Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
Rhys White’s life has take a sharp tumble. His boyfriend of 5 years has dumped him and his employer just told him that her services are no longer needed. And although Rhys is sure that he can find another job as a computer programmer all his interviews to date have gotten him nothing.
Oddly enough it’s a stuffed animal given to Rhys as a gift that prompts Rhys to do something extraordinary and out of character for him. He buys a plane ticket to Peru.
Rhys’ adventure in Peru starts out well enough, but then disaster strikes. All of his belongings are stolen. Everything is gone—passport, wallet, phone, clothing, the lot.
Stranded in Cuzco, not too far from the famous Machu Picchu, Rhys tries to find someone to help him. He’s about to give up, when a sexy Brazilian named Rafael, comes to his rescue
I was excited to read In Darkest Peru by Louise Lyons for several reasons. One – Lyons is a new author to me and I always enjoy finding new writers. And secondly, the location, Peru, specifically Cuzco and the Inca Trail which is also a huge hook for me. Unfortunately this book fell far short of my expectations.
The opening pages revealed that the author started off her story on a creative and endearing platform of an idea. Are you familiar with Paddington Bear? That wondrous bear of the enormous red hat and blue coat? No? Well, his story, a favorite childhood book for many (A Bear Called Paddington) starts out with a small bear who was a stowaway, traveling from “Darkest Peru” to the United Kingdom. It seems that Rhys’ boyfriend had gifted him with a stuffed Paddington Bear whose gaze prompts Rhys to go off on an adventure of his own after being dumped. And much like Paddington, Rhys might have just as well had a sign around his neck that reads “Please look after this boy. Thank you,” to borrow Paddington’s line.
See? Right there, Lyons had me. Rhys was a sympathetic believable human being and I wanted to know more about his story. So far so good. But then Rhys landed in Peru, that magical, inspiring land of the Incas and Rhys’s journey and story start to head off course.
If an author is going to use any exotic or foreign location as a setting for their story, then they need to make that place come alive…people, places, culture. Make us believe that their characters are actually walking the land, and listening to the language and eating the local food. But here? Take away the names and the fact that the story states that Rhys flies to Peru, takes various transport here and there, you could relocate this story to Manchester or Liverpool or Kansas and it would give us as much local flavor. Rhys visits a museum in Cuzco that he said he always wanted to see but other than the name we never find out why. He flies over the famous Nazca Lines in a plane and notes he’s disappointed it was over so fast. Well, so are we because there’s no description of the Nazca Lines or what he sees or is feeling high above them. That lack.. of physical descriptions, emotions, feelings and thoughts…its everywhere here. What descriptions to be had here are slight in length, shallow in layers, and altogether lacking in any believable content and authenticity. Rhys continually “tells” us where he is going and that maybe he is sweaty but not much else. A few sentences that felt like plodding paragraphs and the famed Inca trail is done with. What a wasted opportunity for Rhys and the reader to make Rhys feel a part of the ancient and mystical trail and great adventure it represents.
Basically, its all forgotten when Rhys gets robbed and rescued by another hiker, a man from Brazil who wants to be a guide. But do we get any indication why (his name is already escapes me) wants to be a guide? Does he bring any emotion or knowledge really of the trail and conditions they hike? Nope, not to be found here either. Let’s just say that much sex ensues and leave it at that. Really the only reason it feels that Peru and the Inca Trail were used as settings as all was to enable Lyons to use that great idea at the beginning with the stuffed bear.
Now some will say “well, how about the romance?” What romance? There is no HEA or HFN. No, this is a vacation hookup story, albeit one that gives the main character a little bit more of a backbone that when he started. The best thing about this story? That bit about the stuffed bear and Paddington’s connection to Peru. I only wish this story had lived up to that inventive and wonderful concept.
So if you are expecting love or romance, this story will leave you absolutely irritated at the lack thereof. If you are expecting vivid descriptions and a feel for the country and ancient history, you won’t get that either. If you want a book that makes Peru and its history and people come alive, pick up Ariel Tachna’s The Path. It’s exemplary and you will feel you are walking those ancient arduous trails to a shining conclusion with its characters. And if you want an endearing tale of adventure, look no further than A Bear Called Paddington. Now’s there’s an adventure for you!
Not so here so I definitely recommend that you give this story a pass. I will try another story from this author and see what promise I may find there.
Cover art by Jay’s Covers by Design. Beautiful cover, one of my favorites this month. I only wish the book had lived up to it.
Sales Links: Wayward Ink Publishing All Romance (ARe) Amazon Buy It Here
Kindle Edition, 51 pages
Published February 13th 2015 by Wayward Ink Publishing