Valerie Joan Connors, Author

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Shadow of a Smile...

Following the untimely death of her mother in 1992, thirty year-old Meredith Springfield learns the shocking truth about her origins, the father she never knew, and the mother whose life was very different than it appeared.  When the attorney who prepared her mother’s will delivers Anastasia’s personal journals along with the keys to a trust fund Meredith never suspected she had, she and her boyfriend Derek embark upon a journey from Chicago to Los Angeles in search of answers, and to carry out Anastasia’s wish to have her ashes scattered in the Hollywood Hills.

In 1960, at twenty years old, Anastasia left her parents and the cold mid-western winter behind in Milwaukee and drove her powder blue Ford Fairlane down Route 66 all the way to Los Angeles, certain that’s where all her dreams would come true.  Just two years later, Anastasia is forced to retrace her steps, traveling back to Milwaukee with her dreams already shattered, a broken heart, and a daughter she would have to raise alone. 

Shadow of a Smile takes the reader on two journeys across historic Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles, and back.  The first follows Anastasia to 1960 Los Angeles and the beachfront hotels where she would meet the man of her dreams and take to the stage for the first time.   The second, thirty-two years later, takes Meredith and Derek on a journey of discovery that has a greater impact on their lives than they could ever have imagined. 

Once Anastasia is gone, and her carefully hidden secrets are revealed, Meredith gains a new perspective on her own choices, and must come to terms with the grey area between what our hearts desire and what is right.   Shadow of a Smile is a story about family secrets, the choices we let our hearts make, and living with the consequences.

Praise For Shadow of a Smile

A Shadow of a Smile is highly recommended. Just make sure you have a nice block of time set aside to read this because it is so hard to put it down!


"From the moment you enter Meredith Springfield's world, you will feel as if you are alongside a dear friend on her amazing journey to self-discovery. Valerie Joan Connor's writing is so vivid, so intimate, that Meredith's travails and triumphs become your own. I miss her already, now that she's gone on with her life and I must go back to my own. A story of love and lies and life, Shadow of a Smile is a must read."

---Linda Hughes, author of Becoming Jessie Belle and What We Talk About.

"Shadow of a Smile examines the large price paid for secrets and coverups, not just by the perpetrators but also by generations before and after them. Ms. Connors has written a novel for anyone who likes family and relationship stories that are emotional, complex, and altogether satisfying."

---George Weinstein, author of Hardscrabble Road and The Five Destinies of Carlos Moreno

With extraordinary deft, Valerie Joan Connors explores how we take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.  In Meredith Springfield, Connors has created a woman who discovers truths about her own relationships, the consequences of her actions, and how close her life has come to mirror her mother's.  We follow Meredith on her journey along roads her mother traveled with all their twists and turns and nests of lies and secrets.  Shadow of a Smile has layer on layer of emotion, anger and pity, joy and sadness--interwoven, juxtaposed, and "back to back.”

---Rona Simmons, author of The Quiet Room

"Valerie Connors has a distinctive voice. Each scene is filled with secrets and longing. Each character is brave and steady and real."

---Nicki Salcedo, Author of All Beautiful Things


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