Friday, January 20, 2023

Cover Reveal: The Wishing Tree: Love, Lies, & Spies on Chincoteague


What do you think? 
Coming soon

Will the wind whip her token from the Wishing Tree and make her wish come true?

Addison Steele dreams of the day her husband—lost at sea—returns to her. Instead, she meets Nick Savage, whose every word may be a lie. She is soon embroiled in mystery, all related to the top secret science station at Wallops Island, Virginia.

After a Belarusian scientist at Wallops is murdered, the questions multiply. Was it because he caught the person stealing classified documents or because he wanted to defect? Is Nick the spy—or is it his brother? How can she trust the man who is slowly claiming her heart when his story keeps shifting?

Hidden Gem Top 10 Critters Poll!

Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine voted in the Top Ten for

# 3 in Mystery

# 6 in Cover Art

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Saturday, January 14, 2023

Please Welcome Kerry Blaisdell & Her New Book Burying the Dead

Please welcome my friend and an inspired writer, Kerry Blaisdell. The fourth installment of her acclaimed Dead Series will be released January 16, so we’re getting an early taste of it here.

Burying the Dead

The Wild Rose Press, January 16, 2023

Dead Series, Book 4

Supernatural Suspense/Paranormal Romance

PG-13, 330 pages


Be sure to drop in at her January 16 Facebook party for fun and prizes! 

So, Kerry, tell us what on earth made you start writing about demons and returning from the dead…as a comedy?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the inspiration for my Dead Series books came from. I’ve always been fascinated with the supernatural—the Active Enzyme, Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch was one of my favorite books as a kid. Plus I love a good mystery, and adventure stories (Can you say Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and The Five Books?) (And now you know how old I am—LOL!).

As an adult, I love TV shows like Supernatural, Stranger Things – anything with “atmosphere”, and otherworldly themes. Plus, I’m fascinated by religion in general, and early Christianity specifically. So, after writing romantic suspense for a few years, I got the urge to write something different, something I wanted to read. I had no idea if it would be “publishable.” I just started writing, and Debriefing The Dead is what came out, then Waking The Dead and Damning The Deadand here we are at Book Four, Burying The Dead.


Sometimes the only way to stop the world from going to Hell is by working with Demons.

Hyacinth Finch has one goal: Save her nephew Geordi from the Hell Demon who kidnapped him. But to succeed, she’ll have to work with his demon Mafia relatives, which she swore she’d never do. Worse, she’ll have to make another deal with the High Demons who murdered her. But Geordi's life is worth it, even if she loses her own humanity in the process.

Meanwhile, Hyacinth’s ghost boyfriend Eric is wasting away, after being ejected from his “borrowed” body. While digging in his past for something to make him fight for survival, she uncovers secrets that could destroy their relationship. Moreover, her feelings for Geordi’s demon cousin Jason are stronger than ever, though every morally impossible choice she makes drives him farther away. Can she save Eric and Geordi, without losing herself—and Jason—forever?

Excerpt: Facing My Demons

I picked an invisible speck of lint off my maroon tights and tried not to fidget with the hem of my black pencil skirt.

Jason gave me the side-eye. “Relax, will you? Everything will be fine.”

“Easy for you to say—you’re one of them. They have to listen to you. Me, not so much.”

In fact, at best, the “they” in question probably wished they’d never heard of me. And at worst—well, let’s just say my current outfit could easily be accessorized with concrete boots and a deep ocean dive, to make sure I never resurfaced again.

If you’re wondering, I’m Hyacinth Finch, former graverobber turned “art dealer” for a certain select clientele who like to steal from each other for fun. I’m also a former dead person, with a brand-new third career as Assistant to the Angel of Death, otherwise known as Archangel Michael. His job is to shepherd souls Up or Down, depending on their life choices, and my job is to “presort” said souls, so he can attend to other business, like stopping Satan’s escape from Hell. Which I also help with, by tracking down rock shards that contain both his and Satan’s powers, left over from a big battle they had, eons ago. If Satan gets enough of these, he can use them to break out of his prison, and I’m the only “rock senser” Michael’s ever met, so…lucky me.

But I’m on a temporary hiatus from the day job, so I can grovel to my dead sister Lily’s ex in-laws, Niccolò and Caderina Dioguardi—the aforementioned “they”—in hopes they’ll help me save my nephew, Geordi, from the Hell Demon who kidnapped him. The slight hitch being that they’re also demons—although not from Hell—and they want Geordi for themselves. He’s their only grandchild, and has incredibly strong supernatural powers himself. Which is why he was kidnapped in the first place: to be used as a bargaining chip by various factions who want his powers for themselves. Including Satan.

I shivered, and Jason took my hand. “Hey—seriously—it will be okay. Marchosias won’t hurt him. Geordi’s far too valuable to be damaged.”

The vast marble-columned foyer in which we sat, awaiting an audience with Nico and Rina, felt cold and unwelcoming, and I wanted nothing more than to burrow into Jason’s side and let him keep lying to me that this would all be okay.

Jason is also a Dioguardi, and a demon, but a “good one.” Supposedly. He uses Jones as his surname, but even so, it’s hard to separate him from the larger family sometimes, especially since he’s got the signature Dioguardi “look”: wavy black hair, baby blue eyes—when they aren’t demon black—and a hefty six-foot-six height. Which seven-year-old Geordi, who is technically his cousin, is well on his way to achieving.

But things are complicated between us right now, so instead of caving to my instincts, I removed my hand and tugged at my skirt again, and Jason sighed and sat back.

“Look,” he said, “I get how much it cost you to do this. Hell, Rina and Nico get it, too. I know you’ve viewed them as the Enemy for months now. And I admit, you’re probably not their favorite person.”

In spite of it all, I laughed, and a smile crept onto Jason’s face.

I blew out a breath. “I don’t trust them. I know you think there’s another side to the story, but Nick didn’t happen all by himself. His abusive nature was augmented by their nurture, and he meant everything to them. And I…”

Jason grimaced. “It’s not your fault their only son—”

“Their only child!”

“—died. He brought that on himself. But you’re right. They do blame you, in part. Still, they’ll take into account that you came to them. The family as a whole has done terrible things. But they’re honorable. If they give you their word, you can trust it.”

His eyes were dark and unreadable—not black, thank God, so his demon powers weren’t surging, or whatever it’s called. But…did he count himself among the “whole” who’d done “terrible things”? Did I want to know?

At this point in our relationship, probably not. Not that we’re in a relationship—far from it. In fact, I have a boyfriend. Sort of. Assuming his spirit recovers.

As though reading my mind—an annoying talent he has—Jason said, “Eric will also be fine. If anyone can save him, Nadezhda will.”

Eric Guilliot is a former French police officer killed by the Dioguardis the same night I died, and Nadezhda is a woman we met in Turkey who, like me, walks among the Dead. She had saved Eric once before, by making him Full Dead, but this was different. He’d been damaged, possibly beyond repair, when he appropriated a fresh corpse, to gain a living body again. He’d succeeded for a time, but then the man’s body began absorbing Eric’s spirit, and kept those bits behind after Eric got ejected.

The nausea roiled, and I shoved it down. “How can you be so sure? About any of it? How can you stay so positive?”

What I really wanted to ask was, Why are you always so damn nice? The words stuck in my throat, and he looked away. But not before I saw the suppressed emotion in his blue eyes—rage, but not at me. And fear—but not for me.

“I have to,” he said quietly. “It’s the only way through.”

 Buy links

 About the Author

Kerry Blaisdell is the bestselling and award-winning author of the acclaimed Dead Series, including Debriefing The Dead and its sequels, which InD’tale Magazine recommends for “fans of shows like ‘Constantine’ or ‘Supernatural.’” She also writes award-winning romantic suspense (Publish Or Perish, a Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize quarterfinalist) and historical mystery. She holds a BA from U.C. Berkeley in Comparative Literature (French/Medieval English), and a Master’s in Teaching English and Advanced Mathematics from University of Portland. Kerry lives in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest with her family, assorted animals, and more hot pepper plants than anyone could reasonably consume.

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Friday, December 30, 2022

Don't Look Up--a quick Christmas mystery read from M. S. Spencer

 How about a quick Christmas read?

Snowy Chicago under the L

 Don’t Look Up

M. S. Spencer

“More coffee?” The waitress stood at Bella’s elbow, so close that the young woman had to duck her head to avoid being struck by the pot.

“Um, sure.” Bella held up her mug. She hummed along with the Christmas music playing in the background and gazed around at the empty restaurant. “I guess everyone’s home ‘cause of the snow, huh?”

“Cream? Sugar?”

 Bella looked up into a face that had seen its share of recessions. The woman’s nose stood out sharply against a pasty face framed in unnatural blonde curls. Her white uniform had a splotch of ketchup on the lapel. She didn’t smile. I guess she doesn’t want to be here on Christmas Eve either.


Bella checked the counter, on which revolved a dusty Lazy Susan. “What kinds do you have?”

The woman moved her gum from one side of her mouth to the other. “Strawberry-rhubarb. Boston cream.”

“I’ll have a slice of each, please.” It’s Christmas, after all. I didn’t get the fruitcake from Aunt Felicia this year, so why not splurge? She was never going to lose those five pounds anyway. Now I’ve hit thirty, I might as well get used to this. At least she still had curves in the right places…and a full head of auburn curls. She patted them to make sure they were still there.

The waitress came back with a plate. While she hovered, a can of whipped cream in her hand, the rumbling sound at the edge of Bella’s consciousness grew to unmistakable proportions. The cup on the table shook and the waitress rocked from foot to foot to keep her balance.

Bella caught the cup before it pitched over the edge. “What the heck was that?”

The waitress looked at the wall clock. “That’s the five-ten express.” She gave a half grin. “I’m so used to it now I don’t even notice it.”

Bella was about to say something when they heard a loud scream from outside the restaurant. The waitress spun around and Bella craned her neck around the woman to look through the front door. A man lay on the sidewalk outside, a garbage can on its side next to him. It rolled into the street. A crowd gathered quickly.

Bella got up so she could see better. The waitress went back behind the counter and replaced the coffee pot on the hot plate. She seemed uninterested in the events transpiring outside. Bella went to the door.

The man was clearly dead. He lay sprawled on his face, legs akimbo, blood seeping from the back of his head, staining the snow. The people surrounding the body pushed the other garbage bins aside, clearing an area around him. Bella peered up. The café was in a row of stores under the L—the famous Chicago elevated railway.

Sirens blared. Bella watched from inside while an ambulance pulled up and EMTs jumped out. Minutes later, they were gone. The crowd dispersed, and Bella went back to her table.


She jumped. It was the first word the waitress had spoken since the accident. “Um, yes. Do you suppose he fell from the L?”

She shrugged. “Nah—too many barriers. Prolly jumped.”

“What makes you say that?”

She shrugged again. “That time o’ year.”

Bella paid and walked the block home thoughtfully. Jumped. It made sense. The Christmas season usually saw a spate of suicides in Chicago. She shivered.

Christmas Day dawned. Bella made her usual calls to her mother in Miami and to her sister in Houston. Then she walked down to Leo’s news stand and bought the paper. At home, hot tea at her side, she turned—as usual—to the real estate listings. I have got to find another place soon! Her building had been sold and the new owners were turning the apartments into condominiums. Bella’s nest egg didn’t extend to a mortgage or even a down payment. She scanned the rentals. Wait! There’s one just up the street from me. A two-bedroom on the top floor. A walkup, but the rent was reasonable. And I could still walk to the shop. She circled the item.

She’d have to wait until the next day to call. Meanwhile, with nothing to do, she thought she’d drop by the shop. Better see if the Christmas lights are still working. It seemed that every day more bulbs died. She got her coat and slogged through the melting slush to the little souvenir shop she managed. Sure enough, all the red lights had gone out. She went to the back room to find the extra string. The front door jingled. “We’re closed!”

“Oh, sorry. I just need some help?”

Damn, another panhandler. They seemed to be on every corner these days. He probably makes more money than I do. She reluctantly went to the front. A young man stood just inside, his hat in his hand. The top of his head just brushed the overhead light, and when said light shone on his face, Bella sucked in a breath. The green eyes that flashed at her were like pure emeralds, winking out from under the thatch of thick, chocolaty hair. He gave her a tentative smile that caught in her throat. Ulp.

“Hi. Sorry to barge in like this but I saw your shop light on. Everyone else is closed.”

She started to say, “Well, I am too,” but hesitated. “What do you need?”

He shuffled forward.  “I’m looking for someone. I just arrived from Denver. I don’t have his address, but I have a photo.” Before she could demur, he held it out. “This is my father. See—he’s standing in front of that elevated railway—” He pointed outside.

She contemplated the man in the picture. He wore a camel’s hair coat and an old-fashioned fedora. “Why is it torn in half?”

“It came that way. We’re not sure why.”

Bella took a second look. “Yes, that’s the L. This was taken near the Clark and Division station. It’s just a couple of blocks east of here.”

“Ah, then I’m close.” He put the picture away and turned toward the door.

Bella couldn’t resist. “Why are you searching for him?”

He turned back. “He disappeared a month ago. A week ago, I got this photo in the mail.” His mouth twisted. “I had Christmas off and thought I’d see if I could track him down.”

Bella wondered if that was such a good idea but didn’t think it was her place to say so. The young man was staring at her. “Um, well, good luck.”

He nodded, then said, “Would you…er…like to get a cup of coffee somewhere? I haven’t had anything to eat since last night. I don’t know my way around, and maybe you could…” He petered out.

She looked deep into the verdant pools of his eyes and said, “Sure. I know a café a couple of blocks from here.”

“Sounds great. My name’s Simon, by the way. Simon Forrest.”

“Bella Peete. I’ll just get my coat.” Firmly setting aside all the warnings her mother had ever given her about strangers, she followed Simon out.

The café where she’d had the pie was closed. “Oh I forgot it’s Christmas. Darn.”

Hmm. Well, there’s a restaurant in my hotel. It’s not far. Would you care to join me?”

It’s Christmas. I’ve nothing to do. I’m hungry. It’s cold. She regarded him. And he’s the most handsome man I have ever seen. “thank you.”

They spent the afternoon together. Simon told stories of Colorado, where he grew up. He listened attentively to Bella’s tales of years of academic life, lost luggage and lost jobs. “After two degrees and no university jobs available, I tried my hand at the travel business. Let’s just say we didn’t mesh. I lost everything.”

“So you came back to Chicago?”

“Uh huh. I was born here. I’m working at the souvenir shop while I…” She stopped. No point in lying. “While I wait for inspiration. The truth is, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Instead of commiserating as she expected—or disapproving, as she was used to—Simon touched her hand. “I believe you could do anything you put your mind to.”

The rest of the conversation was a blur.

Every day that week Simon would pick Bella up at five and they would explore the city. Simon didn’t seem in a hurry to find his father, and Bella didn’t press the issue. Instead she floated, blissfully happy and disinclined to examine her feelings.

She did remember to call about the apartment, and set up an appointment for Friday at 5 p.m. She had the day off, and Simon said he’d come with her to inspect the place. “I need to scope out the neighborhood anyway. After all, I did come here to see if I can find some trace of my father.”

When they reached the address, Bella looked up. “Why it’s above the café I told you about.” She read the sign. “Still closed. I wonder if it’s because of the jumper.”


“Yes. I was in here Christmas Eve and a man jumped from the roof and landed right here at the entrance.”


The landlord pulled up in a cab. “You Bella Peete?”


He jingled his keys. “I’m Mr. Gordon. I’ll take you up.”

“Is the old tenant still there?”

“Uh uh. Gone.”

Bella looked at Simon, suddenly apprehensive. “Did he…did he die?”

“He? No, there was only one person on the lease, and she left Christmas Day.”

Whew. She didn’t fancy moving into the apartment of a person who committed suicide. “Let’s have a look.”

The dingy corridor held three doors. “There’s one more apartment on this floor besides yours.”

“What’s that third door lead to?”

“The roof.”

“Is that where the man jumped from?”

“Jumped?” The landlord looked shocked. “What man?”

“I heard a man committed suicide here.”

He shook his head. “Only people in this building are two families downstairs and old Mrs. Tate across the hall.”

“Huh.” Maybe he did fall from the L. Bella made a mental note to check the internet. What with work and Simon, she hadn’t gotten around to perusing the news reports on the tragedy.

They toured the apartment. The dirty windows shed little light, and the place was chock full of furniture that could have been collected from a landfill. The landlord shook his head. “Sheesh. Ms. Smith said she’d cleaned this place out before she left.” He looked at Bella. “I guess it comes As-Is.”

As Bella was in the kitchen, despairing of the ancient stove, the dishes on the counter began to rattle. A flower pot fell from the window sill with a crash. “What the hell?”

The landlord checked his watch. “Oh, that’s the 5:15 express.” His eyes flickered. “Really, it’s the only train that makes the building shake. It’s because it goes by so fast.” He picked up a coat. “Look at this. She even left her clothes. I promise I’ll clear this stuff out before you move in.”

Simon, who was wandering around the rooms, came back in as the landlord hung the coat up. “Wait a minute!” He took the coat and read the inside label. “This belongs to my father.” He felt in the pockets and held a photo up. Before Bella could take it a key turned in the lock. A woman entered. Mr. Gordon said, “What are you doing back here, Harriet? Coming to get your stuff?”

The woman looked at the photo in Simon’s hand. She snatched at it. It floated to the ground. Bella grabbed it before the woman could. She looked from it to the woman at the door. “Wait a minute. This is you.”

“Well of course it is.”

Simon intervened. “How do you know my father?”

She turned furtive. “Oh, we…uh…dated a couple of times. He left this coat here…uh…weeks ago.”

Simon said sharply, “When was the last time you saw him?”

She straightened. “Like I said, weeks ago. What’s this all about?”

“Arthur Brandt disappeared from Denver a month ago.”

Bella watched the woman. Something

She shrugged. “I guess he’s good at that. He left without a word sometime in November.”

That’s it! “You’re the waitress from the café.”

The woman turned on her. “So? Now, can I get out’a here?”

“Just a moment.” The landlord held up a hand. “You’ve got to clear this apartment out or I won’t give you your deposit back.”

Simon had been studying the photo. “Excuse me.” He went into the kitchen.

Harriet watched him go, then swung around to Mr. Gordon. “Sure, sure. Look, I gotta go. I’ll come back tomorrow and get my stuff. Okay?” She backed toward the door.

Simon came out. “Surely you’re not leaving us?”

Harriet looked puzzled. “What do you care?”

“Because, dear lady, we have to wait for the police.”

Bella’s jaw dropped. The landlord’s jaw dropped. Harriet’s face went rigid. “I don’t think so. Whatever your problem is, you deal with it. Nothin’ to do with me.”

“I think it does.” To Bella’s shock, Simon produced a small Beretta. “I think we wait.”

Suer enough, five minutes later there was a knock on the door. “Police.”

Simon let them in. “She’s all yours, officers.”

“Harriet Middleton, alias Harriet Smith, we’re arresting you for the murder of Arthur Brandt.” He handcuffed her.

Harriet struggled only a minute, then quieted once the officer started reading her her rights. As the policemen led her to the door, she looked over her shoulder. The grin on her face was macabre. “You don’t know the half of it.”

The three left behind stood a minute, then the landlord hastily shooed them out. “We’ll sign the lease tomorrow, shall we? I need to get back to the office.” He plunged down the stairs.

Simon started to leave, but Bella held him back. “You want to tell me what just happened?”

“Harriet Middleton murdered Arthur Brandt. I thought that was obvious.”

“That bit was. Where do you come in?”

“Never mind that. I’m still trying to figure out how she did it.” He started searching drawers. “From what you told me, she was serving you inside the café when he fell.”

“That’s right.”

“So she couldn’t have pushed him.”


“He fell on the garbage can.”


“Okay, so far. Now, he was lying on his face. That’s the part that bothers me. When you fall you usually twist around and end up landing on your back.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just do.” He rubbed his chin. “Let’s go downstairs.”

Bella was glad to get out of the apartment. Simon stopped at the café door and looked up. “Here’s where he fell? Did you see him fall?”

“No. I remember the express passed and then there was a scream. When I looked out, he was lying there.”

“And the garbage can was knocked over.”


He pointed at a line of bins. “Which one?”

“I’ve no idea.”

He produced a flashlight and went over each can carefully. She resisted the urge to ask him why he carried one. He’s got a lot of secrets.

“We haven’t had any snow or rain in the last week, right?”


He tapped a lid. “Then there should still be blood where he landed on it.”

“There isn’t any?”

He shook his head. “Not on any of them.” She took the opportunity to sit on the stoop while he pondered. Suddenly, he brightened. “Aha! Here, help me.” He started overturning the cans one by one. “There.” He pointed.

Bella saw a dark blotch on the bottom of the last one. “Is that blood?”

“Bet my bottom dollar it is.”

“I don’t understand. How did it get there?”

“When the can landed on Arthur’s head. It was thrown from the roof. Arthur didn’t fall; he was hit while he stood on the sidewalk.”

Truth dawned. “So someone pushed the can off the roof and it killed him. It must have been an accident then.”

Simon sat down next to her. “I don’t think so. I think it was deliberate. Otherwise the person would have come forward.”

Bella was beginning to feel cold. She said crossly, “Well that means Harriet didn’t kill him. She was inside with me.”

Just then a train passed over their heads. Simon rubbed his chin. “You’re cold. Let’s go back to your apartment.” She didn’t protest.

He led her into her kitchen and picked up a vase. “Do you mind if I break this?”

She choked. “Yes, I do! That belonged to my mother.”

He put it down. “Well, what can I break?”

She was too curious to object, so she handed him the hideous bowl her Aunt Felicia had given her instead of the requested fruitcake. “This.”

He set the bowl on the table, then nudged it until it was halfway over the edge. Then he suddenly jumped up and down several times. Bella watched the bowl inch toward oblivion, finally crashing to the floor. Simon crowed, “And that’s how she did it! Come on, let’s go tell the police.”

The police were suitably impressed. The lieutenant in charge of the case listened attentively. “That was some great detective work you did there, Mr. Forrest. You don’t happen to have a background in law enforcement, do you?”

Simon glanced quickly at Bella. “Yes. I’m a private investigator.” He took a card out of his wallet and showed it to the policeman. “I was hired to find Arthur Brandt. He must have realized he was in danger and mailed his ex-wife a photo of him with Harriet.”

Bella added, “But before he sent it off, she found it and tore off the part that showed her.”

“Thankfully, the background enabled me to trace him to this neighborhood.” Simon pursed his lips. “The only thing we couldn’t figure out is why she killed him. He has no money. I mean, he’s got an insurance policy, but that only covers his wife.”

“Is it a lot? Does it name her specifically?”

“It’s for $500,000. As I recall it merely says “spouse.”

The lieutenant rose and shook Simon’s hand. “Well, you’ve assisted us in catching a wanted criminal.”


“Harriet Middleton is a suspect in four murders. She seduces older men, marries them, then knocks them off for the insurance money. She’s wanted in five states. A regular black widow.”

Bella thought back to the sour face of the waitress in the café. “I guess it didn’t make her very happy.”

She waited until they were alone to light into Simon. “Well?”

He didn’t ask her what she meant. “I didn’t want you entangled in a potentially dangerous situation.” He touched her cheek. “Especially when I was falling in love with you.”

Since Bella agreed totally with everything Simon had just said, she settled for a kiss.

The End




Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Global adventure from M. S. Spencer: Lapses of Memory & Orion's Foot

Ready for some global adventure? Want to roam Europe and the Middle East? How about the Amazon? Throw in mystery, suspense, romance, and maybe a monster or two and voila! Edge of your seat thrills. Here are two books that fit the bill:

Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she's confronted with a murder victim. In a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists, she is drawn to Emory Andrews, a gruff, big man with a secret past. That is, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.


Lapses of Memory

Sydney Bellek first meets Elian Davies in the 1950s on a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser when she is five and he is seven. They run into each other every few years after that, but while he knows from the start that she is his true love, she does not. Later, as rival journalists, they vie for scoops on international crises from the Iranian revolution to the Lebanese civil war. The handsome and intrepid Elian beats her out at every turn, even while keeping his love for her secret.

Only after years of separation does she finally realize they are meant to be together, but this time, in a twist of fate, it is Elian whose memory of her is gone. Will he remember her before she loses heart or will their new love be enough to replace the old one?