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Our historical adventure-romance Fiji has entered Amazon’s bestseller list in the Australian & Oceanian section of the popular Historical Fiction category for kindle ebooks.

Fiji a bestseller

The novel is no stranger to Amazon’s bestseller ranks, having entered them previously. In fact, the paperback version is currently firmly entrenched in Amazon’s Australian & South Pacific section of its Travel category.

Fiji’s popularity with travelers is no surprise to James and I, the authors. As writers and travelers, we know from experience how valuable an understanding of a destination is before visiting it. Familiarizing yourself with a country’s history, geography, people and customs makes any visit that much more enjoyable – especially for first-time visitors.

Here’s some comments about Fiji from fellow travelers to the archipelago:

  • “Fiji: A Novel should be compulsory reading for visitors to Fiji.”
  • ‘Fiji: A Novel is a must for travelers to the Friendly Isles.”

           

And here’s a sample of reviewer comments:

  • “A perfect combination of romance and action.” –The Kindle Book Review.
  • “A gripping and graphic story of historic Fiji.” –Great Historicals.
  • “I give it 5 stars because that’s the maximum allowed.” –RandomWritingsBookReviews, Suva.
  • “An intense story that will have you turning the pages long into the night.” –Author Susan Heim.

      

The story:

Fiji is a spellbinding novel of adventure, cultural misunderstandings, religious conflict and sexual tension set in one of the most exotic and isolated places on earth.

As the pharaohs of ancient Egypt build their mighty pyramids, and Chinese civilization evolves under the Shang Dynasty, adventurous seafarers from South East Asia begin to settle the far-flung islands of the South Pacific. The exotic archipelago of Fiji is one of the last island groups to be discovered and will remain hidden from the outside world for many centuries to come.

By the mid-1800’s, Fiji has become a melting pot of cannibals, warring native tribes, sailors, traders, prostitutes, escaped convicts and all manner of foreign undesirables. It’s in this hostile environment an innocent young Englishwoman and a worldly American adventurer find themselves.

Susannah Drake, a missionary, questions her calling to spread God’s Word as she’s torn between her spiritual and sexual selves. As her forbidden desires intensify, she turns to the scriptures and prayer to quash the sinful thoughts – without success.

Nathan Johnson arrives to trade muskets to the Fijians and immediately finds himself at odds with Susannah. She despises him for introducing the white man’s weapons to the very people she is trying to convert and he pities her for her naivety. Despite their differences, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them.

When their lives are suddenly endangered by marauding cannibals, Susannah and Nathan are forced to rely on each other for their very survival.

                            

If Fiji sounds like you, view it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

 

Happy reading! –Lance & James

 

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One not-so-flattering book reviewer labelled Fiji: A Novel, our historical adventure-romance, “a bodice-ripper” and took umbrage with the amount of sex that features in it.

We maintained, and still maintain, it’s impossible to accurately portray life in exotic 19th Century Fiji, or anywhere in the South Pacific for that matter, without showing these were – how can I put this delicately – lustful times.

Thankfully, most reviewers of Fiji believe we’ve captured the era beautifully.

The Kindle Book Review (UK) describes Fiji as “A perfect combination of romance and action.”

Great Historicals Book Reviews says it’s “A gripping and graphic story of historic Fiji.”

Random Writings Book Reviews, of Suva, Fiji, gave it “5 stars because that’s the maximum allowed.”

Here’s one of my favorite passages from Fiji. It captures some of the cultural differences Europeans of the day encountered when they came into contact with the local Fijians…

As the day drew to a close at Momi Bay, Nathan wandered around the village observing the Qopa preparing their evening meals. Aware he was a guest of their ratu, the villagers greeted him with smiles. Their greetings were genuine. Word had already spread that the vulagi was bringing muskets to their village.

Nathan forced himself to respond in friendly fashion to the villagers. He viewed this pre-trading time simply as a charade he had to endure.

The American flinched involuntarily as he watched two young men barbecuing a large leatherback turtle over an open fire. Writhing and hissing futilely, the turtle struggled until it finally succumbed to the heat. Nearby, family members roasted a pig in a lovo, an underground oven comprised of heated stones. Nathan noticed an old man tending the pig was using a large bone that looked suspiciously like a human femur.

                 

Nearby, teenage boys expertly split coconut shells on the sharpened end of a stake in the ground. Their mother rebuked them, slapping the oldest on his bare back when some of the milk spilled out of the shells.

Looking around, Nathan observed armed lookouts patrolling the village perimeters. Above them, rain clouds threatened, reminding him the wet season was approaching. Again, he studied the strange structure that sat atop four high poles near the meeting house and wondered what it contained that was so valuable it needed guarding around the clock. A new guard paced up and down in front of it, spear in hand.

Glancing at the nearby mission station, Nathan’s thoughts strayed to Susannah. Apart from a flickering light that shone from the mission house windows, the station was already in darkness. He wondered how Susannah and her father were passing their time and what they’d be talking about.

Iremaia suddenly appeared in the open doorway of his large bure. Seeing Nathan, he beckoned to him to join him. Nathan hurried over and followed the old ratu inside. There, he found a cooking fire crackling in the center of the gloomy, smoke-filled bure. Its flames lit up the faces of Iremaia’s clan, who included his four wives and an assortment of relatives of all ages.

           

The unwelcoming Joeli was among them. Akanisi, the ratu’s first wife and mother of Joeli, supervised two slave girls who were tending the fire. There was so much laughter and chatter nobody could hear themselves speak. Nathan was greeted with welcoming smiles from all except Joeli. It was almost as if the ratu’s son sensed the true intentions that lay behind Nathan’s ready smile. The American worried that Joeli was going to be an obstacle to his forthcoming trade.

Looking around, Nathan saw that, even here, there was evidence of past conflicts. Several shrunken heads hung from the thatched roof and traditional weapons of various descriptions lay scattered around.

Iremaia motioned to Nathan to sit next to him. Sitting down, he noted the dirt floor was covered in mats woven from pandanus leaves. Marveling at their beautiful colors, he would learn later the effect was achieved by burying the leaves in mud and laboriously boiling them with other plants. Parrot feathers lined the outsides, adding to the colorful effect.

Generous helpings of steaming hot yams, sweet potatoes, and shellfish were carried in by slaves from the lovo outside. Diced raw fish was added and coconut cream was poured over the food, adding to its tantalizing appearance and aroma.

Selaima, a fetching slave girl who looked about sixteen but was in fact twenty, served the food in wooden bowls carved from the timber of some of the numerous varieties of trees that flourished in the region. She served Iremaia first, then Nathan, smiling openly at him as she did so.

After dinner, the men drank kava while Selaima and several other girls entertained them by performing a meke, or traditional dance. Wearing only grass skirts, their nubile bodies gleamed in the firelight as they danced to the beat of a hollowed-out log that served as a drum. The accompaniment was provided by two men who, using the palms of their hands, expertly pounded out an ancient rhythm.

Nathan watched, entranced, as the smiling dancers performed. Glancing at his companions, he saw they, too, were entranced. To a man, they appeared to have eyes only for Selaima. Studying the slave girl, he could understand why: she was very easy on the eye—especially while performing an erotic dance as she was now.

The American was beginning to feel the effects of the kava he’d been drinking. He’d forced himself to partake of the vile liquid in order not to offend Iremaia. Already his lips were numb and his brain felt like it was going the same way.

The rain that threatened earlier arrived with a vengeance as it only can in the tropics. It beat a steady tattoo on the bure’s roof, threatening to drown out the sound of drumming. The drummers responded by intensifying their efforts and the dancing became frenetic as the dancers tried to keep pace.

Watching the semi-naked girls dancing, Nathan’s thoughts strayed to Susannah and he wondered what her naked form looked like.

 

*    *    *

Fiji: A Novel is available via Amazon as a trade paperback and Kindle ebook at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

 

Happy reading! –Lance

 

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Fiji highlights ancient customs.

The mystical powers of Shark Callers ensured they were held in high esteem among the native peoples of 19th Century Fiji – as these excerpts from our historical adventure-romance, Fiji: A Novel, show:

Within the crowd, Nathan watched with interest as the onlookers’ ranks suddenly parted to reveal the Shark Caller being escorted from the village to the beach by Joeli. The onlookers dropped to all fours and bowed their heads as their respected ratu and the equally esteemed Shark Caller approached.

Pausing to adjust a pennant-like piece of masi, or tapa cloth, attached to a post, the Shark Caller then waded out into the sea. The old man stopped only when the water reached his neck then he began chanting. It was a shrill, haunting chant unlike any Nathan had heard. The onlookers watched this ancient ceremony in awe…

… The chanting continued for so long Nathan was ready to return to the village. Then it suddenly stopped. The onlookers collectively gasped as a huge fin sliced through the water toward the Shark Caller.

Pointing the fin out to Nathan, Susannah whispered, “That will be the Great White.”

Nathan couldn’t take his eyes off the drama unfolding out in the bay. The fin veered away only yards short of the Shark Caller. The old man resumed chanting as the shark began circling him. More fins appeared, smaller than the Great White’s. They, too, circled the Shark Caller, who appeared oblivious to the danger. Wild cheering broke out among the onlookers. Nathan could hardly believe his eyes.

Susannah, shouting to be heard, said, “The Great White answers the call of the Shark Caller. It brings other sharks with it.”

Men waiting aboard canoes in the shallows began paddling furiously out from the beach to intercept the sharks. In the lead canoe, Joeli and Waisale reached down and hauled the still-chanting Shark Caller from the water. The crews of the other canoes set about killing as many sharks as they could. They used nets to snare the sharks and then they speared them, but they were careful not to harm the Great White. The sea in the immediate vicinity quickly turned red with blood. A feeding frenzy followed as sharks turned on one another.

One of the men in Joeli’s canoe fell overboard. Willing hands hauled him back on board just before the sharks could reach him.

On the beach, the onlookers were cheering and sea shell horns blared out as the men aboard the canoes began towing their catches back to shore. Despite the danger still posed by live sharks, villagers waded out to greet them. They helped pull the captured sharks up onto the beach, taking care to avoid their gnashing teeth.

Before long, the carcasses of thirty or more sharks had been lined up in rows on the sand. Smiling villagers used hunting knives to carve strips of flesh from them while others cut off the highly valued fins. Slaves carried the spoils back up to the village.

A beaming Joeli surveyed the scene proudly. He announced, “Tonight, my people eat well!”…

… Nathan turned his attention back to the scene on the beach. Beyond the villagers he saw the Shark Caller. The old man was now further down the beach, away from the others. He was kneeling beside a lone shark carcass.

Nathan approached the Shark Caller. As he neared, he heard the old man chanting softly while looking into the eye of the dead
shark.

“Great hunter of the sea, you have lived a noble life,” the Shark Caller intoned in his native tongue. “You have served your purpose. Now you will perform one last act. You will give me your eye so that I can see all things as you do.”

Although the words were foreign to him, Nathan felt he understood what the Shark Caller was saying. He looked on as the old man used a shell to cut out the shark’s eye. The Shark Caller held it up, offered another chant, then popped the eye into his mouth and swallowed it whole.

 

Shark calling is just one of many ancient customs highlighted in Fiji: A Novel. As one Fijian reviewer with Suva-based Random Writings Book Reviews says, “I give it 5 stars because that’s the maximum allowed.”  

Fiji: A Novel is available via Amazon as a trade paperback and kindle ebook. To order this novel, or read sample chapters free of charge, go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

  

Happy reading! –Lance & James

  

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This historical adventure-romance is set in the early 1800’s in one of the most exotic and isolated places on earth. It is poignant and romantic, but it’s also true-to-life, bloody and reflective of an era long since gone. As one reviewer said, “Fiji: A Novel is not for the faint-hearted!”

 

 

As the pharaohs of ancient Egypt build their mighty pyramids, and Chinese civilization evolves under the Shang Dynasty, adventurous seafarers from South East Asia begin to settle the far-flung islands of the South Pacific. The exotic archipelago of Fiji is one of the last island groups to be discovered and will remain hidden from the outside world for many centuries to come.

By the mid-1800’s, Fiji has become a melting pot of cannibals, warring native tribes, sailors, traders, prostitutes, escaped convicts and all manner of foreign undesirables. It’s in this hostile environment an innocent young Englishwoman and a worldly American adventurer find themselves.

Susannah Drake, a missionary, questions her calling to spread God’s Word as she’s torn between her spiritual and sexual selves. As her forbidden desires intensify, she turns to the scriptures and prayer to quash the sinful thoughts – without success.

Nathan Johnson arrives to trade muskets to the Fijians and immediately finds himself at odds with Susannah. She despises him for introducing the white man’s weapons to the very people she is trying to convert and he pities her for her naivety. Despite their differences, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them.

When their lives are suddenly endangered by marauding cannibals, Susannah and Nathan are forced to rely on each other for their very survival.

           

  Here’s an excerpt from Fiji: A Novel:

The guilt Susannah had felt moments earlier suddenly returned tenfold as she remembered the erotic dream she’d had. She quickly nodded, to indicate she’d slept well before diverting her eyes from Nathan’s and looking toward the shore. It was then she noticed giant sand dunes along the shoreline. She gasped at the sight of them. They seemed to be reaching for the sky.

Noting the object of her interest, Nathan said, “Those are the famous sand dunes of Sigatoka.” He added, “I saw them on my arrival in Fiji.”

“How wonderful,” Susannah enthused, momentarily forgetting her antagonism toward Nathan.

Susannah wasn’t the only one fascinated by the mighty dunes. The Italian artist was frantically setting up his easel further along the deck, anxious to capture the scene on canvas before it disappeared from view.

                

As the passengers admired the dunes, a deserted Fijian village came into view. Its bure huts had recently been smashed and burned to the ground. Smoke rose from the still-smoldering ruins, and there was no sign of life.

A Welsh deckhand sidled up to the young couple. He nodded toward the village. “That’ll be the handiwork of Rambuka,” he proffered with some certainty.

Susannah studied the distant village then glanced at the Welshman. “Rambuka?”

“Aye. His warriors are the scourge of this coastline. They call them the outcasts.” The deckhand pointed toward Viti Levu’s distant highlands. “They live up there somewhere.” Nathan and Susannah studied the highlands. Dark storm clouds hung ominously over them. “Cannibals, all of ‘em,” the deckhand added before wandering off.

               

Alone again, Nathan smiled at Susannah. In her usual haughty manner, she gave him a quick glance before looking back at the shoreline. Nathan asked himself why he was persisting with such a young woman who, he could see, was clearly on a different planet to himself. Try as he may, he couldn’t come up with a sensible answer.

“I do not envy the task you and your father have set yourselves here in Fiji,” Nathan said probingly. Susannah looked at him sharply. Pleased to see he had her attention, he continued. “I fear you may be facing an uphill battle.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Well,” Nathan paused, thinking on his feet as he went. “Fiji ain’t called the Cannibal Isles for nothing. From what I’ve seen, these Fijians are some of the most savage people on earth.”

                   

 

Fiji: A Novel is available via Amazon as a kindle ebook and trade paperback. For more information go to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

 

Happy reading! – Lance & James

 

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The tale of a young missionary torn between her love for God and her love for a man in 19th Century Fiji. It’s a tale of lust, action, adventure, romance…and more lust!

 

“Fiji a perfect combination of romance and action.”

Susannah wants to convert the natives, Nathan wants to fleece them. It’s a recipe for conflict. In the mid-1800’s, Fiji was a melting pot of cannibals, warring native tribes, sailors, traders, prostitutes, escaped convicts and all manner of foreign undesirables. It’s in this hostile environment in our story that an innocent young Englishwoman and a worldly American adventurer find themselves. Despite their differences, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them. When their lives are suddenly endangered by marauding cannibals, they are forced to rely on each other for their very survival.

Our historical adventure-romance has been called “a spellbinding novel of adventure, cultural misunderstandings, religious conflict and sexual tension set in one of the most exotic and isolated places on earth.”

Here’s what other reviewers say about Fiji: A Novel:

“A gripping and graphic story of historic Fiji.” -Great Historicals

“I give it 5 stars because that’s the maximum allowed.” -RandomWritingsBookReviews, Suva

“An intense story that will have you turning the pages long into the night.” -Author Susan Heim

“A perfect combination of romance and action.” -The Kindle Book Review

 

Fiji: A Novel is available via Amazon as a trade paperback and kindle ebook. The Amazon link is: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

 

Happy reading! – Lance & James

 

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Our historical adventure-romance Fiji: A Novel has topped another readers’ list on the international literary site Goodreads.com – this time for the most popular works of fiction that have a country in the title.

Fiji: A Novel currently occupies #1 position on the list ahead of E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India (at #2), Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia (#3), Michael Crichton’s Congo (#4) and Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn (#5).

For the top 100 on this list go to: http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/32783.Countries#12884662

Meanwhile, Fiji: A Novel continues to attract 5-star reviews. This one, by Amazon reviewer Great Historicals, remains the most popular review with readers – and my personal favorite!

★★★★★ A gripping and graphic story of historic Fiji       February 27, 2012

By Great Historicals

Ever since I read the Mutiny on the Bounty Trilogy as a teen, I have been drawn to exotic stories about the South Pacific. Fiji immediately drew my interest and I was more than pleased with this fascinating novel.

If you like your stories straight up, told like it really was, and without any sugar coating, then Fiji is sure to please. This novel transcends gender and will appeal to both male and female readers. The characters in the story fascinated me, evolving and adapting to their circumstances and surroundings. The underlying romance that weaves itself through the story is beautifully written and credible as the couple move from intense dislike to meaningful love.

This book had a bit of everything – sex, violence, humor, historic detail, and plenty of twists to keep one reading. A warning for all readers – in keeping with the authentic tone throughout, you will come across scenes of ritualistic slaughter and cannibalism. A fabulous novel, beautiful for its blunt rawness, exotic scenery, and fascinating storyline. Definitely one to pick up and read…A quality book for sure!

 

Fiji: A Novel is available on Amazon in both kindle and trade paperback form via these links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/ & https://www.createspace.com/3671234

 

Happy reading! Lance

 

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Fiji is known as ‘the Friendly Isles.’ However, it was once known as ‘the Cannibal Isles’ – and for good reason.

           

We capture all the history and the violence, the lust, the religious bigotry, the beauty and the clash of cultures that existed in 19th Century Fiji in our adventure-romance Fiji: A Novel.

                 

In the 1800’s, Fiji was a melting pot of cannibals, warring native tribes, sailors, traders, prostitutes, escaped convicts and all manner of foreign undesirables. It’s in this hostile environment our story is set.

     

Fiji: A Novel is the tale of a young missionary torn between her love for God and for a man in 19th Century Fiji.

An innocent young Englishwoman and a worldly American adventurer are thrown together through circumstance. Susannah wants to convert the native Fijians, Nathan wants to fleece them. It’s a recipe for conflict.

Here’s a brief excerpt from an early chapter of Fiji: A Novel

The young American was well aware of Fiji’s reputation for being a South Sea paradise and a place where a pretty penny could be made. It was now the trading center of the South Pacific. Variously referred to as the Feejee Islands, the Friendly Islands, and the Cannibal Isles, he guessed it was the latter description that was probably the most deserving. He’d been told cannibalism was not only practised by the fierce Fijians, it was rife—as many a white man and the occasional white woman had found to their cost. It hadn’t surprised him to learn that Fijians were constantly at war, and defeated enemies invariably ended up consigned to the cooking pot or, at best, to a lifetime of slavery.

Understanding the bloody history of Fiji had convinced Nathan his latest trading venture couldn’t help but succeed. He knew these natives, like those of North America, lusted after muskets. He’d read that when the musket was introduced, not so long ago, the nature of warfare in Fiji had changed almost overnight, as it had in nearby New Zealand and, indeed, in his homeland. Centuries-old grudges between tribes were being settled once and for all as those who had muskets wreaked vengeance on those who had none; skirmishes in which a few warriors died were being replaced by full-scale battles where hundreds were slaughtered.

For a longer read, click on the book cover image (above) to access sample chapters.

And here’s what Amazon reviewers have to say about Fiji: A Novel

★★★★★ “A perfect combination of romance and action.” -The Kindle Book Review.

★★★★★  “A gripping and graphic story of historic Fiji.” -Great Historicals.

★★★★★  “I give it 5 stars because that’s the maximum allowed.” –Random Writings Book Reviews, Suva.

★★★★★  “An intense story that will have you turning the pages long into the night.” -Susan Heim, author and editor of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Fiji: A Novel is available on Amazon in both kindle and trade paperback form via these links:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/ & https://www.createspace.com/3671234

We are also developing a feature film adaptation of FIJI through Morcan Motion Pictures. The search is on for a name director to helm this exciting movie!  Lance

 

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In the latest 5-star review of our highly rated adventure-romance, Fiji: A Novel, Amazon reviewer ‘Aspired Writer’, of South Africa, describes the novel as “An excellent read, (an) exciting story from beginning to end”.

Here’s the review (abridged):

An insightful historical romance that gives you a better overview into the life of the Fijian people and their customs. Customs that for us as Europeans were unheard off, barbaric and cruel. But then Europeans (were) not innocent in their dealings with people, just more secretive about it as we know from history.

The authors’ intriguing plot kept you focused on the pages as you venture between action filled pages and the romantic nuances in the book.

Starting out as lust filled connections Nathan Johnson and Susannah Drake were the opposites in character from each other but yet the chemistry was undeniable. Susannah’s dreams filled with the young American and what he would do with her. But yet she kept her distance, knowing the arrogant and selfish man would never fit into her life.

Her father Reverend Drake, missionary to the Fiji islands did not condone the interaction and kept them apart as far as he could. But when fights erupted and Susannah was abducted he paid the ultimate price trying to protect his daughter….

….Colorful and descriptive, you are part of the lives of the people as this well written and fast paced book captures the attention.

Good and evil the two forces that fight against each other to gain the upper hand, running amok in the lives of Susannah and Nathan. Interesting characters added to the storyline making it a believable, entertaining and well planned plot.

For the full review, go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

Interview with the authors is online at:

http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/2013/05/fiji-novel-interview-and-5-star-review.html

As an aside, Fiji: A Novel is currently in Amazon’s bestseller list for paperbacks in its appropriate category.

Happy reading! -Lance & James

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Copies of The Ninth Orphan (The Orphan Trilogy #1) and Fiji: A Novel trade paperbacks will be posted out to the winners of a competition underway now on the global literary site Goodreads.com

Competition for The Ninth Orphan giveaway ends April 6 PST.

The Ninth Orphan by James Morcan

The Ninth Orphan (The Orphan Trilogy, #1) byJames Morcan, Lance Morcan

How do you catch a man who is never the same man twice?
That is the question posed in The Ninth Orphan, a top-rated international thriller novel and the first book in The Orphan Trilogy.

An orphan grows up to become an assassin for a highly secretive organization. When he tries to break free and live a normal life, he is hunted by his mentor and father figure, and by a female orphan he spent his childhood with. On the run, the mysterious man’s life becomes entwined with his beautiful French-African hostage and a shocking past riddled with the darkest of conspiracies is revealed.

Enter to win via this link: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/47606-the-ninth-orphan

Competition for the Fiji: A Novel giveaway ends April 15 PST.

Fiji by Lance Morcan

Fiji: A Novel byLance Morcan, James Morcan

Fiji is a spellbinding novel of adventure, cultural misunderstandings, religious conflict and sexual tension set in one of the most exotic and isolated places on earth.

By the mid-1800’s, Fiji has become a melting pot of cannibals, warring native tribes, sailors, traders, prostitutes, escaped convicts and all manner of foreign undesirables. It’s in this hostile environment an innocent young Englishwoman and a worldly American adventurer find themselves.

Enter to win via this link: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/47608-fiji-a-novel

 

Be in to win!

 

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Readers have complimented us on our Prologue in Fiji: A Novel with comments like “Mouth-watering” and “Very descriptive” and “Colorful visual writing”…so we thought we’d share it with you.

Here ‘tis. Read and enjoy with our compliments…

Prologue / Fiji: A Novel

A Fijian maiden stooped to pick up a shell as she walked along a white sand beach at Momi Bay, on the western side of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Sina had a natural island beauty. Lithe and graceful, her dark skin glistened in the tropical sun. She wore a traditional grass skirt and shawl made from tapa, or bark cloth.

The beach was bordered by a grove of coconut trees and the turquoise waters of the bay. Tropical birds filled the sky—among them Kingfishers that dived into the sea, competing for fish.

At one end of the beach, a distinctive headland protruded out into the Pacific. It accommodated a village whose entrance was marked by defensive fortifications in the form of bamboo palisades. The village was home to the Qopa, the region’s predominant mataqali, or clan.

Out in the bay, Qopa fishermen speared fish and cast nets from their canoes. Beyond them, foaming surf marked the reef that ringed much of Viti Levu. The constant sound of waves crashing against the reef was like the boom of distant thunder.

Several miles beyond the reef, a ship sailed by, her sails billowing as she was pushed along ahead of a light southerly. Sina and the other villagers paid scant attention to the vessel: they’d become used to the comings and goings of the white man’s ships.

The maiden noticed the shadows were lengthening. It was time to think about returning to the village. She smiled as squealing village children playing at the water’s edge splashed one another, white teeth sparkling against their black skin. Like all Fijian children, they seemed to wear permanent smiles.

Sina stopped to pick up another shell, dropping it into a woven flax bag hanging from her shoulder. Humming a traditional lullaby to herself, she was unaware a tall, muscular warrior was watching her impassively from the shadows of the coconut grove. Standing motionless, the sinister warrior held a musket in one hand. Only his coal-black eyes moved—his heavily tattooed, battle-scarred face adding to his air of silent menace.

This was Rambuka, also known as the Outcast, the charismatic leader of a tribe of cannibals feared by villagers up and down the coast. Rambuka’s eyes subconsciously widened as he studied Sina. He liked what he saw. Finally, he moved, gliding soundlessly among the palm trees like a spirit as he stalked his prey.

Still singing, Sina bent down to study an unusual shell. A sudden movement to her left caught her eye and she looked up to see Rambuka rushing toward her, musket in hand. She recognized him immediately. Screaming, she turned to flee, but had barely taken a step before her assailant was onto her, dragging her back to the trees. Startled by her screams, the children ran toward the village, shouting.

Terrified, Sina lashed out and twisted around, trying to bite her attacker. Rambuka slapped her hard, momentarily stunning her. Everything started spinning and Sina felt as if she might faint. Effortlessly hoisting her over his shoulder, the Outcast began running inland.

Behind them, Qopa warriors came running from the nearby village, alerted by the children’s screams. Most carried clubs or spears, while some had tomahawks they’d acquired from white traders. Nearly all were tattooed about the arms, legs and torso. The warriors were led by Joeli, son of the village ratu, or chief.

A big, powerful man, Joeli’s proud bearing and intelligent eyes were clues to his royal bloodlines. Bone earrings hung from his ears and a huge, intricately-carved, whale bone club dangled from a cord around his waist, a dozen human teeth inlaid around its head testament to how many men he’d killed in battle. Most striking, however, was his massive hairstyle. Nearly two feet high and even wider across, it was dyed blue with yellow stripes through it. Earlier treatment with burnt lime juice would ensure it remained stiffened in place for a few more days at least.

Some of Joeli’s warriors wore equally flamboyant hairstyles—many dyed a bright color and some even multi-colored; several sported hairstyles of a geometric shape while the orange-dyed hair atop one proud warrior was all of six feet in circumference. Such weird and wonderful styles could be seen on men throughout Fiji and were worn as a symbol of masculinity and social standing.

The frightened children all talked at once and pointed down the beach. Joeli led his warriors to the spot the children had indicated and there two sets of tracks were immediately visible in the sand. He turned, grim-faced, to his warriors. “It could only be the Outcast,” he decreed.

A fine-looking young warrior with a distinctive birthmark on his forehead and a zany, geometric hairstyle asked, “Who has he taken?” This was Waisale, a close friend of Joeli’s.

Joeli looked down, avoiding his friend’s eyes. He suspected that Rambuka had abducted Sina, but didn’t want to say as much until it was confirmed. It was common knowledge Waisale and Sina were lovers.

A sense of foreboding suddenly came over Waisale as he studied the footprints that Rambuka and his captive had left behind. “Sina!” he murmured. Without another word, Waisale sprinted into the coconut grove, following the tracks into the dense rainforest beyond. The others ran hard on his heels.

#

Dusk was approaching and Sina was near exhaustion when the Outcast finally stopped running, allowing her to briefly rest and drink from a shallow stream. Their flight had taken them into the forest-covered hills above Momi Bay.

Scratches and bruises covered Sina’s face and body, and she winced as she splashed water over her face. Aware of Rambuka’s reputation and knowing what fate awaited her, she looked frantically around, her mind racing, desperate to find a way out of her predicament…

 

If you are enjoying it so far, click on the cover image of Fiji: A Novel (below) to read the balance of the Prologue and the opening chapters of this novel at no charge.

For readers’ reviews, or to purchase the trade paperback or kindle version of this book, go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

 

Happy reading! –Lance & James

 

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