In April 2011 I am delighted that my very first Novella, “ The Ordinary King” has been included in a very special ‘A Royal Wedding’ Collection of four Novellas – and released just in time for our very own Royal Wedding in the UK of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton.
And in September 2011 the Novella will be released in the ‘Royal Wedding Bells’ Duo with Raye Morgan.
What makes my Novella so different from the others?
“The Ordinary King” is not set in a fairytale castle of spires and turrets in some mythical european kingdom – but in Ghana, that stunning African country where there are many small tribal kingdoms with their own system of royalty and heritage based on the chiefs and sub chiefs of the villages.
When Kate takes a job in Africa, the last person she expects to meet is her gorgeous ex, Simon, who, due to his charity work, is now an honorary king. If that wasn’t enough, it seems that he’s expected to take a queen—and she’s his favourite candidate!
I am often asked if the ideas for my stories are based on real life events or situations which I have experienced in person and I hate to disappoint them.
But for this Novella I did find my inspiration in the many eco technology projects which are staffed by volunteers in developing countries around the world. Their goal is simple – to give these communities the opportunity to develop a digital future for themselves and their children.
But it did make me wonder about the sacrifices these volunteers make in order to give their time and energy so selflessly and the reasons behind their decision to leave their ordinary lives behind.
How wonderful it would be if one of these volunteers was recognised by the tribal kingdom in Africa they call home, and asked to become a village chief? A king?
That is exactly what happens to IT graduate Simon Reynolds. But the only person he truly wants to impress is Kate O’Neill. The girl he left behind in England.
I do hope that you enjoy travelling with Kate and Simon on their journey to discover what and who they truly want in life in the beautiful setting of Ghana in Africa.
’I am so sorry Kate, but there is still no sign of your luggage. They are chasing up the airline but you may have to do some emergency shopping. Not perhaps the finest welcome to Ghana you could have had.’
Kate O’Neill smiled across at the company agent for West Africa who had already gone beyond the call of duty to try and track down her precious suitcase. ‘I blame it on that five hour delay leaving Mexico. I only just made the connecting flight out of London with minutes to spare. It was a bit optimistic to expect my bag to have done the same, but thank you for trying Molly. I really appreciate it.’
Molly Evans sighed heavily and took a sip of her coffee. ‘Fingers crossed it will turn up soon. You do know that Andy will never forgive me if I don’t look after you on your first field trip to Ghana, don’t you? He feels bad enough leaving you in the lurch like this at zero notice.’
‘I’ll be fine,’ Kate answered. ‘Have you heard from Andy yet? His wife was still in labour when I spoke to him yesterday from Mexico.’
Molly lowered her cup and grinned across at Kate. ‘There was a text message waiting for me this morning. His twin boys are healthy, hungry and tired, just like their parents. I am so pleased for him. He has a lot of sleepless nights to look forward to, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Andy has waited a long time to have the family he wanted, even if the boys did decide to make their appearance three weeks early. Good luck to him.’
Kate lifted up her coffee cup and clinked it against Molly’s. ‘I’ll drink to that. I only hope that the delegates don’t expect me to know as much about the country as Andy does. He has been here, what, fifteen or twenty years?’
Molly nodded. ‘At least. And don’t worry; the organisers know that you had to step in at the very last minute’ Then Molly paused and looked at Kate over the top of her spectacles. ‘Unless of course I can persuade you to take over from Andy on a more permanent basis?’ Molly added in a casual innocent voice with her eyebrows raised.
Kate hesitated for a moment, her mind reeling with the impact of Molly’s innocent question.
Take over? Take over a job so totally engrossing and demanding that you can forget any kind of family life? Oh no! She had seen for herself what happened to Simon’s father and the impact his total dedication had on his wife and son. She would not be making that same mistake.
‘Ah. That would be no,’ Kate replied with a warm smile. ‘I am only working on the project for the next few weeks or so while Andy is on paternity leave.’
”Your work in Mexico has been very impressive Kate,’ Molly said with a slight nod. ‘We could really use someone with your experience to support the team here in Ghana and I know that Andy has been looking for a long term replacement for months. Why not think about it over the next few days?’
Luckily for Kate, at that moment there was a rush of chatter from the hotel reception desk as the airport shuttle bus dropped off more new delegates for the technology conference and Molly immediately started bustling together her paperwork and slurping down the last of her coffee.
‘Sorry Kate. Duty calls. Catch up with you at the welcome session, and… Kate?’
Only Kate was not listening. Her attention was totally focused on the tall rugged looking man in very dusty clothing who was standing in the elegant lobby and her jaw dropped in that fraction of a second when she recognised who it was who had just walked back into her life after three years.
A bolt of energy hit her hard in the stomach and sucked the air from her lungs so powerfully that she had to clutch onto the edge of the table with both hands to stop herself sliding off the chair and onto the floor.
She could not believe that this was happening.
It had to be some sort of crazy nightmare brought on by lack of sleep from two long haul flights after a busy week and way too much caffeine to compensate.
There was nothing else that could explain this giddiness.
She did not do giddy. She never did giddy.
Except that six feet two of broad shouldered, brown haired hunk of a man-boy from a distant country she called the past was blocking her view of the hotel entrance and the light from the halogens above his head. Even at this distance with only a side view of his head there was no doubt at all about who she was looking at.
It was a face she used to know by heart. A face she had kept in that safe locked room in her memory alongside the fading images of the people she had once loved.
But there was no mistaking him.
Simon Richard Reynolds. Her Simon.
The last person on the planet she had expected to see at that moment, in this hotel and still in Ghana after three years, took a couple of steps closer and the sight of him sent her brain into a complete spin.
This must be what it feels like to have a heart attack.
Her hands moved instinctively to smooth down the fabric of her skirt and she had to force herself not to check her hair and her shoes to make sure that she was clean and neat and almost good enough for the smartest, richest boy, in her university class. It seemed that old habits were hard to break.
‘Oh there’s Simon,’ Molly said with a smile. ‘Have you two already met?’
Met? Kate did not know whether to laugh or to cry, her brain racing with memories of Simon laughing, Simon racing along the beach holding her hand, Simon kissing her so hard that she thought she would die from the pleasure of it… Her Simon.
‘Yes. We were in the same class at university back in England. But that was years ago,’ she added quickly. ‘I haven’t seen him since. I certainly had no idea he was still in Africa.’
‘He most certainly is,’ Molly said with a certain lilt in her voice, ‘and likely to stay in Ghana for quite some time.’ We’re all very excited about what Simon has achieved here. ‘
‘Really? Is he working on one of your field projects?’ Kate asked as casually as she could; only it came out squeaky and a lot wobblier than she wanted.
Molly looked up at her in surprise. ‘Oh no. Simon was working with Andy. I am looking forward to his presentation this afternoon, but so far it sounds like one of the company’s most successful initiatives. Lucky girl – he’s all yours. Now if you will excuse me, I promise I’ll catch up with you later. And welcome to Ghana Kate. Akwaaba.’
Breathing was starting to become difficult.
Simon had been working with Andy? He was all hers?
That could not be right. She had read through the files on the three projects Andy was supervising during the long flight from Mexico and she certainly hadn’t seen Simon’s name come up. Tired she might be but she would not have missed that name which was engraved on her heart.
And then Kate sighed out loud.
Of course. Stupid girl.
All of the proposals for company sponsorship had to be through the most senior King for that particular small tribal Kingdom in Ghana. Royal protocol demanded that only the Kings for the area made those sorts of decisions. Volunteers like Simon would not be listed on any of these high level reports.
Kate’s cup rattled on the saucer as the terrible reality of her situation hit home.
Suddenly it was all a bit too much. She was on a new continent for goodness’s sake, in a new country, without her luggage, after a long nightmare journey from Mexico, her body clock had no idea what time of day it was and she was eating breakfast when she should probably be sleeping.
And now she was going to have to work with Simon Reynolds if she was going to make a go of her temporary promotion and impress her boss, just when she needed this promotion so very badly.
Kate sucked in a lungful of air and watched Molly meet and greet the other conference delegates dressed in their bright African robes or western dress and felt even more guilt. The company she worked for was one of the main sponsors for this conference. She should be on her feet and smiling and shaking hands like Molly and Simon were doing now. Networking. Explaining why Andy was not there to meet them as usual. Making the delegates feel welcome.
But that would mean talking to Simon. And she was not ready for that. Not yet.
How do you start a conversation when the real questions she really wanted to ask were along the lines of; ‘Hi Simon isn’t the weather nice for this time of year? Oh, and by the way, do you still blame me for destroying your parents’ marriage and generally ruining your life? Because I would really like to know why you abandoned me just when I needed you the most and broke my heart in the process. If it is not too much trouble?
And – terrific news – the novella is also available as a single ebook short from February 2012.
Text Copyright © 2012 by Nina Harrington. Cover Art Copyright © 2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license. All rights reserved © Nina Harrington