An expat Kiwi has released his debut novel Broken Vows, inspired by his maternal grandparents' forbidden romance, set against the backdrop of the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake.

Set in New Zealand and Fiji during the 1930s, Broken Vows is loosely based on the story of author Rohan West's grandfather Alec Robinson, an ordained Catholic priest who broke his vows after finding love with nurse Anne McLaughlin.

Mr West, a sports marketer, aged 49 who now lives in Leicestershire, UK, is delighted his book has been released after nearly 10 years in the making.

"This has been a labour of love for me but it's an inspiring story which I wanted to share," he said. "The story of how my grandparents met, fell in love and eventually ran away together was a family secret for over 50 years. My mum and aunt only found out by accident. My grandpa loved literature, so I wanted to honour their beautiful story by writing about it."


The release of Broken Vows coincided with the 85th anniversary of the 1931 quake, in which the protagonists meet as nurse and patient.

"The earthquake still has great resonance back home. So having the book come out around the anniversary is fortuitous.

"Napier, Hawke's Bay and the earthquake play a significant part in the book. My grandfather was a seminarian at Mount Saint Mary's in Taradale. He was seriously injured in the earthquake and my grandmother was sent to the seminary to tend the wounded. That's where the romance started, but details were very light, hence turning the story into a piece of historical romance fiction."

Broken Vows was released on February 28 by UK-based Troubador Publishing.