Date Published: July 19, 2013
Publisher: River North
Author: Anita Higman
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Book Source: I received this book for free from the Anita Higman for my honest review.
Lily Winter’s wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily’s lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she’d been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.
Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.
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ward-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-five books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen. To contact Anita or enter her monthly contest for a free signed book please visit her website at www.anitahigman.com
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Lily Winter had been estranged from her mother for ten years, but with her daughter Julie away at college for the first time and with Lily suffering from a severe case of “empty nest” syndrome, she felt the need to try and reconnect with her mother. Little did she know that on that fateful day that she would lose one hope and discover another. When her mother told her she had a twin sister, Camille Daniels, who lived in Australia, Lily knew she had to find her. What she didn’t expect to find was love. The day Marcus Averill sat on the bench beside her with her cheeks stuffed full of marshmallows and despair in her heart, was the day Lily’s quiet, lonely life changed forever. Marcus was quirky and funny and everything Lily didn’t want. But underneath all of the antics, Lily soon discovered a gentle man with with a tortured soul. She found herself falling for Marcus and falling fast. Could they find a love that would weather every storm?
Marcus Averill left Texas to flee his father’s hatred. When Marcus’ younger sister Ellie was killed in a car accident, his entire life changed. He was bogged down with guilt for falling asleep at the wheel and causing the fatal accident and had given up hope of ever reconciling with his parents. That is, until he met Lily Winter. That fateful day he sat beside her on that bench their lives became interwoven. Marcus helped her find her sister and she helped him find his way, his way back to his family and in the process she stole his heart. They both had their own separate lives they needed to repair, relationships that needed to be nurtured. Could they weather their storms and still maintain their love for each other? Or would making their family priority tear them apart forever?
This book was a firestorm of emotions wrapped up in one neat little package. The moment I opened the cover a whirlwind of emotions was unleashed in me and continued long after the last page was turned. I was quite literally emotionally drained. I have often marveled at a writer’s creativity and writing ability. That’s why I am a reader, not a writer. The way Anita Higman wove this story left me in awe of both her creativity and her God-Given talent as a writer. This story was absolutely beautiful and I often found the tears flowing unheeded. Winter in Full Bloom was about Love, family reunions and Spiritual awakening. I rejoiced in the transformation of some of the characters and I absolutely fell in love with Marcus just as sure as Lily did. All of the characters endeared themselves to me and I thoroughly enjoy traveling with them on their journey. You, too, will love the journey and I say that with the utmost confidence. If you haven’t read Winter in Full Bloom you surely don’t know what you’re missing!
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the Miss Anita Higman for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.
Chapter 1 I sat on a 747, trying to talk myself out of a panic attack. The jet still sat on the tarmac, but already I could imagine—in electrifying detail—the fiery crash and then the watery pull into the briny depths of the Pacific Ocean. Lord, have mercy. What had I been thinking? Fool that I was, I’d left the sanctuary of my own home, which was safe, and hygienically clean, I might add, to board this death trap. Too late now. I’d taken a leave of absence from work, stopped the mail, given all my indoor plants to my neighbor, and said a dozen goodbyes to my daughter, Julie. The trip was set in stone—the igneous kind that the geologists liked to talk about at work. While I sat there sweating, my mind got out its magnifying glass to examine my inner motives. All in all, the journey had a grab bag full of miseries attached to it. For me, getting on the plane proved that the empty nest had driven me over the edge like the biblical herd of pigs. Since my Julie had left the house, was I trying to find a person to fill that void . . . that vacant place at the table . . . the perpetual silence of the house and the clocks, ticking away the rest of my tedious life? Probably. And yet finding my sister in Australia would be no less than wonderful, whether Julie was at home or not. I looked out the small plane window at the heavens with my anxious puppy dog eyes and could almost hear the Almighty chuckling. Yes, I know, God. I must keep You entertained. 13 But back to the fear at hand. I rechecked my seatbelt and pulled it so snugly I felt my pulse throbbing in my legs. My stomach busied itself doing the fandango. What had I eaten in the airport? A double bean burrito with a side of green chilies. Not a good travel choice. Did I already have motion sickness? The plane hadn’t even taken off yet. If I were to exit the plane right now, would they give me a refund? Probably not. I’d already used the restroom, crumpled the magazines, and troubled the flight attendant for a ginger ale. Lord, I need a friend. I need backup. “You have to ask yourself: what am I most afraid of?” It was the voice of a child. I turned toward the sound. “Excuse me?” Straight across the aisle sat a child no bigger than a thimble—a girl with moon-shaped eyes, a Pooh Bear T-shirt, and a wad of gum she was chomping as if it were a lump of tough meat. Surely this child isn’t backup, Lord. I think God enjoys showing off His sense of humor. “You’re scared to fly. Right? I was too, but I got over it.” The girl blew a bubble and let the purple gum pop all over her face. She gathered up the gum and put it back in her mouth for another round. “How can you tell that I’m afraid to fly?” “All that sweat. Dead giveaway. And you look like you’ve just swallowed a Boogie Board.” She exploded into giggles. I had no idea what a Boogie Board was. And in spite of the silliness the kid talked as if she were thirty, although she couldn’t be more than nine or ten. I had to know her secret—how she managed to rise above her fears. And something about her little turned-up nose and soft brown eyes reminded me of Julie when she was little. “And so how did you get over it . . . the fear of flying?” The girl looked at me, her big eyes gobbling me up. She lost all the playfulness when she said, “I watched my grandma die of cancer. Her body stopped working, but she was still in there. It was a bad way to die. When I get old I don’t want to go to heaven 14 that way. Maybe dying on a plane isn’t so bad. I mean, I know God doesn’t ask us, but we might as well give Him a list of our preferen . . . choices.” I wasn’t sure if her reasoning reassured me or alarmed me, but I leaned toward her and said, “I’m sorry about your grandmother.” “Yeah, me too. She always played dolls and Mario Kart with me. Every kid needs a grandma like mine.” “So true.” If only my Julie would have had a grandma like that. When the girl said no more I turned my attention back to the plane, which now taxied toward the runway. My body wanted to flee. Each time I took in air it didn’t seem to be enough, so I breathed in more. Did I smell fuel? My head went so buzzy I’d only heard half of the flight attendant’s speech. What was that about oxygen masks and exit doors and life vests? Oh, my. I fanned my face. I clutched at my heart, which was now beating itself to death. Would I pass out? Throw up? Go crazy? All the above? The cabin felt like a caldron. Maybe the air conditioner was malfunctioning. Maybe deep within the belly of the plane other more important electrical devices were failing. Things that kept the plane aloft—things that kept us from plummeting to the earth in a fiery heap. I mashed my damp bangs away from my face. “Just so ya know . . .” The little girl crossed her legs. “I also found out that you can’t die of a panic attack.” Her tone came off so pragmatic I looked at her again just to make sure the words were coming out of her petite mouth. “How do you know I was having a panic attack?” She cocked her little Freudian head at me. “Classic symptoms.” Who was this kid? And where were her parents? I unbuckled my seatbelt. “I don’t think I can do this.” I jumped up and bumped my head on the overhead storage. “We’re about to take off,” the girl said with maddening calmness. 15 I collapsed back onto the seat and rubbed my throbbing head. The contents of my stomach threatened mutiny. “I’m going to be sick.” “Here.” The girl handed me a little folded bag. “It’s a fresh one. Never been used.” I was in a tin can with wings, and there was no way out. The plane took off then. I gripped the armrest as the jet tilted upward at a steep angle. I was now officially airborne. My body felt a little weightless, but it might have been because I was sitting on the buckle of my seatbelt, which made my posterior go numb. “Know what? You remind me of Eeyore.” It was that kid again. How could anyone make chitchat at a time like this? I said nothing to her, since I was busy concentrating on my terror, the vibration of my seat, and the roar of the jet. After she glared at me for a full minute, I asked, “Why do you say I remind you of Eeyore?” “You’re wearing Eeyore clothes, and it’s almost spring where we’re going,” she sing-songed as if she couldn’t imagine anyone so ill-informed. I’d forgotten. If it’s nearing autumn in America it’s almost springtime in Australia. I’d barely thought of it. Perhaps the girl was right about my connection to Eeyore. Wait a minute. Did Eeyore even wear clothes? “Just so ya know . . . taking off and landing are the two most treacher . . .” “Do you mean treacherous?” “Yeah. That’s it. Those are the two most treach-er-ous parts of the flight.” The girl wiggled her eyebrows while continuing to thrash on the wad of gum. “If we were going to die it would have been back there. Of course, we could also crash on landing.” 16 “Good to know. Thanks.” I continued to grip the armrests since I was somehow convinced that my gesture helped the pilots keep the plane in the air. “Just so ya know, I’m Jenny.” The girl held out her hand. “What’s your name?” “Mrs. Winter.” I let go of one of the armrests to shake her hand. “You may call me Lily.” “So, why was it so important for you to get on this flight?” The dainty psychiatrist turned her big, round eyes at me again. “Talking about it might help.” “Oh it’s a very long tale of woe. I’d hate to bore you.” “Hey, what else have we got to do? It’s better than thinking about our plane catching fire and bashing into the sea.” Her finger made a little nosedive into her palm. Cute. “True.” But I feared the telling of my story would be my undoing. Where could I begin, anyway? Maybe with the visit I’d had with my mother. “Are you sure you want to hear this?” She nodded her head with wild abandon. “Well, okay. My dark story starts with a recent visit I made to my mother’s house. It’d been ten years since the last time I’d seen my mother.” Jenny pursed her lips. “Nobody does that. Everybody has to see their mom, right?” “Well, it certainly wasn’t my choice. But when I got to my mother’s house, the visit turned out to be as shocking as sticking my finger into a light socket.” I frowned. “Don’t ever do that, by the way.” “I know.” Jenny rolled her eyes. “I’m not a child.” “Right. Okay. Well, in my story I also meet a woman named Dragan.” She giggled. “Sounds like dragon.” “True. Dragan was my mother’s housekeeper, and believe me, her name fit her well.” 17 Jenny sat up poised, resting her cheek on her index finger. “I wanna know more.” She smacked her gum, waiting for me to go on. “All right.” Lord, be with me. I rested my head back on the seat, inviting the memory of that infamous day into my life. First a jumbled mess of sensations trickled in, making me shudder. Then mist burned my eyes, thinking of Mother’s notorious secret and a lifetime of deception. The smarmy residue from being in her house stole over me like a dark slithering fog. Soon that day—the one that changed my life—began to unfold in my mind, so intensely that the remembering and the telling of my story became one and the same. . . . 18
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Q & A: I ask the question… you supply the answer. 🙂
Lily and Marcus both were estranged from their families but for completely different reasons. In order to reconcile with their families they knew they needed to focus on them solely. To do this, they put their relationship on the back burner to be explored further once their lives were in order. Have you ever had to sacrifice a relationship for greater means? Feel free to share your story. 🙂