Finding You


By Jo Watson

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For fans of USA Today bestselling authors Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne comes a hilarious romantic comedy about finding your family, finding yourself, and maybe finding love along the way.

Being adopted never made Jane Smith feel unloved, just unlike the rest of her family. As her twenty-fifth birthday approaches, she is struck by an overwhelming longing to finally find her place in the world. So in a very un-Jane-like move, she books a last-minute ticket to Greece to find her birth father and the real Jane. All she knows about him is it that he was a tour guide named Dimitri. Armed with this knowledge and several surprise boxes of condoms from her mom (not embarrassing at all), Jane takes off.

Within minutes of landing she makes two important discoveries. First, everyone in Greece is named Dimitri, and second, fate might be playing a sick joke on her when a sexy tour guide called Dimitri comes to fetch her from the airport. He offers to help Jane with her search—if she’ll go on an adventure with him. Stable Jane would never risk a steamy vacation romance. But real Jane might finally be ready to listen to her heart. Will Jane find her biological father, or will she end up finding something else entirely?

“Top Pick! Almost a Bride put a smile on my face more than once. The dialogue was witty, the words were well-written and the heroine was one-of-a-kind.” — Harlequin Junkie



I've always known I was adopted. It's not one of those closely guarded family secrets that makes its way onto a TLC reality show: My mother is actually my father's Siamese twin's second cousin's daughter's lover twice removed.

Besides, it's pretty damn obvious. You would have to be seriously visually impaired not to notice.

My family—Mom, Dad, and twin sisters Janet and Jenna (my mother has a thing for the letter J)—all look alike. They're short, fair skinned, with strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, and cute little button noses.

They're also all terribly attractive, looking like one of those happy families that appear in TV ads for fiber-rich breakfast cereal or get up and go multivitamins.

Me? I'm none of these things. I'm tall, freakishly so. I'm also dark, with a complexion that goes the color of a cappuccino with too much sun—I avoid it at all costs. My features aren't delicate, either: nose more pronounced than most, lips fuller than usual, and I seem to have large, furry caterpillars masquerading as eyebrows. Thank God those are back in fashion now, so I no longer have to endure hours of root-ripping torture.

You could quite literally call me the black sheep of the family. And for all this, I suspect I am my mother's greatest disappointment. Maybe that's why she overcompensates with me so much. Not that she would ever admit that out loud. I was adopted after she and my father spent years trying to get pregnant. But six months after I arrived, she was miraculously pregnant with perfect twins. I often wonder if she regrets adopting me…

Standing out wasn't easy. It made growing up even harder than it should have been. During middle school I went through a particularly awkward stage where my limbs seemed too long for my body and my facial features too large for my face.

"Maybe she'll grow into them?" I once overheard a classmate's mother say.

"She's a big-boned girl," someone else once said. "You know, sturdy. I bet she'll never break a bone."

It was true; I've never broken a bone. But I would have gladly traded a little snapped femur or two for the joy of not being likened to the foundations of a house. Kids teased me for not looking like my family. For being too tall, having a big nose, and anything else the snot-nosed schoolyard bullies could think of.

And then there was that one boy who told me my parents didn't really love me because I wasn't their real child. And I took it all in. I internalized every single cruel word, each one feeding off the other, until I was carrying around a dark, twisty, cancerous growth inside.

Luckily, when I hit eighteen, stuff started falling into place. That is to say that things weren't so disproportionately big, long, and full. I still don't look like my sisters, though. I envy them so much, sometimes, that I struggle to like them. Does that make me a bad person?

I've always felt like the perpetual ugly duckling, waiting for her swan moment that never seemed to come. The wallflower that never bloomed. And believe me, I've tried to bloom. I fight with a hair straightener most mornings, and I've probably watched every YouTube makeup tutorial on the contouring craze. But each time I tried to make my nose look slimmer and cheekbones higher, I just ended up looking like a zebra, and no amount of blending changed that. And as of today, I officially own precisely thirty-three lipsticks. I got it into my head once that somehow the perfect shade could save me from myself and transform me like Cinderella's glass slipper. I try them all on once, but none of them seem to do the job. So I put them all into a giant makeup bag and close it, and each time I do, I close off a little bit of hope inside myself, too.

There was nothing I could do to change. I was just… different. I have since accounted for that difference, though.

At the age of eighteen, I was legally allowed to reach out to my biological mother through the adoption agency. I wanted answers and was desperate to meet her and know who I was and where I came from.

She, however, did not want to meet me—which broke my heart more than I can ever describe. She had rejected me at birth, and now done the same thing to me eighteen years later. She did pass on a few breadcrumbs, though.

She told me that she'd named me Tracy, that I'm half Greek, and that she was only eighteen when she'd given me up. As if her young age were some kind of excuse, or explained away any accountability she might have had in the act. I wrote back asking for information about my father—maybe he would want to meet me—but all she told me was that I was the product of a youthful holiday fling with a tour guide named Dimitri. That was it. And then she slammed the metaphorical door in my face.

I thought finding out about my birth parents would have made me feel better. But it didn't. In fact, it made me feel worse.

Greek. There it was: the reason I wasn't blond and had to pluck a stray chin hair by the age of eight. I didn't want to be different. Why couldn't I be blonder and prettier, with size 6 shoes and ballerina limbs?

Why couldn't I be not-me.

I remember crying myself to sleep that night and wishing I could have the part of me that made me different, the Greek part, surgically removed. The next morning I woke up and two things happened.

I decided that if I couldn't change the color of my skin, shrink my features, or radically shorten my limbs with dramatic, experimental plastic surgery (I really did Google this), I would become the poster child for "normality." So I rejected everything about myself that was different and went about trying to blend in.

Plain Jane Smith. Polite, run-of-the-mill, average. I strove to be that person you couldn't pick out of a crowd if you tried. That person that at your ten-year school reunion no one even remembers. I flew under the radar like a stealth plane in enemy territory. Stealth Plain Jane. If they can't see me, they can't tease me.

The second thing I did was start building a wall that kept me somewhat separate from the world around me—only allowing access to my select group of friends, each one of us outcasts in our own special way.

That was also the last time I cried…

I stared up at the electronic display once more. GREECE. I'd rejected and denied my Greek heritage in every possible way. In fact, you could go as far as saying I'd developed some kind of psychosomatic allergy to anything Hellenic.

And now I want to go to Greece with every fiber of my being?

Not only that, but I was overcome by a desire—no, a need—to find my biological father. Maybe meeting him would finally give me the answer to this drowning confusion I felt. Maybe it was time to tackle my Greekness head-on.

But I couldn't embark on this journey alone. I grabbed my phone, opened WhatsApp, and quickly created a "Jane goes to Greece" group.


Lilly added

Annie added

Val added

Stormy added

Jane: Guess what?

Annie: You know what time it is here in LA?

Val: What?

Jane: Where is everyone? Hello?

Annie: Lilly is probably (a) staring at her engagement ring, (b) having sex with Damien, (c) staring at her ring while having sex with Damien.

Lilly: I saw that! And you're wrong, it's (d) postcoital cuddling while staring at my ring.

Annie: Nympho.

Val: Hang on… YOU'RE GOING TO GREECE? Did I read that right?

Annie: What?

Lilly: You hate Greek food!

Annie: You hate anything Greek!!!! WTH

Lilly: Hang on, Stormy is phoning me. She's probably confused about how to use the iPhone Damien bought her again.

Annie: I can't believe she even agreed to use it.

Val: She's named it "Tumor" and refuses to hold it to her ear when talking.

Annie: LOL that's dramatic!

Lilly: She's freaking out because green speech bubbles have invaded her screen.

Val: hahaha

Lilly: I've tried to explain to her how to join.

Stormy: amI Here's?

Val: Welcome to 2017!

Annie: OMG it's going to snow.

Stormy: wHose is talks ing?

Jane: I have to go. The shop is opening.

Annie: What shop?

Lilly:? Wait.


Stormy: wHY os is rhis THIS going so gast?

Stormy: gast

Stormy: DUCK this. FAST?

Stormy: Fuck this!


One round-trip ticket to Greece please, the special." I pointed at the board, unable to contain my excitement.

The woman looked slightly irritated with me. I'd barely given her a chance to open the shop and slide a high-heeled toe inside. I'd been waiting so impatiently that I'd practically cartwheeled through the doors the second they were opened. Not my usual style. I always waited patiently and let the elderly and the women with children go in front of me. But today, if there'd been an elderly lady with a walker, I may have actually used the thing to catapult myself inside.

"Sure thing." She smiled sweetly. "Just give me a moment, please."

She turned on the lights, fired up the computers, and fiddled with some knobs and switches.

"Right." She started typing with her excessively long, glitter-tipped nails.

"Mmmm." She looked up at me from the screen. "You're lucky. There's one last ticket available. When would you like to go?"

"How's tomorrow?" The words caught me completely off guard as they flew out of my mouth.

The woman looked as surprised as I felt. "All right." She sounded reticent but tapped away on the keyboard. "Ah. Lucky again. One more space on that flight."


"And accommodation, where will you be staying?"

I paused for a moment. This was a very good question. I had no idea where I was going to stay and certainly no clue where to start looking for my father.

"What's the most popular holiday destination?" My birth mother had been on holiday, so I reasoned it would have been somewhere touristy.

The woman looked at me and blinked slowly. Her makeup was fresh and thickly applied. Her mascara was so heavy and moist that some of her lashes stuck together like large fat worms.

"Mykonos, I guess." She slid a pamphlet across the table. "Very nice there. Hot men," she added with a wink of her sticky lashes.

"Mykonos, Mykonos, Mykonos." I repeated the word out loud a few times, stretching it out as I went: "Myk… o… nos." I was hoping for some kind of inexplicable psychic feeling, or an Oprah aha moment that told me that I was on the right track. But nothing came.

"Any more you can recommend?"


"Corrr… fu. Cor… fuuu. Corrr… fuuu." But the more I said it, the stranger the word sounded and the less I wanted to go there. "Another one?"

"Um, Spetses."

"Spet… ses… sss." It sounded like something you might find floating in formaldehyde. "No. Definitely not there. Another one?"


"Doesn't sound Greek enough."


"Perhaps a little too Greek. Anything else?"

Glitter-Talon was officially looking at me strangely. She narrowed her eyes as if she was trying to bring a faraway object into focus. "Santorini?" she finally proposed.

"Santorini. Santorini. Santorini, SAN… tor… ini." I'd obviously heard of Santorini. I said it some more, and this time I felt a little something. Nothing mind-blowingly Oprah-ish. No heavens opening up with a chorus of trumpeting angels. Just a tiny little tug in my gut. Under normal circumstances I never would have based a decision on a barely there gut feeling, but these were not normal circumstances. And I certainly wasn't my normal self today.

"Perfect. Santorini it is," I said quickly. She went back to typing and just as she was about to hit enter…

"Wait!" Self-doubt suddenly gripped me. "Just give me a moment."

"Hello, I am Dimitri from Santorini," I said, role-playing in a male voice. "Dimitri from Santorini."

Now she was really looking at me strangely. I pulled my phone out.

WHATSAPP GROUP: Jane goes to Greece

Jane: What do you think of when you hear Santorini?

Val: WTF is going on?

Annie: Sunburn.

Lilly: Hot tour guides and tropical seas and parties and sex and love.

Annie: LOL Lilly. She said Santorini. Not Thailand.

Jane: Hot tour guides? Really? OK perfect. Bye.

Val: Wait!!!! Are you really going to Greece????

Stormy: how uou type oon thiS thjng?

I pocketed my phone and looked at Glitter-Talon again. "Santorini it is then."

"Uh, you sure?" she asked, voice still dripping in sarcasm. "Maybe you'd rather go somewhere else? Somewhere closer to home?"


"Well, do you even know anything about Greece?"

"Of course I do!"

She looked at me expectantly. I reached into my brain to retrieve everything I knew about the country. What was there to know anyway? Their flag is blue and white… then there's the Parthenon and… lots of other ancient ruins and pillars and rocks. Olives and the Olympics and dipping your pitas into sauces and there's that famous dessert… balaclava?

"So?" she said with a sigh that screamed irritation. This woman had a bad attitude, not to mention a slight gap between her central and lateral incisors. I hoped she flossed properly. She was really starting to piss me off.

"It's not like you have a million customers today," I heard someone snap.

"There's no need to be rude."

I looked up and glanced around to see who she was talking to. But there was no one there. And when I saw her glaring at me, that's when it dawned on me…

I'd said it.

I slapped my hand over my mouth. I said that? I had actually spoken my mind. Clearly the filters in my brain that stopped stuff like that from tumbling out of my mouth had completely malfunctioned.

What the hell is wrong with me?

"Santorini. Please." I tried to smile sweetly at Spider-Lashes.

"And can I book you a tour guide? There are lots of reputable ones we use and lots of great tours," she asked, grabbing for some additional leaflets.

"No. I don't need any guiding." I raised my hand and blocked the oncoming bits of paper.

She looked at me curiously again. "So no sightseeing then?"


"No island-hopping? No wine tasting? No tours of the ancient ruins?"

"No. No and no. Thanks." I was still trying to sound polite.

She half grunted to herself, "Fine. I'll just organize for someone to fetch you from the airport at least."


"And how long will you be going for?" The fake pleasantry returned to her voice. She reminded me of one of those call center workers trying to sell you a death and disability insurance policy but sounding like they're telling you that you'd just won the lottery.

"As long as it takes!" I replied.

"No, seriously. I need to put in a return date."

"As long as it takes," I repeated.

"As long as it takes for what?" she asked slowly and deliberately, as if she were talking to a child.

"To find the answers."

She put down the pen that she had been grinding between her teeth and folded her arms. She sat back in her chair, and her eyes came up and met mine.

"Um… are you sure you should be, you know, traveling? Alone? I mean, you seem… kind of sick?"

"Sick?" This woman was treating me like I was trying to make a quick escape from the asylum, all the while tapping her stupidly long glittery nails and blinking her judgmental lashes at me. Something about this whole scenario struck a nerve deep inside.

And then it snapped. The elastic band inside me that had been stretched to the breaking point over the years finally broke. And whatever it had been holding together and keeping neatly in place all fell apart in one surreal moment.

"Look! I'm having a really weird, bad day today. And I don't need you making it any worse than it already is. So I would really appreciate it if you would do your job and put your glitter nails—which you should really consider trimming by the way because it's incredibly unhygienic—back down on the keyboard and type up my ticket as fast as possible. And while you're at it you should really stop chewing your pen, you're going to get hairline cracks in your tooth enamel, which can lead to all sorts of oral health issues not to mention bad breath if debris gets stuck in them."

Her bottom jaw fell open. "Who do you think you are?" She shot me a look that could murder kittens.

"Sorry… here." I quickly slid my credit card across the counter.

She picked it up and glared at it. "Dr. Jane Smith." She looked up at me suspiciously. "Doctor?"


A smirk washed over her face slowly. "Well, that explains a lot."

When the whole encounter was finally over, I walked out clutching my ticket. I was leaving for Greece tomorrow; it was almost unbelievable. This was not how stealth Plain Jane behaved. How the hell was I going to explain this to my friends and family?

How was I going to explain to everyone why I had just made the most bizarre, uncharacteristic decision of my entire boring life—one that not even I fully understood?


Did you know that chalk and cheese actually have something rather significant in common? They are both very high in calcium.

So to say that my family and I were like "chalk and cheese" would be totally incorrect. To say we were more like pterodactyls and turnips would be far more accurate. They all seemed to be on the same page and I seemed to exist in an entirely separate book. That one lonely, dusty, neglected book at the bottom of the shelf.

My mother enjoys lazy champagne-laced days at the country club. Trips to the spa for the latest breakthrough in cellulite treatment, wrinkle decreasing, lip upsizing, and lash extending. Her greatest ambitions in life are to have the eyelids of a newborn baby and Madonna's upper arms. And when she's not spending all her energy on looking at least two decades younger, she's meddling in my life. She's been meddling since I can remember and over the years has managed to turn it into something that resembles an Olympic sport.

Being an ex–beauty queen, she places a lot of importance on outward appearances. She still has an old photo of herself winning Miss Johannesburg 1983. Despite the helmet-sized perm, blue eye shadow, and shoulder pads you could land a Boeing 747 on, she did look beautiful.

But no matter how hard I tried, she despaired at my posture, held her head at my ungainly manner of walking, and recoiled at my overbite. She was practically heartbroken the day she discovered that my eyebrows were migrating toward each other. That could be fixed, though, and I was shipped off to a waxologist tout de suite. As a result, I've been waxing strange and unusual places for as long as I can remember. Which is a good thing, because these days it seems that having any form of body hair is about as sinful as letting your six-year-old smoke a cigarette while poaching rhinos. Everyone is obsessed with removing as much of it as possible. I made this shocking discovery a few months ago when the waxologist very crassly asked me if I wanted an anal wax—just like that.

She also very kindly educated me on the new trend in male grooming… crack and sack. "Even the men are doing it these days."

I still declined politely.

What couldn't be fixed, though, was how much I let my mother's "constructive criticism" and "helpful suggestions" break down my self-esteem. And to make matters worse, male admirers were pretty scarce on the ground, just confirming my suspicions about myself and fueling my mother's relentless interference in my love life, or lack thereof.

During my almost-twenty-five years on this planet I have had exactly two sort-of, almost, borderline "boyfriends." Neither relationship went well.

The first one was the kind of guy whose secretive nature gave me images of bunny boiling, or maybe a creepy serial killer wall covered in voyeuristic photos. Turned out, though, that his general sneakiness was due to the fact that he had a girlfriend back at home. The embarrassing scene that transpired outside my apartment one night confirmed that. The scene then went from embarrassing to crushingly humiliating when she screamed, "He says you're shit in bed anyway!"

As for number two, the guy was obsessed with Star Trek. His claim to fame was that he could speak in both Klingon and Ferengi. I suspected it wasn't going to work when he met my friends for the first time and greeted them with the Vulcan finger salute. My suspicions were only solidified when during sex that I really wouldn't write anywhere about, let alone home, he grunted into my ear…

"HISlaH, HISlaH, HISlaH." (Translation from the Klingon: "Yes, yes, yes.")

No. No. No. Naturally the relationship did not "live long and prosper."

And when a vaguely normal guy does pay me any kind of attention, my crippling shyness kicks in, leading to many embarrassing and less-than-desirable responses on my part. The last time a guy tried to kiss me, I told him that the adult mouth contains five to ten thousand different types of bacteria. Needless to say, we didn't swap any.

It would be accurate to conclude that my love life has been a rather lackluster affair to date. My heart is probably the most underutilized organ in my body, even more so than my appendix, which serves no medical function whatsoever. It's not that I don't like guys and sex; I like them very, very much. They just don't seem to like me as much as I like them.

So at the age of almost-twenty-five, I know absolutely nothing about this crazy little thing called love. I've heard it's supposed to make the world go around and conquers all, and apparently it finds a way and is blind…

It wouldn't really matter if it were also deaf with bad skin and a limp, because I wouldn't be finding it anytime soon. Correction, it probably wouldn't be finding me. Love got lost years ago and clearly didn't have a GPS.

"You just need to meet more guys!" my friend Lilly was always telling me.

But the only time I met men was when I had on a white mask and was preparing to plunge a sharp needle into their gums—not exactly conducive to romance. I did get a marriage proposal once, although he did make it when the laughing gas had kicked in.

And let's be honest about something while we're at it: Everybody hates the dentist! I was already a person with naturally low self-esteem, and this job didn't exactly boost it.

But becoming a dentist just seemed like the right thing to do. I'd practically grown up in my dad's practice. While my sociable sisters were being rushed around to extramurals in the afternoons, I sat in my dad's office diligently doing my homework and reading the Guinness book of records.

But had I even wanted to be a dentist? Let alone take over his practice so he could play golf full-time.

Well, that's what my whole wacky Wednesday was all about. I actually had no real idea who the hell I was. I had no idea where I came from and, as a result, had no idea who I was meant to become. All I knew for sure was that there was only one place on earth I would find all these answers.


WHATSAPP GROUP: Jane goes to Greece

Jane: I'm going to Greece tomorrow guys.

Annie: What's going on?

Val: In detail!

Jane: I can't really explain it. I just woke up with a really strange feeling, and I NEED to go and find my biological father. I know. It's weird.

Annie: As in hot tour guide Dimitri?

Jane: It's been 25 years, I'm sure he's not that hot anymore.

Lilly: George Clooney! Hello!

Val: Colin Firth! Mmmmm.

Lilly: Pierce Brosnan.

Val: David Duchovny.

Lilly: Oooh, hello Mulder.



  • "Top Pick! Almost a Bride put a smile on my face more than once. The dialogue was witty, the words were well-written and the heroine was one-of-a-kind."—Harlequin Junkie
  • "Top Pick! This book is even better than the first."—Night Owl Reviews on Almost a Bride
  • "Full of pure-joy romance, laugh-out-loud moments and tearjerkers, Burning Moon has it all."—RT Book Reviews

On Sale
May 2, 2017
Page Count
368 pages

Jo Watson

About the Author

Jo Watson is an award-winning writer of romantic comedies. Her novel Burning Moon won a Watty Award in 2014. Jo is an Adidas addict and a Depeche Mode devotee.

Learn more about this author