featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

MEET AUTHOR JUNE SHAW'S DYSLEXIC SLEUTH


Mystery author June Shaw lives along a lazy bayou in south Louisiana. She became a young widow with five children, completed a college degree, and started teaching junior high students. Then her deferred dream of becoming a writer took hold. Learn more about June and her books at her website. 

One Twin Sister

Frustration? Mental health issues? Did someone decide they would create a special place for people like me to air out my problems?

My name is Sunny Taylor, not to be confused with my twin Eve Vaughn who looks exactly like me—five foot ten-and-a half without shoes. Eve wears them high. I tend toward lower ones, and mine aren’t so showy. Neither are the clothes I wear or my makeup. Both of us also have red wavy hair and sky blue eyes. We look exactly alike, except she was born with a mole on top of her right breast, and I have a fleck of gold in my eye that looks brighter when I’m happy. Our common love interest, Dave Price, told me about the gold fleck that nobody else seemed to notice. I’ll tell you more about Dave after awhile.

Our mother came up with our names—Sunny for the weather when I come out to greet the world six minutes after my sister Eve, short for Evening, the time of day we were born.

My frustrating years arrived early during my first years of school when I couldn’t keep up with others in reading and getting numbers straight. By the time I reached fourth grade, my teacher gave us the wonderful revelation that I wasn’t stupid. I was dyslexic. The order of words and numbers was more difficult for me than for most others because of my dyslexia. Teachers created special tests for me that made studies not quite so difficult. In the halls, though, I heard two teachers grumbling about needing to do more work for me. Knowing a name for my problem did not stop my peers from saying I was slow.

My favorite teacher who discovered my problem told my family about people with brilliant minds who’d been dyslexic—Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Leonardo di Vinci, to name a few. Probably nobody made them special tests or teased them. In the case of twins, normally both have the problem. Disappointment hit me when we discovered my twin did not.

If having that health issue made me feel less intelligent, the one that struck when I was eight almost slaughtered me. My mother and Eve had gone shopping, and I remained home to shoot hoops with Crystal, our teenage sister, in our driveway. Since we live in south Louisiana next to a bayou, swampland separated our house from any others, so nobody else saw when somebody drove past and shot her. I dropped to my knees, calling her name, urging her to wake up. Once I saw the blood and knew she was dead, throbs started in my throat and continued. Sobs struggled to come out, but I realized even then that if I started crying, I would never ever stop.

Instead of letting tears come, I felt thrums emerging. Songs would be better while I waited for help near Crystal. I only knew “Happy Birthday” and some Christmas carols. Hums rolled around in my mouth and came out as “Silent Night.” That may not have made Crystal feel better, but it helped calm me.

That singing or humming Christmas tunes when I was afraid stayed with me. I couldn’t cry, wouldn’t cry. I’ve struggled with that problem for years. With all my counseling, it’s finally gotten better, but not totally.

Now I’m divorced. So is my twin Eve. A major frustration for me is that we care about the same man, only she isn’t aware of my feelings. He’s told me he cares for me. She’s told me she’s certain he’s her soul mate.

Do I hurt her? She’s my sister. My only sister.

A Fatal Romance
In a small town in south Louisiana, the divorced sisters attempt to build their remodeling and repair business when their newest customer drowns beside a seating area they created.  He didn’t just fall in, his wife pushed him, the sister with the eye for detail decides after the wife falls at his funeral, and his ashes fly, some of them landing in this twin’s pocket. Out to prove it and return the ashes, the twins rush ahead and wind up twisted with another death and with threats and as murder suspects. Their mother and her cadre of friends at the retirement home offer advice about murder and romance while the twins rush to find the real killer before their similar looks drop down to one.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR MARY VINE COOKS UP BURRITOS

Mary Vine is a contemporary romance author who has also published an historical novella and a romantic mystery. She also owns a publishing company and besides self-publishing some of her own works, she’s published two children’s books by author Velma Parker. Learn more about Mary and her books at her website. 

As an author, I have learned that meals in a story can be the setting for conversation that moves the story along, whether it is at a restaurant or a home cooked meal. I think many of us as readers want to know what the characters are cooking and/or eating.

In my twenties and thirties I loved cooking and having friends over for dinner. Weekly, I used to bake whole wheat bread and slice it up for my family’s toast and sandwiches. Nearly every other day, I’d bake some kind of dessert for my skinny self, but shared with others. Since then, the demands of a job and the dream of being a writer would keep me from having any spare thoughts, or energy, for making anything but ordinary meals.  I believed those days of putting a recipe together with joy had vanished some time ago, along with my fabulous metabolism.

With years comes wisdom, I’ve heard, not to mention a freezer and a little more money to stock the shelves. Isn’t it funny how you can put something in the appliance and forget about it the very next week? After you go shopping again, the desired meal-to-be will be buried by other items you have to have and other things you have to remember. So, as the years passed, my main cooking goal was to simply look inside the freezer with new eyes, month by month, and save myself money by eating the contents for lunch or dinner. This is a tricky task despite the fact that to be able to empty a few shelves brings about a feeling of great accomplishment.

Now, years later, I’m in love again. What happened, you say? I retired from my day job. The satisfying return to the kitchen didn’t happen all at once, it took a few months, but I found that just under the surface of my subconscious lied an ability only needing to be stirred up again. Newfound sparks of renewed energy brought it forward.

The desire has come back with other benefits, too. I used to rarely veer off a recipe, not wishing to waste ingredients if my attempt at change failed. Now after I look into the freezer, I might grab a portion of meat, cook it in the crockpot and use the leftovers to invent some new dish, or have several choices of potato recipes as a side dish. I believe a great accomplishment as well.

I still have the desire to eat lots of sweets, but with the years I’ve also learned the bounds of my metabolism and how to work with it, of course some days are better than others. I’ve heard eating vegetarian meals can help, so I give you one my heroine Maya presented to a neighbor in my first published book, Maya’s Gold.

In Maya’s Gold, Maya filled a casserole dish with burritos and took them over to her neighbor, Alice. This is the recipe I was thinking about when I wrote this section of the story.

Maya Valentine’s Burrito Recipe
Makes 12 burritos.

(Burritos, Old El Paso Sun Country Mexican Cookbook)
12 8-inch flour tortillas
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 16-ounce cans Old El Paso Refried Beans
1 large tomato, chopped
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut in 12 wedges
Old El Paso Taco Sauce


Wrap stack of tortillas tightly in foil; heat in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Cook onion in hot oil until tender but not brown. Add refried beans; cook and stir till heated through.

Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture onto each tortilla near one edge. Top with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and avocado wedge. Fold edge nearest filling up and over filling just until mixture is covered. Fold in two sides, envelope fashion, then roll up. Arrange on baking sheet; bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Pass around the taco sauce.

Maya’s Gold
All famous mystery author Stanton Black wanted was to leave the flashbulbs of Hollywood behind. Hiding out in the wilds of northeast Oregon seemed like the perfect way to get over an attempt on his life while researching his work.

Special education teacher, Maya Valentine was no tour guide. After the death of her parents, Maya has come home for the summer only to have an ailing friend talk her into escorting Stanton around the area. As a pattern of crime around her leads to mystery, her relationship with Stanton turns to thoughts of romance. A romance too impossible to consider.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

THE FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS OF #POTTERY WITH GUEST AUTHOR GILIAN BAKER

Gilian Baker is a former writing and literature professor who finally threw in the towel and decided to just show ‘em how it’s done. She has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger and ghostwriter to her CV. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. See what she’s up to on her website. 

“Sometimes I think throwing pottery is just as frustrating as running an online business,” admits my protagonist, Jade Blackwell. And she’s not wrong. She and I are both online entrepreneurs, so we know firsthand of the frustrations of which we speak. Though I haven’t thrown pottery for many years, it was once my creative passion. And, since there are so many ways for it to all go wrong, it makes perfect fodder for Favorites, Failures and Frustrations.

I loved playing in the mud as a kid. I loved getting my hands dirty while growing organic vegetable as an adult. So why not, I thought, try a pottery class? It started out as just a weekly class, but soon grew into an obsession. For the next seven years, I spent every free moment in a dusty pottery studio and loved it. I still use many of the items I created back then, as do the friends and family with whom I shared them. Even though I’m now too busy writing cozy mysteries to throw pots, I still enjoy the ones I literally created with my bare hands years ago.

That was the “favorites” part. Now, on to the failures. There were many. I would study pictures in pottery magazines thinking, “Heck, I can make that.” This was around the time I learned that nothing ever turns out like the picture. The times when a friend or family member requested a certain item made was when I experienced the biggest failures. I’d want it to be so perfect. The harder I tried, the worse it got. I better understand that concept now—the more “work” you make of something, the harder it’s going to be. When I let myself enjoy the simple pleasure of creating, I ended up with something lovely. When I didn’t, well, I didn’t. During my time as a potter, I learned the best way to do anything was to let go of how the final product turned out and just enjoy the process.

Frustrations can easily overshadow the pleasure found in the pottery studio. One reason for this is the many steps required to finish a single piece.

The clay must be thrown, dried, trimmed, glazed and fired, and at any point in the process, it can be wrecked. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? But oh, when you create something beautiful, you forget all about the frustrations and can’t wait to do it all over again. Throwing pottery is a great metaphor for life. If you are as malleable as the clay, you can learn patience and mindfulness. If you don’t…you probably won’t stick with it for long.

Though I started this post with a quote from Jade Blackwell, it’s from the second book in the series, scheduled to be released in May. So technically, Jade isn’t a potter yet, but it fit so perfectly with the topic, I decided to use it anyway.  In the first book, Blogging is Murder, Jade doesn’t have time for anything other than blogging and investigating the murder her friend is suspected of. But during that first case, she remembers there’s more to life than work and is determined to have more fun. In Book Two, she takes up pottery…until another crime needs to be solved.

Blogging is Murder
A Jade Blackwell Mystery

Though she was certainly born with all the traits of a world-class private detective, blogger Jade Blackwell believed she would do nothing more than solve the murders in her latest favorite cozy mystery book.

Set in mountainous southeastern Wyoming, Jade Blackwell lives in a log home in the quaint village of Aspen Falls with her husband Christian and daughter Penelope (Ellie). She left her life as a tenured college English professor at the University of Wyoming four years ago, sick of the bureaucracy, mounds of essays to grade and apathetic students. She turns to blogging and ghostwriting as her new career.

Jade’s promising career as a blogger halts abruptly when she learns of a hacker who is controlling her friend and fellow blogger Liz Collin’s business remotely. When the hacker is found dead in her home, Liz is thrown in jail.

Determined to help her friend regain her life and livelihood, Jade teams up with Liz’s reluctant lawyer, Gabriel Langdon, to get Liz off the hook and out of jail. What she learns will break the case wide open, while unraveling her faith in humanity and the safety she feels living in the Rocky Mountain hamlet she calls home.

Friday, February 17, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR JENNIFER LEEPER

Today literary, mystery, suspense, and thriller author Jennifer Leeper sits down with us for an interview. Learn more about Jennifer and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
In high school and college, I had written poetry and short stories, but it wasn’t until after college, in my early to mid-20s when I decided to delve into novel writing.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
It wasn’t until my 30s that my first short story was published, followed by a novella and novel, so it was a long time coming!

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I’m indie published across the board and I love to support indie presses.

Where do you write?
My ideal writing setting is a coffee shop with the perfect level of white noise, however, I usually wind up writing at my kitchen island or laying on my bed.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
In the beginning, I listened to mostly alternative and some contemporary folk/rockabilly music, but eventually I found this distracted me too much so now silence is golden, unless of course we’re talking about the “coffee shop” noise I mentioned above.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I’ve only based on of my characters on someone I know. Most of my characters are developed in my imagination and subconsciously they could be rooted in friends or family, however, at face value they are constructs of how I imagine them to think, act, look and feel.

Describe your process for naming your character?
Either a name pops into my head in a moment of inspiration or I do an online search for unique names and when I’m doing such searches I consider the personalities and backgrounds of my characters to help me match them to the right names.

Real settings or fictional towns?
The southwestern mystery I’m currently working on is a hybrid setting – a mix of real and fiction. Generally, I alternate between real and fictional towns in both my short and longer fiction writing.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
One of my short story characters is a shoe hoarder.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Where do I begin? I can (and have) eaten the same thing (think Chipotle) every day for months at a time.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Call of the Wild by Jack London. Because a writer that can humanize a dog who teaches me something new about myself and the world I live in, is my hero in fiction and in real life.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I wish I would have continued on in geology instead of following a boy to a different city/university and earning a journalism degree.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who post too much personal information on social media. I’m a mystery writer. The lives of others should hold some mystery even though it’s possible share everything with everyone these days.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
A great book, my laptop and plenty of gummi bears – I live on them when I write. Sugar and creativity seem to go together.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I worked as a mall housekeeper in college. Women’s bathrooms are horrible! 

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
That’s tough. I could list a hundred books, but the one that comes to mind is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Ocean or mountains?
MOUNTAINS. There is no debating with me here. My dream permanent place of residence is Leadville, Colorado – living and writing at 10,000 feet-plus.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
City girl unless I’m living in the mountains or on the high plains of Eastern Colorado/Western Kansas.

What’s on the horizon for you?
Other than Border Run and Other Stories being released this month, I’m working on a southwestern mystery/suspense novel that I hope to finish in the next few months.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
Readers can get a free 4-chapter preview of Border Run and Other Stories at BarkingRain Press.

Over at my Twitter feed, I run a Twitter blog called One Question, where I ask authors one question about their writing and post their Q&As, along with anything they want me to promote over at @JenLeeper1.

Border Run and Other Stories
This collection of 14 stories dives headfirst into self-exploration through varying degrees of loss, from two sisters, one widowed, once divorced, who must find their way off a mountain South Korea at night as well as out of the darkness of their relationship with one another, to a boy who has lost his abuela and takes her final request to carefully distribute her house-sized hoard of shoes more seriously than the rest of his family.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR LIESE SHERWOOD-FABRE

Awarding-winning author Liese Sherwood-Fabre knew she was destined to write when she got an A+ in the second grade for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her PhD she joined the federal government and had the opportunity to work and live internationally for more than fifteen years—in Africa, Latin America, and Russia. She's the author of The Life and Times of Sherlock HolmesLearn more about Liese and her books at her website.

Big Persian Slippers to Fill

When I came across a call for submissions of alternate universe Sherlock Holmes tales for an upcoming anthology, I found the challenge intriguing, but knew it required extra attention. Taking on the task of including an iconic fictional character in a new work involves special care. The stakes are even higher when he is quite well known and a good many people believe he truly lived.

A recent survey in Britain found 20% of respondents identified Sherlock Holmes as an actual, historical figure. And had they been asked, in all likelihood, they would have described him as a rather stuffy, humorless middle-aged man who wore a deerstalker hat and had an even older, pot-bellied friend—far from the detective who appeared in the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, or even the more recent manifestations of the man as a “high-functioning sociopath.”

When he first appeared in A Study in Scarlet, he might have been eccentric (who keeps tobacco in the toe of a Persian slipper?), but was only in his twenties and wore a top hat and frock coat. The man’s ability to apply logic and science in solving mysteries, however, lay at the heart of his popularity.

Moving forward with this project, then, meant keeping true to the spirit of the original Holmes, but in a very different sort of world. For the alternate universe, I fell back on a particular fascination of mine: vampires. This would not be my first venture into this world (you can find a free download of my short story “Debate with a Vampire” on my website), but the first involving a known literary figure. Immediately, I saw this world as suiting Sherlock. I’ve never viewed the vampire lifestyle as necessarily evil, but certainly melancholy. A life without sunshine would depress me—and I figured it would intensify Sherlock’s own despondency. In this universe, then, Sherlock might be a vampire, but not a happy one.

The one thing guaranteed to pull him out of a gloomy attitude was a puzzle or mystery to solve. Never interested in the commonplace problem, he was attracted to the case that stumped others. Given vampires’ immortality and powers of rejuvenation, the murder of one would provide the out-of-the-ordinary crime that would appeal to him.

Finally, I added some variations on well-known Sherlockian traits, but with a twist. Vampire Sherlock keeps rats instead of bees.

The resulting short story “The Case of the Tainted Blood” in the anthology Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures provides the twists needed to create the alternate universe, but still provides a recognizable detective ready to solve the improbable, but nevertheless possible, murder of a vampire.

Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures
Welcome back to Baker Street! Holmes and Watson are here to greet you once more spinning amazing tales of murder, mayhem, and mystery with a supernatural twist. This time the great detective and his stalwart companion will venture into alternate universes, histories, and futures to solve puzzling cases of the paranormal far beyond the bounds of imagination.

An Old West town plagued by a legendary beast, a dystopian future where black snow falls on Baker Street, a cyborg Holmes engaged in a psychological game with an ancient enemy, a world-weary Holmes and Watson who must choose between vampiric immortality and oblivion, and a classic noir with dames to kill for are just a few of the strange adventures that await you in Curious Incidents.

Grab your deerstalker and hold on tight! The game is afoot!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

STAYING SAFE ONLINE WITH GUEST AUTHOR MICKI BROWNING

Award-winning debut mystery author Micki Browning is an FBI National Academy graduate who worked in law enforcement for more than two decades and retired as a division commander. Learn more about Micki at her website. Today Micki stops by with information to help keep us all safe online.

Cyber Safety and Social Media

Few of us get through a single day without electronically transmitting personal information. Think about it.  ATM transactions, emails, Internet searches and purchases, downloads, delivery text alerts—all these transactions send account information across cyberspace. We voluntarily assume risk in exchange for convenience, but with the advent of social media, the amount of personal information we share has increased exponentially. Fortunately, a few extra steps can go a long way to safeguard your privacy and mitigate your risk of becoming a victim of cyber-crime.

Cyber-crime is defined as any illegal activity conducted by means of a computer or the Internet. It’s a huge topic and too broad for a blog post. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on one aspect: social media platforms.

The major risk with social media lies not in the amount of personal information you share, but rather the type. Let’s take a look at your posts. Does Facebook remind your friends of your birthday? Sure, it’s nice to see all the birthday wishes roll in, but birthdates are a critical component of identity theft. Coupled with your hometown, or place of birth, and you’ve provided a trifecta of critical information that can be used against you.

Vacations are exciting! We love to share our travels, but do you announce them prior to embarking? Daily updates confirm you’re still away from home. Burglars use social media, too.

Less obvious reveals abound as well. A person wanting to scam you may use the ploy of a shared interest as a way to build trust, or to track your activities. Even your favorite books, artists, and restaurants provide information that can be harvested by the unscrupulous to exploit you. That forgotten classmate from the high school you attended? He dropped out—from a school three states away and has no idea who you really are, but wants to be your “friend” and rekindle your relationship—for his benefit, not yours.

Why does this happen?
The Internet imparts a sense of anonymity that is absent from face-to-face encounters. People rely on body language signals to help them determine who to trust—and more importantly—who to avoid. It’s easy to discount danger when a person isn’t within striking range, and the Internet fosters a false sense of security. But ask someone who’s been the victim of identity theft or who’s had malicious software infect her computer how disruptive an anonymous crook can be.

What can you do?
Each platform takes steps to enhance your privacy and cyber protection, but it’s up to you to ensure you are using them. Review their policies. Go to the site’s help page for instructions. Be proactive. Systematically click on each link and confirm that the settings you want are the ones you have.

Review the passwords to all your accounts. Passwords should be distinct for each account and include a capitalization, a character and a number. Experts recommend changing passwords every six months. Make it a resolution you keep—twice—every year.

Validate and verify your contacts. Friends, followers and contacts often have access to your email. Scams are rampant. Nigerian princes aren’t so altruistic that they want to share their fortunes with you. Malware is often hidden in email attachments or is activated through a link embedded in the body of the message. If you have any questions about the sender, don’t click on either.

Several social media sites now offer retail opportunities, which means that not only are you sharing your personal data, but your financial info as well. Only provide financial information when you initiate the contact.

It all sounds so dire. My point is not to be paranoid about personal privacy, but informed. “Friends” is a slippery term. It implies someone who is close and cares about you and your activities—someone who looks out for you. On social media, sharing your information with someone only requires a click of a button. Cyber-crimes are often crimes of opportunity. Don’t allow yourself to be an easy target.

Adrift
Marine scientist Meredith Cavallo thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze after life in the Arctic, but when a ghost-hunting documentary leader vanishes during a midnight dive, she’s caught in a storm of supernatural intrigue.  Determined to debunk paranormal explanations and salvage her reputation, Mer launches her own investigation. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--VALENTINE'S DAY COOKIES WITH GUEST AUTHOR JOSIE RIVIERA

USA Today bestselling author Josie Riviera writes contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. Learn more about her and her books at her website.


Today is Valentine’s Day, and although we normally think of it as a holiday for sweethearts, there are many other forms of love that warrant celebration. In my latest release I touch on international adoption, a subject close to my heart as my husband and I adopted our daughter from S. Korea. (Note the Asian child on the cover.)

Twenty-two years ago, my husband and I met our beautiful daughter for the first time at Boston International airport. She was six months old. Our international adoption process took over two years. She's now studying in Europe for her Master's Degree.

Thousands of families around the world have opened their homes and hearts through international adoption. In I Love You More, Soo-Min is the embodiment of many, many fortunate adoptive children and parents who’ve together created forever families.

Today in celebration of Valentine’s Day I’m sharing a family recipe for butter cookies. The recipe uses a small number of simple ingredients, resulting in a flavorful, delicious cookie.

Butter Cookies
Yields 3-4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 sticks butter, softened (Do not use margarine or light butter.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar
2-1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add vanilla, flour and nuts. Mix thoroughly.

Shape into small balls. Dough will be very crumbly, but the warmth of your hands will make them easier to shape. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Watch closely as they will burn if left in oven for too long.

While still warm, roll in a small amount of additional confectioner’s sugar.

I Love You More
A billionaire and a single mother have more in common than they know.

He’s a billionaire businessman …

Luciano Donati, entrepreneur and eligible bachelor, lost his first wife to cancer. So though he lives in romantic Charleston, SC, he has every intention of ignoring the upcoming holiday for lovers … at least until he sets eyes again on his younger sister’s best friend.

He remembers Anastasia as a teenager who idolized him, not this lovely, fragile woman with heartbreak in her eyes. Heartbreak that he finds himself wanting to cure. Her smile warms his soul, her touch ignites his desire, and her little girl Soo-Min melts his frozen heart. Adopted internationally himself at a young age, Luciano understands all too well the strong need to belong somewhere.

She’s a single mom …

Anastasia Markow, cancer survivor and divorced mother, didn’t come to Charleston, SC, for romance. She's here to make sure she has custody of her adopted daughter, Soo-Min. But when she encounters the first man she ever loved, here in the city of horse-drawn carriages and candlelight, her battered heart can’t help but bloom again. And when Luciano and Soo-Min take to each other, resisting his charm becomes even harder.

Handsome, self-assured, every inch the successful billionaire, Luciano is out of Anastasia's reach. But when a hurricane strands them together and they must trust each other to survive … things heat up despite the driving rain and gale winds.

Can Valentine’s Day bring this unlikely pair together … this time for good?


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