Friday Weekend Escape to Zambia

By Marion Ueckermann

I’ve taken a weekend escape to Zambia—twice.

Many years ago, my husband and I were privileged to accompany my bosses on a business / leisure trip to the land of my birth. I got the opportunity to go again the following year with the company’s accountants. As the conference coordinator, it was my job to be there and ensure all went off smoothly. I know, some people have it really tough, don’t they?

On the first visit, the group stayed at the prestigious Royal Livingstone Hotel on the Zambian side of the mighty Zambezi River. On the second trip, we stayed on the Zimbabwean side, though we did cross the river into Zambia for our sunset river cruise and dinner. It was wonderful to have seen the Victoria Falls from both sides—the views and experience remarkably different. The Zambian side is filled with rain forests and numerous walking bridges to cross over gorges. The Zimbabwean side is mostly flat and open, the only bridge to be seen, the railroad bridge—home to bungee jumping daredevils.

Victoria Falls - Zambian side

Victoria Falls - Zimbabwean side

Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side

On the first trip, I arranged a water arrival for the delegates. It was exciting. We boarded water taxis berthed beside the African Queen where we’d have dinner and a sunset cruise later that afternoon. The taxis raced down this enormous river and over gentle rapids until in the distance we could see the mist rising from Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders). The Victoria Falls. We were almost at our hotel.

Water arrival - Zambia

The Royal Livingstone was an amazing place to stay—we even had our own butler. On our last night there, the Prince of Oman and his entire entourage of around seventy checked into the hotel. We didn’t get to see him, although we did spot his bodyguards in the gardens while a bunch of Arabian-looking children played close by. And we saw his private Boeing at the airport when we left.

Another exciting guest was the monkey that woke me that first morning. As I opened my eyes, there he was, sitting on the bedside table, helping himself to the nougat that had been left on my pillow the night before. Suffice it to say, a pillow fight ensued. I won!

Only when we stepped onto the balcony of our room, did we see all the havoc this little blighter and his family had caused—below the lawns were littered with papers from the chocolates I’d placed in our delegates’ gift packs. Hubby and I weren’t the only ones to make the fatal mistake of sleeping with the door open.

Later they snuck into my bag at the swimming pool, stealing a pocket pack of tissues, and testing them high in a tree to see if they were edible. They even made a mad dash at the tables of guests taking high tea, pinching the expensive snacks right off their plates.

Not all of the uninvited guests were that wild and unruly. Late that afternoon, Zebra lazily dotted the lawns of the hotel, but we were told not to get too close as they could give a nasty bite.

Monkeys and Zebra - Zambia

Besides visiting the magnificent Victoria Falls, the sunset cruise on the Zambesi River, and riding and feeding the elephants, were the highlights of my visits to Zambia. That’s why I included both these experiences into my newly released novella, Orphaned Hearts.

Sunset Cruise - Zambia

Sunset Cruise

Elephant ride- Zambia

Elephant ride & feeding

If you enjoyed this little weekend escape to Zambia, why not pick up a copy of Orphaned Hearts and spend a few more hours soaking in the beauty of Zambia.

Purchase Links:

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iTunes 

Kobo

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Will his past, or her future, keep their hearts orphaned?

Orphaned Hearts

When his wife dies in childbirth, Zambian conservationist Simon Hartley pours his life into raising his daughter and his orphan elephants. He has no time, or desire, to fall in love again. Or so he thinks.

Wanting to escape English society and postpone an arranged marriage, Lady Abigail Chadwick heads to Africa for a year to teach the children of the Good Shepherd Orphanage. Upon her arrival she is left stranded at Livingstone airport…until a reluctant Simon comes to her rescue.

Now only fears born of his loss, and secrets of the life she’s tried to leave behind, can stonewall their romance, budding in the heart of Africa.

I look forward to interacting with readers at any of the following places:

WEBSITE       http://marionueckermann.com/

FACEBOOK  https://www.facebook.com/Marion.C.Ueckermann

AMAZON      http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KBYLU7C

GOOGLE+     https://plus.google.com/+MarionUeckermannAuthor/

TWITTER       https://twitter.com/ueckie

PINTEREST   https://www.pinterest.com/ueckie/

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven.

Marion loves writing Contemporary Inspirational Romances set in novel places and has three Passport to Romance novellas published and contracted through White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint: her debut novella, Helsinki Sunrise; Oslo Overtures (August 2015); and Glasgow Grace (2016).

She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Friday Weekend Escape to Adelaide, Australia: The City of Churches

This week I’ve celebrated my wedding anniversary. It only seemed fitting that I continue the wedding theme and we return to Adelaide in South Australia, also known as the city of churches.

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River Torrens in Adelaide, South Australia

Our first stop is St. Peters Anglican Cathedral in the heart of Adelaide. I love visiting old churches and cathedrals. There’s something about the quiet and peace in the ornate sanctuaries that brings a reflective smile to my lips.

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The architecture is magnificent and the sheer size of the building is hard to capture in a single photo.

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Our next stop is The Cathedral Church of St Francis Xavier, also in the Adelaide city precinct.

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Another majestic building that’s hard to capture in one photo.

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 I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to the cathedrals. Next Friday we’re going to take a stroll along the River Torrens. Have a great weekend!

Friday Weekend Escape to Adelaide, Australia: The Historic Adelaide Oval

It’s our first Friday Weekend Escape for 2015, and this weekend we’re escaping to the picturesque city of Adelaide in South Australia.

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Our first stop is the historic Adelaide Oval, located on the River Torrens in the city.

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My husband and I spent the day with my reader friend, Jenny, and she played tour guide by showing us around her home city.

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Adelaide Oval is the home of cricket in the summer and AFL during the winter months.

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It’s summer in Australia and the Adelaide Oval is on my travel wish list to visit during the cricket season. The photos  above were taken last year during the AFL football season.

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Hubby and I are looking up at the Sir Donald Bradman Pavillion. Don Bradman was a legendary Aussie cricketer and we visited The Bradman Collection at the Adelaide Oval. Originally from New South Wales (NSW), Don Bradman played the latter part of his cricketing career for South Australia. We’ve also visited the International Cricket Hall of Fame (previously known as the Bradman Museum) in Bowral, NSW, in Don Bradman’s home town.

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 I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to the Adelaide Oval. Next Friday we’re going to see a couple of cathedrals and discover why Adelaide is known as being a ‘city of churches’. Have a great weekend!

Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Winter)

 by Marion Ueckermann

How good it’s been to be in Budapest again these past five days and to show my husband, Noel, the sights of this beautiful city. A city of lights, of statues, of amazing architecture, of incredible interiors, of history, of culture, of tempting aromas, and of fun. Truly a fascinating city offering far more than I had ever imagined. Go right now and put a visit to Budapest on your bucket list—you won’t be sorry.

City of Lights: Christmas lights line the city streets, aging buildings, and trams, while spotlights illuminate amazing architecture, bridges, and statues.

1 City of Lights

City of Statues: Heroes, Heroines, Saints, and Kings are forever entombed in a brazen hue.

2 City of Statues

2b City of Statues

City of Amazing Architecture: Castles, Chapels, Basilicas, Hotels, Houses of Parliament, Synagogues, Museums, Stations … they all feature exquisite craftsmanship.

3 Amazing Architecture

City of Incredible InteriorsAlmost every building you enter, whether it be a coffee shop, hotel or basilica has a unique interior. Of special fascination are the roofs. You would have seen some of those from the Basilica photos in last week’s blog. The interior below is from a wonderful coffee shop called Lotz Bookcafe where we each had a speciality hot chocolate…which was literally like drinking melted chocolate.

4 Interiors

City of History: Budapest is a city filled with history but what intrigued me most was the amount of Jewish history. Not surprising though as, prior to the holocaust, Hungary had the largest population of Jews outside of Israel. A huge percentage of these were murdered during the holocaust. Many memorials to the victims have been erected. We saw the mass graves at the Great Synagogue. The thing that touched me most though was the Shoe Statues along the Danube River. During the holocaust, Jews were lined up beside the river, told to take their shoes off, and then shot. Their bodies would be swallowed up by the river below.

5 - Statues 1

5 - Statues 2

City of Culture: Opera is huge in Budapest and very affordable (depending where you sit, of course). The Nutcracker was showing this past week but unfortunately tickets were sold out. We were fortunate though when we visited the Basilica to have an orchestra playing live there.

6 Culture

City of Tempting Aromas: Budapest is alive with aromas. Two of my best were the Chimney Cakes sprinkled with your choice of vanilla, chocolate, almond, cinnamon, walnut, and hot mulled wine in a variety of fruity flavors. Another tempting aroma was chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

7 Tempting Aromas

City of Fun: Christmas markets, an ice rink in the park, Ferris wheel, Segway city tours, Horse drawn carriage rides, Danube River cruises…just a few of the fun things to see and do.

8 Fun Christmas markets

8a Fun Ferris Wheel

A Fascinating City: Budapest is simply fascinating. We went to the Invisible Exhibition where we saw…nothing. For one hour we went about blind as we lived the life of a blind person. We felt our way in pitch darkness through a virtual apartment, then out into the “street” to the market to get fruit. After that we walked through a forest to a woodcutter’s cottage, then to a museum and finally a pub where we ate chocolate and drank a coldrink (if we had coins with which to pay). And of course, our guide was…a blind person. It was a real eye-opener into the world of the visually impaired.

Another fascinating concept we were introduced to was the ruin bars. We visited the most famous one, Szimpla. All over the city, ruined buildings have been “renovated” to be used as bars. As you can see, the ruined look is very much part of the theme of this enormous multi-level, multi-roomed city bar where nothing goes to waste. Bicycle tyres are used for tables, and carrots are sold and served by the bunches instead of peanuts.

Ruin Bars 3

Ruin Bars1

Today, as you read this blog, I’ll be making my way from Helsinki to Lapland, home of Santa Claus. There’s still so much Noel and I want to still see and experience in beautiful Budapest. The fascinating sweet shop I wrote of in my blog last week, the chocolate shop, the drinking chocolate bar, the Peanut Bar (which is actually called “For Sale”), the Turkish Baths, Buda Castle, the Great Market … Thankfully we’ll be back shortly after New Year and we can finish what we started last week—discovering as much as we can of this amazing city.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Summer)

By Marion Ueckermann

1 Budapest -Heroes Square

For weeks I’ve been singing the Budapest song by George Ezra. My heart’s in Budapest…na, na, a doobie doo. The first two lines were all I knew for quite some time (and I’ve discovered incorrectly too). The closer today has come, the more I’ve learnt of the song. Heart is actually house, and doobie doo is actually I’d lose it all.

I’m so excited! Tonight I wing my way up the continent of Africa, and after a brief stop-over in Doha, Qatar, it’ll be only a few more hours until my husband and I land in Budapest. But the Budapest that waits will be very different from the one we visited for a few hours in the summer of 2012. No doubt, the snow covered city (please let there be snow…apparently they’re experiencing a warm winter) will be equally as fascinating, and even more beautiful.

After we had experienced our summer cottage vacation in Finland some thirty months ago, we flew to Budapest where we caught a bus to Romania and spent a week helping to build houses for the Romanian gypsies. But that’s a story for another blog. On the way back to Finland for our long-haul flight home to South Africa, we had a layover of several hours in Budapest. While my hubby stayed at the airport to look after our luggage (he had a sore leg and didn’t want to go sight-seeing), my son, Kyle, his wife, Tiia, and I caught the bus and train into the city center along with two of their missionary friends, Samuel and Sara. I’m so glad we did—not only was it such a beautiful city to see, but it was that visit that drew Kyle and Tiia to set up their office for Re-birth in Budapest.

It is said that Budapest and Prague are two of the most beautiful cities in Europe because they were not damaged by the wars.

Here are some places we saw (unfortunately I don’t know the names of many of the places, but perhaps I’ll get to know some of them on this trip).

The statues on the buildings were fascinating…magnificent works of art.

2 Budapest - Statues

3 Budapest - Statues

I loved the intricate lamp posts, curved streets and paved alleyways.

4 Budapest - Lamps and alleys

This is the beautiful University that my daughter-in-law attended.

5 Budapest - University

A fruit shop, flower shop and pharmacy (yes, that’s what that strange word means).

6 Budapest - Shops

From the moment you spot its spires in the distance, St. Stephen’s Basilica has you spellbound.

7 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - outside

The artwork of this cathedral is breathtaking—from the large mosaic paved area that greets you outside, to the carvings, sculptures, paintings and pipe organ inside.

8 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - artwork

One cannot help but stand and stare in awe once inside St. Stephen’s Basilica. The craftsmanship of the architecture and all the trimmings surrounding that is almost inconceivable. It’s simply, beautiful.

9 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - inside

In one part of the outer area, colorful stained glass windows let light into the room that houses them.

10 Budapest - Stained glass windows

They’re so exquisite that one almost doesn’t notice the strange phenomenon in the room their beauty brightens.

11 Budpaest - Stephen's hand

Inside this glass reliquary lies the right hand of Stephen, the first King of Hungary, in whose honor the basilica is named.

In closing, what would this blog post be if I didn’t post a picture of the famous Danube River. Da-da-da-da-da, la-la la-la… What is it about this city that makes me want to sing all the time?

12 Budapest - Danube River

I trust that you’ve enjoyed taking an escape with me to beautiful Budapest. I am so looking forward to visiting the following places that my son and daughter-in-law have discovered during the time they’ve been living in Budapest: the colorful sweet shop; this death-by-chocolate coffee shop—Noir ChocoBar; the outdoor ice-rink in the city park; and the love lock park at Erzsébet square. Here couples inscribe a lock with their names. The lock is chained alongside a myriad of other locks and then the couples walk hand in hand across the Danube and toss the key into the river.

13 Budapest - Things to do

I plan to visit one of the 80 geothermal springs (medicinal baths) in Budapest this coming week so hopefully I’ll have some photos of those to show in next week’s blog – Winter Budapest.

14 Budapest - Heroes Square K&T

But more than all the awesomeness the beautiful city of Budapest has to offer, I’m looking forward to seeing this beloved sight tomorrow – my son and his wife (who are also my cover models for Helsinki Sunrise).

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia

This weekend we’re returning to my beautiful hometown of Sydney, Australia. Last week we caught the Manly Ferry to the pretty seaside suburb of Manly, the setting for my new contemporary inspirational romance. Her Tycoon Hero is the first book in in my Sydney series. Today we’re visiting Taronga Zoo, the perfect location for a fun romantic date.

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View of Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay

The ferry is a lovely way to travel from the city to Taronga Zoo, located on the waterfront in the northern Sydney suburb of Mosman.

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Circular Quay

We travel past the Sydney Opera House as the ferry departs from Circular Quay.

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Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

It’s very relaxing to sit back on the ferry, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful scenery.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour and city skyline

The lower entrance to Taronga Zoo is opposite the wharf. The zoo is on the side of a hill and provides stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline.

Taronga Zoo entrance from the wharf

Taronga Zoo entrance from the wharf

I love wandering around the 28 hectare zoo and seeing the wide range of animals. The walking is great exercise, too. Or, you can jump on the miniature train and Sky Safari to avoid negotiating the steep terrain by foot.

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Elephants

Giraffe

Giraffe

The African Safari section of the zoo is a definite favourite. I’ve always loved visiting the koalas and watching them play in the gum trees.

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Koala Sanctuary

Koala

Koalas

I hope you’ve enjoyed touring Sydney Harbour and Taronga Zoo. Enjoy your weekend!

Her Tycoon Hero cover

Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances.

Set on proving to everyone that she’s no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad’s top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she’s worked hard to escape.

Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith—and Cassie—as his own.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Friday Weekend Escape to Manly in Sydney, Australia

This weekend we’re returning to my hometown of Sydney, Australia. Last week we cruised around the harbour city, including The Rocks, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Today we’re catching the Manly Ferry to the beautiful seaside suburb of Manly, the setting for my brand new November contemporary inspirational romance. Her Tycoon Hero is the first book in in my Sydney series. Ryan lives on the eastern hill in Manly, in an apartment overlooking the harbour. Cassie lives in the neighbouring harbourside suburb of Fairlight, a short walk around the foreshores from Manly Wharf.

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Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House

Manly is a popular tourist destination and a half hour ferry ride from Circular Quay in the city.

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Manly ferry at Circular Quay

Below is the harbour beach and swimming area between Manly Wharf and Manly Sea Life Sanctuary.

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Harbour beach at Manly Cove

The waterfront suburb of Fairlight is in the distance. You can do a three hour, ten kilometre scenic walk around the harbour foreshore from Manly to the historic Spit Bridge in Middle Harbour.

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Manly Wharf

This is the picturesque view of Sydney Harbour from the western side of Manly Wharf. There are many restaurants at the wharf that take advantage of the stunning water views.

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Manly Wharf

Manly Wharf was originally built in 1855 and a commuter ferry service commenced in 1857. The wharf has been rebuilt and renovated a number of times over the years. This paved area was a busy bus interchange when I was growing up.

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Manly Wharf

This is the view from Manly Wharf looking out toward The Corso, between the two buildings in the distance. The Corso connects the harbour beach with the ocean beach.

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West Promenade, Manly

This is the view of the promenade from Manly Wharf, lined with towering Norfolk Pines. Cassie works in the city and walks along this promenade from Fairlight to Manly Wharf.

I hope you’ve enjoyed touring the beautiful harbourside suburb of Manly. Next week we’re going to visit Taronga Zoo, a famous landmark on Sydney Harbour.

Her Tycoon Hero cover

Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances.

Set on proving to everyone that she’s no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad’s top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she’s worked hard to escape.

Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith—and Cassie—as his own.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com