Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Crossing Hearts


I love to travel, and I’ve been to lots of exotic places: Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Uruguay, and for Easter I’m off to Namibia. But when I travelled to Amsterdam earlier this year, I was suddenly struck by how rarely I’ve found myself having to navigate using a foreign language! I speak decent Spanish and basic French, and all of my African travel has been to English-speaking countries.

To be fair, English is in common use in the Netherlands, too. But when I arrived in Amsterdam I decided to go native and try out some of the Afrikaans vocabulary I’ve picked up since moving to Johannesburg in 2013. Afrikaans is a Dutch dialect brought to South Africa by early settlers. I knew Afrikaans speakers can understand Dutch speakers and vice versa, so I was confident my basic skills would stand me in good stead.

Guess what? I was wrong! It all started in the taxi, when I tried to thank the driver with baie dankie – pronounced bye-uh dahn-kee – the Afrikaans phrase for many thanks. He just stared at me, so I tried something else: ons is hier (we are here). Another blank stare! I sheepishly paid the fare and slunk off to the hotel.

Later I asked one of my Dutch colleagues how I’d gone wrong. She explained that Afrikaans is such an old form of the Dutch language that it’s basically “baby Dutch,” an extremely simple version of the way they speak today. Although Dutch people can understand Afrikaans, at first listen she said it sounds like toddler-speak. No wonder the taxi driver looked at me so strangely – I’d basically spoken like a two-year-old!

The hero in Crossing Hearts, Rio Vidal, feels much the same I did. A Chilean national moving to the States for the first time, he doesn’t speak a word of English. His inability to communicate is frustrating and embarrassing, but thankfully he’s got a sexy interpreter – Eva Torres – to help him find his way in his new life… And in love!

Have you ever felt like a fish out of water in a new country? Comment for a chance to win Crossing Hearts, the first book in the new Atlanta Skyline soccer series!

New to the U.S. soccer scene, not to mention the English language, compact yet explosive Chilean soccer legend Rio Vidal is driven to define a role on his new team, Atlanta Skyline. But he must also adapt to a new culture—and accept that he can’t do it alone. His beautiful interpreter, Eva, has been his voice, his refuge. But she is becoming so much more. If only he could convince her he isn’t like the other men she’s worked with, players on—and off—the field.

As a translator for pro athletes, Eva Torres is used to dealing with self-interested super stars. But Rio seems different, and she’s blindsided when he locks eyes with her across a church pew. By now, after weeks of close contact with the endearing athlete with whom she shares a language, her thoughts are far from holy. She must remind herself flirtation is probably just his default style. Plus, she’s the only one he can really talk to. But when his ambition threatens to derail his career—and their deepening connection—they’ll both have to lay their hearts on the center line.

Crossing Hearts is available from Kensington * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

Excerpt:

“Rio! Rio! Rio!”

His name was the only word he could decipher as he entered the arrivals area of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. He was hungry and tired after the overnight trip from Antofagasta and five minutes earlier he’d almost asked a security guard to sneak him out a back door so he could spend the first several hours of his new life in America soundly asleep.

Now, as flashbulbs lit up the already bright airport and a group of reporters thrust a bouquet of microphones toward his face, he thought this might be one of the best moments of his life.

His grin came easily as he surveyed the crowd. Members of the press vied for proximity, a group of fans waved Chilean flags, and a welcoming committee wearing brick-red Skyline jerseys turned in unison to show his name and number printed on their backs: Vidal, 17.

He focused on each photographer in turn, flashing the practiced smile that showcased his expensively straightened teeth. The fans’ cheering grew louder, the reporters shouted over them, and by the time Skyline’s manager, Roland Carlsson, waded over to him, Rio couldn’t make out what the stylish Swede said as he clapped him on the back.

Not that he would’ve understood the words if he’d heard them.

He blinked up at his new boss, who returned his stare expectantly. He took in Roland’s perfect haircut, the touch of grey at his temples, his tailored clothing—he couldn’t be more different from the pudgy, tracksuit-wearing manager he’d played for in Chile. After several uncomfortable seconds Roland raised his eyebrows behind his hipster glasses and repeated himself loudly enough for Rio to hear.

“Bzzz Atlanta, Rio. Bzzzbzzzbzzz.”

Rio widened his smile, hoping it was an appropriate response as anxiety quickened his breathing. It would be so embarrassing if he turned out to be grinning like an idiot at the man who’d just asked him a question—or fired him.

Roland’s friendly expression faltered. Rio’s mouth went dry. He quickly inventoried the few English words he could deploy.

Soccer. Bon Jovi. One, two, three…

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a very good book. I moved to Italy 10 years ago and I spoke very little Italian, so I can relate to Rio very well.

    natalijaDOTshkomareATgmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  2. no

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete

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