Tag Archives: #italy

Release Day: Dante's Gift by Aubrey Wynne

Dante banner for tour

Dante’s Gift

Plato Publishing

Contemporary/Vintage Romance 

Novella

Kathleen James has put her practical side away for once and looks forward to the perfect romantic evening: an intimate dinner with the man of her dreams—and an engagement ring. She is not prepared to hear that he wants to bring his grandmother back from Italy to live with him.

Dominic Lawrence has planned this marriage proposal for six months. Nothing can go wrong—until his Nonna calls. Now he must interrupt the tenderest night of Katie’s life with the news that another woman will be under their roof.

When Antonia’s sister dies, she finds herself longing to be back in the States. An Italian wartime bride from the ‘40s, she knows how precious love can be. Can her own story of an American soldier and a very special collie once again bring two hearts together at Christmas?Dante’s Gift has two settings. The contemporary romance takes place in Chicago but we’ll talk about that in the next letter.

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Double Settings, Double Romance

Dante’s Gift has two settings. The contemporary romance takes place in Chicago but we’ll talk about that in the next letter.

The vintage romance takes place in Benevento, Italy, in the region of Campania. A lovely town close to Naples that has survived a terrible bombing and invasions by the Germans and then the Allies. While I have never visited, my stepfather (a WWII vet) was stationed near there at an airbase in Foggia. With his help, I was able to add authenticity to my story.

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Chicago, Illinois (The Windy City): Kathleen James lives in Lake Pointe Towers. It is the odd, wavy-shaped building on the left. Imagine the view!

Sant'Agata de 'Goti is Italian town of 11,473 inhabitants situated in Campania in the province of Benevento. Caudina located in the Valley, at the foot of Mount Taburno, and the border with the province of Caserta.The historic citadel stands on a outcrop of tufa between Martorano and Riello, Isclero two tributaries of the river, forming a spectacular crossing of the deepest gorges in geology was the epicenter of a violent earthquake, the entire city is spread on the slopes of Mount Maineto (556 m), over the stream Martorano.  The plant is at the center circle and measuring 1 km in length, diameter directed from south to north. Extends around the entire municipality, hilly

Benevento, Italy: home of Antonia Capriotti. The city has not changed a lot over the centuries.

strega

Benevento is now on my bucket list. Things to do: visit the Santa Sofia church, the Arch of Trajan, the Roman amphitheater, drink Strega and espressos, and enjoy some authentic Italian food.

bombed window front

Excerpt:

The pilot with wheat-colored hair put his elbows on the counter and leaned toward her. “I could buy thirty loaves of bread at home for that much lettuce.”

“But you are not home, soldier. You are here, in Benevento, and a sticky bun is 100 lire.” She meant to be rude but his soft brown gaze made her heart race as if she’d just chased Dante across the field. His smile went to his eyes, adding crinkles to the corners, and made her own lips turn up. “The cost of supplies is very expensive these days, as you know.”

“So I’ve heard. Give me five,” he said with a wink. “Maybe I can sweet talk the captain into putting me back into a plane.”

“Save your money, Ken. Your ears obviously ain’t got any better in the last ten minutes,” he answered, rubber-necking over the counter. “Get a load of that landing gear.”

Dante growled again but this time showed sharp, white teeth. “I don’t think he likes you much, Bob.”

“Well I don’t care for him, neither. Give me two of those, and we’ll get out of your hair.”

The men paid for the rolls and walked outside. She headed into the kitchen when that quiet, deep voice stopped her. “I’d like to apologize for my friend. He’s not a bad Joe once you get to know him.”

“I don’t think I care to,” she said without turning around.

“It looks like I may be making regular trips through your town. Do you work here often?” His tone dripped like honey from a ladle and poured over her; she felt her body turn toward him even as her brain told her “no.”

“My family owns it. I am here every day.”

“So your father is Guido?” He had resumed his place at the counter, balanced on his elbows again, inviting her back without a word.

She found herself leaning on the counter from the other side. “How do you know my father?”

“The sign says Guido’s Café.”

She laughed. “Yes, it does. So you are no private eye, eh?”

He whistled then. “You’d make Betty Grable green with envy when you smile. It makes those blue eyes sparkle like a fresh-cut diamond. You should do that more often.”

Her eyes lowered, embarrassed at the compliment and the image of the American pinup girl in a bathing suit. “You should go catch up with your friends.”

“My name is Ken Lawrence,” he said and held out his hand.

“Antonia Capriotti,” she replied and took his hand. A tingle shot down her center and curled her toes. “It is nice to meet you.”

“You’re blushing. Mmm, beautiful and modest. That’s a rare find, you know.” He held firmly onto her hand. “And who is this?”

She looked down at the silent collie. He hadn’t made a noise when this man reached across the counter and touched her. Odd. “Dante, our protector.”

“You need one, with mugs like Bob.” He made a kissing noise in the dog’s direction and slapped the counter. Dante jumped up, feet on the edge and barked. Ken reached over and scratched the dog behind his ears. “Good boy, you look like my old Schotzie.”

“You have a dog?”

“I did. Old man hit fourteen just before I left. Mom sent me his collar when he passed.”

“I’m sorry, they are just like one of the family, si?”

“Yes they are,” he agreed, giving Dante one more pat before he tipped his hat. “I hope to see you again soon, Antonia.”

She hugged the collie as the Yank left, a swagger to his walk. “What do you know that I don’t, hmm? I trust your instincts better than mine. Perhaps we’ll consider more conversation with this Americano if he returns.”

Giveaways:

Enter the rafflecopter for a $10 Amazon gift card or Paypal bucks OR these adorable Thanksgiving wine charms. One click Dante’s Gift, put it on your wishlist, tweet or vote for me on Goodreads.

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Review Rafflecopter $25 gift card & signed copy of Dante’s Gift (includes international)

If you have read any of my stories, get rewarded! Leave a review for Dante’s Gift and/or Merry Christmas Henry (available at major retail sites and Goodreads.) You may also request a complimentary digital copy of my short stories and leave comments for those at Goodreads. Check out the award-winning Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies or To Cast a Cliche on my website. This contest will run until Christmas!

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My question to you: What is your favorite city and why? 

 

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Review: Amore and Pinot Grigio by Veronica Bell

 

amore cover

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Bookstrand

When Sigrid O’Herlihy and Sandro Totti meet a short time before Christmas—with the help of an injured cat and a pink Vespa—the last thing either wants is love. Sigrid can’t forget the betrayal of her ex-fiance, and Sandro can’t forget the Italian beauty who broke his heart. But the attraction between Sigrid and Sandro is sizzling, so they decide to give lust a try. Love, after all, is for the naive and Sigrid and Sandro, both in their thirties and both determined to avoid future pain, take a more practical approach. With the Eternal City as their playground, the pair enjoy their Vespas—and occasionally Sandro’s fancy Italian sports car—fine wine, and helping homeless animals. A holiday visit to Sandro’s family in Tuscany, however, threatens their no-strings agreement and forces the pair to face their feelings and their fears. Will a little Christmas spirit be enough to bring about a leap of faith?”

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Excerpt:

“Time to face her, Sandro thought grimly, walking towards the bedroom with two cups of coffee in hand. She was sitting up in bed, having put her panties and shirt back on. She was checking her phone for messages. “Buongiorno,” he said, giving her a kiss on the nose, as though she were an annoying young friend entrusted to his care, not an equal, not a lover. He handed her a cup of piping hot black coffee.

“I didn’t know how you took it, so if you want milk or sugar, I can go get those for you.”

“No, no, black is fine. No calories.” She smiled. Awkward, she thought.
“You are slim. You could stand to take some kilos.”

“Women love hearing that,” she said. “And I am sure my remaining weeks in Italy will help in that regard.” Goodness, I sound so stilted, she thought. My remaining weeks in Italy will help me in that regard? I sound like a visiting public official. Such passion with this man last night and now we’re all weird and formal with each other. “The food here is amazing. But I try to be careful, now that I’m over thirty. Weight doesn’t come off easily as one gets older.”

“You look like a kid. I couldn’t believe it last night when you said you were over thirty.”

Finally! “Thanks, yes, I’ll be thirty-two in March.”

“And not married?”

“No,” she said indignantly. “But neither are you and you are how old?”

“I haven’t said.”

“I know, but how old are you?”

“I’ll be thirty-four in May. But it’s different for men.”

Sigrid rolled her eyes. “Of course it is. Have you heard from the vet?” Best to change the topic, she told herself, than embark on a never-ending argument about double standards.

“For once you don’t want to fight with me,” he smiled.

“No, I don’t. How is Pinot? Have you heard anything yet?”

“The bad news is that he will have to have his front right leg amputated. The good news is that he can live well like that, provided he is cared for safely indoors, and the even better news is that the staff at the hospital say he is much less of a street cat than we realized. He is friendlier now that he has been fed and given some flea treatments and is feeling more trusting.”

“So what are you saying?”

“I am saying that he needn’t be euthanized. I know that you were against that and I only thought it was an option when I believed he was a very feral cat who could never live indoors.”

“We have to find a home for him, though. I can take him, of course, and I will if needs be, but it would be better to find someone in Rome. I mean, if he comes to Canada with me he’ll have to learn to speak English, just for starters, though, of course, there is a big Italian community in Toronto.”

Sandro laughed. “For a moment I thought you were serious. You can really be quite funny when you aren’t being difficult.”

“Well, thank you, I think. But I wasn’t fully kidding. I mean, he would have to learn English in Canada.”

“Yes, well, in fact, that won’t be a problem. We don’t have to find a home for him. I have been informed that one of the young veterinary technicians at the animal hospital has already fallen in love with him and is determined to adopt him and take him into her home once his surgery has been successfully completed. I can’t think of a better match, for she will know all the proper care he might need as a cat with a disability. And of course, he will have to be neutered, as well.” Sandro winced and put his hand protectively between his legs as he said the word.

Sigrid laughed. “It’s not you being neutered!” And what a tragedy that would be.

“Well, I know, but I feel for him.”

“Believe me when I tell you, it’s better for him to be neutered, for myriad reasons.”

“Certo. My father will be happy to hear this outcome—he was worried about the little fellow yesterday. And the Totti family will be happy to pick up the cost of the surgeries and recovery time in the hospital for Pinot.”

Sigrid gasped. She had gotten so carried away the night before she hadn’t even realized that Sandro’s father might have been right down the hall the whole time. “Your father? Is he here? Does he know that I’m here?”

“No, no, don’t worry. He went to Tuscany late yesterday afternoon. We are alone here. Now, can I get you some breakfast? Would you like to take a shower? I don’t mean to rush you but I have some meetings starting in about an hour.” It was a lie. He had no meetings, at least not that morning.

Sigrid felt a figurative jackboot in the gut. Any woman who had been single long enough could recognize what was happening. Something had changed. Sandro wanted her out of there and he wanted her out of there fast. No post-sex cuddling or cooing and billing. He was distancing himself, drawing lines. It was the apparently inevitable “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” moment.”

 

REVIEW

BY AUBREY WYNNE

Aubrey Wynne is a member of the Coffee Talk Writers and a guest reviewerThis review was originally published on June 12 on http://coffeetalkwriters.com

Amore and Pinot-Grigio is a classic love story. Both main characters came out of relationships that left them sour on romance. Sigrid O’Herlihy is a Canadian determined to tackle Rome with enthusiasm and independence. (I would not manuever those narrow streets and raucous drivers on a pink moped.) Deceived by her fiancee, she is on a mission to forget men and love. Sandro Totti is haunted by another Italian beauty who broke his heart. When they meet, sparks fly but both decide they will proceed with a ‘no-strings attached’ attitude. The scenes are steamy but do not border erotica.

This practical relationship works perfectly until Sandro decides to take Sigrid to his family’s house in Tuscany. (Again, travel lovers will eat up the details. No pun intended!) Things start to unravel from here. Do you run the other way when true feelings of passion come to the forefront? Do you take a chance and trust someone one more time?

What starts out as a typical ‘boy meets ‘girl’ formula quickly turns into a warm and entertaining holiday romance with the necessary misunderstandings and memorable secondary characters. Ms. Bell creates an adorable accomplice in Guido (cats and animals in general brought the pair together). The story also included the magic of Christmas and a mysterious man, Niccoli, who offers advice and guidance. But will the two scorned lovers listen and allow love to heal their scarred hearts?

As a past tourist in Italy, this took me back and made me appreciate the Eternal City all over again. It brings me back to spectacular vacation packed with wonderful wine, food and lovely people. Those who have not visited will want to book a ticket after closing this book. I am also a humane investigator so the animal rescue theme made me smile and appreciate both characters even more. Love, Christmas, cute furry rescues–what more do you want? I give this story a hearty four mugs.

Hot, strong, and addicting!

4 coffee mugs

Characters: 13/15

Plot and pacing: 12/15

Setting/s: 10/10

Technique and Editing: 9/10

Total: 44/50

 

About The Author

 Veronica-Bell_Profile_120px

Veronica Bell grew up in British Columbia, Canada. She loves wine, travel, reading, writing, her handsome husband and her adorable pets…and not in that order. ‘Amore and Pinot Grigio: A Guido la Vespa Christmas Tale’ is her first book and she is working on a sequel which will allow Guido la Vespa to make some more mischief.

Keep in Touch With Veronica:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Veronic93398537
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7472009.Veronica_Bell