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Samba, sex and self-loathing

A contemporary romance novel set in Rio de Janeiro

Samba, sex and self-loathing delves into contemporary social pressures for women in their late thirties, with wit and realism. Set in the exotic but dangerous city of Rio de Janeiro, this book touches on the highs and lows of Brazilian culture, from colourful carnival to life-threatening shoot outs. Based on a collection of stories from real ex-pats in Rio, it’s a tale of friendship between four independent women and one philandering closeted bi-sexual male – all searching for love and happiness in their own misguided way.

Amy, the proud owner of a geriatric womb but a sensational libido is absolutely terrified of turning forty and appears to be on a collision course of self-destruction via her addiction of cocaine, booze, wanking, and having sex with arseholes (literal and not).

On the verge of losing her reputable job, shrouded in her mother’s disapproval and constantly being rescued by her unimpressed brother (after drinking enough in cubic meters to fill a lake), Amy decides to run away to her beloved Rio de Janeiro, in search of her happily ever after.

Reuniting with her gorgeous, ex-pat, lady friends who are as equally promiscuous and tragic as she and needing to get knee deep in Latino lovers before settling down, Amy starts to realise that perhaps happily ever after isn’t quite what she is searching for after all.

About the Author

At the age of 16, Syd met her nose ringed, patchwork trouser wearing, dreadlocked boyfriend who was saving to go travelling. It was a no brainer that she would join him. They travelled extensively around Southeast Asia, cementing her addiction to faraway places and ingraining a need to travel whenever possible- thereafter always going solo. That was thirty-one years ago, and throughout her various careers as TV director, social worker and ESL teacher, her wanderlust continues. Whilst teaching English in Rio in 2017, Syd Kelly saw a writing competition advertised on social media for women who had travelled solo in Latin America. Having entered, her short story was chosen and included in ‘Alone Together: tales of sisterhood and solitude in Latin America’. Being dyslexic, this publication gave her the confidence to write her debut novel.


‘Samba, sex and self-loathing’ was 5 years in the making, snatching any nanosecond to write on the metro, frantically racing in between students whilst teaching English abroad or editing away in the evenings whilst fixing the injustices of the world as a social worker in the UK. The manuscript quickly becoming her boyfriend, addiction and tormentor. Beginning as a collection of anecdotes and tales she’d heard whilst travelling, the book began to weave together strong female characters based loosely on women she knew living in Rio and elsewhere. Syd is adamant that her novel is contemporary romance with a lot of sex woven in, rather than erotica. You decide. Syd finally self-published in 2022. She continues to pen her travel blog on and her second book is currently in the making.

Love This Book!


United Kingdom

Whisks you away

A fun and riotous journey in sunsoaked Río. The perfect antidote to an impending cold winter. Laughter, tears and lots of sexy time.



A journey full of sun sex and samba

Hilarious tales that take you to a world I didn’t know existed. Funny, awkward, eye watering and sometimes sad. Can’t wait for Amy’s next journey



Couldn’t put this down

Read this on a recommendation from a friend who thought I’d like it because I like Brazil, Brazilian music and sex and they weren’t wrong. Finished reading it in 4 days, which is probably a record for me —such a good read!


United Kingdom

Not for the vanilla kind !

Fantastic read – that we all can relate to in some way, had me hooked from the start. Would throughly recommend, well done to the author


United Kingdom

A must read!

I gasped, laughed and was afraid for the friends living in Rio’s sexually charged and dangerous city. It’s heart in your mouth stuff. An exciting and erotic read.



Love, love loved it!!

I was totally gripped from the start of Amy’s journey in Rio. It’s funny, it’s graphic, it’s sexy and dangerous but beautifully told. The unexpected ending made me cry, something I wasn’t expecting. A book that covers all emotions. A must read.