About Me

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Clare writes inspirational romance, usually of a suspenseful nature. Her books are available through her publisher Pelican Book Group and Amazon. She is married with three kids and lives in the UK. She loves watching sci-fi, crime drama, cross stitching, reading and baking.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Me and Jake by Boo Riley



Blurb

Ty told his twin brother, Cameron, that he felt like something was going to happen to change their lives. Little did he know how prophetic that statement would be, or how soon it would come to pass. What seems like a series of coincidences are anything but, and what’s more amazing, Ty’s coon dog, Jake, might not be a dog at all.

Character Interview   


1.      Tell us you’re your name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Ty Ray. I have a twin, Cameron, but we don’t look alike. Don’t think alike either, but well, we’re 14 and going into the 9th grade. And I have a coon dog. His name is Jake, and he only has one eye, but he gets by just fine. Besides my brother, Jake is my best friend. He picked me, Jake did. Come out of the woods one day and walked straight to me, wagging his. He’s been by my side ever since.

2.      Tell us where you live and why you chose to live there.

Me and Cameron live back in the woods a piece, just outside of Ozark, Arkansas. We live with our dad and Momma Ray. She isn’t our ma, but that’s what she likes to be called. We haven’t seen out real ma since she signed us over. We didn’t choose to live here, weren’t old enough. Me and Cameron have been talking about that very thing for some time now. We’ve about decided we do have another choice and might make a move at any time.

3.      What is your favorite thing to eat and drink?

I don’t have a favorite thing. Come to think on it, I don’t believe there is anything I don’t like, especially at school. A lot of kids don’t like school lunch. I do. Cameron too. Sometimes, I’ll bring home a school burger or hotdog one of the other kids doesn’t want, so I can share with Cameron and Jake.

4.      Tell us about your special lady. What makes her special?

I don’t have a girlfriend right now. Though, I’d like to talk about stuff like that with my friend Cindy. She is in some of my classes and we ride the bus together. She’s like the morning rain compared to some of my classmates. She listens to me. Looks at me. When we talk, I forget everything but her.



Author Bio

David Arp (AKA Boo Riley) was born in Arizona, raised in Texas, and lives in Colorado. He’s 60, but has only spent half of the past 40 years at home. The other half he traveled and worked the oilfields of the world, from the deserts of the Middle East to the vast oceans offshore. When he’s not busy on a drilling rig, he spends his time writing, floating a river in his raft fly fishing, horseback, or hunting.


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A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn



Blurb:
With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.

When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

Read to the end of the post for an author giveaway!


 Author Interview

How did you come up with your premise? Is there a story behind your book? How did the story evolve?

A Love Restored is based on my true-life love story with my husband, Mike—all of our ups and downs, including our emotionally devastating break up. Like my full-figured heroine, Ruth Ann, I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life. That struggle plays an important part in our story. My own journey to self-acceptance, as well as what a loving God will do to grab a stubborn woman’s attention, are pivotal to the story line.

When I first began writing, I tinkered with a story about Irish mail-order brides (the whole mail order bride thing just fascinates me). Hubby read it, told me it “wasn’t bad,” then suggested I write our story. Skeptical, I questioned him. “Are you sure. I mean you don’t look so good in that story for a long time.” He grinned and responded, “Yeah, but I think it turned out all right.” I’d have to agree. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary in mid-June.

Are there any fun titbits about this story you can share with us?

Because the characters are based on my husband and myself, some of the dialogue comes directly from our conversations and there are many “inside jokes” included in the story that hopefully convey to the reader the playfulness between hubby and myself. For example, my hero, Benjamin Coulter, learned to make pies and cookies from his grandmother, just like my husband, Mike. When Ruth Ann serves the apple pie Benjamin made, she took care to steal the point from both their pieces, surprising Ben. This mimics our own tradition of stealing the point from each other’s pie. Not to be outdone by “Ruthie,” Benjamin sneaks into the kitchen and cuts a hole in the center of the other pie—making certain no slices will have a point!

I’ve had several comments from readers about this scene. Let me tell you, yes it happened just that way—Thanksgiving 1990, our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple. The thing that I really found funny was that hubby just let the pie sit on the counter, confident I’d discover it at some point. My jaw dropped when I saw the hole in the middle of that beautiful pie. What a stinker!

How did you decide on the setting?

Since I’ve always been a huge history geek, setting the story in the 19th century was an obvious choice. I’ve lived in Loudoun County, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, since 1972. My fictionalized town of Catoctin Creek is loosely based on my hometown of Purcellville, Virginia. In 1874, the Washington & Ohio railroad opened their station in Purcellville, an event that I capture in A Love Restored. My hero, Benjamin Coulter, is an apprentice surveyor with a Land Mapping Agency responsible for the route the new rail line will take.

When will it be released? A Love Restored released June 29th from Pelican Book Group and is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK and Barnes and Noble

Where were you born? Alexandria, Virginia about 45 minutes from where I live now.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Definitely in Virginia, but I’d like to go into the mountains more—perhaps Smith Mountain Lake, Pearisburg or even Lexington (though that’s more of the Shenandoah Valley I suppose).

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you or you witnessed that made you laugh so hard you couldn’t catch your breath?

This past May I attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference. One of the continuing education classes I took was “Speaking for Writers.” As part of the class we had to give a five-minute presentation. I thought we were all beginners but as the ladies took their turns it became obvious they were way more polished and experienced than I was. I started panicking and my mind quickly devised a list of excuses to try and get out of the assignment. As soon as we were dismissed I headed for the nearest bathroom. Relieved to find it unoccupied, I made a bee line for the large handicap stall. Frustrated that fear was ruling my heart and mind, I gave myself a good talking to. “What is the matter with you Goshorn. Get a grip. Stop crying like a baby. You know better. How many times are you gonna fight this battle? You know the Lord is calling you to do this.” About now I’m finding my stride, the Holy Spirit is rising in me and I know the devil is gonna get a good old-fashioned but kicking. “You are a child of the King and you don’t have to take this crap from anyone! Satan, in the name of Jesus, I’m telling you to get out of my head. You are defeated!” As the sweet peace of the Holy Spirit began to wash over me, I heard a voice -- in the next stall say, “Amen! Preach it, girl!” Turns out I wasn’t alone after all.

What music groups/artists blast from your CD player while you write?

Although I make playlists that inspire me for the story I’m working on (usually a mix of country and Christian songs), I typically listen to those when I’m mowing the lawn or riding in the car. When I’m writing, I need music without words, so I usually listen to classical or Big Band music.

Name some of your most favourite things.

Besides the obvious—family, friends & God? The colorful leaves in autumn, the view of the Blue Ridge mountains when I crest the summit at Clark’s Gap, my mother’s vegetable soup and my husband’s apple pie (with a crust from scratch), my Welsh corgi, Levi, an old, cracked pitcher and basin from the Criste farm (my paternal great-grandparents), playing Euro-style board games, and watching period dramas on the BBC.

Why did you begin writing?  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since 2010 and truthfully, I never saw it coming! So many writers I’ve talked to have wanted to be a writer since they were a child. Many have drawers full of half-written manuscripts. Me? Not so much. I had always enjoyed writing papers for my college classes, but I NEVER considered writing fiction. I’d been a successful in-home childcare provider for nearly twenty years, but I knew in my heart it was time to move on to something new. My husband and I began praying for God to give me a new direction, a new passion in my life I would undeniably know He’d planted in my heart. On a whim, I began tinkering with story writing and it didn’t take long for my secret hobby to become my God-given passion!

When you write do you start with a plot outline, a character sketch, how do you begin? How do you stay on course?

Since A Love Restored was based on my real-life romance with husband, Mike, I knew the basic plot line. But when I attempted to write my next story from scratch, I discovered that I’m not much of a plotter. That surprised me because I’m typically a very detailed, list-oriented type of person in my non-writing life. I usually write a character sketch for each of the principals and jot down any plot points I may know and then get started. If I get stuck, I call in reinforcements—close writing friends who will brainstorm with me.

Are you working on anything at the present you’d like to share with us? I’m very excited about the series I’m working on now, Surrendered Hearts. Set in Civil War Virginia, the series follows the Ashby family as they experience devastating losses and examines what happens when God calls us to surrender those things we hold most dear. This story will be set in nearby Hillsboro, Virginia, also in Loudoun County, not far from Catoctin Creek.

What are you reading now?

Right now, I’m reading For Love of Liberty by Julie Lessman.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Books like Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer, To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander, and A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman have not only entertained me but challenged me as a writer. I would love to have the combined artistry of these amazing writers—Karen’s humor, Tamera’s amazing descriptive talent, and Julie’s passion! That woman knows how to write a kiss!

Describe your writing space.

Umm…writing space? Have laptop will travel could be this writer’s tagline! LOL! I do have a desk in my crowded bedroom I use sometimes but because I get up very early, I usually write downstairs in the morning either at the kitchen table or the sofa. If the weather is nice, I might be found out back on the screened porch. I do dream of a lovely space to call my own like I’ve seen other writers post (like Deborah Raney) but I’m not jealous. No, not me.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I found it challenging to write my characters, Ruth Ann and Benjamin, who both struggle to come to terms with Ruth Ann’s fuller-figure, without making her look weak and pathetic nor him look shallow. I hope readers find them to be strong, good-hearted characters struggling with very human flaws who look to God and scripture for guidance and healing.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

The series I’m working on now, Surrendered Hearts, was largely inspired by country music songs like “Sweet Annie,” by the Zac Brown Band or “The Man I Want to Be,” by Chris Young as well as Christian titles like “Come to the Altar,” by Elevation Worship.

What genre would you like to explore that you haven’t tried to write in yet? Historical Romantic Suspense Will you? I think so. What would you never see yourself writing? Fantasy or Speculative

Do you really, really want a dog? Yes! I have one Welsh corgi, Levi, but I really, really wanted two dogs. I wanted to name them Mario & Luigi. Hubby said no.

What is your heritage? European--primarily Irish on my father’s side and German/Prussian on my mother’s. Although my sister recently had her DNA tested through Ancestry.com and we were surprised to discover we had about 17% Scandinavian as well. My sister loves to research the family genealogy and is working on an application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. Both sides of my family emigrated to the U.S. prior to the Revolution and we have at least one known direct ancestor who served in the Pennsylvania Rangers during that time.

Have you ever cried during a movie? All the time. I cry at Hallmark commercials, and reading greeting cards in Target, and looking at old pictures of my kids, and reading romance novels . . . basically, I’m an easy cry.

Do you sleep with the light on? No, but I often fall asleep with one on while reading.

What is your favourite pizza? Oh, tough question. Toss up between Hawaiian (ham & pineapple) and veggie (green peppers, onions & mushrooms).

Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning—early riser. Alarm usually goes off around 4:45 am and I’m out of bed by 5.

If you could see anyone tomorrow (dead or alive), who would it be? Probably my dad. He passed away when I was 13. This year will be 40 years since died. That’s unbelievable to me. When my sister was dying a few years ago, I would hold her hand and tell her, “you get to see daddy.” I was truly a bit envious.

Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

You can connect with Kelly on:







The giveaway.

Kelly has an ecopy of A Love Restored to give awayEach commentator will be entered into a hat draw to win. Please leave an email address by which Kelly can contact you with your answer to her question.


Your Turn: Since A Love Restored was set in Virginia and Kelly has lived there most of her life (except for a few short stints in the foreign countries of California and New York), she’d like to know where you’re from, how long you’ve lived there, and if you’d stay put or move somewhere else if you could.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A Tuscan Legacy - La Risposta - Autumn Macarther



One marriage ends, as another begins.
Or can faith and forgiveness save Peppe and Teresa's life together?

When the harvest celebrations and a family wedding bring the eight cousins back to the the villa at summer's end, along with their new beloveds, the final secrets are revealed, along with the solution to the puzzle of the unsigned paintings.
But can these secrets be forgiven, healing old wounds and mending broken hearts, or will the mistakes of the past be repeated?
The future of a marriage about to crumble depends on the answer!

Note to readers: this book uses British English and grammar.

A Tuscan Legacy is Book 9 in the series and brings it to an end.

extract:

Instead of returning to her vegetable garden, Teresa Pellegrini rushed into the farmhouse. Hidden behind heavy curtains, she watched the slender dark-haired woman trudge away, shoulders drooping, head lowered.
Resentment and fear roiled Teresa’s stomach as her gaze followed the woman to the farm gate then onto the road. Life was so unfair. Bile tainting her mouth, she swallowed.
Only when the woman and her friend rode off on their bicycles did she allow herself to slump into a chair and cover her face with her hands.
Dio Padre, what have I done?
At first, of course, she’d no idea who the visitor was. Just a passer-by who’d seen the gallery sign on the gate. Some of her best sales came that way.
Only after the woman showed her a photo filling the phone’s small screen did she guess. When she recognised the sunflower dress in the portrait — and the wearer. The Inglese. Then she knew who the visitor must be.
Knew who the artist was, too.
Though she hadn’t lied. She truly had never seen the painting before.
Rachel Golding, here in her gallery. As if God sent the woman here.  An uncomfortable reminder of the secret Tessa had kept, chewing its bitterness over and over these past months.
The secret she’d have to confess, sooner or later.
And when she did, her marriage would end. It would kill the little they had between them. She couldn’t do it. Even thinking the words she’d have to say made her tremble. Their life together bore no resemblance to the life she’d she dreamed of. No passion, no spark. But what they had was better than nothing.
Wrong though it felt to pray for God to help her hide what she’d done, it was all she could do. Pray her husband didn’t find out.
Because he would never forgive her for this.

Amazon UK           Amazon US

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Least Expected - Autumn Macarthur

I don't know about you but I love books set in the UK. Of course that could be because I live there. But I also love books in a series with secondary characters that then pop up in stories of there own.

Well you're in for a treat with this set. Because Least Expected ties into the Tuscan Legacy books in a most unexpected way. (Pun fully intended.) It tells the story of Rachel's mother, Maggie, and how she finds love when she hits her fifties.

Blurb:
Fall in love with these uplifting and inspirational romances set in London, Paris, and Edinburgh!

Books 2, 2.5, 3, and 4 in the Love in Store series of sweet and clean Christian romances celebrating love and faith, together for the first time in this collection! Each story follows a different couple connected to a grand old London department store through the trials and joys of falling in love, to their commitment to a happy-ever-after. Book 1 in the series, The Wedding List is available free, but there's no need to read it first, as each story is a complete romance.

Love in Store Book 2: Believe in Me
When Nick Gallagher, the Hollywood actor playing the store's celebrity Santa challenges Ms Scrooge accountant Cara to a Christmas dare, can she overcome her painful past and rediscover love, joy and faith? A heartwarming reminder of the importance of believing in God's promises, along with a lot of London Christmas sightseeing!

Love in Store Book 2.5: Least Expected
Maggie Golding, unconventional and artistic 50-something designer for the Christmas store windows at Pettett & Mayfields, never expected to fall in love with Edgar Pettett, staid and sensible heir to the business. 
Between her shaky faith, their huge differences, and his mother’s disapproval, how will they possibly work things out? 

Love in Store Book 3: A Model Bride
Christmas in London, New Year's Eve in Edinburgh, where next? Nothing in her Europe trip goes as Tiffany Gallagher planned, but when she meets wounded Scottish photo-journalist Mac while volunteering at a homeless shelter, she discovers God's purpose for her life is far more than she imagined! 

Love in Store Book 4: Forget Paris
When anti-romance researcher Zoe Gallagher meets Gabe Ross in Paris on Valentine's Day, even she finds it hard to resist the most romantic city in the world on the most romantic day of the year. Zoe tells herself their one wonderful day together proves nothing. But on her return to London, she discovers she needs Gabe’s help to learn the biggest lesson of all, that love does last. Especially God’s love…

Review:

Each story can be read alone. Each leaves you with a warm contented feeling. Don't make me pick a favourite, but if I had to it would be Maggie's story. Proof that life doesn't peak at 50. Love can be found for the first or second time for older women (and men)

Amazon links: 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A Tuscan Legacy book 8 - Dolce Vita by Autumn Macarthur


La dolce vita, a sweeter life of love, awaits Rachel. But can she accept it?

Rachel Golding loves her uncomplicated life in Wales. Teaching art, a close-knit group of friends, and a strong and loving bond with her mother. But the trip to Italy to meet her Italian grandmother for the first time stirs unwelcome emotions — reluctance to forgive Nonna for a lifetime of rejection, and longing to know more about the father who died before her birth. Between her cousin’s accusation she sent a series of mysterious unsigned paintings to get revenge on the family, her mother’s wedding, and her realization she feels way more than she should for her best friend Jonathan, Rachel’s carefully planned life is spiraling out of control.

Always ready for adventure, especially with the woman he loves, Jonathan Davies gladly accompanies Rach on an impulsive return journey to Tuscany. Okay, so he also hopes the time together might give him the chance to tell her how he really feels. But now she needs his friendship and support more than ever, revealing his love is a risk he dare not take. Not without some sign she wants more. A sign she may never give.

In the haze of a sunflower summer, can Rachel learn to surrender her hurts and fears to God and so embrace the life He intends for her? La dolce vita, a sweeter life of love.

Extract:


Chapter 1
RACHEL GOLDING STIFFENED AS THE MASTER OF CEREMONIES straightened his red tailcoat and tapped his gavel against its sounding block to request silence. Easy to guess what came next.
Wedding breakfast and the toasts concluded, just one tradition remained before the bride and groom left on their honeymoon.
Too late now to run to the bathroom in hopes of escaping.
And closing her eyes and covering her face wouldn’t make the embarrassment headed her way disappear, either.
“It’s time for all the single women to assemble on the dance floor. Come on, ladies. Don’t be shy! Who knows which one of you will be lucky enough to catch the bouquet the lovely bride
will be throwing in a few minutes?”
Sinking lower into her chair, wishing she could slip right under the table, she cringed at the MC’s jovial tones. Only one reason for Mum to include the bouquet toss when so many brides
now chose to give it a miss. That reason kept her firmly fixed in her ornate and uncomfortable gilded chair.
Jonathan nudged her gently with his elbow. “Go on, enaid. Maggie will be disappointed if you don’t. It’s not every day you get to be bridesmaid for your own mother.”
Huffing her exasperation, she shook her head at him. “And I’m thankful for that. Once is enough.”
“Why not let her have her fun? It’s just a silly game. Does it matter that she’ll throw it straight
at you?” Puzzlement sounded in his soft Welsh voice as his steady regard creased his tanned forehead.
How could she explain the uneasiness quivering her tummy? Not when she couldn’t quite explain it to herself. “I’ll be teased about being still single at thirty-three. You know me. Always
the bridesmaid, never the bride. That suits me fine.”
Quite true. She’d been bridesmaid over and over as all her friends married, one after another.
She hadn’t dated for years and didn’t miss it one bit.
Jon raised an eyebrow as something indecipherable flashed across his face. “What makes you so sure you’ll never marry?”
“Some of us are meant to stay single.” She waved a hand, pretending an airiness she didn’t totally feel. “I have my job, our church, and friends. Good friends, like you. That’s enough.”
Again, an unreadable expression flickered behind curved lips and intelligent eyes. “Yes, we are good friends. Enaid.”
Returning his smile, she touched his hand for a fleeting moment. “That was one of the first Welsh words you taught me. Dear friend. And we are.” Glancing at the group of women
assembling in the sunshine streaming through the ballroom’s tall mullioned windows, she sighed. “I don’t want to spoil Mum’s special day, but I’d rather not catch her bouquet, either. Besides, my feet hurt.”
He snorted and rolled his eyes. “Sounds like an excuse to me.”
“If only it was.” She twisted in her seat and extended one leg, showing him the three-inch bright-yellow heels Mum insisted she wear. “Sure, they’re a perfect match with the sunflower
print on this dress, but I’d like to see you try to walk in them. You know I only ever wear flats.”
“I doubt my feet would fit such dainty shoes. Yn anffodus.” Jon kept a straight face, even turned his lips down as if he regretted the fact. The laughter never far from his warm blue eyes
contradicted his lips.
Even a Londoner like her with no gift for languages had picked up enough Welsh in fifteen years living there to know he meant unfortunately, what a pity.
She smiled sweetly. “Jonathan, you’re my closest friend. I owe it to you to make sure you won’t be deprived of the experience. The daffodil yellow would be perfect for Saint David’s Day. When I go thrifting, I’ll look for a pair in your size. I’m patient. I’ll find them.”
At his loud guffaw, more than a few heads turned. Far more attention than she wanted to attract. “You’re too kind. I — ”
The MC interrupted whatever Jon intended to say. “All
the single women. I can see one still sitting. Over here, please. Don’t keep the bride waiting. She won’t throw that bouquet unless everyone is there.” His avuncular tone didn’t slip, but he threw Rach a pointed glance and inclined his head toward the women waiting on the dance floor. No point arguing that the widowed mother of the groom remained in her seat, too. Mrs Pettett was eighty-something, after all. Though
Rach had noted the attention the courtly older man at
her side paid her. Could be, another wedding wasn’t too far off.
Rach glanced at her mother. Her tranquil smile was far too ingenuous. Mum only smiled like that when plotting mischief.
“Sore feet or not, Maggie looks like she’ll wait all day if you don’t go.” Jon’s merry grin widened. “No need to ask who you inherited your stubbornness from.”
“I am not stubborn. I persevere. I’m patient. Big difference.”
Rach eyed him, then shook her head at his quizzical gaze. “Okay, so I guess I need to prove it.”
Pushing back from the table, she stood, wincing as she did. Her sore feet weren’t just an excuse. Gingerly baby-stepping toward the other single women, she kept her distance from the
group but tried not to make it too obvious.
Just far enough away to be out of the firing range of those flowers, she hoped. Turning her back, Mum launched the bridal bouquet over one shoulder and into the air.
The giggling women surged forward, but Rachel stayed put. One of the singles jockeying to catch the flowers could have them.
She’d underestimated her determined mother. The bunch of roses and stephanotis sailed high over the other women’s heads in a perfect arc. Rachel instinctively leaned forward to catch the bouquet before it crashed at her feet.
Why hadn’t she let it fall? Jon would tease her about this, for sure.
“Sorry.” Grimacing her apology to the group, she lifted the flowers.
Maggie spun to face them and clapped in glee. “Rachel! Perfect! God willing, you’ll be next.”
The inexplicable discomfort in the pit of Rach’s stomach worsened.
As the other singles scattered back to their seats, and the string quartet resumed Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, Maggie rushed across to her, calf-length creamy silk skirt billowing and
rainbow-toned hair dancing on her shoulders.
“I’m so glad you caught the bouquet.”
Wrapped in her mother’s warm hug, Rachel returned it with equal affection. With no other family but the two of them for almost all her life, they’d been closer than most mothers and
daughters.
Now Mum was married, everything would change. It already had.
“So, I can’t help thinking you planned this.” Picking up the flowers, she waved them at her
mother.
An intense floral scent wafted in the air. Memories of the fragrant jasmine in the villa garden in Italy tugged at her heart. Memories of the grandmother she’d refused to forgive for old sins, too.
You need to go back. You need to forgive her.
Rach pushed the unwanted whisper away. God could be a terrible nag sometimes. Though if she’d unbent a little to
Nonna, maybe she could have learned more about her father.
Mum inhaled deeply. “I love stephanotis. I chose it because it reminds me of Italy. I know your father would be happy I’ve found love again.” Reminiscence glowed in her face. “It’s
funny, since I met Ed, I’ve been far more able to let myself remember your father and all the good things about my summer in Tuscany. Though we were young and foolish, we truly did love each other.”
Almost as if she’d read Rachel’s mind. Her mother rarely spoke of Albertino, the father she’d longed to know more about since her unexpected trip to Italy in April. But with Mum blissfully in love and planning her wedding, it hadn’t felt right to ask.
Letting her tight lips soften, she rested her hand on Mum’s arm. Bitterness and fear and those memories of being left alone after Albertino’s death nearly stopped Mum finding the love she
deserved with Ed.
“One day, when you feel ready to tell me, I’d like to know more about Dad.”
Mum nodded, a hint of tears sparkling in her gaze.
Time to lighten the mood. Today wasn’t the day for tears. “Or should I say mi Papà, and start calling you Mammà?” Chuckling, Rach waved the bouquet again. “But don’t think I’m lettingyou off the hook for setting me up with these flowers.”
With a shaky laugh, Mum spread her hands. “Who, me? But I had my back to you.”
Her innocent expression didn’t wash.
Rach pointed to the large, heavily framed mirror on the
ballroom wall. “Facing that may have helped just a little.”
“Oops. You weren’t supposed to notice.” Her mother giggled, sounding no older than the fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds
Rach taught.
For the umpteenth time, she wondered who was the grown-up in their relationship. Far too often, their roles felt reversed. Not surprising she’d grown up craving stability.
She did not do change well.
And that explained her niggling discomfort about the bouquet, why it annoyed her so much.
“Mum, sorry. I’m overreacting to this bouquet thing. It’s just…I don’t need any pressure to make more changes when too much has changed already. You and Ed. The surprise invitation to
Tuscany. Meeting my grandmother and all those cousins.”
Maggie nodded, concern furrowing her brow. “I know this year hasn’t been easy for you. But now I’m married to such a wonderful man, I’d love to see you blessed with the same happiness.”
Mum stared across the room at her new husband, so much emotion glowing in her eyes Rach had to look away. Too much like eavesdropping on a private conversation.
“I’m glad for you.” She meant it, despite losing their old just-you-and-me relationship. “But I’m already happy. My life is full. Besides, I’m sure God doesn’t intend marriage for me. Catching a pretty bunch of flowers won’t change His plans.”
“No, it won’t. But sometimes He surprises us. The way He did me, with Ed. I just wanted to give you a nudge.” Maggie grinned impishly. “Or give Jon a nudge.”
Rach huffed again. If her feet weren’t so sore, she would have stamped them. “Mum, pur-lese. How many times do I have to tell you? Jon and I are friends. Not a couple. Surely it should be possible for a man and a woman to be good friends without everyone hinting at marriage!”
She glanced back to their table. As if he felt her gaze on him, Jon turned from the older man he’d been speaking to, met her eyes, and smiled. His sweet gentle smile, familiar and
comfortable as a favourite pair of jeans, warm as a thick woollen coat.
God already blessed her richly, giving her a good friend like him. Between her work, her church, the group house, and her friends, she didn’t need more.
Certainly didn’t need marriage.
“It’s just...” Mum hesitated, bit her lip, and ducked her head.
Rach lifted her gaze to the ceiling — something she seemed to do a lot around Mum. Though most ceilings weren’t quite as ornately panelled as the ones in Mrs Pettett’s overdecorated
English manor house. “It’s okay. Go ahead and say it.”
Doubt shadowed Maggie’s eyes. “I know you don’t welcome change. Growing up, you had too much of it. And I was a bad example, especially after you moved away to start college. I took
risks, behaved recklessly.”
“You did your best to take care of me and give me a stable home, in difficult circumstances. It can’t have been easy.”
And it shouldn’t have been as hard as it was. Anger tightened Rachel’s throat. With her Italian grandmother for refusing to acknowledge she existed for thirty-three years, living in her huge villa while Mum struggled. And with Mum’s parents, who’d rejected their daughter for years. Though they’d unbent enough to attend the wedding, they’d left immediately after the church ceremony today and pointedly ignored her attempts to speak to them.
Maggie shook her head. “I’m sorry, Rachel. I did my best, but sometimes it wasn’t good enough.”
“It’s okay, Mum,” she repeated. She wasn’t angry with Mum. Not one bit.
Her mother drew in a long audible breath.
Rach braced herself. Here it came. Whatever Mum had hesitated over saying.
“Sometimes when I look at you, I see a beautiful butterfly still in its chrysalis. It’s safe inside that shell, but to fly, to be all God created You to be and live the life He intends for you, you
need to spread your wings.”
For once, she had no quick comeback. She was living the life God wanted her to live. Wasn’t she?
Her mother continued speaking. “I’m so blessed by Ed’s unexpected love, so much more than I deserved.”
Phew! This, she had an answer for. “That’s grace. God always gives us more than we deserve. But you do deserve to be loved. I’m so happy for you and Ed.”
Mum smiled, more than a hint of “Gotcha” gleaming in her eyes. “If I deserve love, then you do, too. I want you to believe that. I want you to know this same sweetness I knew for a short time with Albertino, and found again with Ed when I least expected it. Dolce vita, the contessa I worked for in Italy called it. The sweet life. I have it now, after all these years. It’s time youstarted living it, too.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dolce-Vita-Sweet-Tuscan-Legacy-ebook/dp/B07C2KZ7HB

https://www.amazon.com/Dolce-Vita-Sweet-Tuscan-Legacy-ebook/dp/B07C2KZ7HB

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A Tuscan Legacy book 7 - Solo Tu by Narelle Atkins



Home means everything to Sienna Rossi.

Four years ago, Sienna defied her father by moving to Australia to obtain her teaching qualifications. Her grand plan is shaken by her father's unexpected death and a trip back to Tuscany for her grandmother's eightieth birthday where she renews her close bond with her sister, Alessa.

Teacher Dave Maxwell likes the freedom of his nomadic lifestyle. He works contract-to-contract, moving to different high schools around Australia. He's in Sydney for a season, caring for his grandma while his aunt is on an extended overseas vacation.

Back in Sydney, Sienna moves in with her Aussie cousins and starts her first teaching job, torn between her dream for a future in Australia and her longing for home. Sienna and Dave work at the same school, attend the same church, and quickly become friends. They are drawn together by circumstances and an undeniable attraction.

But their idyllic time together is temporary. Can the girl from Tuscany and the boy from Australia risk everything for love?

CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT

HER FIFTH AUTUMN IN AUSTRALIA wasn’t ending the way she’d planned.
Sienna Rossi jumped to the left, almost tumbling onto the soft Clontarf Beach sand. A soccer ball flew past and landed in the shallow water. A young family of five played ball together and a little girl giggled, clinging to her father’s shoulders.
Sienna regained her balance, a familiar yearning infusing her heart. She longed to be that little girl, delighting in her father’s attention. She longed to wind back the years and spend more time with her father and siblings. And she longed for a few more days, or even a few moments, with her Papà. But he was gone.
“Sienna!”
Sienna spun around, her heels digging into the sand.
Her cousin Billie stood twenty feet away with her husband, Zach. “We’re organizing the teams. Can you wait here?”
“Sure.” Beach cricket. The fun Aussie tradition Sienna had grown to love was next on her Saturday afternoon agenda.
A wind gust blew fine grains of golden sand over her bare arms and legs. Her ponytail anchored her baseball cap in place and sunglasses protected her eyes. In Sydney, it wasn’t unusual to wear shorts and t-shirts in late May.
Last week she’d worn summer clothing at the Italiano beach near the Amalfi Coast guest house where Mammà’s parents lived. Nonna Crisanti had given Sienna two birthday gifts to bring back to Australia. Handmade gifts Nonna Crisanti had chosen for her sisters who’d taken care of Sienna during her time in Australia.
Sienna had visited Nonna Rossi in Tuscany at the end of April. The whole family had returned to Villa Rossi for Nonna’s eightieth birthday party. Sienna had met Rachel, the cousin she’d never known existed. Family drama and intrigue were ongoing in the Rossi family. Sienna preferred to ignore it all. Her memories of growing up in Tuscany were bittersweet.
Billie walked hand-in-hand across the park with Zach. Family gatherings, including Sienna’s Aussie-Italian family on Mammà’s side, congregated in groups on the grass. Zach had planned a game of beach cricket with Dave, his friend from church, and Dave’s family.
Dave Maxwell. Billie had told her all about him. In detail. He’d fast gained eligible bachelor status in Billie’s eyes. How Billie knew so much when she’d only known him four months was beyond Sienna’s understanding.
Dave was a regular at Beachside Community Church, and a teacher at the local high school where Sienna had been hired as a languages teacher on a short-term contract. Billie had seen this as fate, that Sienna and Dave were destined to be a perfect match. Sienna had seen it as a logical coincidence. Over a thousand students attended the high school, and it had a large teaching staff.
Sienna untwisted the tangles in her ponytail then tossed it back over her shoulder. Her hair needed a trim before she started her new job on Tuesday. To save money she’d ask her hairdresser cousin, Jodie, to cut her hair.
Two trips back home to Tuscany this year had decimated her savings. She’d lost her retail job in January, after requesting leave to attend her father’s funeral. She couldn’t work full-time until her new visa came through, and she’d only picked up occasional days of casual teaching from February to April.
The picnic lunch, provided by her sweet elderly aunts who shared May birthdays, had turned her thoughts to home. Mortadella, salami, cheese, olives. Mouth-watering Italiano deli food and animated conversations in her native tongue with an Aussie twang had increased her yearning for Villa Rossi. At least her most recent trip home had been a celebration rather than a time of grief and mourning.
Billie returned with a tall man, his face shaded by a baseball cap. Sienna’s gaze was drawn to his muscular chest covered by a fitted red t-shirt and long legs beneath knee length running shorts. He must be Dave.
Billie made the introductions and offered an excuse to leave them. Alone.
Dave extended his hand, his eyes hidden by wrap-around sunglasses. “Sienna, good to meet you.”
She shook his hand, his palm soft and grip strong. Reassuring.
“Nice to meet you, Dave.” Her words sounded clipped and cautious to her discerning ear, as if she wasn’t a fluent speaker of English and three other languages.
He grinned. “I like your accent. Billie has told me a lot about you.”
Mamma mia! Sienna pushed her sunglasses further up the bridge of her nose, drawing attention to her least-favorite feature.
Dave appeared at ease, as if unaware of her discomfit. He removed his sunglasses and wiped the lens on a corner of his t-shirt, revealing a flat strip of toned stomach above his waistband.
She whipped up her head. Messa a fuoco. Think. Fast. “Do you play cricket?”
His hazel eyes held glints of yellow. “My favorite sport.”
“Are you any good?”
“You’ll soon find out.”
She nodded, guessing he was a brilliant player. Her limited cricket experience included a few indoor cricket competitions at university and social games with friends and family.
He adjusted the strap of his backpack, and slung it over his broad shoulder. “I’m glad we had a chance to meet before Tuesday.”
“Me too.” She dragged her teeth over her lower lip. “My first teaching gig for longer than a few days. No pressure, hey?”
“You’ll be fine. The girls in your staffroom can’t wait for you to start.”
“I heard the baby arrived early.”
“By six weeks, but it’s all good. Mum and bub are doing well.”
“I’m glad.”
He slipped his sunglasses back on. “Billie said you’re moving to Beachside Community Church.”
“Si.” A practical decision she’d made a few days ago. “Beachside is closer to home.”
“You’re living in Manly, right?”
“I’ve just moved into a brand-new apartment with my cousins.”
“Whereabouts?”
“Near Little Manly Beach.”
“The new high-rise tower with the café downstairs.”
“That’s the one. You know it?”
“I live up the road.”
She sucked in a shallow breath. Dave was her neighbor. An important detail Billie had neglected to mention.
Billie and Zach waved them over to a patch of grass further along the beach. A group had gathered around them, including a few kids.
Dave tipped his head in their direction. “It looks like it’s game on.”
“Yes.” She fell into step beside him. “Who’s playing from your family?”
“My older brother and uncle and a couple of cousins. It looks like we’ll have a few ring-ins to make up the numbers.”
She scrunched her nose. “Ring-ins?”
“Random people who join in. You haven’t heard that expression?”
“If I have, I don’t remember.”
“It must get confusing. You speak a few languages, right?”
“Only four.”
“Only four.” A playful tone underpinned his words. “I know you’re teaching Italian and French.”
“And Spanish.”
His grin revealed a cute dimple in his chin. “I’ll have to take you to Europe as my tour guide.”
Heat rushed up her neck, warming her face. The thought of being his personal tour guide . . .
Focus. Concentrate. Remember how to speak English. “That’s my sorellina’s job.”
“Your sorellina?”
“My little sister.”
“She’s a tour guide.”
“In Roma. Rome.” Alessa’s teasing would be relentless if she’d heard this conversation.
“Have you seen the Catacombs?” Dave asked.
Si. I was there a few weeks ago.”
“I’ve been to Paris, but I want to see the Catacombs in Rome.”
“Definitely worth a visit. Do you speak many languages?”
“Very poor French. Embarrassingly poor. You don’t want to hear it.”
She chuckled, his honesty disarming. “You teach English, right?”
“English I can do, but I’m teaching only one English class this year. History and geography are my focus.”
He was down-to-earth and could laugh at himself. An appealing trait. She liked him. Probably too much.


Interview:

1. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? 

My name is Sienna Rossi. I’m 23, and I speak four languages. I recently completed my studies to become a high school teacher.

2. Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there?

I’ve always been fascinated by Australia. I have great aunts and cousins on my mother’s side of the family who live in Sydney, Australia. When I completed my schooling in Tuscany, I moved to Sydney to attend university. I recently moved into an apartment in the Sydney beachside suburb of Manly with my Aussie cousins.

3. What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know?

I can’t stand being late, and I try to hide this from people who think my need to be early is weird. I feel happy if I’m at least ten minutes early and not keeping people waiting.

4. Name two things would you hate people to know about you?

I used to have heated verbal arguments, in private, with my father when I thought he was being unreasonable. I was raised to respect my elders and not argue with them.

My father wanted me to either stay at Villa Rossi or study in Italy. I defied him by going to Australia to study, and he withdrew his financial support. I ended up working long hours in retail jobs in Sydney to pay for my tuition. Nonna was stuck in the middle of my battle with my father. My siblings didn’t know about these problems. Only Nonna knew.

5. Tell us about your special man. What makes him special? 

Dave is lots of fun to be around. He’s loyal and hardworking, plus he’s tall and handsome! He can be competitive. He knows what he wants and he likes to win. He’s also a real softie and takes good care of his grandma. But, the most important thing is he shares my faith.

6. The first time you saw him, what did you think? Did you like him immediately, or did he have to grow on you?

I was flustered because I was attracted to Dave from the moment we met. I was glad my sister, Alessa, was not there to laugh at me!

7. What would he hate people to know about him?

Dave is very protective of the people he loves, and would use his fists to defend them if pushed into a corner. He almost punched his brother-in-law when he learned that his brother-in-law had cheated on his sister. His brother-in-law now avoids Dave and makes excuses to avoid family events.

8. What is your favourite thing to eat and drink?

Where do I start? My first love is the homemade traditional Tuscan recipes that I grew up eating at Nonna’s table. Fresh pasta made by hand, and fresh ingredients. Nonna’s Tuscan Bolognese is the best! I also have a sweet tooth and enjoy a range of desserts, including pavlova.

I love coffee and in recent years I’ve discovered a love for hot black tea, English style, with a dash of milk. My brother Ric introduced me to the English style of tea, and my Aussie family also enjoy it.

9. If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why? 

Verbal sparring is my weapon of choice, if I’m backed into a corner with no good options. My older brother, Rafaele, is a lawyer. I learned how words can be used as a weapon from my verbal sparring with him.

10. Pepsi or Coke

Definitely Coke No Sugar! My favourite Aussie cold drink if lightly sparkling water isn’t available.

11. Tea or coffee 

Both, depending on the time of day! Espresso early in the morning and English hot tea in the afternoon.

12. Elephant or tiger 

Elephant.

13. Roast dinner / burger and chips (fries for our US readers) or pizza roast beef, Yorkshire puds and roast spuds.

I’m not a fan of fast food. My great aunt’s Aussie roast dinner is awesome: roast lamb with roasted potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, and parsnip. Plus steamed carrots and peas and corn served with gravy and mint jelly.

14. Classical music or pop 
Pop.

15. Sunrise or sunset
Sunrise. The best time of day to pray and meditate on God’s word.

16. Walk or run
Long walks along the beach with Dave.

17. Chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers) 
Definitely chocolate, and preferably Swiss or Belgium chocolate.

18. What would you like on your epitaph?
2 Timothy 4:7