Priya in Heels by Ayesha Patel Releases Today!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!! (Tossing high heel confetti!)

I wrote a book. It’s called Priya in Heels. There’s lots of saris, quirky jokes, and a few sexy scenes that’ll make you swoon. So ladies, put on your sexiest heels. Gentlemen, rock that awesome plaid. And prepare to fall in love.

A new adult title from Entangled’s Embrace imprint…

Love doesn’t conquer all…does it?

Priyanka Patel is the epitome of an obedient daughter. She’s finishing up her medical residency at one of Houston’s busiest emergency departments, and has agreed—albeit reluctantly—to marry the man her family has chosen for her. The only thing that can derail the “perfect” life laid out before her is the sexy musician down the hall who wants into her life…and into her bed.

Tyler O’Connor has been infatuated with Priya since she treated his sprained ankle in the ER, and after saving her from a brutal attack, he can’t get her out of his head. When Priya puts her family’s wishes before their relationship, agreeing to an arranged marriage with another man, Tyler is devastated.

But love is fierce and unreasonable and clashes with the carefully sculpted life her parents want for her. Is going after her heart such a big deal, or will it truly unravel Priya’s world?

Advance Praise:
“Priya in Heels is an exquisite mix of culture, romance, and humor all brought together by two characters you can’t help but love from the get-go. It’s a must read!” ~NYT Bestselling Author Anna Banks

“Sweet and sexy with a dash of spice.” ~USA Today Bestselling Author Nicola Marsh

“Chemistry jumps off the pages in this sexy-fun tale of family, “firsts,” and doing anything for true love. I swooned over Ty right along with Pree!” ~USA Today Bestselling Author Ophelia London

“A moving story about a girl at a crossroads between her Indian culture and what’s expected of her, and the American boy who’s stolen her heart.” ~USA Today Bestselling Author Cindi Madsen

“A thoroughly entertaining romance that deftly captures the enduring conflict between conservative Indian traditions and contemporary American culture.” ~Shobhan Bantwal, Award-Winning Author of the Dowry Bride

Want to know more about Priya, Tyler, the writing process, getting published, the Indian diaspora, etc.? Maybe win some cool stuff, like a Kindle? Check out my website for all the places I’ll be in the next couple of weeks. Everything kicks off with tonight’s Facebook release party where over a dozen authors will be hanging out, chatting with readers, and giving away lots of prizes. Also, there’s a release week special happening, so grab it now!

I’m so excited to share Priya’s story with you!

Suleikha Opens Up The Lunchbox

The-Lunchbox-2013Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox premiered in May of 2013 at the Cannes Film Festival, quickly becoming an audience darling and receiving critical raves. Touted as a quiet movie, an epistolary love story and a warm and lovely film, it stars Irrfan Khan (whom you may know from In Treatment and Life of Pi), theatre actress Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui* (Gangs of Wasseypur, Kahaani). I have no idea why it took me so long to see it! And if you enjoy an achingly sweet story where the romantic tension builds at a perfect pace and the character interaction is rooted in sincerity, you need to see it, too!

The central conceit of The Lunchbox involves, as you might guess, a lunchbox — a tiffin or a dabba — and what happens when a neglected young wife’s delicious dishes are unwittingly delivered to a lonely aging bachelor instead of her husband. (Sidebar: Mumbai’s dabbawallahs and their mind-boggingly efficient lunch delivery service is famous.) Ila and Saajan become offbeat, honest pen pals and, through their notes, learn to take a larger look at their respective lives.

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(Wedding) Party in the USA

It was bound to happen. One of us sari sisters was going to write a snarky post about Indian weddings. Well, here it is. Snark and all.

Last week I had the good fortune (read: snark) of attending two weddings in 72 hours. One was an American wedding in which I was a bridesmaid, and the other was an Indian wedding in which my mother’s best friend’s daughter was getting married. Both weddings were beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but there were a few differences to say the least. I’ve taken the liberty of pointing out these differences that non-Indians may not be aware of.

1. How many parties equal a wedding?

The American wedding has a rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception.

The Indian wedding has an engagement party, sangeet (ladies’ singing night), mehndi (where the bride gets henna on her hands), a pooja (a prayer service in which the bride is blessed by her family members), baraat (in which the groom and his family come dancing up to the door of the house to claim the bride), ceremony (which is two hours long at the minimum), and reception in addition to a bunch of cultural requirements in between that may or may not apply depending on the region and religious sect you come from.

weddings 1

That’s right. The invite is a FOLDER with each event on a separate page.

2. Good LORD, the people!

The American wedding I went to had a tasteful party of 80-90 guests at the ceremony and reception.

The Indian wedding had upwards of 600 people. For real.

This is the hotel the wedding took place in. The families on both sides had to go out of their way to have the wedding here because this was the only hotel big enough.

This is the hotel the wedding took place in. The families on both sides had to go out of their way to have the wedding here because this was the only hotel big enough.

3. The food is always different, yo.

The American wedding had a choice between fish, beef, chicken or vegetarian. The service was table-side.

I had this beautiful fish with a fantastic flower garnish. Voila!

I had this beautiful fish with a fantastic flower garnish. Voila!

The Indian wedding had a buffet room. No joke.

This is the same size hall as the American wedding except its only used for the buffet room.

This is the same size hall as the American wedding except its only used for the buffet room.

4. Music rocks the house.

The American wedding had a fun band with singers.

The Indian wedding had a well-known DJ with 2 hot Indian dudes playing dhol, or Punjabi drums.

weddings indian dancing

That’s most of the south Asian population of southern New Jersey on the dance floor.


5. How late does this thing go?

The American wedding ended around midnight and I was safely tucked in my bed at 12:30.

The Indian wedding ended around 1 or 2 and I spent another hour and a half prying off the dry mascara on my eyelashes.

(Like hell I’m going to show you a picture of that.)

In all honesty? One wedding wasn’t necessarily better than the other. It was just…different. I had fun at both events. One was a lot more reserved and refined. The other? Well, let’s just say that most of the people my parents’ age were getting drunk and letting loose on the dance floor. Indian weddings are loud and noisy but, hey, sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.

So no more weddings for me for a while. Even though I was actually a part of the American wedding as a bridesmaid, the Indian wedding is what wore me out. Why? Well because no one parties like the Desis party. And by Desi I mean Indian. shikha and me

That’s it for my snarky blog post about weddings. Until next time. Toodles!


London, Bollywood Style: Sonali Shares the Next Big Thing in Tourism

There’s this Bollywood song (by the way, I could open pretty much any blog post with that line because truly there’s a Bollywood song for just about every situation) so anywho, there’s this Bollywood song from the movie Queen and it goes something like this:

You are the gonging bell of the Big Ben…

And all of London bops to your beat.

(Tu Ghanti Big Ben di… Sara London Thumakda)

We were in London last week and I swear that song would not stop playing in my head. So picture me staring up at the Big Ben, the London Eye at my back, letting myself slip into a passive aggressive form of the bhagra (think shoulders bouncing surreptitiously beneath a coat) while my kids searched the throngs of tourists for prospective (less mortifying) parents they could run away with.

And being that there is little else more entertaining to parents of teenagers than embarrassing them, my husband and I took every opportunity we could to turn our London trip into an odyssey of Bollywood nostalgia—a remarkably easy thing for a Bollywood buff to do in that remarkably beautiful city that the Mumbai Film Industry has paid homage to decade after decade with unrelenting post-colonial devotion. Firstly, which red blooded Bolly-phile could sit on the steps of Trafalgar Square and not imagine Amrish Puri in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge feeding the pigeons with that unforgettable baritone birdcall that was one part lecherous uncle calling to the neighborhood kids and one part pathos-filled immigrant beckoning those foreign pigeons who harken his homeland oh so poignantly.

l_112870_e0c181e9To those of you not familiar with Bollywood films, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is unarguably the most beloved romantic Hindi film of all time. So much so that it is referred to simply as ‘DDLJ,’ no exposition necessary. It’s the story of two kids of migrant parents raised in London on two sides of very, very, wide tracks that divide London into the Ferrari owning have-too-muches from the convenience store owning have-just-enoughs.  It’s your classic, delicious romance between the rule abiding, know it all good girl, who is her dictatorial (pigeon feeding) father’s pride and joy, and the spoilt, Ferrari-driving, high school dropout bad boy, who is also his most undictatorial father’s pride and joy.

When our hero and heroine fall in love while backpacking across Europe with their besties there is absolutely no hope for them. Daddy #1 (of pigeon fame) has already promised his precious and thus far obedient daughter to his best friend’s son back home. Daddy #2 (of letting his dropout son drive a Ferrari fame) has sworn to never let his son go a moment without having every single thing his little heart desires. Hence, while Daddy#1 whisks our heroine away to the motherland to fulfill his promise, Daddy #2 goads the hero into hot pursuit. The rest of the movie involves our hero infiltrating the wedding home and winning the bride as his own by charming his way into the hearts of one and all.

Now I might sound like I’m mocking, but I promise you that the dimpled, lush haired, Shah Rukh Khan and the impish, just plain lush, Kajol sparked the kind of chemistry on the screen that ruined my entire generation of Indian girls for ever being satisfied with the ordinary day-to-day chemistry of our own pedestrian loves.

So, here we were in London, where such an epic love blossomed, pointing out landmarks—the cinema at Leicester square outside which Shah Rukh and Kajol first whizzed past each other totally unaware of their cosmic connection and the very world slid into slow motion around them at the impact, or King’s Cross station where they separate after having found such a love but not the words to admit it.

Yes, there was much sighing (from me) and much eye-rolling (from the teens), but what kind of Bollywood fan would I be if I didn’t return from London hopped up on some hundred proof DDLJ nostalgia. There was also a trip to Southall (thank you, book research), the Little India within London where films like Bend It Like Beckham, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, and Patiala House were set. Patiala House, by the way, is a delightful little film about a Punjabi family coming to political power in a racially evolving London. I would have searched for the huge hacienda-style mansion in which the Singh family lived, but I was too distracted by the bazaar-style markets with glass bangles and gold rimmed chiffon and kebabs on food carts and the best Biryani I’ve ever eaten.

So, while Jeeves and Wooster thrive at the West End and the Kohinoor diamond glistens on its perch amid the crown jewels at the Tower of London, and Harry Potter and Jane Austen pilgrimages continue to shore up the world’s largest tourist destination (sixteen million tourists thus far this year, thank you very much) I propose a **London, Bollywood Style** tour. Because, really, doesn’t everyone deserve to be the gonging bell of the Big Ben every once in a while with all of London bopping to a Bollywood beat around them?

London Thumakda from Queen

What Indian Women Want: Falguni Kothari on the role of women in independent India.

15th August marked the 68th anniversary of India’s independence from the British Raj and I want to address an issue that brings me great hope. I can’t say joy yet, but I hope that joy is soon in the coming.

Indian Flag + Woman (source:

While Independent India is in no way a great nation and in some ways a chronic disappointment to its citizens, (surely the Father’s of the Nation are whirling like tornadoes in their powdery graves at the depraved depths we’ve managed to choke our nation on) the changes that I see bursting in women across India is super heartening. I was in Mumbai early this month where I had the incredible pleasure of meeting a hornet of women at a Champagne Brunch hosted by my publisher. Some were fellow authors, some were filmmakers, journalists, IT professionals, execs, entrepreneurs, while some were plain homemakers. Though, in no way were these homemakers apologetic about who they were and the power they wielded—and there is no question that every one of these women were empowered.

Our talks were women-centric with an odd joke or two thrown in about the over-the-top publicity of the latest release of a well-known male author, who shall remain nameless as ol’ Voldemort. In due course, our talk meandered to the plight of women in India.

We wondered why it was okay for a 50 year old male actor to prance around trees, jerk his hips at his 17-year-old co-star in a song sequence sure to give him a slipped disc and get paid great truckloads of money while a 50-year-old heroine is considered passé and not good for anything but the role of a mother or sister even if she possibly win Dancing with the Stars?

We spoke about how utterly frustrating it is to get divorced in India. The Indian Judicial system does not make dissolving a dead marriage easy. Not that it ever is, but if one does reach the stage where all else has failed and divorce is the only option, the litigation could go on for years, decades unless clerks, judges, lawyers, even the peons working at the courthouse, aren’t bribed frequently and well to speed up court dates. And if one half of the couple lets ego come in the way…then God help you getting a divorce in this lifetime. I heard about the plight of a woman who left her husband in 1982, when she was 38 years old—in the prime of her life. The lady has just signed her final divorce papers last month at the ripe old age of 70 because her husband would not let his rage at her temerity to leave him go.

A young girl admitted that she wasn’t interested in marriage at all. She would never let a man rule her life as her father ruled her mother’s. And by some fortune if she did find a great guy, then it would be pre-nups all the way to the altar.

Another young girl lies to her family every day about her job—she’s a features writer for several magazines and newspapers—as they wouldn’t approve of her choice in career and meeting men for interviews etc.  

Yet another woman’s young daughter asked her how she chose Daddy to marry? What made him special? The woman’s answer: he was kind, funny and he let me be myself.

And isn’t that the most important thing? That we are allowed to be ourselves without judgments, restrictions or well-meaning cultural leashes tethering us to the ground?

I sometimes forget that I grew up in the same environment as these lovely ladies. While my own family—the one I was born in and the one I married into—is more progressive than most in India, I still had these lines of restrictions drawn around me. For my own good. So that I’m safe. Moving to America has shifted those lines so far apart that I need a telescope to see them. Not that I’m even looking anymore.

So, Dear Readers, whether it’s just the right era for change or global influence or increasing education or simply the emancipation of our long-stifled spirits, the scent of hope is in the air in India. At least in the metros, the women are breaking free. Even if they have to lie about their jobs or be cynical about marriage or wait 32 years to get a divorce—they are doing it.

I shall end this post with a quote from a dear friend: 

“It’s not easy to fly with clipped wings. But I am going to try.”

Jai Hind. 

I’m in love: Tara’s Obsession With Hunks, Part 1

Just so we’re straight, you know that this blog post series is going to have a lot of, I mean a lot, of parts, right?

I have a crush. It’s a quite intense, I-can’t-stop-trolling-the-internet-for-every-bit-about-him kind. It’s the kind where I discover a  male celebrity and fall for him and he’s all I can think for weeks.


In the beginning, years ago, it was Colin Firth when I watched Pride and Prejudice when I was just 13.

I had it for Ian Somerholder when I watched Vampire Diaries.

Then it was Richard Armitage when I watched North and South.

Then let’s not forget the Shah Rukh Khan era when I watched Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jayange.

And my latest is *drum roll* Ranveer Singh…

It began one Saturday night innocently enough when hubby and I were looking for a movie to watch. I’ve been off movies for a while- Hollywood, Bollywood, you name it, I wasn’t interested.

So there we were, and Hubby’s trying to get me interested in Netflix’s offerings and suddenly, I was in the mood for that dramatic, over-the-top emotional marathon that only Bollywood could deliver. bbb1

So we chose Band Baaja Baarat.


And I was in love…


The movie was good, but wow, the male lead actor’s energy was just superb…

And so another love affair began…I glommed all his movies, sadly of which they aren’t many :) but luckily for me his star is on the rise (I think), so I can’t wait. I gobbled up every little tidbit I could about him- apparently, that energy he brings to his roles is how he is  in real life too…

For the first time in my life, my love affair with a celebrity has also that extra oomph…because apparently when it comes to Ranveer, I’m the older woman. It just keeps getting better, right?

But having seen his crazy intensity in the Bollywood Style Rome and Juliet- Ram Leela – I’m sure he can handle me…

Now for your Tuesday morning’s delight, here is Ranveer and why I’m crazy over him. How about you, ladies? Any hunk I’ve been missing out on that I should check out. Please let me know..:)





Rakhi Power: The History and Meaning of Raksha Bandhan

This Sunday is Raksha Bandhan (ruk-sha bun-dun). Although the date may change yearly, the significance will always be the same. This is a popular observance among Indians and has, I believe, one of the most beautiful sentiments of all the traditions. It is a day that celebrates the familial love between sisters and brothers.


Ayesha and a wee cousin!

Raksha Bandhan means “the knot of love” and a sister signifies her love for her brother by tying a thread around his right wrist. This thread is referred to as the rakhi. In exchange, the brother will offer his sister a traditional sweet and promises her eternal protection. It is quite moving, is it not?

I don’t remember my first Raksha Bandhan, but I do remember this day when I visited India and wore my first sari and as far as I know, tied my first rakhi. This is me several years ago with my little cousin. I know he offered me sweets, but he’s eating them all in this picture.


In a patriarchal society, I once thought this observance perpetuated the inestimable importance and authority of males. But this festival has also become a day to honor all women. Let’s look at the history of Raksha Bandhan to find out the true meaning, shall we?

Like all myths, the origins of Raksha Bandhan is debatable. Here are five popular beliefs on the beginnings to the timeless tradition:

* There is the story of the widowed Rani (queen) Karnawati and Emperor Humayun during the medieval era when Rajputs fought the Muslim invasions. Karnawati, in her desperate need to protect her kingdom from the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, sent a rakhi to Humayun. Touched by her gesture, he immediately sent his troops to defend her.

* It has been said that back in the times when Alexander the Great invaded India, he was so shaken by his defeat by the king of Puru (a Vedic tribe) that his wife, Roxana, who’d heard about the festival, approached the king with a rakhi. He accepted her as his sister and in honor of their bond, he refrained from attacking Alexander.

* There was once a man, now revered as a god, named Krishna who was hurt during a pivotal war. The queen sent for help, but upon seeing his injuries, another maiden who’d been watching all of this did not waste time. Draupadi, the daughter of a king and the wife of the five Pandava princes tore her sari and immediately tied it around Krishna’s injured hand. In return, he promised to protect her. It’s believed that he said, “Akshyam” which means, “May it be unending.” (As the myth continues, when the Pandavas lost a gambling match to the Kauravas, Draupadi was gambled away. The Kauravas dragged her into the king’s court and tried to unwrap her sari. Because she had five husbands, she was called a whore and being nude was a fitting punishment. When her husbands would not save her, she prayed to Krishna. Her sari then became endless due to the brotherly promise of Krishna and, therefore, she was never humiliated and dishonored by being disrobed in public.)

* King Bali was a devout worshipper of Vishnu, and because of this, Vishnu left his abode in the temple of Vikundam to protect Bali’s kingdom disguised as a gatekeeper. Vishnu’s wife, Lakshmi, was not pleased with her husband being gone for so long, so she approached the king as a Brahmin (that of the priestly caste) woman, and in a sense a sister, and asked to take refuge in his palace. She tied a rakhi on the king’s wrist as his house prospered, and so indebted to her, he promised protection and happiness. Anything she desired, he would give. She then pointed at the gatekeeper, who revealed himself as Vishnu, then she, in turn, revealed her identity. The king was so touched by their presence and blessings on his kingdom that he requested Vishnu to accompany Lakshmi back to their home. It was on this day that the festival was born, when brothers invite their sisters to their home to tie the rakhi.

* Another myth says that Yamuna (a river in India worshipped as the lady of life) tied the rakhi around her twin brother, Yama’s (the lord of death), wrist. He was so moved by her devotion and unification that he declared that any brother who was tied by the rakhi and offered his sister eternal protection would be granted immortality.

This Sunday, millions of Indian girls and women around the world will visit their brothers. They will tie a beautiful rakhi thread around their brother’s wrist, which he will not remove until the thread is frayed and falls off. In tying this thread, she has symbolized her love and honor for her brother. In return, brothers with a rakhi will offer their sisters sweets and a promise of eternal protection.

I visited my family in Texas last month, so I tied the rakhi around my brother and my two younger male cousins (including the one pictured earlier), who are like my brothers. While I have never taken observances seriously, I have taken this one back for all the beauty and significance it holds. Therefore, my dear brothers, I’ve dedicated a rakhi for you and send you my love.


Recap of My First RWA Conference, Bollywood Style

While I have been writing for most of my life, romance since 2004, this was the first year I attended the RWA National Conference. Once I’d registered and booked my hotel, once I’d accepted the reality of my going, this was me:

Going to RWA...finally! on Make A Gif
(make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif)
I was like: “Yippee-yi-yay! I’m going, going, going!” 

I was finally making it to the Romance Writers of America conference, the national gathering of my people. People who wrote and read and loved books, who actually understood me and my obsession with words, and there’d be books. So many books! 
Once in San Antonio, I made this face quite often to the amusement of my more experienced peers…
kiIBoZ on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
I made it is every time I saw the awesome Nora Roberts. When I did speak to her (okay, I fan-girl gushed at her), she was uber gracious and posed for a picture:

Since I had a breakfast date with Nalini Singh, I was up at the crack of dawn. Fortunately by the time we met, I was able to control my fan-girling and actually have a conversation. We both gushed about Sari Sister Sonali Dev’s Debut Release:
Then, Nalini showed me how to take a selfie:

I also attended part of her Writing Paranormal Romance workshop and caught this gem:

“Be logical, be consistent, and be passionate!”

Speaking of workshops, they were awesome and there were several tracks to choose from — craft, marketing, industry, self-publishing, career, writer’s life and more. I attended several and learned a lot! 

My favorite was the last workshop I attended — Reviews: Reaching, Receiving and Reacting to Them. The presenter, Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, did a great job.

Her straight talk made sense and put reviews into perspective. But, even better, she’s freaking hilarious and made me (and others) laugh out loud over and over. By Saturday afternoon, I was in zombie mode and a good laugh was exactly what I needed.

I left energized and headed to a donut party courtesy of Carolyn Jewel, one of my co-authors on the Alphas Unleashed anthology.

This next picture perfectly sums up my first RWA experience:

Yes, it was SWEET! Wildfire did me proud…

2014 Prism Award Winner for Best First Book
2014 Prism Second Place winner in Light Paranormal
2014 Published Daphne du Maurier Award finalist in the Paranormal category
Would I attend another RWA National Conference? 

Love, Mina :)

P.S. I chickened out of wearing a sari…but next time!

Pros and Cons: Suleikha’s Tips For RWA, RT and Anywhere Else!

The annual and national Romance Writers of America Conference is upon us! A few of the Sari Sisters will definitely be in attendance — myself included! You know what that means, right? The obligatory conference tip post!

My day job is as a writer/editor, and I’ve attended more professional events than I can count. From Emmy red carpets to ABC Super Soap Weekend at Disney World to the RT Booklovers Convention and RWA, I’ve had good con and I’ve had bad con. So, what have I learned?

Here’s my Top Five essential bits of conference advice.

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Launch Week Giveaway Winners Announced!

Saris and Stories has finished its launch week, and we hope all of you enjoyed our stories about our relationship with Saris. We also hope you got a chance to check out our panel discussion over at Romance University! If not, you can take a peek at our post here.

Because we appreciate everyone’s support, all of the commentors on our blog posts and over at Romance University were enrolled in giveaway prizes. Without further ado, here are the winners!

roti dance

July 7: Suleikha Snyder – An Avon Books’ swag bag with historical goodies, including titles by Loretta Chase and Sarah MacLean!
WINNER: Darcy Woods
July 8: Ayesha Patel- Two winners will win one of two beautiful peacock rings.
WINNER: Jocie H.
July 9: Falguni Kothari – A Book Bundle of both my books + swag.
WINNER: Alexandra
July 10: Mina Khan - A free Mina Khan story and a DVD of my favorite Bollywood film Om Shanti Om
WINNER: Cindy Calloway
July 11: Nisha Sharma- a bag of ARCs from 2014 BEA!
WINNER: Sarah Lovett
July 12: Sonali Dev – A Book Bundle of my favorite Romance Authors: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins, Nalini Singh, and a pair of handcrafted Indian enamel earrings!
WINNER: Kay Hudson
July 13: Tara Pammi – A copy each of my latest Harlequin Presents- A Deal with Demakis and The Last Prince of Dahaar
WINNER: Diane Dooley
And there you have it! Each winner will be contacted directly by the author to get information about where to send the awesome swag to, so check your email, winners! Also, don’t forget to tweet, like and share our stuff! We appreciate your support!
So the next question is, what’s next? Well, we’ll be blogging every week, so follow us on our social media sites that are linked on the left. Also, if you want to hear about latest book releases and events, sign up for our newsletter for periodic updates!
We can’t wait to share our stories with you!
Lots of Love,
The Sari Sisters