The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.
After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.
A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.
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“I thought I heard you calling for me,” Miko said, climbing down a ladder on the far end of the building with an arm full of berry crates.
Rock rushed to help her. By the time he threaded his way through the packed contents of the building, she was already on the floor.
“That’s quite a car,” he said, taking half the berry crates from her and motioning to the convertible.
“Thanks. I bought it when I was still gainfully employed,” she said, walking over to the car. “I fell in love with the color the first time I saw it and started saving my money to buy one. When the weather’s nice, it’s fun to drive with the top down.”
Rock gaped at her. “It’s your car?”
Miko grinned. “Is that a hint of disbelief I hear, Captain? Not only is it my car, but I know how to change the tires, check the oil, and siphon gas out of my dad’s car when my brother, Tommy, borrows it and brings it back empty.”
He laughed, setting down the crates and wiping his hands along his trousers before touching the car. “It is a beaut. What’s this color?”
“Laguna maroon. Papa calls it the luna moon mobile, but I still think it’s one of the prettiest colors out there.” Miko opened the driver’s side door and motioned for Rock to climb in.
He sank into the leather seat and inhaled the aroma as if it was the most expensive perfume.
“Like it?” Miko asked, bending down to better see his reaction to the car.
“You bet!” He settled his hands on the steering wheel, forcing his injured fingers to curl around the wheel.
“If you like the outside of the car, you’ll probably be more impressed by the eight cylinders under the hood.” Miko released the hood latch and Rock slid out to study the engine.
He whistled and smirked at Miko. “What’s a girl like you doing with a car like this?”
“Anything I want,” she said with a sassy grin. “At least it used to be that way.”
Rock sobered and closed the hood, using the hem of his T-shirt to wipe away the smudges made by his fingerprints.
“I didn’t realize you had cars here. I was trying to figure out how to catch a ride on the bus into Portland.”
“By all means, drive one of the cars wherever you need to go.” She pointed to her grandparents’ sedan. “Papa and Mother must have sold their car or it would be here, too. Granddad wouldn’t care if you take his.” She cast a taunting look his way. “Or, if you think you can handle it, you’re welcome to drive mine.”
His raised an eyebrow at her dare as he lifted the berry baskets and followed her out the door. “Is that an invitation or a challenge?”
“Maybe both.” She turned and sauntered away, casting a flirty smile at him over her shoulder.