In Kiser’s debut romance novel, a young woman travels to a strange, distant land to meet her true love.
Anna May’s grandfather had been her devoted guardian since the death of her parents when she was 12. As an adult, she works as a nurse at a hospital that he owned. She’s not sociable, but she’s certain that her “one true love” is somewhere out there in the world. On her 27th birthday, she receives a shock when a lawyer presents her with a letter from her grandfather, who died a few months before; it tells her of a remote patch of land that he purchased years ago and the wonderful people who live there. The letter instructs her to inspect the land and live with its inhabitants for a year, but also warns her not to alter their society. She feels strongly that she might meet her love there, so she goes. She immediately meets Mat, a local who offers to take her to his village. There’s instant sexual tension between them, but Anna also finds him maddening—particularly after he tosses her luggage out of his jeep and gives her a quick introduction to living rough. Fans of cross-cultural romances will likely be entertained by Anna’s attempts to adapt to Mat’s world. Soon, however, the story takes on troubling overtones. Not long after Mat describes his people’s sexist attitudes—“Man over woman. Woman is second under man. She submissive to her man”—he and Anna encounter a band of hostile warriors, who say that Mat must engage in sexual activity with Anne in front of them in order to prove that she’s “his.” As a result, it’s difficult to imagine the ideal audience for this book. Some will enjoy the book’s escapist element; by the end, Anna does find a great sense of contentment. However, many will find the story’s rape references problematic; at one point, for example, Mat tells Anna that his tribe’s chief has a custom of mating once with each young girl in the tribe, as soon as she begins menstruating.
An odd and unsettling story of a nurse’s travels in a faraway land.