1988: In a multicultural pocket of inner-city Melbourne, sixteen-year-old Caleb falls in love with Samira, his Lebanese neighbour. Both understand the rules that determine they’re not allowed to date, but neither stays away. As they hide in the branches of a giant fig tree, their forbidden love blossoms … until tragedy pulls them apart.
1998: A chance encounter has reunited Caleb and Samira. Now that she’s no longer the sixteen-year-old girl he fell in love with but a beautiful grown woman, Caleb is certain they’ll have a second chance. But cultural rules don’t go away simply because they’re adults. Instead, they’re left facing the same battle they did as teens. Except this time, Caleb realises the threads of culture and heritage are weaved much deeper into his own life than he could’ve imagined.
He has a choice. To fight for the woman he loves, or to do what everyone before him has done. Follow the rules.
Jack has loved Lola from the beginning. With her by his side, he planned to build an empire of hotels across the world. But as Jack clawed his way through each dot point on the checklist of his life plan, he lost focus of the one thing he ever truly wanted. Lola.
Lola floated through life like a leaf caught in a breeze, drifting from menial job to menial job. With no goals of her own, she disappeared into the shadows of Jack's success until she lost herself completely ... and their relationship crumbled.
After three long years apart, Lola has finally found herself, and Jack has taken the first step in building his empire.
All he needs now is his empress.
But time is running out. With one last shot at winning back the woman he loves, Jack decides on something drastic. This time, his plan cannot fail.
Maya is floundering. She’s stuck in a dead-end job, is isolated from family and friends, and her father—the only person to ever truly understand her—has been gone four years. When her boyfriend leaves her for another woman, the rocky foundations of Maya’s life crumble to dust, and she sinks even further into the pit of grief and despair.
Until she meets him. Sam. The one with the animated smile and gentle eyes, who always sees the positive no matter how bad the negative. Sam reignites Maya’s passion with his enthusiastic outlook and helps to rebuild her life, piece by piece.
But when ghosts from Maya’s past resurface, her decisions almost destroy the few important relationships she has left, and the happiness she’s so recently found is threatened. She must overcome her demons and decide what matters most—the familiarity of the past, or the hope, love and possibilities of the future.
"I tip my hat to Ms Battany for the skill in crafting such a strong-willed, fiery, yet insecure, hurting and deliciously flawed woman that is Maya Ricci. I may not have loved her on every messy scene of her life, but I somehow understood why Maya behaved the way she did. Only a writer with skill can wield words like this. Thank you, Rania." - Goodreads reviewer.
He stole her heart. He tried to give it back. He wouldn't let her.
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