No one said the build-up would be easy.
Katherine Howard, 30ish, is a Darwin teacher ignorant of her emotionally stale relationship with her busy, long-term fiancé. Orphaned as a child, Kat has created a risk-averse life for herself, teaching at a local school where she has dedicated her loyalty to the education and welfare of the indigenous students. While popular in her community, Kat’s conservative nature and self-imposed limits restrain her from fully experiencing her true potential as both a teacher and a woman.
Enter Adam; mysterious, damaged and emotionally conflicted. Not entirely sure of Adam’s reason for visiting Darwin, responsibility falls on Kat to show him around. Adam’s presence jolts Kat well outside her comfort zone creating a magnetic pull that is emotionally risky and absolutely, definitely fraught. While outwardly funny, Adam’s charismatic persona hides a darker, more damaged and complex side that both intrigues Kat and begins to disturb her. Daunted by a whirlwind of events that conclude in a man being found dead on the beach, Kat begins to doubt both Adam and her fiancé’s integrity. Adam abruptly disappears and Kat decides she wants nothing more to do with him.
Returning a few days later and wanting to see Kat, Adam eventually confides he's been involved in military black ops overseas, that he was captured and tortured. Kat realises that a lot of Adam's behaviour correlates with PTSD, including his claim that he has killed a man by only concentrating on wishing him dead. Adam reveals his purpose in Darwin as being military business and affirms his involvement with the dead body. Kat has principles and questions, however she and Adam are drawn irresistibly closer. She agonises over her relationship with her fiancé, deciding to break her engagement. Kat succumbs to the Byronic hero, choosing vulnerability over security to attain greater love and belonging.
The very next day Adam disappears without a trace, leaving Kat devastated. Police never find a motive for Adam's disappearance, or for the beach death, although they discover the man found dead on the beach was wanted for overseas kidnapping charges. It is discovered that Adam had hired a boat and was seen sailing away before a low-grade cyclone hit Darwin and Adam can only be presumed dead.
Despite her loss, Kat realises it is better to have loved, flourished and lost than never to have loved at all. Lucas reappears, trying to win Kat back. Kat finally agrees to see Lucas again as friends. Three months later she has implemented her changes to the school and become stronger in her independence. However, in the last scene Kat and Lucas are being watched, but by whom?
Arafura will appeal to female and male readers who enjoy quirky, witty suspense with dark edges.