Gypsies, Aliens, and Hippies, Oh My!

needsalittleBY INES SAINT

Five years ago, my husband was offered the chance to make a strategic career move to a city that had recently made it onto a “top ten dying cities” list. Never one to pay much attention to negative voices, I began researching the area and found a region that was very much alive. Dayton, Ohio was home to a diverse, interesting, and fun history. It was where the Wright Brothers learned to fly, where the King and Queen of the entire nation’s gypsies found their wintering home, where the Roswell aliens were rumored to be stored, and so much more. When we moved here, we learned the region was also home to a hippie town, the most haunted village in Ohio, and an entire town made up of houses that look like they were lifted from the pages of a children’s book…

But not everything was wonderful. There was a reason Dayton had made it onto a dying cities list, after all. The downtown area, like many urban areas, is also home to a few once-beautiful, but presently declining neighborhoods. It’s hard not to feel a deep sense of loss when traveling through these once-thriving streets, but there is hope. There are dedicated individuals and groups working hard to bring these neighborhoods back. The before and after pictures of some of the houses, and even entire blocks, are awe-inspiring, and words can’t express how much I admire those who have dedicated their time and resources to preserving the past. This is where the idea of three brothers working hard to restore an entire town came from.

The fictional town where the home-improving heroes of my series live was inspired by all these little facts. I was looking at a map of the region one day and saw an area called “Spinning Hills”, near Spinning Road and the Mad River. Somewhere between Spinning and Mad… I loved it. The result was Spinning Hills, a town founded by wintering gypsies and made up of storybook architecture. It was great fun to sprinkle a dash of tongue-in-cheek gypsy magic and local lore into a fictional town and its people. The Amador Brothers supposedly have a curse hanging over their head, and the meddlesome elderly owners of the Gypsy Fortune Café and Bakery include Ruby Meriwether, a direct descendant of the gypsies who believes she is finally coming into her powers. Tasseography, Cowrie shells, and reading tarot cards are all part of her bag of tricks. The other two owners of the café simply believe great coffee, analyzing dessert cravings, and plenty of unsolicited advice are the real secrets in helping their townspeople.

Are there any blighted, but once beautiful homes or neighborhoods near where you live that spark your imagination?


Inés Saint was born in Zaragoza, Spain. She’s bilingual and bicultural and has spent the last decade raising her fun, inspiring little boys and sharing her life with the man of her dreams. Her greatest joy is spending quality time with the family members and close friends who happen to provide the inspiration for both the nutty and wise things her characters say and do.


The Amador brothers are committed to a new beginning for their quirky, storybook town. But they’re learning that every house needs a heart to be a home…

Growing up, Cassie McGillicuddy was the one person who consistently made Sam Amador lose his steadfast outward cool. She was always full of both brilliant and harebrained ideas, and being around her had made him feel more alive.

Until her biggest harebrained idea of them all. Asking him to teach her how to be a good kisser. Soon after, they’d broken each other’s hearts, and she’d disappeared.

But now Cassie was back. And she meant business.