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Renata tries escape her past and runs straight into . . . love.
Renata Blake has moved to the Milwaukee area to leave behind a painful past as a victim of abuse. She discovers a family like she’s never had before, at Orchard Hill Church and is drawn to handsome Packer fanatic, Antonio. After all she’s suffered through, could she ever trust a man again?

Antonio DeLuca has a full life with his family, church and his job as chef and manager at DeLuca’s Cucina. Having been betrayed in love, he is afraid to trust a woman again. How would he fit her into his already full life anyway? 

As circumstances draw them together and attempt to tear them apart, life becomes a combination of savory pesto and painful potholes as both Tony and Renata learn that with God’s help, and the support of a faith community, they can both learn to love again. 

And maybe fight a few ninjas along the way. 

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Copyright 2015 © Susan M. Banagz

August 2008

Renata placed the last candlestick on the table. The pastor had told her to submit. Be kind and cheerful for her husband. She hadn’t had time to change out of her work clothes, but had at least put on lipstick and combed her hair. She was bursting to tell Mick the news.

The click of the doorknob sent a shiver of fear up her spine. How can a doorknob…? Peace, Renata, God will not abandon you.

Mick strode in. She smiled at him. “I’m glad you’re home, Mick. I have something to tell you.”

He scowled at her, and she swallowed her fear. The cold look in his eyes chiseled away at her joy. “I went to the doctor today for an ultrasound. We’re having a girl!”

The force of the slap he delivered snapped her neck back. She should have anticipated it from the look in his eyes. She had prayed he would come around to being happy about being a father. She had hoped for a miracle for their marriage. “But Mick—” she cried.

He mimicked her in a high voice. “But Mick.” He slapped her again. “Don’t expect me to be happy. A girl? You thought I’d want a girl? Even if I wanted a kid, the last thing I’d want is a girl.”

“Please, Mick—” She was pleading now. She dared to look up at him. God, please, help me.

His hand came up, and she shrank back. Warm moisture flowed out of her nose as his fist withdrew. He grabbed her hair and jerked her head with such force she saw stars. She struggled to stay on her feet as he dragged her to the living room and tossed her like a rag doll to the floor.

She gasped for air as his steel-tipped boots ravaged her side, her stomach, her back. She lost track of any specific pain. 
Everything hurt. She tried to curl up. Please, please don’t hurt my baby. God, rescue me!

A final kick to the head was the last thing she remembered as she slid into darkness.

Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Her stories have been featured in in Splickety Magazine and in the I Choose Youanthology with OakTara Press. This is her first contemporary romance novel in the Orchard Hill Series, the second, Salsa and Speedbumps, will follow. She is represented by Mary Sue Seymour for her adventurous Regency Romances.

Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church. Her favorite pastimes are lazy...snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

You can learn more by following her blog, her Twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page,



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