Machu Picchu shrouds many secrets, visible only to those who enter with a pure heart. Only then can one ask the ancient oracles: Will hearts crushed by deception ever heal? And can a heinous sacrifice be stopped in time?

llamaFrom internationally acclaimed Cecilia Velástegui, author of Traces of Bliss and Gathering the Indigo Maidens, now comes a riveting cautionary tale in which the ancient and the contemporary collide. High in the Andes Mountains on the legendary Inca Trail, four women wishing for an adventure to soothe their broken hearts find themselves victim to a predator’s ruse—and soon in a fight for their very lives.

incaHilary, Mercy, Tiffany, and Gabby, all thirty-something professional women who’ve been burned by men they’ve met through online dating, gather on an Ivy League alum hike of the Inca Trail, intent on leaving romance behind. But their mountain adventure turns menacing when the flooding and mudslides of January 29, 2010 destroy parts of the trail and cut off communication with the outside world. They have no choice but to place their lives in the hands of Rodrigo, their handsome and uncannily magnetic hike leader. As Rodrigo leads them ever higher toward the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, the women begin to fall for his charms, and friend is pitted against friend as each woman brazenly vies for Rodrigo’s attentions.

poma-de-ayalaRodrigo manipulates the women into participating in a heinous ancient sacrifice that will guarantee the success of his megalomaniac dreams. But unbeknownst to the hikers, they have been under the vigilant watch of Taki and Koyam, two elderly indigenous women who understand the danger the women are facing. By following the wisdom of their mummified Andean ancestor, Taki and Koyam attempt to save the women, and act with spine-tingling resolve against the sinister forces of Rodrigo and his minions.

With intelligence and keen insight into the dark side of cyber dating and the foreigners who have treated Machu Picchu’s rich past with disrespect, Velástegui delivers a fiercely original, deeply imagined, and beautifully rendered novel in which timeless struggles of love and hate, life and death, and treachery and loyalty play out within the mystical ambience of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.