Eyes of Light by Charissa Stastny

Book 1 in the Bending Willow Trilogy series

Sometimes the most terrifying battle is fought within.

On a lush island along the Washington peninsula, Suvi Goldstein wishes only to live a normal teenage life. One without fears. One without nightmares. One where she only has to worry about grades, what book to read next, and when her boyfriend might sneak over to kiss her. But when she inadvertently overhears a clandestine phone call one night and realizes her sister and boyfriend are in danger, she determines to do whatever necessary to ensure their safety, even it means giving up her own. As she is swept into a world of intrigue and violence, the painful past she longs to forget is resurrected and her life becomes anything but normal as she loses the love of her life to a ruthless drug cartel right before graduation.

Meanwhile, in the jungle cities of Guatemala, James Hinton tries to save the world as a missionary. As he sacrifices his health, comfort, and time to help the poor and needy there, his own life crumbles apart as his girl back home dumps him for another. Returning to the states, he moves to Idaho to attend college and hopes for a fresh start. But as he dates again, he finds every girl lacking. Finding his dream girl is turning out to be harder than he expected. He wonders if she even exists.

Over a year ago, Austan Sandoval, master of disguise and deception, was officially pronounced dead. Even the girl he loves does not know he still lives…and he dares not reveal himself to her. With a deadly cartel out for revenge, he must lie low as he strives to keep Suvi safe—from herself and from external forces bent on destroying her. The truth can only harm her.

After a chance encounter brings James and Suvi together, Suvi can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor. Neither can he stop thinking about her and the sparks that flared between them. She seems to be perfect, except her beliefs clash against his in every possible way. Can love bloom when the odds are stacked so high against them, especially when she seems determined to keep him at arm’s length?

In this heart-tugging, suspenseful romance, Suvi, Austan, and James struggle to grab hold of happiness, even as prejudice, pride, and the dark past combine to steal it from them. But with true love at stake—and even Suvi’s very life if the cartel gets hold of her—they cannot afford to fail.

“…A well-written read that not only entertains, but educates as well.” ~ Carrie Rubin, author of The Seneca Scourge.