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What if a friend called you and offered to take you on an exotic river cruise as her guest? Would you go? Even if it completely changed your life? It could happen. When Sharon Grant loses her husband, Dale, an internationally famous architect, in a mysterious traffic accident, there are unanswered questions. The police on the scene see nothing strange, but who is this "Vladimir" the barely conscious Dale is calling for before he dies? Sharon is still grieving almost two years later, when a former college friend invites her on a two-week Russian river cruise as her guest. She is intrigued, but unsure whether to accept. Her daughter Ellen and the employees of Dale's architectural firm encourage her to go. When the cruise begins, Sharon meets Niko, a Russian tour guide in Moscow. Each time he takes her hand to help her on and off the bus, she experiences a surprising shiver of desire. When they leave Moscow and sail toward the next port, she discovers Niko is actually a member of the ship's crew. As their tentative friendship develops into passion, Sharon wonders how she can bear to leave Niko when the cruise ends. He appears to feel the same, but he is Russian. There can be no future for them as a couple. Sharon returns home still mourning Dale and, now, the end of her new relationship, though Niko has begged her to write to him. This is a frustrating way to run a love affair, but it appears to be their only option. Friendship, trust, fear, pain, duty, bravery in the face of the unknown, lies uncovered, and secrets held, rest at the heart of Sharon's, Dale's, and Niko's story. But the most important of these is the powerful strength of love.