The sales pitch.
You either love it or hate it.
For your novel, it’s called the back cover copy. It can be even more difficult to write than the dreaded synopsis when you’re self-pubbing a novel. But you gotta do it.
The tease. The logline. The character descriptions.
Sometimes it seems it takes longer the write the back cover copy than the novel itself (just kidding…).
So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out my back cover copy and beautiful cover from Covers by Ramona for A Soldier’s Italian Christmas is a finalist in the Novella category in the I Heart Indie contest!
Here’s the back copy cover:
He is a U.S Army captain, a battle-weary soldier who has lost his faith.
She is a nun, her life dedicated to God.
Together they are going to commit an act the civilized world will not tolerate.
They are about to fall in love.
The ravages of combat have taken a toll on Captain Mack O’Casey, who has lost his faith after seeing the horrors of war as the Nazis fight hard to keep the Allies from reaching Rome. His beliefs are challenged even more when he loses his way and ends up in a mystical place called Monte D’Oro Rose during the cold winter of 1943…and falls in love with the beautiful Sister Angelina.
The young nun has a secret of her own, one she will die trying to protect: the lost Cross of Saint Cecelia. She must find the religious relic first before the brutal Nazi major who will stop at nothing to get it. Even murder. Sister Angelina risks her life to save the cross for the Church, but will she also risk her heart? Falling in love with the handsome American soldier is against the rules, but she can’t deny the stolen moments with him have made her question her vows.
It is Christmas Eve when these two lonely people come together on this holiest of holidays and how faith helps them overcome their greatest fears. A time when the whole world holds its breath as brave men and women fight for freedom.
And a soldier and a nun dare to fall in love…
And here is the cover! Check out this video excerpt from A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
Miss Cupcake and the Hottie
There once was a girl named Cupcake
Who really, truly loved to bake
Up at six she’d rise …
Butter cake to devise
With eggs, sugar, and flour
She worked hard at this early hour
Adding golden rich butter and vanilla
Dreaming of a handsome fella
For she wanted to catch a man’s eye
Who would love her and make her sigh
Then one glorious Fourth
A handsome stud came forth
Who couldn’t get enough
Of her cupcake stuff
And whisked her away to the Land of Butter
Where there they were married and lived happily ever utter…
Happy Fourth of July!!
© Stephanie Frey | Dreamstime.com
Today is Tiara Day!!
In tribute to princesses everywhere:
When I was a little girl, a princess I wanted to be
So I got all dressed up looking for a prince to marry me
I searched high and low
But found no beau
As I got older
I got a little bolder
I dressed to kill
But no boyfriend still
What’s wrong with me? I wanted to know
I work so hard to be perfect and I’m always on the go
It’s your shoes, my best friend said, rolling her eyes
Princesses wear sexy shoes to please the guys
Like Cinderella? I said, with her slipper made of glass
Yes, you need sexy stilettos so he’ll make a pass
Not so, I assured her confident and wise
A smart girl knows how to get the guys
Oh yeah? she said, wrinkling her nose
Try it if you dare and forget your woes
So shopping I went stilettos to buy
And sexy undies to get a guy
In the end I got my prince wearing no shoes at all
Like Cinderella, I ran from the Ball
With my handsome prince hot on my tail
My stiletto in hand, looking for me to no avail
What happened, you ask? so curious and fine
How did I find my Valentine?
True, the sexy kicks helped me to catch his eye
But in the end it was something much more sly
Instead of trying so hard Miss Perfect to be
I ended up doing what came naturally
Like a dancing princess, I kicked off my shoes and danced all night
When this gorgeous man grabbed me and wouldn’t let me out of his sight
How did I know he was a man not to be missed?
Take one look at him. It was in his kiss…
Crossing the English Channel has always held a wildly mystical attraction for me, whether it was war-weary soldiers returning home from battle or long-suffering French aristocrats escaping Madame Guillotine. There was something brave and noble about standing on the deck of a ship with a fierce wind blowing in your face, angry waves crashing against the hull and sea spray wetting your lips with a briny taste.
Or so I believed. I had my own narrow escape from the ravages of the cold sea on such a trip. I never forgot it.
Boarding the ship at Oostende, Belgium with only my backpack and naïveté for company, I was eager to get to London to visit a friend studying there. So what if the ferry was overbooked and the weather was stormy? I was tough, I could take it.
I nearly froze to death when I lost my balance as the ship rolled on the swell of the sea and I slid across the deck like a greased seal. I ended up cold and wet and hanging onto the rail for dear life.
I never forgot my youthful folly and many times while writing about the sinking of the Titanic, I pulled up those emotions to try to understand what my characters were experiencing on that fateful night, April 14, 1912, when the ship hit an iceberg.
Bitter cold, calm sea and freezing water.
Let me recreate the scene for you at 11:40 p.m. that night.
Contrary to what some films and TV shows have depicted, most passengers were asleep or reading in their cabins when the Titanic hit the iceberg. They were not enjoying a party-like atmosphere in the dining saloons drinking champagne and dancing. The public rooms closed down around 11 pm in all classes. It is true that diehard poker players like my hero in Titanic Rhapsody, Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, were busily engaged in a game of poker or bridge whist in the smoking room.
The Titanic glided as smoothly as a haughty swan over the sea on that starlit night. No moon. Which is why it has been speculated that the two lookouts didn’t see the one-hundred-foot tall iceberg until the last minute (they had no binoculars—a ship’s officer was transferred at the last moment and took the key to the locker with the binoculars with him).
“Iceberg right ahead!” shouted the lookout into his telephone to the bridge. He rang the bell three times.
For thirty-seven seconds the two lookouts waited as the ship appeared to be heading straight for the iceberg. The ship’s first officer tried to avoid the berg and ordered the ship turned to port (left). What happened next no one saw coming…
The Titanic was cruising close to top speed in spite of the iceberg warnings. This was not unusual. According to the thinking of that time, Captain Smith was justified in getting through the ice region as quickly as possible. What he didn’t know was that the ship was on a direct collision course with the berg, a huge mass of ice that had traveled farther south than was ever thought possible.
The cold Labrador Current swirled around the iceberg to form a protective layer, which insulated it from the warming effects of the Gulf Stream and prevented it from melting.
Pushing the iceberg into the shipping lanes.
The Titanic never had a chance.
The White Star Line ship smashed into the iceberg along her starboard (right) side, slashing open a 295 foot gash that doomed the ship. The passengers snug in their beds or enjoying a hot whiskey and water in the smoking room had no idea that five possibly six of her sixteen compartments were flooded.
Or that the mail hold down on G deck was rapidly filling with water. Or that down in the boiler rooms the air was heavy with steam as the engineers tried to pump out the water in boiler room 5, praying the bulkheads would hold. (The hull plates of the Titanic were held in place with 3-lb. rivets—three million rivets total.)
Thomas Andrews, the ship’s designer, did a quick assessment of the damage—the Titanic could float with two, three, even four of her first watertight compartments gone, he said, but not five. The ship had an hour, no more than two to survive.
After conferring with Mr. Andrews, Captain Smith ordered the wireless operator to send out the distress signal CQD (the British landline operators’ signal “CQ” was for “all stations” with the addition of “D” by the Marconi company for added emphasis—danger ). He added an “SOS” (adapted because of its distinctive Morse Code pattern of three dots…three dashes…three dots) with the Titanic’s call letters: “MGY.”
Where are Katie and Jack, my heroine and hero in Titanic Rhapsody, when first class passengers feel a “jar” in their staterooms? Or when the steerage passengers are tossed about in their bunks only to find seawater seeping in under their cabin doors?
I wish I could tell you…but I can’t or I will spoil the romance. I will say that Katie and Jack experience all the fear and dread of the passengers that night when the Titanic hits the iceberg.
To give you a feeling of what happened during those last hours, we’ll go through what a first cabin lady experienced, then a second class gentleman, and finally, a family in steerage.
If you’re a first cabin lady, you’re most likely asleep in your cabin where it’s cozy and warm with the electric heater going, the lights dim, when suddenly something jolts you awake. Strange, you think, but nothing to be alarmed about. You try to go back to sleep until you realize the engines have stopped. Here, in the middle of the Atlantic?
You’re curious, but not worried since everyone says the ship is unsinkable. You throw a heavy coat over your nightdress and peek outside, running down the corridor in your soft satin slippers. Others are about, gossiping, yawning, until the bedroom steward in a very nice manner tells you to put on your lifebelt and go up on deck.
In this cold? you ask him. Yes, he tells you, though he assures you it’s merely a matter of precaution. Begrudgingly, you tell your lady’s maid to help you put on your corset, then fasten on the lifebelt made of six squares of cork. All the while the girl frets about, saying you’re all doomed. At the last moment, you grab your gloves and hat and scarf and join the other ladies and gents on the Boat deck.
Ah, there’s nothing to worry about, you decide, relieved. The ship’s musicians are playing a lively ragtime tune and everyone is chatting about the chunks of ice on the forward well deck—then a ship’s officer orders you into a lifeboat. Yes, orders you, like you’re a common servant. Why, the nerve of the man.
Women and children first, he says. What about the gentlemen? You hear someone whisper men are being allowed into the boats on the starboard side, but not here. Why get into the boats at all? you wonder, believing you’re safer on the ship than that small boat.
Then someone says the Titanic is sinking…
It can’t be that serious, can it? you wonder, not believing it possible You wait with your maid on the port side of the ship, watching the ladies being separated from their husbands and put into the lifeboats. Boats not even half-filled. No need to hurry. You hear someone say they’ll be laughing about this over breakfast.
Really? You start to shiver from the bitter cold…frosty puffs of air come out of your mouth when you speak. Unbelievable noise fills your ears. From the boilers, someone says. Ladies screaming as they’re pulled from their husbands’ arms. Then you notice the ship is listing heavily to one side. Well, what are you waiting for? Get into the damn lifeboat!
You don’t protest when a seaman tosses you into a boat. Then your maid. After all, you’re the lucky ones, you realize as the boat is lowered over the side and hits the water. The lifeboat pulls away from the ship so as not to be pulled down by the suction when the ship sinks…yes, it is true. The Titanic is going down.
You put your shoulder to the oar and row…listening to the whispers that a rescue ship is on the way…the Carpathia. Will it arrive in time?
Not if you’re a gentleman in second class…
You’re anxious to get to New York and start your new job—and thrilled to be on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Who would have thought you’d find yourself walking the second class promenade deck late at night, your hands in your pocket, your mind on the pretty girl you met earlier in the day? Still, you’ve no time for romance. You’ve got family back in England needing the money you’ll send home to them. It’s nearly midnight. Time to turn in for the night.
You head for the second class staircase when—
Wait, what was that? Did you feel a bump?
You rush to the starboard side—good God, was that an iceberg? Did we hit it? you wonder. No alarm sounds, though you don’t find out until later the Titanic has no PA system and relies on the three hundred stewards to alert the passengers to put on their lifebelts and go topside.
You wait, noting the other passengers seem calm and no one is in a hurry to get into the lifeboats. Then you spy the pretty girl you had your eye on over on the port side. She’s trying to convince her aunt to get into a lifeboat. She’s grateful when you charm the older woman and talk her into getting into a boat with her niece following her. Then you see the girl waving at you as the boat is lowered over the side. She’s smiling. Tears in her eyes.
You’ll never forget that smile.
No time to waste. The chap you share a cabin with finds you and tosses you a lifebelt. The grim look on his face tells you that you’ll both need more than a lifebelt to make it. No men are allowed into the boats here on the port side, so you do your duty and assist the women and children getting into the boats.
It’s been more than two hours since the Titanic hit the iceberg and she’s listing heavily.
The last few minutes are chaotic. Men rush the lifeboats, then a shot rings out—they’re pushed back. You help a woman get into a boat, then someone hands you a baby. You give it to the woman before the boat is lowered.
No more wooden lifeboats left. You try to help the ship’s officers launch one of the four collapsibles when suddenly there’s a thunderous explosion. You’re blown clear of the ship, but after swimming long, hard strokes, your hands swell up, your legs go numb and your back feels like it’s breaking in two.
Cries, screams ringing in your head, people clinging to you, clutching you around the throat, dragging you down underwater. You can’t breathe, you’re choking. Then the cold…the bitter, freezing cold…
The last thing you remember is the pretty girl’s smiling face…
But what if you can’t get topside? It is time to speak of the steerage passengers, who until now have waited patiently for a steward to bring them up on top to get into the lifeboats.
Well, not all the third class passengers have been patient.
How could you be if you’re a good wife and mother and your family’s lot depends on you getting to the lifeboats?
Holy Mary, you’ve had time of it since you boarded the Titanic at Queenstown. Getting the two little ones, Mary and Bridget, settled in their bunks with Danny, a lad of ten, wanting so to follow his da around the ship.
And then there’s Patrick, your man. A strong, blustering bloke with strong hands and a big heart. Him always ready to enjoy a pint after a hard day’s work and eager to give you a hug and a kiss when you’re weary from toiling from dawn till night.
“You’ll have a better life in America,” he promises you, after buying passage on the grand ship. And now look at the lot of you. Huddling in the stairway down here on E deck like drowned rats after the seawater came flooding into your cabin. The ship hit an iceberg, they say, split her open where you’re quartered in the fore part of the ship in the married couples section.
And would you believe the likes of them stewards shouting and hollering to put on lifebelts that don’t exist? Only through the help of the good Lord did Patrick find belts for you and the children. And now they won’t let you through the gate to go topside?
“Have you no heart, man?” Patrick yells to the steward, asking him to let his family through. No, he tells him, you have to wait. Then you put your hands over the girls’ ears when Patrick lets go with a barrage of expletives and his fists. He pushes the steward aside and bangs on the barrier. With help from the other men, down it goes with a loud crash.
Then Patrick picks up the girls, one in each arm, and orders you to grab Danny and go ahead of him. Up the stairs you go, the companionway taking you up to the next deck. Then someone says go through the second class door and somehow through Divine grace you find your way up on top.
Oh, such chaos you’ve never seen. People yelling and rushing about like frightened mice with their tails caught in the jaws of a hungry cat. Patrick, good man that he is, doesn’t stop. From boat to boat he goes until he finds one that will take you and the girls. And Danny.
But not him.
“Women and children first,” orders the ship’s officer, shaking his head. Patrick nods. He knew all along there’s no place for him, but he didn’t let anything stop him until his family was saved.
God bless him.
“A kiss to you, lass,” he says, brushing your lips with his, then he tosses you into the boat and it’s lowered away. You huddle in the lifeboat with your children close to you. The sea is so calm, so smooth, the piercing screams and pitiful pleas for help sound sharp and clear in your ears, but you can’t cry. That will come later. Now you have to be strong. For the girls and Danny.
Patrick would want it that way.
And there you have it. A trio of passengers and how they fare on that fateful night. Then at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the Titanic breaks in two and sinks into the North Atlantic, a pale gray vapor hanging like smoke over the spot where she disappears.
For the passengers and crew, cold and freezing in the lifeboats, it will be hours before the rescue ship Carpathia reaches them. Then it’s on to New York. Between twenty and thirty thousand people crowd Chelsea Piers when the Carpathia steams into New York Harbor around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 1912.
Even the aftermath of the Titanic is dramatic. Reporters hire their own tugboat to try to get to the passengers first and buy their exclusives stories; the newspapers blast the headlines for days about the society folks on board (third class passengers don’t fare as well—they’re sent to homeless shelters and their names don’t appear on the survivors’ list); and the U.S. Senate subcommittee holds hearings at the Waldorf-Astoria, interviewing first class passengers and crew.
We’ve come to the end of our journey on the Titanic and a grand tale it is. Before I go, I want to take one last look at the ship of dreams.
I want to take one more walk down her sweeping Grand Staircase with the great glass dome overhead like Katie O’Reilly, my heroine, does in Titanic Rhapsody. I see the stars peeking through, heavenly witnesses to all that is elegant and romantic.
A place of enchantment where everything is unique to this time, this place. Katie can’t believe she’s really here and neither can I.
I quicken my pace and leave the ship, knowing the Titanic will stay with me always.
Leave me a comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of Titanic Rhapsody.
I’ll draw a name from all the comments on April 15th.
(PDF, prc, or ePub available)
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
So how could I not put up a Princess video with a magic shamrock theme?
Here is the latest in my “Princess Chronicles” — video romance poems about being a princess. In this story, we meet a princess who’s not looking for a prince but a job!!
Imagine if you’re a Princess and you’re out of work. What do you do? Pawn your tiara? Sell your glass slipper on eBay?
What if a fairy tells you a magic shamrock can give you the courage you need to find a job? Find out what happens in “The Princess and the Magic Shamrock.”
The Princess and the Magic Shamrock from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.
Happy Patrick’s Day!!
Mardi Gras is over…but it’s never too late to look for the man of your dreams!!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
I’ve got not one but two special videos today to celebrate the holiday.
First is my video poem: The Princess and the Stilettos.
The story of the princess and the stilettos…and how she found her prince is a Valentine’s Day video poem told in rhyme and pictures with music and my voiceover.
Riley Murphy is a kissing virgin, waiting for the right guy to come along. Until she joins the Drama Club at Holywell High and has to kiss the class dweeb on stage in front of the whole school on Valentine’s Day.
Virgin Kiss is a short story
Music: Sweeter Vermouth Kevin MacLeod (www.incompetech.com)
World War II Art stolen by Nazis: will Capt. O’Casey rescue the beautiful Sister Angelina from the Nazis in time?
In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been posting about the wonderful new film starring George Clooney, Monuments Men, and the story of art stolen by the Nazis during WW2. I’ve posted some excerpts from my WW2 story A Soldier’s Italian Christmas: One Two Three Four Five.
In Excerpt No. 6, Sister Angelina has the Cross of St. Cecilia hidden in her pocket as the Nazi major threatens her…will her handsome American captain save her in time?
The video is what I call a “living photo” of the hero and heroine. No sound, just their photos arranged in an interesting manner.
His eyes burned fire, the rage inside him so intense all Mack could think about was sending the major to hell so fast he’d slide all the way down the black hole on his burning ass.
“Drop it, Major, or you’re dead.”
World War II Art stolen by Nazis: will Capt. O’Casey rescue the beautiful Sister Angelina from the Nazis?
The Nazi stiffened, as if he couldn’t believe anyone would dare invade his sanctuary. “I didn’t expect the Fifth Army so soon,” he said, tightening his hold on Angelina’s arm so hard she cried out in pain. Mack wanted to jump him and make him pay for that, but he held back. A fool’s move. The man was inhuman and would strike like a cobra to save his own skin.
“We’re here, Major.” Mack didn’t breathe as the two men sized each other up. “Get used to it.”
“I beg to differ. These hills are filled with my men, nests of machine guns pointed directly at your so-called invasion.”
“Don’t count on it. We outnumber you two to one.”
“You’re a convincing liar, Captain, but I don’t believe you.” He held Angelina tighter. “You came here alone.”
“Which puts us on even ground.”
He raised a brow. “I’m not falling for your tricks, Captain.”
“It’s no trick. Your two guards are in no position to come to your aid.”
The major ground his teeth and dragged back the girl’s head, the barrel of his Luger under her chin. “That presents quite a dilemma, Captain. You kill me, but not before I shoot the beautiful nun. It’s like bluffing at poker. You don’t always win.”
“Why, you bastard—” Mack snapped.
“I see I’ve struck a nerve. This isn’t the first time you two have met.” The major smirked. “Did she share with you the secret of Monte d’Oro Rose in the dark? Then let you steal a kiss?” He pushed harder. “Did she promise you more if you helped her find where the priest hid the treasure?”
“Don’t listen to him, Captain,” Angelina cried out.
Mack didn’t take the bait. He looked at Angelina’s face, her eyes meeting his. She looked down. A signal. If he squinted hard enough, he could see the bulge in her pocket. The cross was safe.
“Let her go, Major,” he warned, “or I’ll blow your brains out.”
“Not a pleasant thought, Captain. May I suggest we settle this like officers and gentlemen.” He paused. “Unless you’re not a gentleman.”
“I come from Brooklyn, Major. We settle things there with our fists. Put down your gun and we’ll see who’s the better man.”
“What fools you Americans are. You think you can defeat the German Army with your brashness and crude tactics. Our troops are better trained, our generals more organized, and we know the terrain.”
“But we have something you don’t, Major, and it’s a helluva lot more powerful than your storm troopers and tanks.”
He looked smug. “I doubt it.”
“We’re fighting this war because we believe in Mom and apple pie. And yeah, one more thing.”
“What is that?”
“Freedom. To think what we like, go where we want, and pray to our God, no matter what we call Him,” Mack said. “You Nazis have taken that freedom away from the people in every country you invade and they’ll fight like hell to get it back. Your goosestepping soldiers in their hobnail boots don’t stand a chance. In the end, you’ll lose.”
He tightened his grip on Angelina. “It’s you who will lose, Captain.” He shoved the pistol against her skull. “Don’t try anything or she dies.”
Will Mack save his beautiful Angelina? Find out in A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.”
Here’s the trailer:
Also, here’s an extended video excerpt from Chapter One of A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.”
Thank you for coming with me on my journey back to 1943 to Italy, lost art treasures, and forbidden love.
George Clooney’s fascinating new film, “Monuments Men,” explores the Allied Forces mission to retrieve art masterpieces stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
But what if a sacred relic from a saint was also in danger of falling into Nazi hands?
Here’s the backstory of the Cross of Saint Cecilia from my recent post as it appears in my romance novella, A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
“A strange tale about a sacred cross that protects its wearer from harm in battle. A gift to the Church from a noble crusader grateful to have been spared during the siege of Constantinople. On his deathbed, he gave it to his wife to take to the Vatican in Rome, but she never completed her journey. She sought refuge in the monastery during a storm but she later died. According to the legend, she gave the cross to the abbot for safekeeping, but he wanted the artifact for himself and poisoned her. He hid the relic in a secret place on the hill, but he was later exiled for his black deeds. No one has ever been to find the exact spot where he hid the cross.”
In Excerpt No. 5, Sister Angelina is being interrogated by the Nazi major seeking the cross. He’s commandeered the monastery for his headquarters. She prays the handsome American, Captain Mack O’Casey, will find her…
*****Spoiler this scene appears later in the novella
“Where is the Cross of St. Cecilia?”
“I don’t know.” He [the major] pushed his knee between her legs, making her squirm, and then ripped her sleeve, exposing her bare shoulder. She backed away from him, crossing her arms over her breasts. He came up behind her, grabbing her around the waist.
Please, Father in heaven, help me. She flinched when she felt the heavy cross in her pocket hit her thigh.
“I don’t believe you.” The major pulled a Luger from his holster and then pointed the pistol at her temple. She heard an unnerving click when he cocked the hammer. “Tell me where Father Tom hid the cross or you’ll meet your God before you take your next breath.”
* * * * *
By the time Mack saw the tall doors leading into the library, he was in such a heightened state of awareness he was as dangerous as a lethal weapon. Every nerve in his body on alert, every muscle wired, every thought primed for battle. He took long strides, his heavy boots making no sound. He focused solely on his mission, having forfeited the right to any emotional attachment.
Until he heard a woman scream.
Then all hell broke loose. Angelina was in the hands of that madman.
Mack checked his rifle, his ammo, keeping his breathing steady. He took a calming breath and focused on the moment, taking no time to wipe the sweat off his face. He’d only seen the inside of the library through the peephole, which meant he’d have a different perspective of the room once he was inside. Every second counted. He had to sweep the room with his eyes, take down whatever threat awaited him, and find the girl. The situation was fluid, uncontrollable, and he had no backup until Sergeant Duffy got back here to bring up the rear.
Even as he calculated his next move, Mack kept an ear open for the sound of her voice, her scream telling him Angelina was still alive. The idea of that bastard hurting her caused such feverish agitation in his soul he had to rely on his training to get the job done. God knows, his mind was reeling with crazy thoughts that could get them both killed if he made a mistake.
Rifle raised, finger on the trigger, Mack kicked open the library doors.
The sight that greeted him turned his guts inside out.
His beautiful Angelina was a prisoner of the Nazi. She attempted to hold up her torn bodice, her pale, creamy shoulder exposed, her hair hanging to her waist. Death stared her in the face and yet she refused to cower before the German. It scared the hell out of him.
The major pointed his Luger at her head.
Will Mack save his beautiful Sister Angelina? Check back for Excerpt No. 6 in A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
Also, here’s an extended video excerpt from Chapter One of A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.” I used beautiful photos from www.Dreamstime.com to put it together with my voiceover and music by Kevin MacLeod www.incompetech.com
Is it only lust for precious art that fuels the Nazi major’s desire to loot the Monastery at Monte D’Oro Rose? Or is it his curiosity about the beautiful nun guarding the treasure? Find out in today’s post Excerpt 4 from my romance novella, A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
It was such a fascinating time when the Allied Forces sought to recover the precious art stolen by the Nazis as we see in George Clooney’s new film “Monuments Men.”
A search of a more intimate nature takes place in the following excerpt from my romance novella, A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
This scene takes place at a point in the story when Sister Angelina has found the relic and hidden the Cross of Saint Cecilia in the pocket of her nun’s habit.
Excerpt No. 4:
“What have you done with the paintings, Major?” she asked again, keeping her voice steady. “Artwork archived by the monks for hundreds of years. Where is it? Berlin?”
The major raised a brow. “I assure you the works will be well cared for in a secure warehouse facility in the Austrian Alps.”
Angelina let out a deep sigh. “So far from home.” Her skin crawled at the thought of her country’s finest art gone forever. She squeezed her eyes shut and saw the gilded framed paintings in her mind’s eye. The richness of reds and oranges so vibrant like the sun warmed them with its glow. Blues deeper than midnight. Greens as shiny as new grass. My God, how could she have not dared to speak up before? “These priceless paintings and statues belong to the Church and the people of Monte d’Oro Rose, not your Reich. Have you no heart, Major?”
“Your opinion of me is rather disturbing, Sister,” he said, his voice so cold she felt the chill return. She’d touched a nerve. “Not all Nazis are brutes.”
“Aren’t you?” She glared at him and saw the fury in his eyes. Gray soulless eyes picking at her flesh.
Without saying a word, the German officer put down the illuminated manuscript and walked over to a large globe standing in the corner. Nearby stood a black lacquer screen with a bird motif. The sphere was weathered by time and countless fingers spinning the ball. He added his own and the world turned round and round.
“I am a Prussian by birth,” said the major, watching the globe blur before his eyes. “My father was an industrialist known for his shrewd business maneuvers, which left no time for his son. My mother cared more for her garden than raising her child. She handed me over to the peculiar upbringing of my governess, an impoverished noblewoman with a taste for sour pickles. Every morning she’d take me outside the gate to see the vegetable man with his horse and cart. Then she made me recite Goethe and grab a fresh pickle for her from the tin bucket on the side of the cart.” He spit on the bare floor, the Oriental rug that once covered the smooth stone gone. “I have a distaste for both pickles and Goethe.”
Her fingers tightened on the hidden cross. “But not for art.”
He nodded. “I studied art history in Vienna, including the works of Michelangelo and Bernini. I also became familiar with the treasures of the Vatican and aspired to teach. But my father insisted I join the Nazi Party. With my facility for languages, I came to the attention of our Fuehrer.” The high ranking officer couldn’t help but gloat. “After I proved myself in the Gestapo, he assigned me to take charge of the art appropriation for his new museum in Linz.”
“That doesn’t give you the right to shoot innocent people and take away their souls by depriving their children of their heritage.” Her cheeks turned pink, her heart pounded, her passion to plead her case so strong she forgot she was speaking to a man who could take her life on a whim. “What more is left for us to give?”
The major picked up the manuscript and opened it to a bookmarked page. He read silently, his eyes moving over the page in a precise manner. Avid curiosity in every eye movement.
Finally, he said, “The treasure of Monte d’Oro Rose.”
The cross. Why didn’t I give it to the captain? He’s a good man. I trust him with my life.
“It’s just a legend,” Angelina insisted, barely maintaining her composure. “It doesn’t exist.” She resisted the impulse to ask him what he knew about the cross. That would be far more dangerous.
“Doesn’t it?” He read from the illuminated page, its border shimmering with gold scrolling, “ ‘He who prays to Saint Cecilia shall find the cross delivered to her by the Lord buried deep among the golden blooms.’ ”
The yellow roses.
Father Tom must have found the cross hidden under the trinity of bushes, but how?
Check back for the final excerpt from A Soldier’s Italian Christmas