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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite

City of Steel A Damascus Love Story

Amber Wiser Thompson

When nineteen-year-old Laila, raised in California by her American mother and Syrian father, receives news that her father was killed in a car accident while visiting Syria, she returns to Damascus to reclaim her heritage, reconnect with her roots, and honor her father’s memory. Despite her family’s warnings to stay away from those connected with the ruling regime, she meets and falls in love with Ali, the handsome playboy of Damascus and son of a powerful general. Torn between family honor and true love, Laila finds herself in the midst of her own identity crisis in a country on the brink of revolution. The longer she stays in the City of Steel, a city built on their fathers’ sins and promises, a virgin’s paradise and the devil’s playground, the more she learns loyalty is everything.

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