Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She's leaving the life she's known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance – the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral's childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father's death.
Circumstance confirms Coral's worst suspicions, but when Rafe's life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman's affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral's inheritance? Or does Rafe's troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?
The overture was dramatic, evoking the crack of thunder and torrential rain; stage lighting gradually turned from red to gold, conjuring the breaking of daylight. Two sculptural figures became outlined against flashes of lightning: a man and a woman, naked except for a most exiguous loincloth, like the first humans at the dawn of time — alive but not yet awake.
The music built to a crescendo together with the humming of the chorus, and the dance opened. As the sun began to rise, the man reached out to the woman, and they clasped hands. He cradled her, and languidly they lifted themselves up to their feet, their bodies brushing, their eyes lost in each other’s. Sensuously, deliberately, they danced, moving as though they were one, their body language smooth as their limbs carefully unfolded. They twirled and rocked, intertwined and separated, nearly leaning onto one another but barely touching, their movements sometimes tender, sometimes almost violent. The man’s erotic movements against his partner were at first tentatively inviting, then inciting, before becoming more and more demanding and forceful. The woman was hesitant and shy to start off with, then increasingly yielding as his caresses seemed to excite her. As she watched, Coral felt contrasting emotions ignite in her as the furious energy of the dance alternated with sudden scenes of silence.
Finally, clasped together, making full contact for the first time, the couple swayed and spun around the stage in a flowing wave motion to the provocative rhythm of the music. As the frenzy reached its paroxysm, the orchestra’s fury intensified and stopped. Moments passed while the dancers held tight to each other, as though their bodies were melting together. The expression on their features as they lifted their faces to the sky was one of unimaginable joy. The show had come to an end. The dancers, still panting, their bodies glistening with sweat, took their final bow from an audience who were stamping, shouting, and throwing flowers at them in appreciation of such masterful art.
As the lights came on, Coral was still feeling goose bumps rise on her skin. It had been a captivating story of man and woman — the eternal combat between the two sexes — an unflinching tale of lust and love vibrating with uninhibited passion and primitive eroticism.
With talent and finesse, the dancers had transformed what could have been sleazy into a masterpiece of art and sensuality.
Coral had thoroughly enjoyed herself and been deeply moved. She turned to Rafe. His eyes, watching her, were more intense and compelling than ever. During the show, she had felt his stare fixed on her, but she had guessed what he was thinking and had deliberately kept her own attention focused on the stage. Why had he asked her to this show? Was it just because he sincerely thought she would appreciate the magic and the beauty of such a chef d’oeuvre? Or was there an ulterior motive behind his invitation?
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Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveler, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.