Charlotte Sweeney, aka Charlie, is a 38-year old who, along with her business partner/boyfriend Doug, owns a consulting business in the heart of Silicon Valley. Charlie is also an amateur, but very skilled, photographer. She has been all over the world on photography adventures. But she hasn't been to Havana and desperately wants to go. So she tells Doug that she's going to do that, even though it means she will only be spending a couple of days with him on a planned vacation in Hawaii. She starts in Cancun, where she meets Enrique Ruiz, a very suave, very sophisticated, and very handsome Mexican man, by chance. Or is it? What follows looks like your typical vacation romance. But, trust me, it's not. And it's also very interesting that there are sub-plots surrounding getting into and out of Havana. The book takes place in the early '90's. Obviously, in light of the very recent developments between the United States and Cuba, it's going to be a lot easier getting in and out in the future.
I read this at the same time that I have been watching Showtime's The Affair. There are some parallels. What's particularly funny about it is that you really kind of root for Charlie and Enrique to get together, even though she has a boyfriend. And in The Affair, it's the same thing with Noah and Alison, even though both are already married. In fact, Noah has a wife and 2 teenage kids on vacation with him. It's wrong, but compelling at the same time. It's a little hard to explain.
There are some very poignant moments in Ten Steps. One of them is a brief encounter Charlie has with an 80-year old Indian man, who is on vacation with his family, including his 6-year old great-granddaughter. It's a one-on-one that really shouldn't matter - but does. And, in Havana, Charlie befriends a 10-year old boy who sells cigars to tourists to help support Marta, his 14-year old sister. Marta has a baby and a Monday-Friday job in a factory, but prostitutes herself on Saturdays. She's trying to save enough money to bribe the authorities so that she can get to the U.S. Again, this is a side story that definitely connects.
P.S. I loved both endings! You'll have to read it to figure out what I mean.