Chance for Love Book Three
By: Rachelle Ayala
On Sale Now
Published by World Literary Press
Vera Custodio has never fallen in love, though she has strong feelings for her friend and sometimes lover, Zach Spencer. Long-forgotten memories resurface when Vera discovers Zach’s mother was the woman her father supposedly murdered many years ago.
After losing his leg, former triathlete Zach Spencer reevaluates his life—and realizes he’s falling in love with Vera. When she ends their relationship, Zach is determined to prove his love and follows her to Australia in search of the killer.
Caught between a web of family secrets and a deranged adversary, Vera and Zach must depend on each other for survival. Love blossoms, but the truth explodes everything Vera knows about herself. Will she close her heart forever or risk it all for a shot at happily-ever-after?
Knowing Vera is a suspenseful, cross-cultural romance mixing an unsolved murder, action and adventure, and hot, steamy love scenes.
Guest Post: Boots on the Ground in Australia
My first two contemporary novels, Broken Build (Book 1) and Hidden Under Her Heart (Book 2), were set in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since I live here, it was easy for me to take field trips to research scenery and location. However Knowing Vera presented a challenge. Even though it starts and ends on the Golden Gate Bridge, the main action takes place half-way around the world in Australia.
Australia has always been an land of enchantment for me. The romance began with Crocodile Dundee and the Crocodile Hunter. What girl hasn’t fantasized about rugged men with dirt on their faces and a knife between his teeth wrestling crocodiles or fighting sharks while talking with that sexy, husky accent?
Reality? My first Aussie friend was a lesbian from Townsville. Okay, so she had the right color eyes, and yes, she had the accent down, but her brothers were married and oh well, she did teach me a lot of Aussie slang and told me poor people lived on the beaches in Queensland, a far cry from Bondi Beach and the imaginary surfer guys who’d G’day me with their roguish charm.
Fast forward to the 21st century. I began writing my contemporary romantic suspense novels by setting them in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. Fact checking and research were fun and easy. I had only to drive or take the BART to where I wanted to go, take pictures and notes and talk to people and I was done. I spent an entire day on the Golden Gate Bridge looking over the edge to see how wide the little catwalk was and whether someone could hang on and fight. I also took day trips to Santa Cruz, Pescadero State Beach, and Half Moon Bay to scout locations. [click here and here for posts]
But Australia hung on my mind, or rather Aussie men, specifically Zach Spencer. He popped onto the scene in Hidden Under Her Heart as the swoonworthy training partner of Lucas Knight, the biracial triathlete who was the hero of the book. Initially, he was supposed to be South African. But a quick fact check that South Africa had been banned from the 1984 Olympics had me looking for another location, namely Australia.
I settled on Melbourne when I met my friend, Rebecca Berto, who is from the Melbourne area. She agreed to help me fact check everything, from the location of the gas and brake pedal of a vehicle to the level of humidity in Melbourne as opposed to Sydney. I also met some Australians on the Golden Gate Bridge and pumped them for information, such as west side Sydney being the not so nice area as opposed to the East. So opposite to Los Angeles where I grew up.
Google was my friend for most of my research. I’d zoom into Sydney airport and map out the routes Zach and Vera took to leave the airport. I traveled through the tunnel and out many boring miles of traffic. Fortunately, I hired an Australian editor, Lauren McKellar, and she quickly pointed out there was no shuttle bus from the terminal to the car rentals. She said you walk to the car park.
She also corrected some of my Aussie slang saying only a female in her late fifties [uh… my lesbian friend from Townsville] would say things like that. As my adventurers took a detour onto Maroondah Highway, Lauren reminded me that the road signs would not say “Melbourne” anymore.
Once in the wine country, I took liberty and made up the entire Ping Crest Winery. Since I’ve been to Napa, I figured things couldn’t be too much different. I also took liberty in the architecture of Mr. Ping’s house and used my imagination while looking at water fountains in Spanish Town along the drive to Half Moon Bay to fill in the garden area.
The Central Business District and Flinders Street Station are well documented by Google Street View, so I had no problem walking Vera along the plaza and putting her fingers on the water walls. I made up the electro dance club and description of the neighborhood by looking at pictures of Revolver Underground.
When I wanted to have Vera feed the cockatoos at Grant’s Picnic Ground in the Dandenongs, I got some unexpected help from Gina Dragone, a critique partner. She and her husband actually drove through there and walked around the trails. They didn’t go in, but reported about the fenced off area and having to purchase tickets and buy seeds from the gift shop. If I had gone entirely by blog reports or YouTube videos I would have missed this, since it was a new development. In the past, people brought their own seeds and fed the birds in the parking lot.
I surely missed the natural beauty of the Dandenongs and Maroondah Highway, as well as the Yarrow Valley, the Mornington Peninsula and Port Phillip Bay. But having boots on the ground friends made all the difference in the details and I hope someday to visit Australia and see everything for myself. In the meantime, if anyone wants me to fact check San Francisco, Berkeley and Silicon Valley, just give me a holler.
Thanks Melburnians, here’s a link for you. “You’re not a Melburnian until…”
Rachelle Ayala is the author of dramatic fiction crossing genres and boundaries featuring strong but flawed characters. She writes emotionally challenging stories and is not afraid of controversial topics. However, she is an optimist and laces her stories with romance and hope.
Rachelle is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers.