Working with elephants in their natural habitat has always been Eric Phillips dream. Getting what he’s always desired introduces him to Tyaan Bouwer, the bush pilot that flies in his supplies, and Eric discovers the allure of South Africa goes beyond the wildlife and the scenery.
But in an area where bushveld prejudices and hatred bleed across the borders, realising their love will be a hard fought battle. Keeping hold of it might just kill them.
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An unexpected job offer finds zoologist Eric Phillips transported from the elephant house at a zoo just outside London to the wildlife reserves in the South African bushveld. Being able to work with his own herd of elephants, and analysing their behaviour, more than makes up for the remote nature of the research station. The one bright spot on the horizon, quite literally if the sun hits it at the right angle, is the silver freight plane that brings his supplies and half an hour in the company of Tyaan, the gorgeous but taciturn pilot.
With wide open spaces and clear skies, Tyaan Bouwer is never be happier than when he’s flying over the bushveld, the landscape beneath him a changing vista of colour and texture. It’s that view and the freedom to be able to climb in his plane and fly that’s kept him in the small town where he was born and raised. South Africa might be a rainbow nation but in the northern regions where neighbouring countries are far from liberal minded, prejudices and hatred bleed across the borders. Tyaan’s not in the closet, not really. Get him to the city and with his strong, silent routine he can pull a guy without even trying. He’s fine with that as long as they don’t press him into trying to see them again. It’s not like he wants a relationship. And just maybe when he gets home he’s hovering in the doorway of that closet, but he’s never met anyone worth taking the risk for.
The day he’s sent to Limpopo to collect Eric that all changes. He tries to bury the feelings of want that Eric conjures in him, but he can’t resist the bonds of friendship that forms between them.
As a zoologist Eric likes to think that he’s adept at anticipating how a creature will react in any given situation, and they don’t come any more beautiful and skittish than Tyaan. Despite Tyaan’s jittery behaviour Eric has a theory they could be good together but when things go catastrophically wrong it appears their relationship will remain a theory unproven.
Eric is a young Englishman who has taken a 5 year contract to work at an elephant preserve in South Africa. He has been out and proud for some time and has never had reason to think he needs to hide who he is. Tyaan is a South Africa native who has never left his hometown, despite the homophobia he has witnessed since his teen years, he is also the pilot that delivers all supplies for The Foundation, the organization Eric now works for.
The story is told primarily from the alternating points of view of Eric and Tyaan, but Tyaan’s roommate, bestfriend, and the flying doctor for the region, Jessie, gets a couple of chapters from her point of view.
I have only read two books by Lillian Francis, and based on that, she knows how to develop a story where, with the level of detail and back story, at first, you may think “what does this have to do with anything” and when it hits you, you can barely put the book down! There are times that with the back story, you think you know the direction the story is going to go and then….nope, you’re wrong!
As a result, the story was well paced, with great main characters and secondary characters – you want to know more about the bosses assistant (a future sequel perhaps?) and you have a good idea who to be concerned about as the story progresses. There are also secondary characters who are pleasant surprises, the town police officer Andrew being my favorite of these! The chemistry between the two main characters has a great build up, with compassion for Tyaan and what he saw his friends go through, which is why he tried to stay in the closet and under the radar, and hope for Eric that he won’t get his heart broken, since you love him pretty much from the start of the story!
There are two elephants that are quite close, although they were raised differently, and Eric becomes as close to them, Jack and Ianto, and there was one point in the story I was afraid they were going to be victims of someone’s hatred, but they turn out to be pretty major secondary characters! If you like animals, you are going to love these two characters!
I don’t want to reveal too much, but suffice it to say, after two stories, Lillian Francis is well on the way to being one of my auto-buy authors as she can craft a story and great characters, so well.
I would recommend this book for romance lovers who really enjoy the development of the story as much as the romance and hot scenes and while this was my first book by this author, I will be looking for more!