What the Heart Knows

The best-selling Novel One of the Milford-Haven Saga

“. . . a setting of unadulterated beauty. . .and a cast of successful, sexy, sometimes quirkily independent characters . . .romance. . .scandal, and carefully parsed out mystery. . . the novel is poised to convince readers to continue with the series.”Publishers Weekly

“Former Days of Our Lives actress Purl imbues her soap opera finesse into the fictional setting of Milford-Haven . . . . This may be Apple Pie, USA, but hearts are on the line . . . a whirlwind of juicy drama.”Kirkus Review

What the Heart Knows is an upbeat novel, billed by the author as “small town fiction,” and the first book of Purl’s Milford-Haven series. The book opens powerfully with the appearance of the first of many strongly developed characters . . . well-traveled, educated, and street-smart. . . . Purl . . . creates genuine relationships that make sense within the story; each character has a clear set of goals and morals, all served up through dialogue and inner thought processes. ForeWord Reviews

The charming coastal town of Milford-Haven, California comes to life in Mara Purl’s enchanting novel What the Heart Knows. Based on her award-winning BBC radio drama, this is the first serial novel in a set of twelve that invites readers to experience a slice of the mystery and romance that is life in Milford-Haven. Although the picturesque, seaside setting of Milford-Haven plays in important role in the novel, the cast of interesting and eccentric characters is what really draws the reader into the book. Bookwire Review




Best-seller on Amazon

#1 in Contemporary Fiction

#1 in Family Saga Fiction

#3 in Women’s Lit & Fiction

#5 in Romance

#5 in all Kindle books



Winner – Romance, International Book Award

Winner, Fiction: Romance – USA Book News Best Book Awards

Winner, Fiction: Romance – National Indie Excellence Award

Winner, Fiction: Literary Titan Award

Finalist, Fiction: Romance – Foreword Book Of the Year Award

Finalist, Silver: Fiction Audio – Ben Franklin Award




Miranda Jones has always used her head. Her artist’s rep and mentors, parents and sister, always advised she must. With her paintings at a major fine art gallery, her journey as a struggling artist is finally paying off. But while her head told her success in a big city was what she wanted, her heart told her a simpler life in a small community would feel like home. Now that she’s moved, deeper questions surface: What is her life purpose? What’s missing? And what does her heart know that her head keeps ignoring?

California’s Central Coast is growing explosively. Now, in the mid-1990s, tourism is up, but so are environmental regulations. Housing is on the rise, but so are water restrictions. Gambling is limited, but the Chumash tribe lobbies for a gaming casino. The stock market is booming, the upwardly mobile are pouring out of Los Angeles in search of a fresh start, or a weekend getaway. In these affluent, pre-9-11 days, it’s a time of infinite possibilities.

Milford-Haven is a town full of characters. Escapees from San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York and Arkansas, Montreal and South Africa, have come here with their own hopes and expectations, agendas and shadowed pasts. The stakes are high: create a new life from scratch. The opportunities are dazzling: own a piece of the California dream. It’s a town of buried secrets and a dangerous mystery, quaint shops and breathtaking vistas, peaceful solitude and spontaneous conversations. What draws people here is the sense that—in their heart of hearts—they know there’s something they’ve always wanted to do. And if not now . . . when? So look for the sign to Milford-Haven, pull off Highway 1 and stop by. Come discover for yourself . . . What the Heart Knows.

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