Castaway in the Caribbean

NEWS: Castaway in the Caribbean shortlisted for the Best Author Published Romance in the prestigious Love Stories Award in London - November 2015!

Foreword by the Author

I was incredibly fortunate to spend a summer in the Caribbean, writing and researching this novel. I found it challenging only in the respect of being continually distracted from the manuscript by the tropical sunshine, the white sand beaches, the warm aquamarine sea, rum cocktails, and the fabulous social scene on offer. Many of these distractions are well documented on my blog and Facebook page if you are interested in reading the details and seeing the photos!

For the purposes of proper research for Castaway in the Caribbean, I traveled to and explored many Caribbean islands and, despite my tendency for sea sickness, I also spent a lot of time in boats. I even got to sail around Tortola, the larger of the British Virgin Islands, in a restored schooner that had been used in the filming of the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

The Virgin Islands inspired me with the modern day setting for Castaway in the Caribbean because, of this chain of around ninety small islands, islets, cays and rocks in the Caribbean Sea, many are uninhabited.

I eventually settled down to write this romantic adventure story on the Caribbean island of Utila, the smaller of the Bay Islands, just off the coast of Honduras. Likened to the Key West of long ago, Utila is a quaint, unspoilt and laid-back little island. Sitting on the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, it is also a paradise for scuba diving, which is exactly what my husband was doing every day while I was busy writing this story.

Research is a valuable tool for a writer, so I do hope all the fun and adventure I had in the Caribbean has found its way into the pages of Castaway in the Caribbean. However, it must be noted that it is a writer’s imagination that creates the story and, as such, all characters and situations in this book are entirely fictional and any resemblance to actual people - living or dead - especially pirates, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Janice xx

Castaway in the Caribbean

Vacationing on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua, Janey Sinclair is persuaded by her magazine editor boss to do a quick island hop in order to supervise an impromptu photo-shoot for the front cover. With no flights immediately available, Janey is directed to the harbour.

Captain Travis Mathews hates tourists, although he’s not above making a bit of money off a prissy and sharp-tongued young British girl when she’s desperate to get to the neighbouring island of Tortola.

After striking a deal, they set off together in Travis’s weather-beaten old boat. When the vessel comes to a sudden full stop in the sea, the mismatched pair end up as castaways on an uninhabited island.

In this fast moving romantic adventure about a vacation that turns into a tropical nightmare there’s more fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure.


“Adventure, danger, romance and a backdrop to die for are all thrown in the mix to create a read that’s just perfect for whiling away a lazy summer afternoon.”

“The pace of the plot was great. I loved the settings, they really did come alive for me. The waterfall and the cave scenes took my breath away.” Jera’s Jamboree Book Blog

“If you want a fun adventure that is fast paced and mentions Treasure Island then this is for you.” Comet Babe’s Books 

“A very entertaining and fun read. Another great addition to the world of fiction by Janice Horton.” The Book Maven

“A lively romantic adventure, a nice and easy read that I found hugely entertaining, and enjoyable.” Books4U 


Chapter One

Despite being wrapped up in her winter coat, Janey Sinclair was shivering as she marched over North Bridge in the direction of her office. It was freezing, so impossible for her not to reflect on this time last year, when she had been whisked away by her boyfriend to the tropical island of Antigua. It was a memory forever etched in her mind: hot sun, hot sand, even hotter boyfriend and, well… it had all been really really hot.

She sighed as she pushed her way through the heavy swing doors of the old building. Her steps echoed on the polished cold marble floor of the foyer as she followed the white lines of icy light that streamed in from the tall glass windows. She took the lift, and in the few moments that it took her to reach the top floor, she thought about Mark and how it had been a really really long week.

Then she stepped out into the bustling reception area of Hot Scot Magazine.

‘Janey, you are just in time to help me choose our June cover!’ Gwen, her editor, enthused. She held up two contenders. ‘A highland landscape or a silhouetted castle ruin?’

Janey tried not to roll her eyes and began removing her coat and scarf. ‘How about we go for something more contemporary?’

Behind her designer spectacles, Gwen looked intrigued. ‘And by contemporary, you mean...?’

Janey tilted her chin and stared at a point just beyond Gwen’s left shoulder. ‘I see a beautiful Scottish girl standing on a beach in the Outer Hebrides. We should try to get Nola Nichols.’

Gwen’s eyes lit up. ‘Yes, of course. That’s a fantastic idea. She’s taking the modelling world by storm right now and she’s from Glasgow. Oh, Janey, those came for you just a few minutes ago.’ Gwen nodded in the direction of Janey’s desk and to a bouquet of fresh flowers. ‘And they must have cost him a fortune. I mean, who can afford sunflowers in February?’

Janey glanced at the card and smiled. See you tonight at our place xxx

She sighed dreamily. ‘And he knows exactly how to bring a little sunshine into my life…’

‘Their place’ was a little restaurant off the Royal Mile. It served French food with a Scottish twist and it was here that she and Mark had first met, on a blind date set up by a well-meaning mutual friend. Since then, their relationship had grown into something steady and they’d made a point of meeting here every Friday night at eight pm as a preamble to their weekends together.

Mark King was a tall, dark, very handsome, and highly successful man who could afford to take her out to expensive restaurants like this one and to buy her out of season flowers. It was just a shame that they couldn’t spend as much time together as she would have liked.

His heavy workload, his long hours, his busy court schedules, meant they only ever saw each other at weekends, and it sometimes felt to Janey like they were having an affair rather than a serious relationship.

‘Darling Janey!’ Mark sprang to his well-heeled feet as soon as she walked into the restaurant.

She rushed into his open arms, pressing her face against his shirt and crushing the sunflower she held in her hand. He was still wearing a formal suit, which told her that he hadn’t yet had time to go back to his apartment and change into something that he considered more casual for the start of their weekend. She inhaled his signature cologne: a hint of woodnotes and old leather mixed with lime citrus. It smelled warm and sophisticated and expensive; so very him.

As they sat down opposite each other, the sommelier rushed over to pour their signature wine – a Chateauneuf-Du-Pape; ‘a hint of sensuous sophistication mixed with zest’ according to Mark, who was a bit of a wine connoisseur. They’d enjoyed a bottle of this particular wine on their first date and then every Friday since. As a polite gesture, they were always offered a menu, but they always had the same meal. Mark had the Angus Steak, very rare, and Janey had the Chicken Balmoral with a whisky jus.

Some might have thought this quirky repetition rather boring, but Mark liked his routine and he particularly liked to recreate all moments he had enjoyed, so Janey was happy to go along with it.

It made him happy. She found it reassuring.

She always knew where she was with Mark.

‘Oh look, I’ve squashed the flower you sent me.’ she said sadly, holding up the drooping bloom.

He smiled. ‘No matter. I sent you sunflowers as clue to the surprise I have for you. You have to guess what it is...’

‘You have a surprise – for me?’

Last week, he’d given her a beautiful yellow gold necklace to match the bracelet he’d given her the week before. Was this the matching earrings, she wondered, a tad hopefully?

‘Erm… now let me think…’ she pondered, playing along with the game. ‘Okay, then let me see… It’s golden and its round…’

Oh my goodness – it’s a ring!

Her heart swelled with excitement. She had dreamed of this moment; the moment that someone loved her so very much, that more than anything else, they wanted to be with her for the rest of their life.

Should she accept straight away or tell him that she had to think about it? But really, what was there for her to think about? She was thirty years old and they had been together for three years. Okay, not three whole years, but three years of weekends. And then there was the one week holiday in Antigua last year. That all added up to over a year of sharing the same bed.

‘Like the sun!’ she concluded, teasing him into thinking that she hadn’t guessed.

‘Yes. That’s it! I’ve just booked for us to go back to our hotel in the Caribbean.’

He slid the holiday confirmation across the table towards her, and all thoughts of necklaces, bracelets and rings immediately disappeared when she realised she was escaping from the horrible cold Scottish winter and heading for tropical sunshine again.

Oh what an adventure! Sun and sea and beaches and sand and hot sunshine!

‘You mean, the place we went to last year? We are going back to The Paradise Beach?’

‘Of course – where else? We fly out on Monday morning.’

Janey was just about to shout for joy when she suddenly saw all the obstacles in her way.

‘Monday? Oh no, I can’t. You see, I’d have to ask Gwen for the time off. I still have holiday to take, but we still have to put the June issue to bed. She’d never give me the time off at such short notice.’

Mark smiled smugly and reached out to take her hand. ‘Darling, it’s all organised. I’ve already spoken with Gwen. She has granted you a week’s leave. All you have to do now is pack your suitcase.’

They flew premium class, so while all the economy passengers were still queuing at the gate, they were whisked through and onto the aircraft to toast each other with foaming flutes of champagne. Once they were in the air, Mark, who didn’t actually enjoy flying very much, popped a couple of anxiety pills into his mouth and fell promptly asleep. Janey happily stretched out in her fully reclining seat and finished off what remained of the champagne, while watching romantic comedies on her personal TV screen. In no time at all, or so it seemed, they were preparing to land in Antigua.

As the plane descended, she looked out of the window to see palm trees swaying on the white sand beaches of the coastline below and the sun shining on the blue Caribbean Sea. She turned in excitement to Mark, who was still sprawled out beside her.

‘Wake up, darling. Look, we are here!’

That same afternoon they were relaxing on their beach loungers, sipping cocktails, as Janey happily took in the scene around them: the five star resort, the pristine white sand, the warm clear lapping waters of the Caribbean Sea. ‘Oh, to think only yesterday we were freezing in Scotland and today we are melting in the Caribbean.’

‘You certainly look hot,’ Mark told her, his voice deep and deliberately playful.

Through her designer sunshades, she watched the sexy smile playing on his lips and allowed her gaze to wander over his naked torso. This was a very different Mark. This wasn’t Barrister Mark. This was Holiday Mark who might be up for a few adventures in and out of the bedroom. It might seem like she’d not seen this version of him since last year, but she had to make allowances for that, as back home he was Very Successful Mark who had a Very Important Career.

He also had a very attractive body. He was long and lean and he looked after himself. He watched what he ate. He worked out in a gym every morning before work. He was meticulous.

‘How about we go back to our room and cool down in the shower?’ she suggested.

Giggling like naughty teenagers with their libidos fuelled with cocktails, taking a shower and going to bed in the late afternoon sounded like such a bold idea. Until they actually reached the bed. No sooner had their jet-lagged heads hit the soft pillows and their over-heated bodies grazed the cool sheets, than they both fell fast asleep.

The room was confusingly dark when Mark leapt from the bed to check the time on his phone. ‘Have we missed dinner?’

Janey, still enjoying the feeling of being wrapped in drowsy luxury and the finest cotton sheets, urged him to come back to bed. ‘I’m not hungry. Come back to bed, sweetheart?’

‘No. Come on sleepy head. We have a reservation for eight pm.’ He slapped her backside through the sheet. ‘We can still make it if we get a move on.’

Strings of fairy lights and low-slung lamps led the way from their villa through a sandy avenue of palm trees to the hotel’s open-air restaurant. Along the way, tropical frogs croaked and fireflies hovered and the air was heavy and warm.

Inside, at each table, a candle flame flickered in a glass lantern. A tropical sea breeze and overhead fans in the palm-thatched roof provided the air conditioning. The atmosphere was sultry. Glamorous loved up couples sat at the tables, either eating delicious looking food or holding hands. A reggae band was playing a familiar beat, and the sounds and smells of the Caribbean filtered towards Janey and Mark as they entered the restaurant with their fingers entwined.

They were met by the Maitre’d, who immediately recognised them from last year.

‘Mr King and Miss Sinclair, welcome back to Antigua. Your table is ready. Please follow me.’

They were led to a reserved table. Janey recalled that it was exactly the same table they’d had last year.

Mark looked entirely satisfied. He tipped the waiter generously and ordered champagne. Then before they were even seated, he turned to Janey. ‘Would you care to dance, Ms Sinclair?’

She smiled at him, bemused by the total accuracy of his re-enactment of the previous year.

On the dance floor Mark swept her into his arms. She closed her eyes and took in the scent of him, expecting a warm waft of the new cologne she had bought for him at the duty free, which she now realised had been an expensive mistake as he’d chosen to keep to his signature scent after all. 

They swayed together to the pulsing beat. The singer, a black man with long dreadlocks and a quirky-looking rasta hat on his head, gyrated his snaky hips and shook a tambourine as he sang ‘Could This Be Love’. It was all so perfect and yet, also a bit surreal in its familiarity.

It was as if time itself had been caught in a loop, because here they were again, one year later, dancing to the same tune.

Only when the music changed tempo, did Mark lead her back to their table.
As they sat down, he continued to hold her hand and looked intensely into her eyes.

‘Janey, there’s something I want to ask you.’ He spoke softly, his voice almost a whisper.

Locked in his gaze and loved up on music and afternoon cocktails, she waited quietly to hear what it was he was going to ask her.

‘I’d planned to do this later, perhaps on the beach under the stars or something, but I simply can’t wait any longer.’

Then he fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box which he flipped open and slid towards her. Inside was not just one but two rings: a diamond solitaire and an etched gold band.

‘Darling Janey, will you marry me?’

No comments: