Thirty Nights (American Beauty #1)

By: Ani Keating
Thirty nights. Two hearts. One fate.

American Beauty, Book 1

After her parents’ tragic deaths, Elisa Snow wanted nothing more than to escape her past. Eighteen and alone, she fled her quaint English village and moved to the United States. A starving science student by day and an artist’s muse by night, Elisa has slowly built a new life. She never dreamed she would lose everything again.

She’s one week from graduation when her visa is unexpectedly denied. Given thirty days to leave the country, she must face the one thing she cannot survive again—saying goodbye and leaving her home. Yet within minutes of her world shattering, she meets a man with the power to piece it back together.

After finishing his tour of duty in Iraq, Aiden Hale traded battlefields for boardrooms, becoming one of the most successful venture capitalists in the nation. But all his wealth can’t buy him reprieve from the horrific memories of war. The only thing that gives him peace is a painting of Elisa.

Drawn together by their invisible wounds, they begin a passionate affair as they race against the clock to defy their pasts—and fight for their future.

Earlier versions of this book were posted on the author’s blog under the titles of The Master’s Muse and 30 Nights of Snow, using the pen name Ani Surnois, and has since been extensively edited.

Warning: Contains a blistering exploration of desire, sacrifice and redemption…and love’s power to equalize us in ways laws cannot.


To my family… Always.


So many thank you-s to say, so few words adequate enough:

To the entire Samhain team, especially my editor, Tera Cuskaden, for taking a chance on this story (on my birthday of all days), helping it reach its full potential, supporting my vision and putting up with all my cover “ideas.”

To my agent, Stacy Lorts, for her tenacity, faith and ability to curb the highest highs and lowest lows of writing.

To my original editor, Selina McLemore, for her vision of my characters, mentorship and good-tough love.

To A.E. Norman for her advice on all things immigration and sisterhood over the years.

To my friends, Emily, Kerry and Arilee, for enduring my endless talks about “the book” and for loving me at my best and at my worst.

To my parents Peter and Stella, and my brother Andrew, for supporting every single one of my dreams, no matter how crazy, and for thinking I am the world’s best writer. I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

To my husband, Rob, for believing in me like no other, for doing the dishes for the last two years and for occasionally playing Aiden. I love you.

And last but not least, thank you to all the original readers and followers of this story when it was just a little dream posted online. Without your enthusiasm and encouragement, Thirty Nights may have never been finished.

Author’s Note

Thirty Nights is a fictional love story that was partially inspired by aspects of immigration law as they may have existed at the time the story was conceived and written. Each immigrant’s journey in the United States is different. It is shaped by law, practice, individual pasts, future goals and, above all, the kind-hearted Americans who welcome immigrants to this amazing land. Thirty Nights is not any specific immigrant’s journey or legal advice. It is an imaginary rendition of what could happen if we applied aspects of the law so stringently that it would sacrifice the very thing that bonds us: love.

Chapter One

The End

I walk into the cold federal office, gasping for breath. The air here has a slight tang to it that burns on the way down. The weight of the United States government permeates my skin, like pressure before a storm. The American flag hangs proudly over an immaculate desk where there is only a stack of Post-it Notes, a ballpoint pen and a stamp with red ink. I lay my binders on the desk and spread out the stacks of papers in neat, organized piles—my life, in pages and numbers. I sit on the stiff, wooden chair and rub the strap of my father’s Seiko watch to calm my shaking hands. Only three minutes left. I rehearse my talking points in my head one last time.

My name is Elisa Snow. I am twenty-two years old. I was born and raised in Burford, England. I am here on a student visa. My parents passed away when I was eighteen. That is why I moved here. This is my home. I go to Reed College. I graduate in one week. I majored in chemistry. I have developed a nutrient component that in small doses can deliver the equivalent nutritional sustenance of a serving of wild salmon. It can fight malnutrition with very little cost. Please let me stay. I do not plan to harm the United States. I have nowhere else to go.

The immigration officer walks in abruptly. He is wearing an efficient-looking brown suit and is carrying a single sheet of paper. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.