'I had no real idea how I would get there. I just knew I would go, somehow.'
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.
John Harrison, who recently won the 2011 Wales Book of the Year with Cloud Road, wrote:
"Hilton's Cuban adventure is like Havana's mojito cocktail, deceptively smooth and tasty, but underneath is a wicked bite. Take a long draught. Arrange for a friend to take you home."
Richard Gott, author of Cuba: A New History, wrote:
"Almost everyone falls in love with Cuba, intoxicated by its climate, its scenery, its buildings, its music and its people. Some people, like Chris Hilton, are lucky enough to fall in love with a specific Cuban. Not so difficult of course, but it is much harder to write truthfully both about Cuba and about his relationship. In this, Hilton's book is a triumph."
"A fantastic tale, sometimes brutishly written, full of pace and steeped in the sense of the place. Hilton really knows Havana." Matthew Parris