It’s fitting that the last time I was in New Zealand was exactly four years ago and I’m celebrating the anniversary of that trip with my fifth novel based around Queenstown and the couples or trios who met there. In Safe Arms is that novel and I’m so thrilled to be able to bring you Trent and Angelo’s story. These boys mean the world to me. They spoke loud and clear, fighting for their happily ever after every step of the way. It wasn’t an easy road through, and in the shadow of the mountain ranges surrounding Queenstown and on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, they finally saw each other as more than friends.
My inspiration for the original story I wrote (Whiteout) came from a trip to the snow while my family and I were visiting Queenstown. We were up at Cardrona ski field and my then two year old threw a snowball at my face—because of course what could be better than getting mum? I stepped away to fish out the ice that had managed to slide straight down my top and was melting its way through my bra and watched as one of the on-mountain rescuers tore up the slope with a sled strapped behind his snowmobile. Ford was born. The guy that followed him out on the second snowmobile carrying a medical pack was Trent. I published Whiteout six months later.
Standing right there on the bunny slope with my kids pounding me with snowballs, I pulled out my phone and started writing notes. But it wasn’t until we were back in Queenstown relaxing in the park by Lake Wakatipu that I started to get a feel that perhaps Trent wasn’t so happy with Ford finding love with a man—Reef. I knew there was something more to him. He was someone I wanted to hate, but at the same time I couldn’t. I didn’t know why. Twelve months later, I was teaching a class seemingly having forgotten about Trent, and one of my students told me a story. From that moment on, Trent started whispering in my ear.
But Caden, Mace and Ricky needed their happily ever after first. Another class, another day and Caden’s story, All He Needs, came to me (this seems to happen a lot!). Beautiful Queenstown was about to become home to a family of four, or five if you include Caden’s dad. Ricky, Angelo’s brother, was going to get the two men he’d fallen for and the daughter he could only have dreamed of having.
I knew that whoever captured Angelo’s heart would be a good person, but at first I wasn’t sure who it would be. Angelo likes to keep things close to his chest. He’s good at keeping secrets, even from me. But there was a look. A moment. And he opened up. Angelo let me know that even though he hadn’t figured out exactly what his sexuality was, he knew who he wanted. It all went back to their meeting a decade earlier. Two men standing on a bridge. One contemplating what his life meant and the other beginning a new adventure. Drinks back in town was the start of their friendship that would stand strong, despite all the adversity placed in the way.
Trent and Angelo experience so much of Queenstown together. Their runs along the lake and walks under the cherry blossoms, and fishing on the pier (although the pier that inspired their fishing expedition isn’t in Queenstown, it’s only about half an hour away). They fall in love there, just like I did, and I hope you will too.