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Joanna Sansone returns from her deployment to the Middle East as a political adviser with the scars of a disfigured left forearm and the loss of her fiancé, Renzo Moretti. Now, she asks for nothing more than the peace of the new home she purchases, which she names “Quintessence” and the companionship of her Arabian stallion, al-Maisan, and the -poodle, Santino. Both animal companions are rescue animals who need Joanna’s love and attention, but the U.S. government has other ideas. A large defense contractor for which her former boss, retired Colonel Alex Martin, works calls on her services once more. A new English language training facility in northern Virginia’s horse country needs a registrar. Joanna knows if she accepts the position, her and quiet life changes. The residents of the exclusive community are up in arms over the institute’s Middle Eastern students. When one of the students, the son of an important tribal , becomes seriously ill, Joanna’s life changes again. The arrival of his mysterious uncle, a desert healer named al-Najid, is a painful reminder of her losses. Mick Riliuni, the doctor the student’s family engages to consult on the case, accuses her of prejudice when she questions the need for the uncle’s medical expertise. Caught between two strong personalities, Joanna discovers her passions’ reawakening, but who is the doctor and who is the uncle? A trip to a mountain fortress in Sicily yields answers, but do those answers give Joanna a future? Or, will her heart remain buried in the grave with Renzo?
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Read Robbi's interview with Sara-Jayne Townsend at
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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
"Where the Lion Dwells by Robbi Perna is a beautiful story of love, loss, and redemption. Joanna Sansone is still mourning her fiancé, Renzo Moretti. She’s finally coming home, hoping to live a quiet, peaceful life after her stint in Iraq as a political adviser. But the government still needs her, now in a different role. At the new English Language school in Virginia, the son of a tribal becomes very ill. When the boy’s family decides to enlist the services of Mick Riliuni, Joanna’s life gets shaken again like never before: she is accused unfairly and caught between two men who remind her of everything she detests. The twist is what will catch readers off-guard. Will she find answers to the nagging questions that stir her thoughts? What about her passions? Can her heart open to love again or will she be haunted by the memory of a love stolen by death?
Robbi Perna’s is an exciting voice in women's fiction, a strong voice that will entice the hearts of many readers. I loved the opening of this story, action-packed, and featuring one of the dominant conflicts that will carry on throughout the book. The themes are universal, including love, loss, and grief. I loved the way the author integrates the political reality into this interesting story. The setting is beautiful and it becomes more beautiful with the picturesque descriptions and the clear prose. How can one not see in their mind’s eye the “green fields of crops stretched down to the banks of the Tigris River,” and images like “her tear-drenched eyes blind to the endless rows of marble headstones … scenes of the rubble and refuse that lined the single roadway running between the two arched gates into the Iraqi town of al-Tarmiyah.” Where the Lion Dwells is a great story, entertaining, and featuring compelling characters."
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