"I feel as if I've heard those words before."
It’s been several years since Araceli Arroyo left behind the burning ruins of her family’s hacienda in New Mexico for a new start in California. Despite the time that’s passed and all the loss she’s suffered, the painful memory of war is like fresh paint on a blank canvas. Perhaps that’s why the prints she creates always hold a touch of sadness. However, she’s determined to produce something new – a masterpiece that will inspire the folks in the growing town of Blessings. Could the new hire at her father’s sawmill help her do that… or will the secrets he carries destroy them both?
From Texas to New Mexico, problems stick to Miguel Santiago like stink on old fish. Hoping to shed his old life, he’s thankful for a friend’s invitation to start anew in a place where he can be anyone – literally. Operating under the alias of Michael St. James, his fair looks and country twang allow him to pass as any other American cowboy in search of California’s promise of golden opportunities. Could the family he’s always wanted also be part of the prospect… or will the woman of his dreams discard him like her dried jars of paint when his past is revealed?
A story of desire and deception, dismay and deliverance, hearts burn as bright as the summer sun setting on the golden California coast in this classic western.
There – in one corner of the softly decorated study—was a woman in a pair of boy trousers and dark fitted blouse. He could hardly make her out in the dim light, but she stood in such a way that there was no mistaking her gender. She appeared to be calmly examining small glass jars all lined up on a desk beside a large wood frame supporting a blank crème colored canvas. Miguel wasn’t sure which fact surprised him more— that there was a woman unconventionally dressed or that she carried on her task as though it were the most natural thing in the world.
“What do think you’re about?” he blurted.
The woman spun around, her eyes wild. She raised the jar in her hand, bringing it back behind her head only to swing her arm forward and then suddenly stopped. She glanced down at the jar with a look of mixed emotions. With a sigh of resignation, she placed it in a satchel she carried and then faced him again, her hands planted on her hips.
“Are you blind or ignorant?”
“What?” Miguel sputtered.
The woman stepped forward, the light shining onto her face enough for him to make out her flared nose. A bit of anger stained her voice. “Didn’t you ask me what I’m doing? Only someone blind or boorish wouldn’t be able to figure it out. Since you’re staring at me with eyes that look ready to roll out of your head, I can only assume it must be the latter.”
What in the—
The sound of irritated tapping brought Miguel’s attention down to her feet where one boot anxiously rapped the floor. He slowly dragged his gaze upward. Despite her obvious irritation, she was quite a sight to behold. His eyes were adjusting to the gentle glow of the lamp she had lit, and he could see her features well enough now to know that her long-lashed, brown slanted eyes would be engraved on his mind forever. He searched the rest of her sun-kissed face and decided that he found the rest of it pleasing as well. From her full lips to her arched brows and all the way up to the coiled braid wrapped around her head like a crown, he was positive she was the kind of woman that could turn his head every time.
“You need to leave.”
The words came out gruffer than he had intended. Her eyes drew into angry slits.
“This is my house,” she hissed. “You are the one who should be leaving.”
Her words set him back with the realization that she was part of the family they had forced from the land. That meant that she was also related to the two Mexican soldiers his men had killed. Part of him felt sorry for her. The other part had no remorse what-so-ever. While she herself was innocent of any wrongdoing, her family had housed traitors who had stolen important documents from one of his generals. His expression hardened.
“Like I said, you should leave.”
She refused to be intimidated. “I’ll have you know I hate American soldiers.”
“Well, that’s a pity because I’m rather positive my men would love to make your acquaintance. It’s been a long time since any of them have had the pleasure of a woman’s company.”
She gasped, making him feel as dark as the shadows he still stood in.
“Good. You get it now. This place is too dangerous for a face like yours.”
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Meet Mimi Milan
Mimi Milan is an award winning, bestselling Latin American poet and author of both historical and contemporary fiction. The majority of her stories feature characters that resemble the melting pot of people she grew up with (from New Jersey to Mexico), as well as the languages she speaks (English, Spanish, and Italian). A candidate for the MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University, she can usually be found in the suburbs of North Carolina, spending time with her family and imaginary friends.
Q. What's the first book you remember reading?
A. LOL--The very first book I recall reading is One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Suess when I was about five years old. I specifically recall that book, because I was taking a bubble bath and I slyly brought the book into the bathroom with me. Needless to say, it didn't make it back out. Rather, it did but in a big, wet ball of papers.
Q. What's your favorite fairy tale?
A. Oooh. That's a really good question. I like them all. Hmmm... If I think about it hard, though, I might say my favorite is Rapunzel. She wins despite all odds, gets a truly awesome prince in the end, and she does it all with great hair!
Q. Fairytale or Action Adventure?
A. A little of both! In other words, The Princess Bride (my all-time favorite story).
Q. What sound or noise do you love?
A. Baby noises--all of them. I don't even mind when they cry. It just gives me an opportunity to sing them to sleep.
Q. Be honest. When reading, do you put yourself in the heroine's role?
A. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. In fact, if I can't envision myself in the heroine's role, then I might be motivated to shut the book. I have to relate to the character--which isn't that hard to do if the author has crisp dialogue, and hasn't made the heroine into a whimpering ninny. I need strong women who still need a hero, but wants to help save herself.
Q. What's something you'd like to tell your fans?
A. LOL--Do I have any of those? If so, thank you so much for reading! I truly do appreciate all the support. Honestly, I'm very approachable too. So, feel free to reach out. If you're an aspiring author, I am more than happy to help in any way that I can. If you prefer to read the books instead of writing them, then know that I'm always on the look out for a good reader for the review team. Contact me to see if I have any spots currently available!
Today, Mimi is giving away an autographed copy of her novella, The Dancing Lady, and some extra swag! Just answer the question and enter the Rafflecopter.
What is your favorite fairytale and why?