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.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

A Tuscan Legacy book 6. Bella Notte by Heather Gray

He likes to play the field. She's content to wear her goody two shoes.

Piero Carter packs light and travels often. He loves adventure and manages to keep his life simple by sticking to a two-dates-only rule. The longest relationship he's had -- aside from family -- is with his camera. As a photographer who works primarily with fashion, he's used to having his pick of beautiful women who want to be seen by his side.

Felicity von Wolff is a makeup artist whose job takes her around the world. That's all the adventure she craves. She has little use for Piero the Playboy. Being seen on his arm means getting tied to his reputation, and that's the last thing she wants. Yet, somehow, they keep getting thrown together. What's a girl to do?

Piero finally meets a woman who makes him want more than two dates, but does that mean he's ready for one of life's greatest adventures -- falling in love? When Felicity peeks over the wall she's built, she discovers there's more to the people around her than she ever realized. What will it take for Piero and Felicity to stop hiding from life and open their eyes to the rich beauty God has in store for them?

PIERO CARTER RAN AS IF his life depended on it.
Between the idiosyncrasies of German traffic and his cab’s flat tire, he was late.
Beyond late.
He was the photographer, and the photo shoot couldn’t very well start without him. No worries there. He prided himself on a level of professionalism, even if it had deserted him at the moment.
It hadn’t deserted him. It had ground him under its heels and left him like a pile of dust.
His destination was in sight through the next doorway, and Piero sprinted for it.
He didn’t plan for the slippery rug, though. Or the curvy blonde who stepped into his path.
He went down hard, and he took the woman with him.
At least he managed to land under her. That had to count for something.
The rug they were on — acting more like a flying carpet than a proper historic replica — carried them through the entryway before it skidded to a stop at the foot of the famed English Stairway, one of the gems of the Dresden Royal Palace and the site of that day’s photo shoot.
Marty, the assistant assigned him for this shoot, stood by with arms crossed and eyebrows raised. “So nice of you to join us, Mr. Carter. We might actually be able to start this shoot before the lighting is completely ruined.”
Good ol’ Marty. He made obnoxious people look like sweet-tempered, little old ladies.
The blonde, who hadn’t screamed even once as they’d careened across centuries-old wooden floors, jumped from his lap as though she’d been given a good jolt of electricity. Her face flamed red as she sent him a glare before she scuttled across the room and behind the temporary curtains set up to create a pseudo-dressing room for the models.
Not that models tended to be particularly modest. But it was generally bad form to wander around historic landmarks in a foreign land when wearing nothing but skivvies. Or less.
Piero shook off the shock of his grand entrance and made his way over to the camera table. He’d set it up the day before, double-checked all his settings, and arranged each camera the way he liked it. Not that he was fanatical… After all, he’d only requested one security guard to keep an eye on the shoot site overnight.
He ran his fingers along the cameras as he contemplated the stairway and the light filtering through the windows. His eyes flitted over to the curtained-off area.
Just who had that woman been?
Piero shook the thought away and picked up the camera he wanted. A quick turn on his heel had him facing the waiting crowd. “Alright ladies! If you don’t already know what you’re doing, see Charise. She’ll tell you when you’re up.”
The woman in question shook her silver-topped head, a smile dancing in her eyes. Then she clapped her hands, drawing the models’ attention. “Analise, you’re up first. Next is Patrice. Then Genevieve. You do not step in front of that camera until I’ve approved your outfit and makeup. Understood?”
The models all nodded but remained more or less motionless, except for Analise. A nod from Charise, and the young model was climbing the steps. She turned to face Piero as Charise’s assistants worked to drape her dress just so. A whistle from their boss told the assistants when their work was done. They flitted to and fro to get out of the way. Some went up the stairs, and some went down. Better to separate than to risk tripping over a dress’s fabric and undoing the work they’d already put into creating the perfect image.
Piero paced back and forth at the foot of the stairs as he looked at the model, the empty space, and the shadows.
He took a couple of test shots before calling for a shift in two of the reflective umbrellas.
It was going to be a long day.
His head wasn’t in the game. He couldn’t rid himself of the feel of the blonde in his arms. As soon as he’d gone down and taken her with him, he’d wrapped his arms around her. Instinct had taken over, and he’d wanted to protect her from further harm.
Instinct didn’t explain the jolt he’d felt. Or the way she’d fit into his arms as if she’d been made just for that purpose. Or the way her softness had felt perfect against the sharp angles of his body.
He would have to seek her out later and apologize. Maybe he could get her name, offer to buy her dinner.
She was only half of his distraction today, though.
His family.
Nothing was ever going to be the same. He had a cousin he’d never heard of, and something was afoot at Villa Rossi.
Nope. Nothing was ever going to be the same.
Charise’s clap brought Piero back to the present.
The model now climbing the stairs was… Who was she? That wasn’t Patrice or Genevieve. Had they already gone through the first three models?
“Makeup!” Charise’s voice boomed in the marbled space.
The blonde shot out from behind the curtain, a bag over her shoulder. She stopped by Charise, listened, and then climbed the stairs with purpose in each step. She had to squeeze up tight against the banister and rise up on her tiptoes to move around the dress’s fabric, but she did so with agility. One arm looped around the banister, she used her free hand to pull something out of her bag, and then leaned precariously over the dress’s extravagant train to dab something on the model’s face.
When Charise whistled, the blonde pulled herself back to the relative security of the banister and tip-toed her way back down the steps.
Not before Piero’s finger slipped on the shutter button and captured her image. A couple of times.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A Tuscan Legacy book 5. La Fiamma Sacra by Clare Revell


Forged in love's sacred flame, can a firefighter and a widow find the path God set for them?
Ric Rossi left the family farm in Tuscany and never looked back. Working as a firefighter in Reading, England, he has everything a man could ask for—a secure job, a firm faith, and a neighbour who cares for his cat Noci when he goes away. The only thing missing is a woman he can share his life with.

Widowed when her son Deforest was a week old, Bracken Hughes isn’t prepared to open herself to the heartache a relationship can bring. Especially with her handsome neighbour who risks his life each time he leaves for work. No matter how good the man is with her son.

Ric finds Deforest to be an appealing child who captures his interest. And the mother has that certain something that pricks his heart. But the unhealed wound in Ric's soul might just spoil any chance he has at love.


THE JET PLANE ROARED DOWN the runway, wheels humming. Within seconds Riccardo Rossi was airborne. Despite the fact he was leaving the heat of Tuscany behind, and heading back to the cool English spring weather that May usually afforded, he didn’t mind. English summers were barely warm on a good day, just as well since he got enough heat in his day job. Fighting fires in thick kit, with 70lbs of equipment on your back, were not for the faint of heart.
And he loved the fact they were firefighters and not firemen. He worked with several women, in fact half his watch were women, and they were every bit as good at the job as the men.
He closed his eyes, settling back into the seat. Italy had been…interesting. His brother Rafaele had teased him about his job, as always. He’d discovered another cousin he didn’t know he had—a pretty one at that—and then there was the strange painting Nonna had received. Or ordered. Or something.
He sucked in a deep breath and accepted the cup of juice the flight attendant handed him. Tuscany wasn’t the same without Papà there. That in its own way was a good thing. The relationship between him and his father had been strained at best, and Ric had left Villa Rossi and moved to the UK as soon as he’d turned twenty-one just to get away from him. He’d only gone back for the funeral because his brother asked him to attend. Honestly, that was the last place he wanted to be. To say goodbye to a man he’d spent his whole lifetime hating, a man that he’d—
He stretched out his legs as far as they’d go—which wasn’t anywhere near far enough for his six-foot-two frame. This time he’d returned, again because he was asked to, for Nonna’s birthday. Twice in three months. More than enough to last a lifetime.
The ice in his cup rattled as he set the cold orange down. His stomach churned with guilt. The burden he carried as always lying heavy upon him. He missed his brother and sisters. Of course he did. With them so scattered—him in the UK, Rafaele in Tuscany, Sienna in Australia and Alessa in Rome—being together all at the same time was almost impossible.
Video phone calls between him and his siblings just weren’t the same. Not that you could have all of them in the same window. He chuckled to himself, remembering dumping a jug of ice water over Rafaele’s head. One sure-fire way to put out the flames of love, at least temporarily.
It had been fun but not enough to make him stay.
His sense of duty, not to mention his faith and burden of guilt wouldn’t allow it. And he couldn’t deny the relief that he was flying home. Tuscany ceased to be home a long time ago.
He checked his watch. The direct two hour flight from Roma to London City Airport should be landing in just fifty minutes. Landing at Heathrow would have meant a flight time of six hours, plus a five hour lay-over.
Hopefully his downstairs neighbour Bracken had remembered to feed Schiaccianoci, his tabby cat. Named after the Italian for nutcracker, Noci for short, had a micro-chipped cat flap so he could come and go at will; all he needed was feeding twice a day. He’d been a stray that Ric adopted from Battersea cats and dogs home shortly before Christmas, hence the name. The cat and he were now best buddies.
Of course, Noci might not like the fact he’d gone away again. Last time he’d sulked for days.
Ric opened his eyes and glanced out of the window. He preferred a window seat, but this time he’d been stuck on the aisle—he wasn’t paying and as a result hadn’t chosen the seat. The plus side to that was the stewardess would reach him first.
The bloke sitting next to him shifted and gasped.
“Are you all—” Ric broke off. The man was grasping his chest, his colour grey and lips blue.
No. Ric reached up for the call button to alert the air crew and stood. He had to get the gentleman to the floor and begin CPR immediately. As a firefighter he was trauma trained and knew what to do in most situations. Before he had chance to do anything, the man collapsed. Struggling with the man’s seatbelt, Ric finally managed to unclasp it as a stewardess reached his side.
 “He’s having a cardiac arrest,” Ric explained. He, along with the stewardess, managed to lay the man on the floor. Ric quickly checked for a pulse, and groaned when he didn’t find one. He began CPR. As he worked he prayed the man would respond and stay alive long enough to get to where the medics could take over. “Need to get this plane on the ground ASAP. And have an ambulance on standby.”
A second flight attendant nodded and ran briskly towards the cockpit.
A minute or so later, the tannoy beeped. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Foster speaking. Due to an on board medical emergency we are diverting to Zurich. If there is a doctor on the plane, please make yourself known to the air crew immediately.”
No one came forward.
Okay, Lord. I guess this is down to You and me and the flight attendant. If it’s not too much to ask, please grant us clearance to land with an ambulance waiting on the runway for us.

1. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? My name is Riccardo Giovanni Rossi, but if you call me that I’m going to have to punch your lights out as no one calls me that unless they want trouble. Nonna being the exception. My friends call me Ric. I’m 29 and I’m a firefighter.
2. Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there? I live in Reading, England. Because it was the first place I stuck a pin in the map when I needed to leave Italy. But it’s a great town and I love it here.
3. What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know? I have a really bad temper, but I hide it pretty well.
4. Name two things would you hate people to know about you? I cry, a lot, especially after a fatal fire. I prefer English food to Italian.
5. Tell us about your special lady. What makes her special? Bracken, my sacred flame, because of her hair. She’s wonderful. She lives downstairs with her son Deforest. Yeah, they have this weird thing about naming kids after trees and plants in her family. Oh and she Noci sits whenever I have to go away. She works in a coffee shop
6. The first time you saw her, what did you think? Did you like her immediately, or did she have to grow on you? What is there not to like? She goes to church, shares my faith. Noci loves her, seems to spend as much time in her part of the house as he does in mine. Noci is my cat by the way.
7. What would she hate people to know about her? She hates coffee. Yeah, I know. Ironic right?
8. What is your favourite thing to eat and drink? Coffee. Oh, eat, yeah coffee. And Bracken’s toad in the hole.
9. If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why? The fire hose. Trust me, you don’t want to get in front of one of them.
10. Pepsi or coke Coke
11. Tea or coffee coffee
12. Elephant or tiger tiger
13. Roast dinner / burger and chips (fries for our US readers) or pizza roast beef, Yorkshire puds and roast spuds.
14. Classical music or pop classical
15. Sunrise or sunset sunrise
16. Walk or run walk, preferably with Bracken’s hand in mine
17. Chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers) chocolate
18. What would you like on your epitaph? Same name, just a different address.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

A Tuscan Legacy book 4 - Ti Amo by Marion Ueckermann

She never wants to get married. He does. To her.

American missionary Michael Young has moved to Rome on a two-year mission trip. His temporary future in the country doesn’t stop him from spontaneously joining Alessa’s tour after spotting her outside the Colosseum. And being bold enough to tell her afterward that one day she’d be his wife. God had told him. And he believed Him. But Alessa shows no sign of interest in Michael.
Can anything sway the beautiful and headstrong Italian to fall in love? Can anyone convince her to put her faith and hope in the Heavenly Father, despite being raised by an earthly one who never loved her? Will her sister’s prompting, or a mysterious painting, or Michael himself change Alessa’s mind? About love. And about God.

First scene extract (prologue)

PERSPIRATION BEADED MICHAEL YOUNG’S BROW as he left the indoor court and headed for the showers. “Good game, guys. Good game.” He swiped at the moisture with his forearm. What on earth had made him think Americans were supposed to own the basketball courts? These Italians were certainly making him and Keith work hard to win.
Leaving Rome’s Centro Sportivo Santa Maria, he waved at his fellow American missionary, Keith, and their newfound friends.
Arrivederci. See you at church on Sunday.” He smiled as he ambled up Via Labicana. Three converts so far, with hopefully more to come soon. Lorenzo would be next, of that he was certain. Not bad for the month he and Keith had been actively ministering among Italian students, using their skills on the court to befriend the locals. God was definitely at work in these students’ hearts, although some would prove to be more of a challenge to reach than others. Especially Matteo. The good-looking, bronzed Italian made no secret of the fact that he lived to satisfy the flesh alone, giving no thought to his eternal soul. But God had His perfect timing for Matteo. As He did with everything.
Keith was giving the post-basketball Bible study today. Michael needed to get back to Hope Center where he and several other missionaries worked and lived. Chiara had agreed to meet him there at three thirty. With only two more weeks until their big evangelism event at a popular piazza in the center of Rome, the group’s choreographer had offered him some private lessons. He couldn’t wait. He’d never taken part in a flash mob, let alone be the lead dancer. So many emotions roiled in his gut—nerves, excitement, fear.
He glanced at his watch—two forty-five—and hastened his pace. Up ahead, the Colosseum loomed. One of these fine days, he’d need to make time to visit the ancient amphitheater.
Why not now?
Michael chuckled. I can’t, Lord. You know that. Chiara…dance lessons…
The Colosseum cast him in shadow as he passed by. Breaking into the sunlight again, Michael stopped in his tracks at the flash of red that caught his eye. He hadn’t planned on taking a tour today—he couldn’t really. He only had forty-five minutes, but in that moment, all sense of reasoning vanished. Besides, wasn’t now God’s suggestion in the first place?
He veered left off the path into the crowded area. He’d apologize to his dance instructor later. Maybe he’d be lucky enough to still find her hanging around by the time he got back to the center.
Right. Fat chance of that happening. Chiara waited for no one. He’d probably face the fifty-year-old’s wrath next time he saw her. He drew in a deep breath then sighed, unable to shake the feeling that he needed to take his chances.
Michael strolled across to the small group gathered in front of the auburn-haired beauty. Dare he even ask?
Perdono, how long is this tour?” he asked the uniformed tour-guide dressed in a burgundy polo shirt and black knee-length skirt, and Alessa engraved in black on her gold nametag.
With a smile she pointed the branded flag she held, its colors matching her clothing, toward the sign behind her. “One hour.”
Michael glanced at the Ancient Steps Tours’ board. What a stroke of luck. Or was it fate? The last English tour for the day was at three o’clock. Ten minutes more.
“Is it possible to join?”
Alessa eyed him, her gaze scanning the length of him as she raised an eyebrow. “You don’t have a booking?” She seemed surprised, taken aback that someone would even think they could join a tour of the age-old walls without having pre-booked and pre-paid.
Michael shook his head, resisting the urge to pout or allow his eyes to beg. He doubted either would score him brownie points with this woman.
She shrugged. “Okay, I do have an unreserved place. That will be twenty euro.” She held out her hand.
This is the girl you’re going to marry, God’s voice whispered in his soul.
What, Lord, you can’t be serious?
Of course He was. Michael had learned from an early age that God never joked with him. Exactly why he’d obeyed and moved to Italy when his Lord had spoken.
He handed over the tour fee. Small price to pay for the chance to get to know the girl you were destined to marry.
For the next hour, Michael hung on her every word, and not just because she brought the place to life. For once, he didn’t have much to say, preferring to listen to the sound of her voice.
After the tour, everyone thanked her and the group dispersed. Michael watched as some pressed a gray five euro note into her palm. Pity he’d used up all the cash he had on hand.
Michael followed Alessa to her scooter. She was about to put her helmet on when she spotted him.
“Yes…?” She raised her perfectly penciled brow again with the single-worded question.
“Uh…” It took all his American gumption to utter the next few words. “I’m going to marry you one day.”
Maybe it was his accent, but Alessa didn’t seem to understand what he’d said to her. For a few seconds, she merely stared at him, seemingly astonished before bursting into laughter.
“In your wildest dreams.” And with that, she slid onto her little white Vespa and buzzed off up the road.

Character Interview:

1. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? My name is Alessandra Rossi, but only my Nonna calls me that…and my oldest brother, Rafaele if he’s angry with me. To everyone else, I’m Alessa. Personally, I think the extra letters are just a waste of the alphabet—not to mention ink.
I’m 22 years old and I never knew my mamma—she died giving birth to me. My entire life, Papà blamed me for her death. That one tragic event shaped so much of me and who I am today…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
2. Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there? I live in Roma, Italy. It was close enough to be able to visit my Nonna, and far enough away from my papà. With a degree in architectural history and archaeology, it’s the perfect place to eke out a living as a tour guide.
3. What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know? I’m an open book. There’s nothing I can think of that I hide. First thing people realize about me is that I LOVE food.
4. Name two things you would hate people to know about you? Like I said, no hidden skeletons in my closets, although I could take you somewhere in Roma where there are a lot of skeletons. On second thoughts, read Ti Amo and you can tag along with my sister, Sienna, and Michael.
5. Tell us about your special man. What makes him special? Michael Young is talented, creative, good-looking, well-built, and a great preacher. Besides the overall package from head to toe scoring a perfect ten, the man has moxie. He says what he wants to say, and that’s that. Not that all the above mattered to me when I first met him.
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 couldn’t stand him at first. I thought he was a forward American. I was not happy with my sister when she invited him to tag along with us most places the weekend she was visiting me in Roma.
7. What would he hate people to know about him? He’s a tad claustrophobic—not crazy about confined spaces.
8. What is your favourite thing to eat and drink?  Melanzana panini from the sandwich shop just outside my apartment building. The whole works complete with mortadella, mozzarella, salami, capicola, prosciutto, lettuce, tomato and the restaurant’s secret homemade Italian dressing. A sparkling water to wash it down with.
9. If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why? A menu because it’ll probably be the thing closest to my hand.
10. Pepsi or coke Neither.
11. Tea or coffee Espresso.
12. Elephant or tiger Elephant, because there is usually one in the room when I’m around
13. Roast dinner / burger and chips (fries for our US readers) or pizza Pizza, but only with very good friends, or my sweetheart.
14. Classical music or pop Pop.
15. Sunrise or sunset Both…they’re just the reverse of each other.
16. Walk or run Walk…I do a lot of that in my job, so I am partial to the pace.
17. Chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers) Chocolate, especially Venchi.
18. What would you like on your epitaph? She made the world an interesting place.

A Novel Place to Fall in Love

USA Today bestselling author, MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest’s no longer so empty.

Please visit Marion’s website for more of her books: www.marionueckermann.net

You can also find Marion on social media:
Amazon  :  Marion-Ueckermann/e/B00KBYLU7C
Facebook  :  Marion.C.Ueckermann
Twitter  :  ueckie
Goodreads  :  5342167.Marion_Ueckermann
Pinterest  :  ueckie
Bookbub  :  authors/marion-ueckermann
Instagram  :  https://www.instagram.com/marion.ueckermann/

I have a subscriber freebie. Readers can download Spring’s Promise, set in Northern Ireland, for free. http://marionueckermann.net/subscribe/

Saturday, 5 May 2018

A tuscan legacy book 3 - Rapsodia by Alexa Verde

A risk taker with a crushed spirit and a control-addicted businessman with a crushed heart... Can they surrender themselves to God's healing love?

After the woman he loved left him for a richer guy, Marco Carter turned all his passion toward the chain of pizzerias he founded. He can control his business, unlike love. Then his world is turned upside down. He meets Samantha Jenkins on his flight home to Texas after his grandmother's eightieth birthday. Many hours with the guarded but beautiful Samantha has him questioning his career-centered mindset.

A born risk taker and fiercely independent, Samantha misses her former life as a travel photographer and extreme sports aficionado. But more than anything, she grieves her fiancé. On her trip from Italy on the anniversary of his tragic passing, the last thing she expects is to become drawn to her neighbor on her flight. Deep inside, she still blames herself for her fiancé's death...

Though Marco is determined to forget Samantha, the arrival of a mysterious painting reminds him of all that is missing in his life. Hoping for a new chance with her, Marco opens a pizzeria in Samantha's hometown in south Texas. Spending time with her, he's learning to surrender control to the Lord. But apparently it's easier to earn millions than to make Samantha open her heart again. What will it take for her to heal enough to trust in God and take the biggest risk of all-to love again?

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

A Tuscan Legacy book 2 - Luna Rosa by Elizabeth Maddrey

She loves the spotlight, he prefers backstage. Can they still play love’s duet?

Nick Carter’s career as a piano tuner and teacher keeps him off-stage and allows him plenty of time to compose music he has no intention of ever publishing. Enter Louisiana Chalfont, the new symphony pianist who embodies the word diva. She’s exactly the kind of woman Nick has vowed to avoid, but when they’re cajoled into playing a duet he finds there’s more to her than he first thought.
Louisiana settles into her temporary role with the symphony in Washington, D.C., glad for the reprieve from touring professionally. She’s astonished to discover immense talent in the handsome man who keeps her piano in tune. Practicing for a duet at church gives her the perfect opportunity to get to know the real Nick.
As they play together, Nick and Louisiana develop a friendship that begins to morph into something more, but what happens when their diverging goals threaten to upstage their love?

Nicoló Carter, Nick to his friends and, well, just about everyone else if he had anything to say about it, finished adjusting the tuning peg of the shiny, black concert grand piano. This was the third of six pianos he was tuning today at the Kennedy Center. At nearly two hours per piano, it was going to be a long day, but that’s what he got for taking vacation so he could fly to Italy for his Nonna’s birthday party.

Not like he’d much choice about that, either.
He sighed and pushed his shoulders back, working out a kink before he sat on the bench, scooted it a little farther from the keyboard, and put his fingers on the keys. After listening to the silence of the practice room for a moment, he let the music work its way out of his heart.
Tuscany had been interesting. Mom had always emphasized the importance of family. In the ten years since she’d been gone, he and his brothers had drifted some, not really keeping in touch with their cousins scattered across the world. Cousins. Rachel. That had been an interesting twist. A new cousin no one had known about.
Nick cocked his head to the side as his fingers transitioned the piece into a minor key. Hm. Not a bad idea. He’d play with it tonight. It added...something.
The door to the practice room slammed open.
“I was told this room was reserved for me as soon as the tuner was finished.”
Nick leaned away from the fire shooting out of the woman’s eyes. At least cybernetic implants weren’t a real thing. Yet. She’d for sure opt for laser beams. That would put a dent in his ability to compose in his off time. He fought a smile and brought his piece to an end. “I just finished tuning. It’s standard practice, at least as I was taught, to verify the job when complete. The best way to do that is to play.”
“Fine. Are you quite done?” If it weren’t for the attitude pulsing off her in waves, she’d be beautiful. Long, brown hair and flashing blue eyes, and a figure that not even her dressy casual khakis could disguise. Too bad she was a diva.
“Let me just collect my bag and I’ll be out of your way.” Nick stood, tossed one of his tools into his duffel, and gave her a mock bow as he passed her in the doorway. “Enjoy your practicing.”
The woman sniffed and the door slammed behind him.
Nick didn’t bother to hold back the laugh. Diva. With a capital D. Frankly, she seemed to have more attitude than was strictly warranted, because he had no idea who she was. And he knew—or at least recognized—the majority of the piano talents that came to D.C.
With a shrug, he strode down the hallway. Since his plans to use his lunch break to work on his composition were a wash, he’d take his sandwich out onto the rooftop terrace and eat instead. Washington, D.C. was in the throes of spring, and that was worth savoring before the summer heat and humidity got to be too much. Not that it held a candle to Texas, where he’d grown up, but it tried.
He sat cross-legged on one of the wide planters, his bag of tools beside him, and unwrapped the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he’d made before leaving his apartment this morning.
Nick took a bite and raised a hand in greeting as Luke, one of the other piano technicians who freelanced here, settled onto the planter next to him.
“Lunch break?”
Duh? “Yep. You eat?”
Luke shook his head and shrugged. “Forgot to pack something, didn’t feel like paying tourist prices at either of the places here. I’ll grab something for dinner.”
Nick frowned and dug in his bag, extracting his second sandwich. “Here. You need to be able to hear the notes, not your growling stomach.”
“You sure?” Luke took the food and studied it. “I wasn’t asking for a handout. Just thought I’d enjoy the sunshine with you.”
“I’m sure. I never eat them both.”
“So why pack two?”
“Habit, I guess. Worked out well for you, didn’t it?” Nick grinned. “I haven’t had a full day’s tuning scheduled in a long time. Any idea what happened?”
“Nope, but I’m not looking for explanations too hard. My residential tunings dropped way off over the winter.”
Nick nodded. His had been waning for the last year, it was one reason he’d started adding piano lessons to his schedule. “Lessons aren’t an option?”
Luke wrinkled his nose. “Not really. I don’t have the patience. Don’t honestly see how you stand it.”
“I like the kids. They’re trying. And it’s still fun to them, that’s the big thing. They haven’t yet decided it’s all about the prestige and glory like the people who come here to play.”
“Run into a diva this morning?”
Nick finished his sandwich and balled up the baggie before dropping it into his kit. “Yeah. I’d planned to play instead of eat, but the practice room was reserved for her.”
“Yikes. Who was it?”
“No clue. That’s what’ll make it hilarious later.” Nick sighed. “I try hard to make sure my students know no matter how good they get that they shouldn’t let it go to their heads. But I guess that’s a choice they’ll each have to make individually.”
Luke nodded and offered his empty baggie. “Thanks for lunch. I guess I should get back at it. Got a date tonight.”
“Yeah? Anyone I know?”
Luke shook his head. “Don’t think so. One of the ushers from the symphony performance I managed to snag a ticket to last weekend. College student.”
“College? Really? She know you’re twenty-seven?”
Luke laughed. “She thinks it’s hot.”
“Be nice to her.”
“Yes, Mom.” Luke rolled his eyes. “Don’t you have a piano to tune?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Nick chuckled and hopped down from the cold stone. “Catch you later.”

Character Interview:
1. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? I’m Nick Carter. Nicolo, if you want to be exact, but no one calls me that. I’m a twin. My brother, Piero, got all the looks and charm. I tune and teach piano. That’s really all there is to say.
2. Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there? I live in the D.C. area. I was out this way for college and ended up staying.
3. What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know? If I told you that, then they’d know and it wouldn’t answer the question anymore.
4. Name two things would you hate people to know about you? Is this different from the question above? I guess since I didn’t answer that one, I have to do this one. Let’s see—I have incredible stage fright. It’s why I tune pianos instead of playing them for a living. And two? I don’t really believe I have any talent. I can’t help writing down the songs in my head, but I don’t think I’ll ever believe they’re worth anything.
5. Tell us about your special lady. What makes her special? Louisiana. Even her name is special. Seriously, she has talent. If you hear her play, you’ll want to weep it’s so beautiful. And she’s so down to earth. People say that all the time, but this is real.
6. The first time you saw her, what did you think? Did you like her immediately, or did she have to grow on you? Hahaha. No. I thought she was one of those professional musicians who believed their own press clippings. Diva with a capital D. She improved with repeated exposure.
7. What would she hate people to know about her? Honestly? Just about anything. She’s very private and dislikes even the tiny bits of personal information she has to share as part of publicity.
8. What is your favourite thing to eat and drink? Pizza. My brother Marco’s pizza if I can swing it, but there are few good local pizza joints that do justice to the pie. Drink? I’m not so picky, but I like bubbly mineral water if it’s available.
9. If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why? Some of my tuning hammers could be pretty wicked in a fight if I could hit a person right. And they’re always close by. Seems like a weapon that’s handy is always better than one that’s hard to find.
10. Pepsi or coke. Dr. Pepper.
11. Tea or coffee. Coffee.
12. Elephant or tiger. Elephant.
13. Roast dinner / burger and chips (fries for our US readers) or pizza. Pizza.
14. Classical music or pop. Classical.
15. Sunrise or sunset. Sunrise.
16. Walk or run. Walk.
17. Chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers). Chips.
18. What would you like on your epitaph? Something nice written by someone who loved me.

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A Tuscan Legacy book one - That's Amore

A Tuscan Legacy
Book 1

When Rafaele and Jayne meet again two years after dancing the night away together in Tuscany, is it a matter of fate or of faith?
After deciding to take a six-month sabbatical, Italian lawyer Rafaele Rossi moves from Florence back to Villa Rossi in the middle of Tuscany, resigned to managing the family farm for his aging nonna after his father’s passing. Convinced a family get-together is what Nonna needs to lift her spirits, he plans an eightieth birthday party for her, making sure his siblings and cousins attend.
The Keswick jewelry store where Jayne Austin has worked for seven years closes its doors. Jayne takes her generous severance pay and heads off to Italy—Tuscany to be precise. Choosing to leave her fate in God’s hands, she prays she’ll miraculously bump into the handsome best man she’d danced the night away with at a friend’s Tuscan wedding two years ago. She hasn’t been able to forget those smoldering brown eyes and that rich Italian accent.
Jayne’s prayers are answered swiftly and in the most unexpected way. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s a guest not only at Isabella Rossi’s birthday party, but at Villa Rossi too.
When Rafaele receives what appears to be a valuable painting from an unknown benefactor, he’s reminded that he doesn’t want to lose Jayne again. After what he’s done to drive her from the villa, though, what kind of a commitment will it take for her to stay?

First scene extract (prologue)

NO PARENT SHOULD EVER HAVE to bury a child, let alone all of them.
Isabella Rossi gathered her shawl and wrapped it around her shoulders. She headed toward the front door of the enormous home which was too big for only her and Maria, who had been her trusted and faithful housekeeper for decades. Isabella had held the ashes of all three of her children, their once vibrant lives reduced to the contents in the ceramic urns. Now, only she remained. And her grandchildren. But most of them were scattered like chaff in the wind, and her heart pained at how far from the fields of Tuscany her descendants had drifted. Oceans now separated them; her first and last born grandchildren, Rafaele and Alessa, the only ones left on Italian soil. And even they were separated from her—and each other—by entire cities.
Since his father died three months ago, Rafaele had done his utmost to come home most weekends. To help his nonna. How long would that last, though? He had his own life, his own career, in Firenze. He’d long ago chosen that world above these lands.
Dawn peeked its golden head over the horizon as Isabella slipped out the front door of the place she’d called home for sixty long and glorious years. Villa Rossi. She’d cherished every moment here since the day her beloved Benedetto had made her his bride. Even the bad times she had buried deep in her heart.
Her fingers, wrinkled and bent from old age and arthritis, clutched the shawl tighter, shutting out the crisp spring morn; the cold not nearly as bitter as her own heart. This wasn’t how life was intended to be. They were meant to have all lived and died under the Tuscan sky, here on this beautiful estate that had been in their family for generations. She blew out a breath that carried with it the cumbersome burden she bore. Which of her grandchildren should inherit this place once she passed on? Would any of them even care to be bound by a property they barely visited anymore, in a country far from what they now called home?
She glanced back at the two-story building, her very being swelling and then quickly sagging at the collection of happy and sad memories. Through the generations, so much loving and living had happened under that roof. The ebb and flow of life.
Until now.
Now it seemed that life merely ebbed, dragging the very soul of Villa Rossi with it.
With her husband’s help, she’d raised three children within those stone walls: Massimo, their firstborn, named after Benedetto’s father; Francesca, after the child’s paternal grandmother; and lastly, Albertino, her baby, who had taken her own dear papà’s name. Benedetto and she had rigidly kept to every Italian custom. Sadly, the same could not be said for her own children, God rest their departed souls. Isabella crossed herself and the shawl slipped from her clasp with the action. She quickly tugged it up over her shoulder again, her heart pressing against her ribs at the painful memory of her children breaking from tradition—at least Massimo and Francesca had—and naming their children whatever they’d wanted with no respect for their customs. None of her grandchildren bore her nor Benedetto’s names as they should have.
And poor, sweet, Albertino…he never had a chance to name his child. Never even knew he’d fathered one. Perhaps he would’ve called his daughter Isabella…if his life hadn’t been snatched from him so quickly.
If only they hadn’t argued.
If only he hadn’t sped away on his motorcycle, angry.
If only he hadn’t met that English woman.
Isabella shook her head and stepped off the narrow dirt road into the vineyard. So many ifs. So many regrets. When her son had ached to marry Maggie Golding, she’d told him to leave and never come back. She had never meant for his departure to be final. Irreversible.
Maggie had returned to Wales after Albertino’s death, and the child born out of wedlock was given the name Rachel instead. Not even an Italian name but a Jewish one. Like her surname. What had she expected, though, from that foreigner who’d led her Albertino astray. She blamed Maggie for his death.
She blamed herself.
The child should’ve been a Rossi, but her illegitimate granddaughter knew nothing of her heritage.
Perhaps it was for the best. One less grandchild to turn their back on their grandmammà.
Ambling between the vines that lined the slope behind the homestead, Isabella reached her hand out to snatch a poppy growing tall between the grass. Big. Bright. Red. Then another. The first of the spring blooms. Soon the hills would blush with their rubescent hue. Here and there she clutched the slender shoots of wild legumes, plucking them to add a touch of mauve to her monotone bouquet.
By the time she reached the other side of the vineyard just before the olive groves, she held a rather large bunch of wildflowers in her hand. Still, she had to split it five ways. Five memorials. Five loved ones lost—her husband, her children, and Massimo’s beloved wife, Alessandra. He’d never overcome her death. Now he was finally reunited with her.
Before the cancer took her Benedetto, he made Isabella promise to have his remains cremated and placed in this special spot between his vines and olive trees. She’d argued against the notion at first—the church did not favor cremation. The Lord Jesus himself was buried in a tomb, and weren’t they all to follow his example? But she’d eventually relented. Keeping her word, she had Massimo and Albertino demarcate this area after her husband’s death.
She trailed her fingers over the low wrought-iron palisade then pushed open the gate and headed toward the tombstone erected in Benedetto’s memory and the cremation urn bearing his ashes on the grass in front of it.
Barely a year later, she’d had a second stone erected. To her beloved Albertino—her baby. Losing her youngest son was even harder to bear than losing the love of her life.
Thirty-four years had passed since that fateful day.
And time had not healed the still raw wounds.

Character Interview:

1. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? My name is Rafaele Rossi, with seven letters not three or four. So Raf and Raef are out. Please. My papà wanted me to farm at Villa Rossi like him, settle down and raise a family. I rebelled in both the work and home departments, hence my career choice and single status at thirty.
2. Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there? I live in Firenze, which English readers will know as Florence. Like my sister, Alessa, it was close enough to Villa Rossi to see my Nonna, and far away enough from my papà. Besides, I studied there so the transition to a law firm in Florence seemed natural.
3. What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know? I’m a romantic at heart…love letters, flowers, chocolates for that special lady (and the other special women in my life like my two sisters and my Nonna).
4. Name two things would you hate people to know about you? I fear that I will be a bad father one day, like my own papà was. I fear I will become obsessed with the woman I fall I love with, like my father was with my mammà.
5. Tell us about your special lady. What makes her special? Jayne Austin is to sweetest, most beautiful woman I know. And she really does know how to take the jokes about her name in her stride.
6. The first time you saw her, what did you think? Did you like her immediately, or did she have to grow on you? I thought she was beautiful. But beauty aside, I did like her personality right away. The reason I danced the night away with her at my best friend’s wedding in Tuscany. I was a fool to let two years go by between that first magical encounter with her and the next. And if it hadn’t been for Jayne’s determination to follow her heart, we probably would never have met again. It was great picking up where we left off.
7. What would she hate people to know about her? Her head spins at the smell of a wine cork.
8. What is your favourite thing to eat and drink? Espresso, red wine, and Maria’s pici pasta. You can tell I’m Italian, can’t you?
9. If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why? The weapon I always use is my insecurities and fears. If it were up to me though, I’d choose to be a lover, not a fighter.
10. Pepsi or coke Coke.
11. Tea or coffee Coffee—how it’s served would depend on the time of day.
12. Elephant or tiger Tiger…reminds me of my younger brother, Ric [starts singing Eye of the Tiger].
13. Roast dinner / burger and chips (fries for our US readers) or pizza I’m Italian…what do you think?
14. Classical music or pop Classical
15. Sunrise or sunset Sunset.
16. Walk or run A nice leisurely stroll through the olive groves with Jayne.
17. Chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers) For myself, neither. To impress a woman, or say sorry, Venchi chocolates.
18. What would you like on your epitaph? Before my salvation: Not cut from the same cloth. After my salvation: His father’s son.

A Novel Place to Fall in Love

USA Today bestselling author, MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest’s no longer so empty.

Please visit Marion’s website for more of her books: www.marionueckermann.net

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