Synopsis: Chris Hilton is middle-aged and broke. He is also in love with a woman twenty years his junior who lives 5,000 miles away. In Cuba. He places an ad in Private Eye requesting advice and receives a reply from Paul, resident of a local prison, serving two years for fraud. Paul offers some helpful guidance. Six months later Hilton boards a Cubana flight, direct to Havana. He has £100,000 in an attaché case and a similar amount in a Channel Island bank account. Paul will soon follow after his release; they intend to start a travel business together.
Yamilia waits in Havana. She is astonishingly beautiful and of volatile temperament. Her enemies, and even some of her friends, think she is unstable, even dangerous. José, Hilton’s closest friend in Havana, agrees, ‘She is a bad woman. Do not stay with her,’ he pleads. Hilton disagrees; he’s in love, he doesn’t see her that way – Yamilia is natural, honest, a force of nature. Like a hurricane. He will create a new life with her in Cuba.
What could possibly go wrong?
Caliente: A true story of escape, love and trouble. Lots of trouble.
I’ve mentioned Books on the Underground on The London Diaries before and I think the idea is brilliant… so when they put out a tweet asking for bloggers interested in reviewing Chris Hilton’s “Caliente”, I jumped at the chance. What better way to ditch the late-winter-blues and get away from the daily commute than a title that promises you heat?
“Caliente” certainly lives up to its Spanish title, it’s hotter than hot and delivers a one-two-punch of sex, booze, heat and violence. It’s bloody brilliant in about a million different ways. The book is so atmospheric and addictive, much like the white Cuban rum Chris seems to thrive on, that I found myself listening to Cuban music and sipping a glass of wine (we were out of rum) as I devoured nearly 200 pages in one sitting.
Few books actually linger with me between reading sessions. With “Caliente”, I found myself thinking about the people and Cuba itself, daydreaming about just shucking my protective London shell and giving it all up for a faraway paradise, albeit Cuba’s a pretty poverty stricken one. I was in love with the people, both sketchy and legitimate (though there were few legit people!) and especially Yamilia, who I was shocked to find I resembled quite a lot in the bat-shit-craziness area. This was one of those rare books that I was sad to see end.
“Caliente” is nearly as good as hopping on a plane and getting the heck away from wherever the hell you are–it’s an adventure, a punch in the face, a rum filled tango and the best sex you’ve ever had and the hangover the morning after all rolled into one. Read it, now. I’ll be releasing my copy onto the Piccadilly Line on Thursday evening…