Raised in the Canal Zone, Panama, Jesse McMillan never planned on leaving the tropical paradise. But signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties in 1977 catapulted him from the American territory to California, where he became an investigative reporter. Exposing a Southern California crack cocaine epidemic in 1989, Jesse finds himself enmeshed with an elusive Mexican mafia drug cartel figure. Panama also makes news when the US upends the country hunting down its military dictator, Manuel Noriega, for drug trafficking. Shaking up Jesse’s world in a welcome way and making sparks fly, he reunites with Clare, a girlfriend from the Canal Zone. As Jesse’s romance heats up and he continues his increasingly dangerous investigations, a disturbing and potentially deadly connection between his childhood home in Panama and the Mexican mafia emerges. Jesse races to expose truths, uncovering shocking secrets about Canal Zone friends. In the process, he makes peace with leaving Panama.

“Set against an intriguing historical backdrop of two pivotal times in history-the ousting of Manuel Noriega from Panama for drug trafficking and the historic treaties that ended the Panama Canal Zone-and with just the right mix of romance and suspense, Leaving Panama’s Paradise is a multi-cultural tale that keeps you turning the page.” -Jerry Rice, Senior editor, Southern California News Group.

Haunted by her Latina mother’s mysterious death when she was just 6, fearless overseas investigative reporter Alexa Kent is up against her toughest case yet. On location in La Paz, Mexico, she uncovers a human trafficking ring and is racing against time to expose the leaders and save the little girls, whose lives and spirits hang in the balance. At the suggestion of her informant, she turns to “Macaw” Sam Elvia, a Panamanian-Italian hiding out in Mexico. Macaw steps in to help Alexa, who finds herself drawn to this irresistible bad boy. In this multicultural tale, the duo struggles to save the little girls, stirring up dangerous trouble for themselves with high-ranking officials on both sides of the border. As they get closer to exposing the ring leader, a disturbing link to Alexa’s mother’s premature death slowly emerges. Julie Bawden-Davis is a bestselling journalist and author of Leaving Panama’s Paradise: From the Canal Zone to California and Avocado Flowers: From the Orchards of California to the Streets of Mexico. During her youth as a “Navy brat,” she had the world-expanding experience of living in several states in the US, as well as overseas. Today, she makes her home in Southern California, where she enjoys the year-round gardening climate.

Born in Vietnam, Bon Trong–meaning “born to be strong”–was only ten months old when he was left with his grandmother in China in place of his father to fulfill an ancient Chinese tradition that required a male heir to see his parent off to the next life. Little did anyone know that soon thereafter, the Communist Party under Mao Zedong would overtake China, and change life as they knew it forever. For sixteen years, Bon Trong suffered abuse and terror from the Communist rule and narrowly escaped death from starvation during Mao’s disastrous Great Famine. In a small storeroom with his beloved aunt and older cousin, Bon Trong learned the meaning of love and family in the harshest of circumstances. But his destiny was not in China.

When Bon Trong was sixteen, his father managed to get him out from under the Communists in China. He escaped to Hong Kong, where he was welcomed by an uncle and aunt but was distressed by the shock of the new culture and his heart-wrenching separation from his aunt. However, he was determined to win approval from his parents, from his family, but most of all, from himself.

As fate would have it, a brother living in Australia paved the way for him to find his future there. Excited by the Western culture and kindness of the people, he finally experienced freedom for the first time in his life. Paul, as he was now known, chose the path of healing early on when he decided to become a doctor. He came to realize how much he loved medicine, and it became clear his calling was to heal people.

Dr. Lam was far from well, however, as he suffered many debilitating effects from the years of starvation and malnutrition in his childhood. He began studying tai chi with his father-in-law hoping to ease his painful arthritis. Moved by the art and the movements that began to improve his health and spirit, Dr. Lam became an avid learner and expert in tai chi. Feeling he could help others through tai chi, he started workshops to teach those who wanted to learn, and also instructed others how to teach the methods he had developed. From workshops to lectures to creating DVDs to writing books, Dr. Paul Lam has dedicated his life to spreading the health benefits of tai chi around the world. He has changed the lives of millions of people who seek to connect their mind, body, and spirit through tai chi, fulfilling his destiny to become a true healer.

Born Strong is a story of survival, persistence, and love.