Divorced and penniless, Lexi Taylor returns to Graaff Reinet with the tail between her legs. Only a little while ago, her future looked all glamour and romance when she left her hometown to pursue professional opportunities in the hospitality industry and married the guy of her dreams. But now, her crooked ex-husband is on the run, and she is left behind to deal with his enormous debts. When her friend Paul offers her to be his singing partner at the local pub and old Marika asks for her help to open a guest house on Apricot Farm, Lexi thinks that she is back on track of regaining some control over her life. But nothing is as it seems in the sleepy Graaff Reinet, and both Paul and Marika have hidden agendas which will challenge Lexi in unexpected ways.
The town has a much bigger issue to deal with: Terebro, a big American oil company, was granted permits to explore the area for shale gas. The locals are divided as to the risks and profits fracking might bring to the community and their land. Carter O’Brien is sent to investigate the possibilities: “He looked like he’d walked from the United States to Graaff Reinet, but Lexi was optimistic that he would clean up well.” To say he is received in the Karoo with suspicion and hostility is a gross understatement. But Lexi tries to keep an open mind and, against the wishes of the other townsfolk, offers him a place to stay on Apricot Farm. Carter arrives with his own personal and professional baggage, but Lexi soon realises that she does not only want to give him a chance to do his job, but is danger of losing her heart to him, too. When someone starts firing bullets at them both, they have to fight for their lives and a future they both feel is within reach, but it will take all their courage and determination to see whether they can make it work.
Melissa A. Volker’s debut romance novel, A Fractured Land, is a declaration of love for passion, adventure and the beauty of the South African landscape. Born in Port Elizabeth to an American mother and a South African father, Volker now lives in Cape Town and divides her time between writing and surfing, often combining both by blogging and penning magazine articles about her experience as a stand-up paddler. Anyone following Volker on social media or reading her blog will also discover her deep commitment to preserving and celebrating our natural environment. And unsurprisingly, A Fractured Land combines sizzling romance with environmental awareness. Volker’s second romance novel with an eco-conscious theme has already been accepted for publication and will appear later this year. If her first is anything to go by, we are all in for another treat. As her feisty heroine affirms: “Love or hate fracking, concluded Lexi, at last things were interesting in her quiet corner of the desert.”
A Fractured Land
by Melissa A. Volker
Literary Wanderlust, 2018
Review first published in the Cape Times on 6 July 2018.