Thursday, June 27, 2013


Title: Jaz & Miguel
Author: R.D. Raven
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: May 3, 2013
Genres: Romance, Suspense
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Source: Received from author for review
Ellen’s smiley rating: 5/5


A girl from Seattle.
A boy from South Africa.
A painful past.
An uncertain future.

Seattle born-and-bred Jaz Curtis knows only one thing in her life: that she doesn't know where it's going. Maybe that's why, when she sees an article about a student exchange program in South Africa, it sounds like a great idea.

Portuguese South African, Miguel Pinto, and Xhosa-Speaking, Sandile Mabuyo, have been best friends since they were ten, but the harsh realities of the country they live in (and what can happen to loved ones in it at any moment) transforms their friendship into a veritable brotherhood in blood when they are only seventeen.

Two years later, Sandile is dating Afrikaner girl, Elize van Zyl, which, in the "New South Africa," should be fine--if not for the (allegedly) racially motivated killings that occurred in Elize's neighborhood only a few weeks before they met. 

Miguel, on the other hand, is not interested in love. What for? So it can be lost in a breath?

Enter Jonathan P. Abbey, freelance tabloid journalist, suffering a mid-life crisis at forty-two and desperate for his lucky break. Abbey has come to realize that luck comes to those who make it--and that veld fires, once lit, burn endlessly. Jaz, Miguel, and Sandile might just be the right veld fire waiting to be lit, one which will disgorge a torrent of reportable events, each worthy of being published in the finest newspapers across the world.

Will Abbey light that fire? Or let it light itself and simply take the pictures?


When American born Jaz Curtis goes to South Africa to attend a six-month-long course at the University of the Witwatersrand, she is a sheltered girl out on her first real adventure; young, naive and as innocent as a modern eighteen-year-old girl can be. This changes drastically when she befriends Miguel Pinto and his best friend Sandile Mabuyo. Soon Jaz is caught up in Sandile's illicit affair with Elise, an Afrikaans girl. The four friends have a good time until Jonathan P. Abbey appears on the scene and Sandile's drug-using past catches up with him.

Set in a very realistically portrayed South Africa, Jaz & Miguel will appeal to anybody who wants to learn about the country and especially the smaller details that you won't find in a travel brochure. From an encounter with a sangoma, a Xhosa funeral ritual to a riot, the author doesn't paint a particularly dark or rosy picture; he just tells it as it is. The first part of the book is dedicated to descriptions of how Jaz experiences South Africa, the bonding of the friends and more specifically, the developing relationship between Jaz and Miguel. The question however is: can such a relationship ever lead to more seeing as Jaz will be leaving the country at the end of her course?

In the last third of the book tragedy strikes and the story picks up speed to become a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat reading experience.

The main character, Jaz, shows growth and change throughout the story. I can honestly say that this book contains some of the most realistic characters I have ever encountered in a book. Although the story is serious and deals with severe personal loss, hatred, revenge and difficult choices, it contains some wit and humor to lighten the mood. Ultimately it deals with making the right choices and that, even when a person is on a dark and destructive road, he/she can turn around and start over.

The ruthless reporter, Jonathan P. Abbey, is a prime example of how ambition and greed can destroy not only one's own life but also the lives of others.

For a reading experience with depth, lots of information and some tender and often uplifting romance in it, I highly recommend this book. Five stars to a great book and an author who clearly took the time to do some excellent research.



R. D. Raven ("Rick") is a Luso-South-African living in Germany.

Although always an artist and having tried just about every type of art and fine art by the time he was seventeen—painting, drawing, singing, acting, guitar, piano, sculpting—writing as a form of self-expression only came much later in life.

Rick's favorite movie genres are comedies, romantic comedies and fantasies. His favorite book genres include just about everything. His Top 10 favorite movie list includes: The Holiday, Love Actually, Avatar, The Lincoln Lawyer, and Boyz n the Hood.

When not writing, he makes a living as a computer-programmer with one leg in Germany and the other in the UK. He moved to Germany six months after meeting the love of his life on an internet dating site (before the boom of Facebook and other social networks). The two of them continue to live happily together since 2007. Rick believes this to be the perfect romantic story; but one he will never write.

The pseudonym, R. D. Raven, was influenced in part by the poem, The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.


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