Tuesday, June 12, 2012
ExcerpTuesday: Jannine Corti Petska
Prior to this scene, Alessa was in the French quarter, standing in the street, frozen because she thought she saw a Spirit. It was dangerous for women to be alone surrounded by Frenchmen, especially at night. Out of nowhere, a man from atop his horse whisks her up and away. “Unhand me!” Alessa shouted, fearing a French soldier had swept her off the street. If only she knew how to say it in French. Adding to her misery, rain started to fall. Drops as large as grapes crashed onto her back. It wasn’t long before the heavens opened up with a torrential downpour, soaking her to the bone. Despite her sodden clothing hampering her movements, she found the courage to fight, pounding her fists on the man’s arm. And in spite of her precarious perch, she flailed and twisted. A muffled curse exploded above her head. The man flipped her onto her stomach to stop her brave attempts to get away. Just when she feared her ribs were about to shatter, the horse ceased its swift gait. Of a sudden, she slid downward, guided by a strong hand grasping her upper arm. Worried the stranger might lose his grip and drop her, Alessa clutched at whatever was close in hand, anything to keep her from falling to the hard cobblestone. Her fingers closed around something brittle. It wasn’t what she hoped for, and she landed on her backside in a puddle of water at the entrance to Fabroni’s shop. Shivering, she clenched her teeth and struggled to stand. She endeavored to untangle the mess of wet hair from her face. Every breath she took intensified the pain in her ribs, but she was determined to learn the identity of her abductor. “Almighty! What manner of beast are you?” she shouted above the storm’s fury when finally she pushed the last of her hair aside. Shielding her eyes from the unrelenting raindrops, she gawked up at the dark-cloaked figure. When he pushed his hood back, Alessa gasped. The tutor’s eyes glowed hotly through the cold. “You be the judge, mademoiselle.” Alessa stumbled backward and bumped into the door. The gentleman her cousin had spoken of was gone, replaced by a demon more frightening than any she conjured up in her head. “Why did you not identify yourself before snatching my feet from the ground and brutally handling me upon your horse?” “Better me than a Frenchman,” came his forceful reply. He threw his leg over the flank of the fine animal and dismounted. “What will it take for you to learn the dangers a woman faces while walking alone in Naples? Did you know where you were?” Between her aching ribs and the tutor’s misplaced rage, Alessa’s own fury rose. “As my tutor, your rights do not exceed teaching me French.” He struggled with his mouth, as if he knew not whether to keep silent or speak. His gaze Dropped then. Alessa followed his lead, at first baffled by what caused the sudden lustful burning in his eyes. Her cloak had folded behind her, and her wet clothing conformed to the contours of her body. Imagination be damned. Every bit of her was boldly outlined. She held her breath when the tutor’s hand reached around her arm to release the latch and swing open the door. The meager touch of interior heat instantly warmed her back, but it was the tutor’s piercing look that thawed the chill from the rest of her. “Take heed, Signorina Podesta. I may be your tutor, but I am not beyond teaching you more than French.” Bio: Jannine Corti Petska was born in New York but raised in Southern California. Her parents' first language was Italian, and Jannine was raised in an Old World environment. She began writing romance novels when her three daughters were young and she was a stay-at-home mom. In-between writing and caring for her family, she tutored Italian, Spanish, German, and English as a Second Language at a local college. Although she loves placing her stories in medieval Italy, she has also written romantic tales of the cowboy in the American West. Jannine lives in Southern California with her husband of 40 years and three high-energy Rat Terriers. To find out more about Jannine, please visit her website. www.jcortipetska.com Blurb, DANTE’S FLAME Alessandra Podesta writes illicit tales unsuitable for a young lady. Exasperated, her father sends her to visit relatives in Naples to curb her wild imagination. But in her undying need for adventure, she toys with the affections of her tutor and is forced to marry him. When she unknowingly falls into a dangerous game of supremacy between two countries, she trusts the wrong people and endangers her life. French tutor Dante Santangelo is secretly aiding the French in maintaining their rule over Naples. When he is manipulated into marrying the visiting cousin of the Valente Family, he seizes upon the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the family, who are under suspicion of helping the Spanish. When Alessandra's life is in jeopardy Dante must choose between love and duty. Will he offer up his life to save Alessandra? Or remain duty-bound to the French?