Dear Reader:

Welcome to my five-book series --Ladies of Distinction -- where you will see the love and support among friends who are also sorority sisters stepping out after university to pursue their dreams, overcome heartaches, and find true love.

In this book, Only In Paradise, this time, it’s Athena’s turn to find love across the ocean in the arms of a Caribbean man—Collin. Think of Bahamian Sidney Poitier. Dark, sexy, and 100% man.

By the way, I’m member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Unlike the pledge experience of these sorors of the fictional Xi Theta Sigma Sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho has a zero-tolerance hazing policy. As a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, our “aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmark of the organization's programs and activities. Sigma Gamma Rho addresses concerns that impact society educationally, civically, and economically.” The sorority was organized by seven women at Butler University in Chicago and now has a current global membership of 85,000.

The titles for the series so far include: No One But You, Gamble On Love, Only In Paradise, and Trail of Kisses, in February 2010.

Welcome to this world where dreams do come true, where love is celebrated, and friendships last forever.

Always have a smile in her heart.

Michelle Monkou



Excerpt from Only In Paradise

© Michelle Monkou

Collin Winslow studied the stream of passengers disembarking. He could spot the tourists among the throng. Pickpockets would, too. Their brightly colored, tropical clothing did nothing to blend them with the locals. The women were a little too put together in their matching short sets, designer shades, and stylish purses. The men weren’t far behind in their khaki or navy blue shorts, floral Hawaiian print shirts and wide toothy grins.

Collin stashed his irritation over the arrival of newcomers. After all, the country only had tourism as its basic economy. Tourism meant jobs. But he wanted the next generation to have the option to enter the industry or not.

One passenger trailed the line of people disembarking from the plane. She handled the stairs as if she never done it. Could be the ridiculous heels.

The inappropriate shoes were one thing, the suit was quite another, making him want to sweat simply looking at the attire. Hair once contained in a ponytail, now fought to escape with loose tendrils spilling out in an untidy explosion. He wasn’t surprised to see the woman wipe her brow many times before her feet hit the tarmac. She must be here on business to justify wearing such uncomfortable clothing. Otherwise the shirt buttoned to the neck had to go. Maybe her innocence and overwhelmed look stirred a little sympathy. He couldn’t stop looking at her. She could be considered attractive, he supposed. Or he surmised that her train wreck of an appearance was the real draw. Hopefully she wouldn’t trip in those shoes or melt before she got to her destination. It would be a shame to damage those shapely legs.

Collin observed the passengers dispersing with their respective relatives or alone in taxis. All, that is, except one. On closer inspection, the lone figure was the woman who didn’t understand the true meaning of the words tropical heat. She had the appearance of a flower wilting under the humidity, in her navy blue skirt suit and wrinkled white shirt with legs encased in hosiery stuck in black uncomfortable heels.

“Athena Crawford, I presume.” He bit down on the inside of his mouth to keep from smiling.

“Yes,” she answered in a breathless, harried whisper.

Her severe discomfort might be enough to prove his prediction of desertion back to the U.S. Maybe he should offer to sit with her until that evening when the plane made its return to point of origin.

Too bad, though. Underneath the fatigue and overall moisture, she could be a beauty, but that was even more of a liability. He needed stamina and independence in his teachers, not thick, long hair that had its own mind or facial features that would cause school boy crushes.

The public relations firm pushed him to use his good looking teacher for the brochures. A suggestion that almost brought violence. He had enough of the Hollywood types who had personal agendas seeking media attention while holding a baby from a poor nation in their arms. This project meant more to him than turning into a sell out.

“Are you, Mr. Winslow?” Her brown eyes looked at him with so much hope that he was glad to offer her relief with his nod.

“Welcome to La Isla del Azur–The Blue Island.” He extended his hand.

“Glad to be here.” Her hand gripped his with a confidence that didn’t match his perception of her exhausted, weakened state.

“Luggage?”

“I have two pieces and the one that I have here.” She glanced down at her feet where a small suitcase rested on wheels. “I hope that won’t be a problem.”

“Not at all. I’m picking up several boxes. However, the large quantity of luggage required me to bring a truck. It won’t be the most glamorous transport, I’m afraid.”

“I’m fine. I appreciate having you meet me, since this is all new to me.” She ran the back of her hand across her forehead.

“Follow me. I’ll take you to the rest of your luggage.” Collin led the way through the bustling airport. The luggage had been brought into a central location. Unfortunately the carousel didn’t work, but that was the norm. “Which one?” He looked over the pile of similarly colored cases. People hovered over the luggage, picking through until they retrieved their own cases.

“The red ones, over there.”

Collin followed the direction to where she pointed. The two matching upright cases bulged. The bright red sticker with thick, black letters warned that the pieces were heavy.

He signaled one of the porters for assistance. Taking out a twenty, he gladly handed it over with further instructions for retrieving the other cargo.

He pointed toward the exit sign. “We can go to the truck and wait.”

They walked through the automatic doors of the airport leaving the cooler air. The warm tropical morning had settled into place with its heavy-handed presence. Collin glanced over to his new employee to monitor her reaction. Perspiration dotted the tip of her nose. Occasionally she licked her lips, a motion that he found disturbing as his focus trained on the movement and the lingering moisture. Equally unsettling was his reaction that sparked to life like a key turned in an ignition of a powerful, V-8 engine.

“It will get hotter before midday.”

“Oh.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a crumpled tissue. Then she played with the top button on her shirt.

Collin knew that would do little to stem her body’s cooling mechanism. In fact, it would take a couple weeks for her body to get used to the humidity and heat. He’d hold the welcome celebration until that time.

“I hate to inconvenience you, but could we stop to get a drink? I’m beyond parched.” She licked her lips again.

“Of course. If you wait here, I’ll get you a soda from the vending machine.”

“I’ll go with you. It’ll give me reprieve to stand in the shade.” She hurried toward him, stumbling in the process. Her hand shot out and gripped his arm. His face brushed against her hair. Its softness was like a sheer curtain along his cheek leaving a light scented trail of freshness. He took a step back because what he really wanted to do was step forward.

“Any particular flavor?” He asked. To his ears, his voice sounded thick. He cleared his throat, blaming it on the dusty surroundings.

“Any soda that is clear, please. I try to stay away from dyes, you know, like colas.”

Collin nodded and led the way back into the airport. Pulling out coins from his pants pocket, he slipped the required amount and selected the soda. He handed her the citrus flavored soda that sported an American brand name.

After a long drink, and having to pause to delicately deal with the after-effects of carbonated soda, Athena offered him a big smile.

“Let’s get back to the truck. The porters may already be there.”

“Oh dear, I guess we’d better hurry,” she said.

This time she led the way until they were outdoors where he resumed locating the truck in the nearby parking lot. He waved at the guard as they walked past. Because of his work, most people on the island knew him. A perk was being able to park in a restricted area.

“We’re here.” He stopped next to the truck that looked battered and oversized next to her slight frame. He moved to open the door for her, although it was unlocked.

But she beat his chivalrous action by opening the door. She hiked up her skirt, stepped up and maneuvered one hip onto the seat. From where he stood, a long, slender leg remained in plain view. The toned muscles worked as she shifted into place.

What the heck was wrong with him?

Ogling women had its time and place—but, certainly not while he was at work and not with a member of his own staff. Until now.

His eyes shifted downward, sweeping from her slender ankle, up past her calf, over her knee, along the muscular definition of her thigh where her skirt obstructed any further viewing.

Her throat clearing snapped his attention. His face warmed with embarrassment. This time he cleared his throat and focused on holding the door so that she could adjust herself in the seat. Once he closed the door, he walked around to the driver’s side and hopped in.

“I have to head over to the loading area.” He repeated what she already knew. But for his sake, he needed to make idle chatter to regain control.

She leaned back her head and wiped her throat.

He wished that she’d stop. Besides actually erasing traces of her moist discomfort, he noted she had a long neck that suited her overall frame. He hit the brake, a little too sharply, to avoid rear ending a car ahead of them, jerking both of them in the seats.

“Sorry,” he muttered. He scrambled out of the truck and slammed the door shut. His argument with himself continued, as he muttered under his breath. She could be a stunner for all he cared. He didn’t need eye candy for the hard work ahead. And if she didn’t have the stamina, as he suspected, he’d gladly buy her a one-way ticket. The next time he had to fill a position, he planned to ask for a photo.

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Contest!

Michelle Monkou wants readers to share in her celebration of her latest release. She's hosting a contest just for you! For a chance to enter, just visit Michelle’s website and find the answer to the following question –

What is the setting, also known, as “a little piece of heaven,” for Only In Paradise.

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with the answer and be sure to include your full name and mailing address in the email. Do make sure you email your answers only to staff@authorsoundrelations.com or your entry will not be counted!

Three winners will be contacted after May 10th and each will receive a book from Michelle's backlist! Good luck!

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