UNDER A POACHER’S MOON has no right to be so captivating. It’s a simple story, told with simple language and familiar characters. But author W. Aaron Vandiver’s descriptions of Africa’s lush natural wonders weave a magical web that’s hard to escape. The novel kicks off like many romance novels. Our hero, Anna Whitney is a wealthy financial analyst from NYC on vacation in Africa. She is divorced, middle-aged, and still reeling from the lost of an infant daughter several years earlier. In fact, despite her professional success, Anna is a mess, on the verge of becoming an alcoholic and or pill head. This African safari is a chance for Anna to either redeem herself or go full tilt wasteoid. Unsurprisingly, Anna meets a hunky safari guide named Chris and a jungle romance quickly blooms. But Anna and Chris experience “rhino interruptus” when a team of poachers kill a mother rhino and calf, spoiling their night of romance and kicking off a race to catch the horn-stealing villains.
Anna begins as an unlikeable hero; a wealthy white savior with a mind to rescue adorable jungle animals from poachers while on vacation. But she soon learns the world of illegal poaching is far more complex — and corrupt — than she ever could have imagined. Anna’s trip to the Dark Continent takes her on an evolving moral journey, leaving her a changed woman. She emerges a warrior, with a renewed purpose. If Anna can change herself, maybe she really can change the world. And while there are elements of big-screen movies such as “Out Of Africa” and “The African Queen” at work here, as well as overtones of “Bridges of Madison County” and “Naked and Afraid”, where the ruggedly handsome, mysterious older man sweeps the fiery female hero off her feet with confidence, leadership, and toned forearms, what distinguishes UNDER A POACHER’S MOON from other mid-life romance novels are Vandiver’s lyrical descriptions of the natural splendor of South Africa’s Kruger Nation Park. The exotic wildlife and lush landscape evoke a sense of primal passion, which Vandiver captures perfectly in prose. While the story and characters initially appear thin, Vandiver’s plucky pacing and increasingly philosophical tone keep the story interesting.
UNDER A POACHER’S MOON is an action-romance that’s implausible yet captivating, set against the majesty of the African wild.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader