A Dangerous Tide

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Sofia Parker has two mysteries on her hands. The first is that her daughter, Vanessa, is in deep trouble with the law after an accident in the family SUV and an eyewitness places her both at the scene and behind the wheel. The second is a message from her family's distant past.

"In Friendship, J.A." is embroidered in the third silken square of Sofia's prized heirloom quilt, bequeathed to her by her Italian grandmother. The old diary that accompanies the quilt, written in Italian, alludes to English map points such as Southampton, and cryptically mentions a stowaway who once traversed the Mediterranean Sea in 1812.

Who was this stowaway? With the Southampton connection, Sofia suspects the "J.A." to be Jane Austen, the famous author who lived in nearby Chawton Village. Was "J.A." the person who passed along the materiel now included in the quilt, or was she a friend of Sofia's ancestor? As the next guardian of the antique cassone that houses the priceless quilt and the old diary that accompanies it, Sofia is determined to learn the true history behind each piece.

Meanwhile, Sofia is struggling to understand her daughter's trouble with the police. Even as Vanessa protests her innocence, the evidence to the contrary is stacking up at every turn. Sofia wants to believe her oldest child, but even she is beginning to have second thoughts. 

The third quilt square is a real puzzle, but so is the riddle of how her daughter could have been in two places at one time. Join Sofia and her good friends of the Pinot Painters art group as they set out to solve the mysteries of the present and the past and make a heartwarming discovery along the way. 

The Characters

Sofia Parker is a stay-at-home mom with four children. She loves to paint and she really enjoys baking confectionery masterpieces on the side. One day she hopes to combine these two talents into a business of her own. But she lacks confidence, often feeling overshadowed by her two older sisters and father -- all three hold advanced degrees in the sciences.

But as Sofia loses herself in researching the compelling stories of her ancestors -- other female guardians of the same heirloom quilt -- she begins to feel a connection with her roots ... and is filled with a whole new confidence in her personal identity and creative potential.

Jim Parker, Sofia's husband, is 42, tall, lean and has thick blond hair and blue eyes. He is a math teacher at Cabot Falls High School. He is also a kind man who loves his family and is supportive of Sofia's desire to use her creative talents and open her own business.

Elena is Sofia's late grandmother. Because Sofia's mother died when she was little, Elena was very much the maternal figure in the lives of her grandchildren. Elena surprised everyone by bequeathing the priceless heirloom trunk and quilt to Sofia. But Nonna never did anything without a reason. What old secrets did she hope Sofia would uncover?

Caterina Vasari, 17, and her mother, Vedette, are seamstresses known for their fine smocking, embroidery and beadwork. Caterina is also an aspiring artist. They live together in a house on the village square of Ponte San Vincenti just outside of Florence.

Caterina tries to bear the brunt of the intricate stitching work because her mother has advanced rheumatism. They need both of their incomes to survive, and they especially need the income from the two gowns they have been commissioned to create for Lisabetta, the daughter of the esteemed Donati family.

Caterina is secretly in love with an apprentice winemaker at the Donati's family vineyard and hopes one day to marry him.

Caterina is a direct ancestor of Sofia.

Lisabetta is 16, well-bred, strikingly gorgeous ... and miserable, because her father is forcing her to marry a repulsive nobleman. Her true love is the handsome Gianni Medici ... and Lisabetta wishes she had the courage to defy her Father.

Bertrando is Lisabetta's fiance. He's cruel, foul and more than twice her age. But he is also wealthy. Lisabetta's father is selling her into this marriage solely to shore up the family's dwindling finances.

Handsome and young, Gianni is the secret true love of Lisabetta Donati. He says he will do anything to be with her ... but does that include murder?