Title: Sworn to Fly
Author: Maria Imbalzano
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Risk-averse ER nurse, Alyssa Beckman, is about to lose her job because of yet another bad decision. In order to put her life back on track, she books a week at a rustic mountain resort to ponder her next steps and rejuvenate. But when she arrives, she learns she’s enrolled in boot camp, an adventure program far out of her comfort zone.
While there, she meets Gabriel Sutton, a world-travelling high fashion photographer who is in danger of losing his clients as well as his status if he doesn’t start following the rules. While hiking, kayak racing, and participating in team challenges, sparks fly between Alyssa and Gabe as they encourage each other to take different life paths. But will those paths lead them farther apart or bring them closer together?
What was it about her that had him craving her company? He could have easily ended their conversation and went on his way without her—his original plan. And smarter plan. Even more surprising than his invitation was her agreement to tag along.
Alyssa followed him as he trekked into the woods, stopping when he did. He pointed his lens upward and fired off several shots, moving here and there to capture the sunlight playing off the multihued leaves. She sat on a fallen tree trunk, looking at the foliage.
“Why so quiet?” he asked after a while.
She laughed—a welcome sound. “No. I didn’t take the class yet. I thought I’d just let you do your thing.”
“I can do my thing while talking.” He pointed his camera in her direction and took a photo.
“Can you please give me some warning when you’re going to do that? I can see my request that you not take my picture has fallen on deaf ears, so you can at least give me a heads-up.” She pulled a stemmy reed from her hair.
“Sorry. Can’t do. That’s not the way I work. I like candid shots when the subject isn’t prepared. They’re the best.”
“So I’m a subject now?”
Gabe headed over and sat down beside her, his leg touching hers. A shock wave coursed through him. He inhaled slowly, trying to take back control. When her arm brushed against his, the wave vied with sparks and heat.
Russet eyes held his for only a moment before she disconnected.
He cleared his throat, hoping to clear his head. “You’re an amazing subject. The photos I took of you yesterday on our little walk were so natural. The intensity of your eyes when you were helping Missy, the sympathy on your face, even though you were the ultimate professional—portrayed a nurse in action, helping a patient. Beautiful.”
Alyssa’s face reddened as she turned her head away from him.
“I have one of you laughing, too. That woman, Edie, was talking your ear off, but you let her.”
That brought out a chuckle.
“My goal is to capture emotion, raw and undetected by most others.”
“Can I see the photos you just took of the tree branches?”
He flipped his camera over and leaned toward her, scrolling slowly through the shots. Sun glinted off the upper branches while casting shadows and darkness on the lower ones.
“These photos don’t look like real scenery. They look like paintings.” She peered up into the trees, then back at the LCD screen. “You have a gift. You see things that most of us humans don’t.”
He stood, needing to get away from the heat she generated in him, but the second he moved, his body yearned for more contact. He strolled a little farther into the trees, working his magic with the camera to get his mind off more carnal thoughts. While he wasn’t opposed to hooking up with an interesting woman for a week before getting back to his reality, he feared Alyssa was too vulnerable, working through more than she’d let on.
He returned to the log where she still sat, holding his hand out to pull her up. Warmth spread through his veins and ricocheted to his core. Something he hadn’t felt in a while.
She was completely different from the women he met—New York City women who were sophisticated in their perfectly put-together appearances and mysterious in keeping their inner selves hidden so he never quite knew who he was dealing with. He played their game, and it worked for him—not getting too close to anyone to call it a relationship. Yet lately he’d been desiring something more.
Maybe he shouldn’t put her on the off-limits list too quickly.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
“Sworn to Fly” is about striving to move beyond your comfort zone to become a better person. The main character, Alyssa Beckman, has been making bad decisions, especially in her love life, and she recognizes that change is necessary. But change comes hard to her, as it does for most of us. You will laugh, cry, and cheer along with Alyssa as she not only discovers a new path for herself, but falls in love with the person who has opened her eyes to a more exciting life.
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Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.
Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” each came in first in their category in the National Excellence in Story Telling contest.