Finding “The Sweet One” (excerpt)

Enjoy an excerpt from Finding “The Sweet One”, a story from my new book Spiritual Hottie’s Diary: Tantalizing Tales of Steamy Self-Discovery inspired by my grandmother.

The bells of Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s crown jewel, chime eight times. I have just finished doing my sun salutation on the balcony of a charming B&B not far from the Basilica. The small garden under my balcony is in full bloom with red and yellow tulips. I close my eyes and stretch my arms toward the morning sun, offering my embrace to its warm rays. Today will be gorgeous. I’m so happy I came here. I can dance. In fact, I should dance!

With my eyes still closed, I join The Village People to act out a spirited rendition of the chorus from “YMCA.” As I open my eyes to see if anyone has been watching, I see that I have an audience, a guy in dark blue jeans and a green T-shirt standing in the middle of the garden, staring at me. Oops. I stare back, caught in the act. He adjusts his glasses, and then he smiles in a most disarming way and claps. But I am not a grateful performer in this moment. I don’t repeat any of my splendid moves. Neither do I bow to my appreciating audience of one. No. Instead, I stick out my tongue and sneak back into my room.

Well done, Yvonne! Show your tongue to strangers. All right, let’s leave the balcony performance behind and get dressed, grab a bite, and hit the streets. Botticelli’s Venus and Michelangelo’s David are waiting!

I think of my maternal grandma, Catherine. Every time she and her gray-haired lady friends took off on yet another road trip, she told me and my Mom the same thing right before she left: “Yvy, Cindy, do the world a favor. Find what you’re passionate about and share your passions with others.”

Ever since they graduated high school back in the early 1950s, my grandma and her three friends—no matter what twists and turns they were facing in their respective lives—fulfilled their passions by visiting one new state together. It was amazing to see my grandma each time she returned from one of those trips, looking and sounding 10 years younger.

“How does she do this?” I wondered. “What’s her secret?”

Grandma always sent postcards, complete with a story—where imagination tangoed with truth—scribbled in her tiny, cursive handwriting. Her last one remains my most precious. It shows a seagull flying over the ocean waves, and it came just before she passed away from diabetes a decade ago.

“May you stay forever inspired, lighthearted, and passionate, Yvy, as you are. And, remember, spontaneity is your best companion, no matter where you go, even if the destination is Heaven.”

I may not have inherited her beauty, but I will always treasure grandma’s adventurous spirit—along with her postcard collection. Thanks to them, ever since childhood I have been hooked on reading books that travel through space and time.

I recently became similarly entranced by a book that my college friend Olivia sent me for my birthday three weeks ago: The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, an epic tale of an incredibly beautiful and mysterious princess who commanded power over the men she loved. The interconnected fates of these people in Italy and India teased me with magic and intrigue, tragedy, triumph, and passionate lovemaking.

So I followed my grandma’s advice. With a week off before my summer internship starts, I take the money I’ve saved working part-time as a paralegal and as soon as my last exam at Georgetown Law School is over I’m on a plane to Italy. And here I am, making a fool of myself on my very first day.

Guess who I bump into in the breakfast room? The stranger from the tulip garden, that’s who. Now he’s wearing a tall, white chef hat and a white apron with a nametag that says Ratul. Sounds like an Indian name, but this guy is fair-skinned and light brown. He doesn’t look like he is from India. Odd…


For the rest of this story and nine more, please buy my book “Spiritual Hottie’s Diary: Tantalizing Tales of Steamy Self-Discovery” at

From Amazon reviewers:

Kirin: “I’ve loved reading this on my mobile phone instead of checking email or Facebook, the time waiting in line or for the bus passes too fast! It’s a good thing no one reads over my shoulder as there are some very steamy, fun scenes that quickly sweep you away from any drudgery in your daily life. And it’s easy and oh-so-much fun to pick up where you left off :)”

Karl: “For a brief moment I was tempted to write that I enjoyed reading the book “even though I am a man”, but then it occurred to me that Janna (and Yvonne) may have succeeded in blurring that line of separation as well. So, instead, I will simply say that the book is wonderfully creative, daring, intelligent, fun, and also a little naughty. Well done & highly recommended!”


Photo credit: simpleinsomnia.