This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shaylin Gandhi will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
It’s 1954, and twenty-two-year-old Lucia Lafleur has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. While sock hops and poodle skirts occupy her classmates, she dreams of bacteria and broken bones—and the day she’ll finally fix them.
After graduation, a letter arrives, and Lucia reads the words she’s labored a lifetime to earn—”we are pleased to offer you a position at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.” But in the midst of her triumph, her fiancé delivers a crushing ultimatum: forego medical school, or forego marriage.
With fractured hopes, she returns home to Louisiana, expecting nothing of the summer of ’54 but sweet tea and gumbo while she agonizes over her impending choice. There, she unexpectedly befriends Nicholas, a dark-skinned poet whose dignity and intellect are a salve to her aching heart. Their bond, initially forged from a shared love of literature, soon blossoms into something as bewitching as it is forbidden.
Yet her predicament deepens when a trivial misunderstanding between a local white woman and a black man results in a brutal lynching, and the peril of love across the color lines becomes chillingly real. Now, fulfilling her lifelong dream means relinquishing her heart—and escaping Louisiana alive.
Read an Excerpt
Bellefontaine, Louisiana, 1945
It was the first dead body I’d ever seen.
Thick July heat pressed in, sticking my dress to my skin, while steam rose from waters as dark as motor oil. Cypresses held the sky aloft, and there—in my little haven in the bayou, where the marshy ground turned firm and the old fallen blackgum slowly fell to pieces—lay a man with skin like molasses. Black eyes stared upward, fixed on eternity.
He shouldn’t be here. That was my first thought. Nobody else knew the way into the secret heart of the swamp, through the sucking mud and tangled underbrush. Yet here he was.
Something squirmed in the shadows of his mouth, and I pressed my hands to my stomach. If I threw up, Mother would be angry. I already had mud on my dress, which was bad enough.
Lured by horrified fascination, I stepped closer. What happened? Was he murdered? I couldn’t tell. The dead man lay so still that he gave the impression of something missing, rather than something there, as if he were nothing but a yawning void or a cicada’s left-behind skin. Empty.
I knelt. Up close, his flesh was ruined, his body swollen, his right hand chewed to shreds. Faint rustling drifted from his mouth—worms definitely wriggled inside. I leaned in and studied the wreckage of his face. Something familiar…
I jerked backward, sprawling to the ground. More mud on my dress. But it didn’t matter—no, because this dead man was no stranger. This was Tom Fletcher.
And I hated Tom Fletcher.
About the Author:
SHAYLIN GANDHI secretly stole her mother’s copy of Clan of the Cave Bear at age ten, and fell madly in love with love stories. Now, as an author, she still can’t get enough, and the tales she spins all center around affairs of the heart. To her, that’s what makes a story truly worth telling.
Besides writing, she tries to stamp her passport at every opportunity. Traveling has been a lifelong passion, and she’s lucky to have done it a lot. Shaylin and her husband once spent an entire summer living in their van while touring the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alaska. Her most memorable trips often tie in with writing: her books are usually inspired by majestic places that stole her breath.
In addition, Shaylin practices medicine, scuba dives, plays the piano, and once rode her bicycle from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. She now lives in Denver with her incredible husband, their identical twin daughters, and two adorable rescue dogs. The family can usually be found in the mountains, either hiking up or skiing down.
You can find Shaylin online at http://www.shaylingandhi.com or on Twitter @shaylingandhi. Please get in touch—she would love to hear from you!