Thursday, September 9, 2021

Shadow Music by Helaine Mario Teaser

In a little over a week Helaine Mario's Shadow Music third in her books featuring Maggie O'Shea releases from Oceanview Publishing so I thought it would be fun to have a little teaser post to get you all ready for it. Be sure and check back on release day because Helaine is sponsoring a FABULOUS giveaway.
Enjoy the teaser!

It all started in 2015 with The Lost Concerto when readers were first introduced to Maggie
Here's a link to my feature-

SILVER WINNER: 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards
FINALIST: 2016 National Indie Excellence Awards
FINALIST: 2016 International Book Award – Mystery/Suspense Category

A woman and her young son flee to a convent on a remote island off the Breton coast of France. Generations of seafarers have named the place Ile de la Brume, or Fog Island. In a chapel high on a cliff, a tragic death occurs and a terrified child vanishes into the mist.

The child’s godmother, Maggie O’Shea, haunted by the violent deaths of her husband and best friend, has withdrawn from her life as a classical pianist. But then a recording of unforgettable music and a grainy photograph surface, connecting her missing godson to a long-lost first love.

The photograph will draw Maggie inexorably into a collision course with criminal forces, decades-long secrets, stolen art and musical artifacts, and deadly terrorists. Her search will take her to the Festival de Musique, Aix-en-Provence, France, where she discovers answers to her husband’s death, an unexpected love—and a musical masterpiece lost for decades.

A compelling blend of suspense, mystery, political intrigue, and romance, The Lost Concerto explores universal themes of loss, vengeance, courage, and love.

Then in 2018 Helaine brings us Dark Rhapsody and we all get to know Maggie just a bit better
Here's my blog feature for Dark Rhapsody-

Perfect for fans of Sandra Brown and Iris Johannsen.

In 1945, an Austrian girl discovers a priceless Nazi treasure near a remote alpine lake and sets in motion a decades-old secret that will change lives for generations to come.

Many years later, classical pianist Maggie O'Shea is preparing her return to the world of music. Instead, a nightmare of a haunting rhapsody and hundreds of roses from a deranged stalker propel her into a world of terror. Forces drive her to revisit the mystery of her mother's death, her father's startling disappearance, and a terrible secret from World War II. Maggie finds herself on a collision course with a brutal, disfigured killer who threatens those she holds dear—an aging pianist with a long-buried secret, a haunted cellist, a charismatic Maestro, and the crusty retired colonel she has come to love.

Chord by chord, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody becomes the heart of this story of profound loss, courage and love. Music tells our stories ...

And on 9-21 Shadow Music will release and Helaine's publisher Oceanview Publishing has graciously given me permission to share an exclusive excerpt with my readers of the Prologue and Chapter 1.

Read an excerpt:








APRIL, 1985


One final flash of light caught the faces of the two women hiding in the trees. Then the sun disappeared beyond the hills.

As the air filled with purple light, edges blurred, shadows lengthened. It was the time of day when shapes grew indistinct, when it became much harder to see. It was both a blessing and a curse.

The women crouched beside a tumble of broken stones in a copse of birch trees that stood, close and dark, on the crest of a low hill. Below them, a meadow of waving grasses sloped toward a rushing stream. On the stream’s far bank, a curve of dirt road. Remnants of rusting barbed wire and broken electric fencing flashed silver in the last of the light.

Beyond the stream, Austria. Freedom.

Donata Kardos, the younger of the two, lifted her chin to listen. No truck engine. But no beat of horse hooves, either. No searchlight spearing the dusk, no howl of the dogs. This land, so close to the natural barrier of Lake Neusiedl, was no longer heavily patrolled. Now the only sounds were the brush of new April leaves in the evening breeze and the whisper of geese wings, high overhead, coming home.

Home. She searched the meadow, the ribbon of road just beyond the fence, the shallow stream where she had played as a child. Water, swollen by spring rains, frothed over stones covered in moss.

Donata turned to gaze over her shoulder. The burned-out shell of the once beautiful old abbey rose behind her, the ancient stones etched black against the darkening sky. She would never study her beloved theology texts within those thick walls or walk in the shaded cloisters. She would never take her vows there and pray freely in the abbey’s now-silent gardens.

Her parents rarely spoke of those fearful days after World War II, when the Soviet tanks had invaded her country, rumbling into the towns, imprisoning their leaders, setting fire to schools and churches and culture and lives. The Iron Curtain had slammed down years before she was born, and her future had disappeared like the abbey’s red embers, spinning high into the starless night sky. The Soviets—and Hungary’s Secret Police—had closed not only the borders, but so many of the minds and hearts of her countrymen as well. If only

Strong fingers gripped her arm, wrenching her back to the present.

“Where is the truck, Donata? You said your cousin would be here by now!”

Donata turned to the young woman who knelt on the earth beside her—her closest friend since the age of two, when Tereza and her family had moved into the Budapest apartment next to hers. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the gorgeous strains of Tereza’s father’s violin through the thin walls . . .

Now Tereza was just eighteen, so petite and rounded, with waist-length hair the color of rubies. While she was just the opposite—three years younger, tall and whip-thin, her shaggy jet hair cropped short. In the gathering dusk, Tereza’s ivory skin was almost translucent, her beautiful blaze of hair hidden beneath a drab gray shawl and her body stiff with growing fear.

Donata put a reassuring hand on her friend’s arm. “Pavel will come. Have faith, Reza.”

She saw the disbelief in the wide blue eyes, too bright with tension above the long dark coat. Tereza Janos turned away with an impatient shake of her head and shifted to pull the over-sized canvas duffel bag closer to her body.

Just hours earlier, in the small bedroom on the outskirts of Sopron, Donata had watched her friend pack and re-pack that bag, knew it held warm clothing, bank notes, photographs, and the treasures Tereza’s father had left behind the night the soldiers came for him—his Guarnari violin, now wrapped carefully in a heavy woolen jacket, and a painted canvas, almost one meter in length, rolled inside a silk pillowcase. She’d had just a glimpse of one small corner—two glowing chromium-yellow stars against a swirling sky of deep velvety blue.

Donata sighed, shifted, returned her eyes to the road. Only fifty meters down the slope from their hiding place, but it seemed like an ocean away. It was so open, so exposed. What if . .         

She forced the fear from her head. Pavel would come.  

Still no headlamps. She tried to see her watch in the fading light. The truck was late. The patrol had passed by more than an hour earlier. They would return within twenty minutes. Where was Pavel?

She slipped her hand into the deep pocket of her cloak, gripped the small pistol she had stolen just days before from a mason in the village. Could she use it? Yes, if she had to. She would do anything for Tereza. Please, she prayed. We're ready. Let the truck come. Let . . .

A small wail broke the stillness.

Both women froze, their eyes flying to the infant nestled in a soft rose-colored blanket against Tereza’s breast. The baby shifted, making small breathy sounds in her sleep.

“Hush, Gemma Rozsa, hush,” whispered Tereza, holding her child close. Her wide eyes found Donata’s, too aware of the danger. Any sound could alert the patrols. Or the Dobermans.

How did we get here, thought Donata. Two frightened girls and a tiny baby with hair the color of roses, hiding from soldiers and dogs as the light falls from the day.

“Come with us, Donata,” whispered Tereza against her cheek. “You can take your vows in Austria, become a nun there.”

Donata reached out to smooth the child’s wispy copper curls. “You know I can’t, Reza. There is no easy choice when your country is occupied. Your father understood that. You leave, escape to the West. Or you stay and fight. Change is coming, I know it. Not long now. I hear the whispers.”

“Part of me wants to stay here with you.”

“Ah, Reza, I know. Because part of me wants to go with you and my godchild. But our church needs me more than ever. I have no choice but to stay. And you have no choice but to leave.”

“Your church had to go underground, Donata!”

“All the more reason to stay.” Donata gazed down at the sleeping infant. “You have to protect my godchild. Her father will not rest until he finds his daughter, you know that. That’s why we are here, instead of the border crossing at Nickelsdorf. They are watching for you, Reza!”

“Oh, God. I know you’re right. But what if we—”


The two women stared into the dim light as the small truck halted down by the road. The headlights blinked once, twice, then went out. They could just see the shape of a man emerge, waving his arms at them. Then he began to open the broken, twisted fence with wire cutters.

“It’s Pavel.” Donata bent to heft the heavy duffel bag to her shoulder and held out a hand to her friend. “You can do this, Tereza. For Gemma Rozsa.”

Holding hands, with the child clutched against Tereza’s chest, the women began to run across the grass. It was almost full dark now, the tall trees standing like sentinels against the last of the fiery sky.

The bright day is done, thought Donata. And we are for the dark.

The stream beckoned, sparking silver in the twilight. Fifteen meters. Ten. Five. And then they were at the stream.

The water was cold, the rocks underfoot sharp and slippery. Donata went first, balancing on the stepping stones. Behind her, Tereza stumbled, pulling her hand away. Donata clamored up the muddy riverbank, reaching the fence just as Pavel tossed a thick rug across the sharp strands of broken wire and held out his gloved hand through the opening in the fence. “Hurry!” he whispered.

Donata tossed the duffel bag to Pavel and turned to help her friend. Tereza had frozen several yards behind her, on the edge of the stream, her head lifted, breath rasping. Her shawl draped like a veil over her head so that she looked like a Madonna in the halo of soft evening light.

What did she hear?

The howl of a dog on the wind.

Terror iced along Donata’s spine.

A searchlight speared the air, edged toward them across the grass. Three soldiers on horseback appeared from the shadows, black and indistinct, riding toward them. A shout. A gunshot broke the stillness, startling the blackbirds from the trees. More shots, closer.


Donata ran back into the water, saw her friend stagger toward her, hunched to shield the child in her arms. In surreal slow motion, one of the soldiers raised his rifle. A flash of fire in the shadows, a deep, agonized cry. Nyet, nyet!

Tereza stiffened, startled, shock flaming in the suddenly blurred blue eyes. A bright red stain appeared high on her breast.

“Reza!” Donata lunged toward her friend.

Tereza thrust her child into Donata’s arms. “You take her, Donata,” she gasped. “Take her to freedom. Keep her . . . from her father. Keep . . . her safe . . .”

“No!” cried Donata. “No, Reza. Not without you. Please, no . . .”

But now the whimpering baby was in her arms, wrapped against her body, and she felt Pavel’s strong arms dragging her through the fence. “Come!” he cried. “Get in the truck! You cannot help her now.”

A jagged barb tore her arm. As if caught in a nightmare, Donata heard more gunshots, a shout in Russian, the sharp barking of the dogs. She saw Tereza fall in slow motion to the riverbank. So still.

She felt Pavel push her into the truck, heard the gears grind as the wheels caught the road and the truck roared forward. Clutching her tiny goddaughter to her chest, Donata twisted to look out the window.

In the new darkness, the scene in the meadow was dreamlike. The air glowing purple and silver with ambient light. Three soldiers, standing frozen and black against the vast shimmering sky. Her best friend crumpled on the ground, one slender arm stretched toward the fence, her hair glinting like fire in the last of the light. The gray shawl, fallen beside her, was red with her blood.

And then the truck careened around a bend, and Reza was gone.






“Like a shadow, like a dream…”

The Iliad, Homer









Maggie O’Shea’s fingers flew over the piano keys, the final tumbling chords of Chopin’s Heroic Polonaise soaring, filling the museum’s high, glass-walled courtyard with the chords of its glorious coda.  Too soon, the last notes echoed.  Then silence.

She dropped her head, trying to breathe, her hands suddenly, achingly still.  And then the applause began, rising to thunder in the lofty glassed space.  Maggie opened her eyes and willed herself back to earth.  Back to the beautiful Boston Museum of Fine Arts atrium.  Night was falling, and she saw herself reflected in the tall windows, a slender black-haired woman in a tube of charcoal velvet. 

Her eyes found the huge atrium’s centerpiece – the forty-foot high lime-green Icicle Tower, the gorgeous blown glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly.  Sometimes, when she played, an aurora of bright colors flew like silken ribbons across her mind.  Sometimes the roof disappeared and she felt herself flying high into the star-filled sky.  For darker pieces, she found herself wandering alone, lost in deep shadows.  And sometimes she simply stepped into the music like a river and flowed with it.  Felt it flow through her.  Today, those lime-green glass crystals had tumbled through her head.  What would Chopin have thought?

Amused, she took another breath to center herself once more in the here and now. 

Maggie stood, turned to the audience, gave the slightest bow.  Faces floated like cameos, light and dark, in front of her.  Then the guests rose, surged toward her.  She smiled, murmured thanks, clasped hands, answered their questions as honestly as she could.  Yes, Chopin’s Polonaise is one of my favorite pieces.  No, I won’t be soloing with the BSO until later this summer.  I, too, find a definite link between color and music…        

The number of classical music lovers she met never ceased to astonish her.  Some so knowledgeable and educated, many musicians themselves.  But others who simply gave themselves up to the sheer emotion and beauty of the rhythms and melodies.   It was why she did what she did - because music filled the emotional spaces, resonating long after the room fell silent.  The year after her husband’s death, when she had been unable to play the piano, was the longest, most terrible year of her life.  Where words fail, she thought, music speaks.

Now, finally, after months of therapy and hard work, she was making music again.  At the invitation of the museum, she had performed several short piano pieces this afternoon, all connected, in different ways, to the museum’s current exhibit.  Musical Paintings - an exhibition focusing on the music in art, and the close links between painters and musicians of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Once more her eyes swept the huge glassed gallery, which showcased Picasso’s Three Musicians, Renoir’s Dancing Girl with a Tambourine.  On the far wall, Degas’ Orchestra Musicians, Georgia O’Keefe’s undulating Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, on loan from the Whitney.  Today she had played in honor of Paul Cezanne’s Girl at the Piano, choosing several intimate pieces to complement the dark and light contrasts of his enigmatic oil.  She had played three beautiful Liszt etudes, followed by a Debussy Prelude, included because of his Impressionist technique, and – just because the Cezanne stirred thoughts of Chopin within her – the Polonaise.

Maggie smiled and shook her head.  Time to return to her apartment and music shop in Beacon Hill.  But first – her gaze trailed to the modern, open staircase across the atrium.  Just one more visit to her favorite gallery.  She laid a palm on the smooth dark wood of the Steinway, grateful for its clear, rich sound before she turned away.  We did good today, she told the still-warm instrument.

As she moved past a group of men and women in animated discussion, one voice caught her attention.

“How does every Russian joke start?” asked a deep, rumbling voice behind her.  “By looking over your shoulder!  Ha!”

Who laughs at his own jokes that way?

In spite of herself, Maggie turned.  An older man in the group murmured something to a tall, bearded guest and then moved toward her.  Maggie found herself looking up into heavy-lidded, burning dark eyes.

“Madame O’Shea?”  The accent was Eastern European.

“I am Maggie O’Shea, yes.”  The man standing in front of her had a broad Slavic face and a thick wrestler’s build.  His bullet-shaped head was clean-shaven, with a salt and pepper shadow across a strong jaw. A heavy gold necklace sparked against the white cotton of his open-necked dress shirt.  An interesting look. 

His hand reached to close over hers in a warm, firm grip as he bowed from the waist.  “It is not often that someone gets my attention the way you did.  I was lost in my thoughts – and then suddenly I heard your music.  I looked up, astonished.  Who was playing that piano, creating that sound?  I had to meet you.”

“And now that you have?”

“Now I am more taken than ever.  Please allow me to introduce myself.  I am Yuri Belankov.  Ex-violinist from St. Petersburg.”  Laughter boomed deep in his chest.  “Very ex.  It was a long time ago.  It is indeed a pleasure to meet you.”

“And you, Mr. Belankov.  I always enjoy meeting a fellow musician.  Ex though he may be.”  She smiled at the handsome Russian.

“Your husband was right.  You play like no one else I’ve ever heard.”

Maggie froze.

Breathe.  You never knew when you might be blindsided by the ghosts of memory.  She’d learned that grief was like that – quiet for a while, and then suddenly, when she least expected it, it would come roaring back like an ocean wave, knocking her flat.  A scent, a voice, a silhouette beyond a darkened window…  

Just ghosts, she reminded herself.  You’re stronger now, not the same woman you were.  It’s okay.

Maggie stepped closer to Belankov.  “You knew my husband, Johnny O’Shea?”

“He interviewed me for a story he was doing on Russian businessmen, some twenty months back.  September, I think.  A sharp man, a brilliant writer, eh?  And we played chess twice.  He actually almost beat me the second time.  Well, of course I could not let that happen.”  A broad smile.  “He talked about you, naturally, assured me that I would never hear anything more beautiful than you playing his beloved Rachmaninoff.”

She smiled with memory.  “Rachmaninoff was Johnny’s favorite composer.  I hope you were not disappointed today?”
            “Not at all.  I brought my old friend Kirov to hear you –” he gestured to the attractive, bearded man in the crowd of guests behind them.  “He owns a very high-end art gallery in Manhattan.”

Looking past Belankov, Maggie was surprised to see the stranger’s light, intense eyes inexplicably resting on her.  Kirov.  Tall and very handsome, with a dashing, dark clipped beard.  In the narrow European suit, his body had an arrogant grace.  Did she know him?

“He looks like a Romanov prince,” she murmured.

“Ha, he will love that,” said Belankov.  Looking down at her, he admitted, “Today I was hoping for the sounds of home - a Scriabin prelude, perhaps, or Stravinsky’s Sonata.  But your Chopin...  Dazzling.  You play as if you know something about loss.”  He bent closer.  “Which, of course, you do.  I am sorry about your husband’s death.”

Maggie felt herself go pale.  “Thank you.  It’s been eighteen months, but I still miss him very much.”

The Russian nodded.  “I felt it.  You allow the music to break your heart.”

She closed her eyes.  “The heart will always grieve.  But the raw grief is gone now, and I’m actually finding happiness again.”

“As it should be.”

She nodded.  “Perhaps next time I can include one of your Russian composers.”

Muscular shoulders shrugged.  “I learned their music at my mother’s knee.  She especially loved the Firebird.”  The dark eyes flashed.  “She also told me, ‘Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.’  Ha!”

Maggie smiled again, relieved to be on less painful ground.  “I agree.  Your mother was a wise woman.”

Da.  She taught me to really listen.  ‘Just to hear is nothing, Lyubov Moya,’ she would say.  ‘Even a duck hears, eh?’”

            His deep, rumbling laughter enveloped her. 

Belankov swept two flutes of champagne from the silver tray of a passing waiter and offered one to her.  “Will you join me in a toast, then?”  His smile was broad, crinkling his eyes.

“Thank you.”  Maggie accepted the crystal, raised it toward him.  “To your mother.”

Za tee bya.  And to your husband.”  He raised a peppered brow in admiration as he touched his glass to hers with a small clink.  “May tonight be the best night of all, and the worst of the nights to come.”

“Good words.”  Maggie gazed at him thoughtfully over the rim of her glass.  “What story brought you and my husband together, Mr. Belankov?”

“Two things we had in common,” he said softly.  “Art and music.  My colleagues and I run a Think Tank in Washington dedicated to improving US-Russian relations.”

“Good luck with that,” she muttered.

Belankov shook his head mournfully.  “I admit, Mr. Putin does not make it easy.  But we take the cultural approach, who can argue with that?  Shared art exhibits, ballet company and symphony orchestra tours.  At the time we met, your husband was interested in a Raoul Dufy I had acquired.  Red Orchestra.  Exquisite, you would love it.  In fact, your husband tried to buy it for you, but I could not bear to part with it.”

“That’s so Johnny,” she said softly.

Da,” said Belankov.  “And now, I am in the midst of arranging a tour of the U.S. by the New Russian Symphony Orchestra.”  He handed her a creamy embossed business card. 

Maggie took the card, slipping it into the pocket of her dress.  “I’ve heard of the orchestra, of course, they’ve taken the music world by storm.  Maestro Zharkov has made quite a name for himself.”

“Valentin Zharkov is indeed larger than life, an absolutely mad talent.  Like you.”  He wagged thick peppered brows at her.  “He’s conducting in London for the next week, at the Royal Festival Hall.”

“I’ve played at the Festival Hall,” said Maggie.  “A gorgeous space for music, on the south bank of the Thames.  I’m flying to London on Saturday night.  Perhaps I can attend one of Zharkov’s concerts.”

“It’s an all-Russian program, Madame O’Shea.  I will get you the ticket myself.”  Belankov smiled, leaned closer.  “Is there any way I could convince you to solo with Maestro Zharkov and his orchestra one night when they come to the states?  Please.  How could you say no to your husband’s beloved Rachmaninoff?”


                                                + + +


“Call me Yuri, please.” 

In the Boston Museum’s soaring Atrium, Yuri Belankov gazed down at the lovely pianist standing spine-straight in front of him.  Up close, she was slight and slender, with a mass of night-black hair caught up on her head and remarkable eyes the deep green of a St. Petersburg river.  Her only jewelry was a delicate necklace, its small gold treble clef glinting in the hollow of her throat.  

He turned, gestured toward the beautiful contemporary painting on the wall behind him.  “Vasily Kandinsky was born in Moscow, did you know that?  His Composition 8 is one of my favorite pieces of art.  The richness of the colors, all those flowing geometric forms.  Aggressive and still quiet, da?  Yet it comes together in total harmony.  It looks like music.”

“It does,” said Maggie slowly, stepping closer to gaze at the swirling shapes.  “It’s as if the artist translated music into something for the eye.”

“And you know art, Madame O’Shea.”

She shook her head.  “Oh, Lord, no, almost nothing.  But I crossed paths with a beautiful Matisse this past fall and it reminded me that visual art, like music, can convey powerful emotions.  So I’ve been coming here to the museum whenever I’m in town to learn more.”

He leaned toward her.  “And to be inspired, for your music.”

“Yes.”  She glanced toward the grand floating staircase that led to several of the galleries.  “I have found inspiration here.”

“Your Matisse – was it the Dark Rhapsody?”
Her brows arched in surprise.  “Yes, how did you know?”

“I read about it in the Times.  A priceless painting looted during World War II, a missing heir… a fascinating story.  I have a modest art collection myself.”

“Russian artists, no doubt?” she said with a smile.

“Except for the Dufy, of course.  Popova, Malyutin, Larionov.  A small Chagall.  Did you know Chagall was born in Belarus?”

“I had no idea.”

He bent toward her.  “Is it too much to hope that you would tell me the story of Matisse’s Dark Rhapsody?”

The woman standing before him glanced at the tall darkening windows.  “Perhaps another time.  It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Belankov.  But it’s getting late and I have one more stop to make before going home, so I will have to say goodnight.”

“Of course, I understand.  The pleasure has been mine.  I hope our paths will cross again, Zvezda Moya.”

She gave a faint, questioning smile as she turned away. 

Belankov watched her merge into the crowd, then gestured to his tall, bearded comrade.  Nikolai Kirov crossed the room to join him, his light eyes on Maggie O’Shea. 

“She is very beautiful,” murmured Kirov.

Da,” agreed Belankov.  “Second thoughts, old friend?”

Nyet.  She is a means to an end.  That is all.”

Belankov put a hand on Kirov’s shoulder.  “For both of us, Niki.  Each of us will get what we want.”   Leaning closer, Belankov lowered his voice.  “So.  I saw you taking a call.  Have you found the boy?”

“Not yet,” said Kirov, his eyes still on the retreating figure of the pianist.  “But I have a lead – a Russian in Hazelton Prison, who was very close to the boy’s mother.”

“I am a patient man, but not this time.  We are partners, we have a deal.  My priority is to find the painting.  But yours is to help me find the boy.  Find him, Kirov.”

“I will.”

Belankov put a hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “I have known you for most of my life, Niki,” he said.  “Something is bothering you, I sense it.  What is wrong?”

Kirov shook his head.  “Nothing I can’t handle, Yuri.  For now, just know that my men are searching every inch of Brighton Beach.  We will find the boy.”

Belankov nodded slowly.  “Soon, Niki.  As my Little Mother always said, ‘Nyet cheloveka, nyet problem.’” 

If there is no person, then there is no problem.

Kirov smiled as he turned away and disappeared into the crowd.

Belankov watched him thoughtfully.  We all have a dark side, old friend

Then, once more, his eyes found Maggie O’Shea, now at the far side of the grand foyer near the high stairway.   Where was she going? 

You can leave me for now, Magdalena, he told her silently.  But the stage is set.  I need to know what your husband told you before he died.  Our paths will cross again. 

Sooner than you know.





I hope you've enjoyed this walk down Maggie memory lane and the teaser for Shadow music
Be sure and stop back on 9-21 for my release day blog feature.

About Helaine:

Helaine Mario is the author of four novels of suspense, Firebird (Amazon), and the award-winning Classical Music Suspense Series, The Lost Concerto, Dark Rhapsody, and Shadow Music, coming 9/21/21 from Oceanview Publishing.

Helaine, a Boston University graduate, has been married 50+ years and lives with her husband Ron in Arlington, VA.  She is grateful to be a two-time cancer survivor and is most proud of her two children and five beautiful grands.

Helaine was a White House volunteer for Al and Tipper Gore and continues to be a passionate advocate for women & children.  Because she believes in “giving back,” she founded The SunDial Foundation in 1998 and the ‘Helaine and Ronald Mario Fund’ continues this work.  Royalties from her books support reading, music and food programs for children and families. 

Music and art are at the heart of Helaine’s stories.  Maggie O’Shea, the pianist in her series, was inspired by Helaine’s son, Sean, who studied piano for fifteen years.  Shadow Music continues Maggie’s story.


Helaine wants to invite the reader in, create characters with depth, and paint pictures with words.  To make people feel, to ask “What would I have done?”  She says, “Music tells our stories.”