The Inheritance of Alchemy

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Giving is a virtue . . . until it’s your downfall.

Dani Santori has a gift for giving. When she opens a new Spirit of Italy shop in Houston, she already knows her customers’ lives will never be the same. Because when it comes to choosing the perfect gift, Dani has an actual magic touch. Customers come into her shop seeking Italian-crafted treasures; they leave with an object that forever alters their future.

Trouble is, Dani seems to be able to change everyone’s life but her own. Twelve years ago, in a terrible moment of despair, she gave away the ultimate gift: her infant son. Since then, Dani’s sacrificed her desires—marriage, children, a permanent home—to devote herself to her calling...
and safeguard her heart from losing anyone else she loves. Helping others, she believes, is the only path to atonement.

When Dani is given a sign that her son, Ethan, may have inherited the Gift, she knows she’s the only one who can guide and protect him. Only how can she help Ethan when she has no idea where he is? Dani’s only hope of locating him might be Angelo, the son of the restaurant owners next to Dani’s shop—a man who gave up his Gift years ago, but is willing to resurrect it for her. Can she trust him? His charisma and evasiveness are signs he’s hiding secrets of his own. Yet he’s the only man she’s ever met who understands her and her Gift, and their connection is undeniable. Whenever they’re together, sparks fly—literally. When Angelo agrees to help Dani find Ethan before the Gift appears on the child’s twelfth birthday, Angelo asks for something in return—for her to give up her Gift for a year, if not forever, and be the carefree, seemingly happy person he’s become.

Dani must decide whether to risk her Gift—and her heart—on the slim chance of getting her true desires: a lover who stays, reuniting with Ethan, and living in a permanent home nearby. But is a shot at redemption worth losing her identity and livelihood—and the heartbreak of never finding her son? Does she have to sacrifice what she loves to get what she wants?

Weaving in a limited retelling of the fairy tale, “The Red Shoes,” THE INHERITANCE OF ALCHEMY puts a modern spin on an age-old question: is giving really a gift if it comes at the expense of our identities and our dreams?


I’ve always been intrigued by the main character, Vianne, in Joanne Harris’s book, Chocolat, —a nomadic woman who sells specialty chocolates that transform the lives of the townspeople who come into her shop. The only person who seemed not to benefit from Vianne’s gift was her young daughter, who, because of their frequent moves, has trouble making new friends, and so has an imaginary one.

And I wondered….what if a character like Vianne gave up her own child, a newborn, in service of her gift? What if she felt she had no choice, not only because of her circumstances at the time, but also because she’d been taught to sacrifice herself and her own needs for other people?

That character became Dani Santori. Though she makes a decision she later regrets, she believes she’s doing the right thing—not only for the benefit of her child, but also for the woman, a family friend, who accepts the gift of Dani’s newborn son. The fact that Dani’s mother—her teachings, her failings—play a part only complicates Dani’s decisions. She loves her mother. Yet, their history has impacted Dani more than she realizes.

What I wanted to explore in the story was the fun of having an inherited magical gift that benefits others while also paying a high price for being too selfless. What is the balance between selflessness or sacrifice and healthy giving? How do we maintain that balance, especially as women, trained from birth to constantly give to others?

The Inheritance of Alchemy is one woman’s story of how she handles that conflict. The red shoes Dani wears—or at least, that her mother has always insisted she must wear—are borrowed from a fairy tale and has significance for all of us.