Aussie Book Review: Tears of the Cheetah by T.M. Clark
“The fight to save the cheetahs is a race against time.
Mackenzie came to South Africa to escape the trauma of her past and build herself a bright new future: love is the last thing on her mind. But she’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore her feelings for the strong-minded Cole, who runs the game reserve for cheetahs just outside her town. Cole has made no secret of his feelings for her, but he realises that Mackenzie cannot be rushed so he is prepared to wait.
However, neither could have predicted the terrifying events that are about to overtake them. When Cole saves Mackenzie from a vicious attack, it is only the beginning of an ever-spiralling maelstrom of violence.
Someone is decimating Africa’s cheetah population, and when the poaching threat comes to their door, Mackenzie and Cole have only one option: they must fight to save the animals and life they love.”
Did you know that the Cheetah (also known as “the Cat that cries”) is one of the most difficult big cats to breed and that the process is a huge challenge to conservation because the female makes the choices when it comes to mating?
While this is not what T.M. Clark impresses upon us in this novel, I thought I’d just let you have a fact! Instead, she focuses on the seedier side of illicit game hunting and brings home to us the sad truth that the fastest land animal in the world is losing its most important race – the race for survival!
An estimated 100,000 cheetahs lived throughout Africa and parts of the Middle East and Central Asia at the turn of the century and there are now only about 10,000 cheetahs left, with South Africa being home to fewer than 1,500 of these magnificent cats. Without the conservation measures that are now being taken (and have been for a number of years), those well-known Cheetah tears will soon dry up and become just a distant memory.
Part of the success of the Cheetah population thriving is the need to have reserves free of predator competition and this is where Cole, Tina's main male protagonist, comes in. Dedicated to his work with the Cheetahs and his fierce determination to halt the indiscriminate capture and removal of cheetahs from the wild, he offers them a home where they are able to live without fear of poaching and other predatory game such as lions, enabling their population to have the best chance of survival.
Tina's female protagonist, Mackenzie, is an American girl, who has been running for the last two years from her past, the grief of losing someone close to her and a family that became too cloying for her free-spirited nature. Like the Cheetah, Mackenzie is trying to win the most important race of her life – in her case, it is one of self-sufficiency and the need for independence.
Together, Cole, Mackenzie and the plethora of distinct characters around them make a formidable team when both Mackenzie and the Cheetahs are threatened. And there just might be a beautiful love story to soothe the adrenalin.
Having had the pleasure of reading every one of Tina's books since she was first published, I find myself waiting eagerly for her annual contribution to the literary world and, one of the things I love about her writing is that, except for Shooting Butterflies, she tends to place a stranger in her South African settings. In doing so, she allows her audience to see life through a non-resident's eyes and learn about the realities faced by the country’s people on a daily basis.
Tina even goes so far as to have that character relate its history which, in turn, educates those readers who have never had the opportunity to live in a country that is holding on by threads. Weaving fact into fiction, she not only validates the realities of daily life but showcases the largest threats to both wildlife and humanity in this country.
The intensity of T.M. Clark’s storytelling is as powerful as the pulsating heart of the Continent of Africa itself - from the booming mini-bus taxi industry, overcrowded buses, illegal shebeens, informal settlements where crime is rife and the markets where illicit trading can occur at any time, to the spectacular scenery of the open veld and mountainous region of the small farming town of Underberg in the Drakensberg Mountains, Tears of the Cheetah transported me right back to the place I left seven years ago.
If you enjoy books by Tony Park or Bryce Courtenay, don’t hesitate to pick this one up.
I wish to thank Harlequin Australia and Morey Media for providing me with a hard copy of this novel.
About the Author
Born in Zimbabwe, Tina Marie completed her primary school years at boarding school in Bulawayo, but on weekends and holidays, her time was spent exploring their family ranch in Nyamandhlovu, normally on the back of her horse.
Her teenage years were totally different to her idyllic childhood. After her father died, the family of 5 women moved to Kokstad, a rural town at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, where she lived in the boarding school hostel as her home. In winter she walked to school in the snow and could never get warm, and in summer she sweated having to wear an impractical, but smart, blazer on the same trail.
She began writing fiction when she moved to the UK while being a stay at home mum to her two sons, following a suggestion from her husband Shaun during a trip to Paris, and she hasn’t looked back.
Now living on a small island near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, Tina Marie combines her passion for story telling with her love for Africa. When not running around after the men in her life, she gets to enjoy her hobbies, which include boating, reading, sewing, travel, gardening, and lunching with her friends. (Not necessarily in that order!)
Passionate about Africa, different cultures and wildlife, most of Tina Marie’s books are set somewhere on that ancient continent.