It's Hump Day again and it's Con Riley's turn in the Hot Seat.
Where would you choose to be exiled and what three essential items would you take?
The definition of exile strikes me as being sent anywhere far from home with no chance to ever return. It wouldn't matter if the place of exile was a tropical paradise, a fantastic forest, or a bustling city full of bright lights — nothing could ever beat getting to go home one more time. And that's exactly the situation in which Vanya, one of the main characters in my latest release, finds himself.
In Be My Best Man, Vanya truly is exiled. A hate crime he barely survived means he can't ever safely return to Russia, and because Vanya left in such a hurry, he has nothing of home to treasure while learning to live in London.
So, what have I learned from Vanya about essential exile items?
Firstly, I now know that I'd gather as many photos of my friends and family as I could carry. Vanya has none, not a single one, only seeing his mother and sister in his dreams, which is crippling for someone with such a huge heart. It's no wonder he works so hard to forge a brand-new family.
Secondly, I'd take a phrase book. Until Vanya meets Jason, he can barely get by in English. Falling in love gives him a reason to learn fast, but I think I'd absolutely take a phrase book just in case I don't have someone half as patient as Jason to help me learn a second language.
And thirdly, I'd take a tent! Shelter, even in a city, can be hard to come by without breaking some rules. Vanya's insecure housing situation isn't unusual for immigrants, but the steps he takes to create a home in the UK come with a huge risk — if Jason finds out where he's living, Vanya could lose him for good.
So, a tent, a phrase book, and as many photos of friends and family as I could carry would be the bare minimum to bring with me, if I was exiled. But if I'm allowed a fourth item, I'd try to bottle some of the hope that Vanya never gives up, because it's that hope which lets him fall in love for the first time and find his best man in Britain.
~ Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?
After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya's vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.
According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.
Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.
Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.
Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.
When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don't disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.