Ilena Holder was born and raised in southwestern Michigan. The area is known for fruit production and she worked in different summer jobs picking and packing fruit for shipment as a child and teenager. Like all the children of farm families in the area, she was rounded up for picking when blackberries and strawberries were ripe in the fields. At this time, no mechanical pickers had been invented yet. Grapes were cut from the vines with clippers and peaches, plums, and apples were picked by hand in the orchards. All the farm neighbors and their children worked side by side into the night until the fruit was picked. Ilena also worked at a local riding stable, teaching lessons and working as a stable hand. She learned English balance seat riding from the age of ten and elementary dressage. Reading always helped pass the long cold Michigan winters. At eighteen, she joined the Navy to see the world. She never dreamed she would be stationed so far from home, in southern Spain. From here she was able to travel to places she only dreamed of as a child. When she finished her four year enlistment, she went to college for two years on the G.I. Bill. Ilena is married for 31 years with one child, and lives in northern Alabama. She is a member of the Heart of Dixie writers group, the Romance Writers of America, and ROMVETS, a group composed of woman veterans of the armed services who write romances.