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I stood in the river, braced against the icy flow of the water that divided around each of my thighs. Its steady flow calmed my breathing and carried my worries down stream. Behind me the early morning sun began to warm my back, and the foliage along the banks. I could smell the sage beyond the chokecherry bushes where a male wood thrush was sending out his beautiful song. I jerked the pole in my hand, playing out the line with my other one, and sent the fly skipping along the water near the rock where a pocket of rainbow trout flirted with the morning.

OK, so I’ve never been fly-fishing, but I think I would enjoy it.

In Carole Thayne Warburton’s latest novel, Just Shy of Paradise, fly fishing is like a river, connecting themes, events and people.

Living in Paradise is not easy for beautiful Lily. There seems to be so much expected of her since her life was saved by an angel when she fell into the Little Bear River as a child. Trapped by her anxiety disorder, she dropped out of school, and too often entered faulty relationships with men. Now just as her twenties are passing her by, she is regaining her confidence, finishing up her schooling, and she finds herself involved with two men: The friend who finally confesses his love, and the stranger who fishes on the river near her home.

Sky, a Native American Shoshone, is in the middle of a divorce, trying to keep his business thriving, and determined to be part of his son’s life. His own father died when he was young, and the loss has severely affected him. He has few memories, and fewer keepsakes to remind him of his father. When he comes across one of the split bamboo fly fishing poles crafted by his dad, he is willing to do almost anything to have it.

But Paradise comes at a price. Sky faces prejudice, injustice, a beating, and misunderstanding. Just when life falls apart completely, he is reconnected with the haunting history of his people, the ancestor who desires peace, and the father he barely remembers.

Most cultures are shaped through generations of living, surviving, loving, and hating. Sometimes they are shaped by great injustice, sometimes, great joy. The stories of our ancestors flow through us like a river, helping us learn who we are.

When Paradise seems most elusive, we can find it by opening our hearts and allowing the river of their lives to flow through.

Warburton is offering a contest with the release of her book. One of the prizes is Sun Tunnels and Secrets! Another is one of her pottery frogs—you’ve got to enter just for a chance at one of these! So post a comment to my blog, share it on FB, or Twitter, and then go to her link, become a follower of her blog, and let her know. 1. 2. 3. Simple. And you might get one of those must have frogs! (You don’t have to do all three, but your odds increase if you do. If you choose to just do one, I recommend sharing this post on FB. Of course.)