So the angel hadn’t been a dream.
“Can you hear me?” she murmured, gilded curls falling around her face.
“Reading you loud and clear, babe.” He tried grinning though the result was meager at best. Voice raw against his throat, he tried again. “Ciao, bella.”
She beamed, and his heart’s dull pulse strengthened into a pounding anvil. “Hello,” she replied. “I am here to help you.”
Glancing down at the sullied rag in her hand, he frowned. “You’re a nurse.”
“I know a bit about nursing, si,” she replied, voice light and a bit breathy. “But mostly I am here to translate.”
Oh, yeah. Because this is Veneto. And I’m in serious trouble. “You don’t work for the Germans, do you?” he asked wearily.
Another smile bloomed. This time his heart simply hammered to a halt then flipped over and rebounded, banging with renewed vigor. “There are no Germans here. You are safe.”
She’d said that, hadn’t she? While he’d drifted. She’d pulled him out of the black, aimless sea with that breathy voice. Glancing down between them, he saw the hand covering his and turned his over to return the hold. “What’s your name, miss?”
“Lucille,” she murmured, intriguing green eyes dancing down to their joined fingers before they rose back to his. He detected the deepening color in her cheeks, but she didn’t let go. “My name is Lucille Renaldi.”
“Lucille Renaldi.” As names went, it was pretty damn perfect. “Miss or missus?”
Her brow creased in confusion. “Scusa?”
“Are you married?”
Surprise trickled over her face and even as her lips twitched in humor, her face’s rosy glow darkened farther. “No, I am not married.”
Jesus, how was this not a dream?
“Can you tell me what ails you?”
At the moment, it happened to be his groin—typically ahead of his brain after surfacing from a good, long nap. He doubted her nursing would go as far as that part of the anatomy though the image entertained all the same. “Well, my head’s drumming a good bit. But it’s the arm that’s worrying me.”
“Your arm?” Pursing her lips, she reached for his limp right hand. “May I?”
Yes. Please. Touch me. “Sure,” he said after studiously clearing his throat.
As she leaned across the bed, he noticed that the satin gown that made her look so angelic was stained with blood. He’d put his head in her lap, he remembered with a grimace, just before he’d conked out practically in her arms.
The image did nothing to salve his banged-up ego.
She smelled like peaches and roses, a heady combination he inhaled heartily as her gentle hand felt along his injured arm. American women didn’t smell this amazing. At least, he didn’t remember them that way.
Currently, calling up any face but Lucille Renaldi’s was a wasted effort. Even his dear mother’s face, a memory he usually had no trouble procuring, seemed farther than the long miles that separated him from the family farm near the Atlantic Coast.
“I should remove your jacket,” she explained, meeting his eyes again.
Better and better. “Sorry?”
“Your jacket,” she reiterated, a worry bar forming between her eyes as if she feared for his mind. “I’m afraid I can’t feel much through it. I’ll have to remove it to see if your arm is broken or not.”
“Sure.” He shifted to rear up but stopped when those sheened curls fell around him as she curled an arm underneath his shoulders to help him rise. Hell, when in Rome… The lightheadedness crawled back…though that might’ve been the effects of her perfume.
She helped him into a sitting position. Before his hand could lift an inch, her fingers latched onto the first button of his jacket.
A sharp voice called out in alarm behind her and her hands fumbled to a halt. They both looked around, and Charles saw the crowd filling the small bedroom. He frowned. None present looked approving. Two men in expensive suits and an older woman with eyes like cold, gleaming daggers aimed right at his traitorous heart.
Here to translate, Lucille had said. That would make the strangers the welcome wagon.
He cleared his throat and lifted his good hand in lame greeting. “Ciao.”
Lucille hammered out a stream of Italian. Raising his brow, he watched her Cupid’s bow mouth move and admired both the speed of her words and the romantic rhythm of her language.
Dennis had been dead on. Angels lived in Italy. And it looked like Lucille Renaldi was his.
You just read an excerpt from:
Amber Leigh Williams
Buy Link: Black Lyon Publishing
Readers can buy it now at Black Lyon Publishing. It is also available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo!
Amber: Hi Linda! Thanks for having me! I’m published in several sub-genres of romance under the pen name Amber Leigh Williams – romantic suspense, romantic adventure, western romance, and historical romance. I’m currently working on the latter half of my paranormal romance series and revising the first book in my contemporary romance saga based in my hometown on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.
Kage: What happened to the first book you ever wrote?
Amber: I began writing my historical romance, then titled “Love Among the Ruins” when I was sixteen. I completed work on it in 2004 and began submitting it the following year. As with most first books, it wasn’t ready for publication or representation so it went through a battery of revisions and edits before I was satisfied with it. The hard work paid off and it was published as FOREVER AMORE by Black Lyon Publishing in September 2009. The story is special not just because it was my first manuscript; it takes place during World War II and is dedicated to those who survived insurmountable odds and found love during that era. Those are the people who inspired Charles and Lucille’s extraordinary journey.
Kage:What’s your backlist and coming soon bookshelf look like?
Amber: DENIED ORIGIN is my romantic suspense, published with The Wild Rose Press. It’s available now in ebook and paperback. Similarly, my historical romance, FOREVER AMORE, which was nominated by Long & Short Reviews for Best Book of 2009 is available now in ebook and paperback from Black Lyon Publishing. My western romance trilogy, which was first published in ebook from The Wild Rose Press is now available as an audio book collection from AudioLark. The first book in the trilogy, BLACKEST HEART, which was the 1st Place Novella in 2009’s More Than Magic Contest is featured in the paperback anthology, THE WAY BACK HOME.
Kage: Which story are we going to talk about today?
Amber: Here’s a peak into FOREVER AMORE…
Amber Leigh Williams
Was their love destined to last forever…
Engaged in a brutal dogfight, dashing American Lieutenant Charles Tyler crashes his broken plane into the Italian countryside. He prays for divine intervention—and is certain he’s found an angel from the very moment he looks up at Lucille Renaldi’s lovely face. Yet how can he be with her when his sense of duty tells him to stay away?
…or become another casualty of war?
Lucille’s attraction to the American is forbidden, her obligation to her family’s safety overwhelming. At great peril the Renaldis carry Charles from the crash site and disguise him as just another worker in their vineyard. Hidden there inside the ugliness of World War II is the beauty of a growing love, and a danger that could end their lives any day—when all they want is…forever.
Kage: What would the story be rated if it were a movie?
Amber: Most of my books would be rated PG-13, but FOREVER AMORE might be a bit sexier. Once Charles and Lucille’s romance really gets going, they steam things up quite a bit ;) .
Kage: If you HAD to fit this story into a cliché, which one would it be?
Amber: FOREVER AMORE is most definitely a forbidden love story and secret romance. She’s the daughter of an aristocratic winemaker and sympathetic to the Allied cause who begs her father to take in an injured pilot at great risk to the Renaldi family because the region is on the verge of Axis control. Though Charles is eager to rejoin the Allied front so the Renaldis are no longer endangered by his presence, she insists on teaching him Italian and giving him time to heal. In the process, they are unable to ignore their attraction to one another and fall deeply in love.
Kage:Okay, now that we have a general idea which class to fit FOREVER AMORE under, what makes this book so unique from every other book out there?
Amber: FOREVER AMORE is set in 1944-45 Italy. It starts out in Veneto and continues on to Milan and, finally, Florence. It’s unique because I feel like it’s hard to find World War II romances, much less WWII stories based in Italy. When I first began writing FOREVER AMORE almost ten years ago now, it was very difficult to find historical details on the region of Veneto, in particular – almost to a discouraging degree. Thankfully, over the years factual material and historical data became easier to find, which shaped the pieces of the story born out of the long revision process. For example, a scene in which the American hero is working as a spy in Milan would never have found the page if I had given up on research. In addition, I learned the horrible lengths the people of Italy – men in particular – treated Italian women who married or befriended Allied soldiers, which my heroine experiences as a result of her forbidden romance with Charles.
Kage:What was the easiest part to write?
Amber: As always, the part of any story that comes most naturally to me is the dialogue, especially if I know the characters. Before I begin writing any story, I like to know my major plot points and where I want my characters to wind up, all of which will likely shine a light on their GMC (Goal/Motivation/Conflict). Dialogue is really the only part of the story that I do write by the seat of my pants anymore because by the time I get to the scene, I’m already familiar with the characters and their situation. Despite my pre-plotting tendencies, I absolutely love when a character gives me a dialogue challenge. For example, with FOREVER AMORE based in Italy, I had to learn a good deal of Italian.
Kage:What do you like most about the main character(s) and what do you like least? Did you learn anything from them?
Amber: With FOREVER AMORE in particular, I learned a fundamental lesson in character development. Over the course of six revisions, Charles went from a cardboard-cutout hero to a layered and motivated alpha. It was incredibly rewarding to watch him grow and evolve into the man that Lucille deserves from the moment he steps onto the page. It’s one of the many reasons I’m so proud of the book as a whole.
Kage: Amber, thank you so much for stopping by today and gracing us with your presence. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to say to wrap things up?
Amber: The Baker City Herald describes FOREVER AMORE as
“A beautiful love story woven with suspense to make you race through the page!” Coffee Time Romance adds, “The setting of Italy during World War II is an exciting one filled with political intrigue and danger from all sides. The author has brought the era to life and filled it with some memorable characters…from the first page to the last one.”
In addition to a Best Book of 2009 nomination, Long & Short Reviews awarded FOREVER AMORE with a “Best Book” review:
“A dynamic war-time romance novel. The love of the two main characters is wonderful, frank, and exciting. It is the age-old story of forbidden love. We feel very clearly the terror of invasion, the potential loss of family or home. The events here make the people who lived and struggled in World War II seem a finer sort than ordinary humanity. This makes this story, this lovely romance, all the more moving. There are so many scenes worth noting, that I fear this would become novel in its discussion. Suffice to say this features everything from dogfights to intimacy, love to desperation. Williams has a particularly poetic turn of phrase and has brought the romantic back to romance.”
If you're still curious about Amber, here are other places to find her on the web:
Goodreads: Amber Leigh Williams