’s shipping company. He’s not here for anything but the job, or—to the chagrin of the many matchmaking society mamas in the country—to find the ‘right woman’ for him.
Corporate legal affairs specialist Simmi Moyer is rich, beautiful, successful, and climbing the executive ladder with tremendous speed. She’s got it all—or does she? Mauritian society shuns her for being single and childless, and nothing she accomplishes will ever be enough.
Lars isn’t looking for a woman; Simmi isn’t looking for a man. Both just want one night to forget their precarious position in this traditional, culture-driven society.
The tempest brewed by uncalled-for yearning in their hearts when they meet, and the desire for something more substantial than one night of pleasure, builds between them, while outside, a real-life cyclone storms on the island and ensconces them in a world where only the two of them exist.
Before the night is over, both Lars and Simmi will have to decide whether each will walk out the next morning alone, or if they can put themselves on the line to step out together.
“You need a shag.”
Lars Rutherford stifled a smile. He rolled his eyes and watched his Skype correspondent/boss/friend, Stellan Elriksen, do the same on his laptop screen. Behind Stellan, in the posh office of the Kensington flat, Magnus Trammell traipsed stark naked in a hangover haze. After dropping that one slurred line, he stumbled out of the office, probably in search of more booze to ease his hangover.
“What’s he doing at your place at—” Lars peeked at his watch and figured the time difference, “—one p.m. on a Saturday afternoon? And how come he’s even awake at this time?”
Stellan shrugged. “He hit the button for the wrong floor, as usual. Heard him trying to get in at ten this morning. He was so wasted, I let him crash here rather than take him up to his flat.”
Magnus strolled back into the office, still unclothed and clutching a green Heineken bottle. Taking a long swallow, he perched on the back of the executive chair, peering over Stellan’s shoulder. “You’re both in need of a good shag. How the hell can you go for so long without a woman?”
Lars chuckled, finding Magnus the dose of lightness both he and Stellan needed, the perfect merry complement to their posse. The three musketeers, their mothers called them. The women had grown up together inSweden, gotten married around the same time, and even had sons within a month of one another. The boys had shared cribs, playpens, bedrooms, dorm rooms, and holidays betweenEnglandandSweden, for as long as they could remember.
Their first thirty years had been filled with fun and parties, but Lars’ thoughts focused on the past five years, when they’d come into themselves as grown men. Stellan, a shipping magnate who’d recently taken over his father’s business. Lars his trusted right-hand man and second in command, while Magnus sailed on his family name and fortune to be known as one of the most famous playboys of the European jet-set society.
“Don’t tell me there aren’t any women on that island of yours,” Magnus said.
Lars exchanged a glance with Stellan. Their business meeting had come to a striking close—serious and Magnus mixed like oil and water.
“There are,” Lars replied.
“And?” Magnus prompted. “You’ve been there, what? Eight months now?”
“Seven and a half.” And a long seven and a half months it had been, too. He’d been happy when Stellan asked him to take charge of the new division inMauritius. Delighted to make his home for a while on the tiny island hailed as the Tiger of theIndian Ocean, even though he missed spending time with his friends. But he hadn’t realized that the culture there would also deprive him of the company of women.
“Not even one hookup?” Magnus continued.
Lars shrugged. For all Mauritius came across as a modern and thriving business center, its society still lay entrenched in the mores and norms of a traditional one. He encountered more society mamas intent on getting their daughters married than ladies who wanted a tryst. Not looking for love, or a permanent relationship, he found it safer to avoid the locals, who would only want to take him on a trip down the aisle.
If the right woman came along, he’d reconsider. But he doubted he would find her here.
Magnus put an arm on Stellan’s shoulder and leaned forward. Stellan shrugged him off and stood. After another swallow of beer, and appearing nonplussed, Magnus slid into the vacated chair and faced Lars with a smile on his face. “I know what you need.”
“A shag. I know.” He leaned back and laced his fingers behind his head. His freewheeling friend cooked up the most incongruous schemes; he looked forward to some entertainment.
“Right. And I know just how to make it happen.”
“He doesn’t need you to tweet to the party crowd in Mauritius he’s looking for a bed partner,” Stellan said on a sigh.
“Piss off,” Magnus replied with a wave of his free hand. “I’ll get in touch with Madame Evangeline.”
Lars sat up straight. “I beg your pardon? You’re gonna get me an escort? Thanks, but I’m not that desperate.”
Magnus slammed the beer bottle on the table. “Will you just shut up and listen? Madame Eve does not run an escort company. She owns an exclusive online dating service called 1Night Stand. When you sign up, she makes sure you’re hooked with someone perfect for you, for one night. I’m telling ya, the woman does magic. I know people who’ve met up through her, and now they’re getting married.”
“Excuse me, but I’m not looking to get married,” Lars said.
“I’ll get in touch with her for you. You’ll thank me for it!”
“No, mate. Listen—”
The screen went blank. Magnus had cut the call.
Stories about love, life, relationships… in a melting-pot of culture.
Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she’d stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favorite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit ‘on a fence’, whether cultural or societal, in today’s world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.
Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is married, mum to a tween son, and stepmum to a teenage lad.