Patty Wiseman - Author and Speaker

Patty Wiseman, author and speaker

An Unlikely Elegance

Can she escape her past?

Fanny Zapelli dropped the well-penned letter into the fire and watched it shrivel into ashes. The last person she expected to hear from shattered the cozy world she’d built over the past five years.

Jack Grey stepped off the downtown train and back into her life. A life she’d completely transformed from the old mob days. He didn’t even recognize her when they came face to face.  

Everything about the old Fanny disappeared long ago, the color of her hair, her speech, the way she dressed. And now, she was the owner of the hottest restaurant in town, The Crystal Daffodil. She chose the name because the meaning of her favorite flower, the daffodil, meant a new beginning. Her friends, Ruth, Peter, Hattie, and Cal were all instrumental in the transformation of Fanny from mob moll to Miss Z, proprietor of the best restaurant in the county. Her beauty attracted the attention of many men, but she kept them all at arm’s length. The heartbreak she experienced in her past didn’t allow her to let her guard down, not even for an instant.

Now Jack entered her world and fear of exposure haunted her.

But he wasn’t the only one to stir things up. Another admirer persisted in frequenting the restaurant, constantly badgering her to have dinner with him. Gordon Young, a prominent newspaper editor. To get rid of him, she accepted, only to regret her decision.

Even as she juggled the unwanted attention, another man stepped into the fray. Her chauffeur, Melvin. Even though he had not declared his amorous sensitivities, his eyes betrayed his heart with each glance. She knew a confrontation was inevitable.

Jack wasn’t the only mob member to return to the city after five years. Moose, her former beau, kept a low profile but watched out for her without revealing himself—even worked for the obnoxious Gordon Young for a better opportunity to make sure she stayed safe. But it wasn’t enough.

These men cluttered her life as she maintained a cool distance, but someone would soon wreak havoc in her finely-crafted life. Terror came to her one night when she found herself trapped in a basement, her captor insisting on marriage.

No matter how much she wanted her unsavory deeds to fade away, she couldn’t escape them all. Doubt of her accomplishments permeated her mind, thoughts of only always being just a mob moll haunted her.

Her friends frantically searched for her, accusing those both in her present and in her past of the abduction. The police had no leads. She’d disappeared without a trace.

The experience left Fanny unable to cope and kept the men who loved her at bay, wondering if she could ever be the same again.

In this fifth book of the series, Fanny Zapelli runs the gamut of emotions. From the pride of accomplishment to the crippling self-doubt that gripped her. Fanny might lose everything she worked for if her inner strength failed her.

Her journey is much like our own at times. Could we withstand the pressure of self-doubt without friends and loved ones who care about us? Fanny’s aloof, go-it-alone-demeanor may be her end.

An Unlikely Elegance by Patty Wiseman

Book 5 of
The Velvet Shoe Collection

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Sample Chapter

An Unlikely Elegance — Chapter 1

Detroit, Michigan, 1935

Rare is the woman who can arrest a soul’s self-absorption by an elegant bearing. Ah, these are the women who can change the world. Shoulders squared, the back straight. Amber eyes smolder with a look that commands complete respect. Jack Grey was drawn to the woman the minute he stepped off the commuter train.

Breath took flight from his body the moment those magnetic eyes locked with his.

Oozing confidence, her gaze steadied without a blink. A daring woman who understands her worth.

The awning above the local department store shielded her from the rain this Monday morning giving him opportunity to drink in the complete package. Beige trench coat, collar up, leather shoulder bag, and a stylish fedora hat tipped over one brow.

Someone shoved him from behind. “Move it, Mac.”

He stumbled. When he regained his balance, she’d disappeared.


Fanny Zapelli spotted him when he stepped off the train. An unsavory memory of the past. A mobster. A man who might bring the world she built down to the ground.

The soaking rain created a blurry vision of him, but the tilt of the hat, the arrogant stance, the stocky build. It was him all right. No doubt. An enemy of the ‘family’ and a rival. Many times, older brother Giovanni plotted to kill him and his followers. He never succeeded. 

But it happened a lifetime ago. Her only sibling remained locked in a mental hospital; the gang scattered to the four corners of the world. She was alone.

The law allowed two choices back then. Go to jail or go legit. She chose the latter, took over The Blue Feather, and transformed the sleazy speakeasy into a successful bistro which made a good deal of money. But a large bankroll wasn’t enough, because the dream included an elite restaurant for the rich and famous.

After years of observing and learning, the goal was accomplished. The Crystal Daffodil came to be a symbol of new beginnings. An instant hit. Now, people took her seriously, respected her, looked up to her. 

Not only did she transform a crime ridden past, but also affected a change in her appearance, the way she talked and carried herself, even her wardrobe. Longtime friends, Ruth Kirby and Hattie Taylor saw to that. They taught the confidence needed for respect as a woman.

When Jack stumbled, she ducked inside the nearest business and hurried toward the back door. “He disappeared years ago, what’s he doing here now?”


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