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Nancy Minnis Damato
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In 1879, Josefina Taylor’s ambitions are shattered by the Elders of their strict society. To escape she breaks their rules, then faces a life of desperation and fear. The pawn in a plot to destroy everything she values, she fights for her dream.
The stone mansion rose like a sacrificial altar in the midst of the green patchwork fields. Inside, shoulders squared, Josefina Taylor glared across the breakfast table into Father’s cold eyes. "I cannot do what you ask." Her protest hovered at the open windows of the sunroom, threatening to destroy the surrounding serenity.
"Ask?" Josef Taylor bellowed. "Mine is not a request. You will carry out your part as I command, or you will remain locked in this house until your teeth rot and your hair hangs in wisps."
The danger of her platinum curls paling into transparent shreds seemed absurd. I can never live the life Father and the church demand. With Mother’s increasing bouts of melancholia, Josefina had managed Father’s household remarkably well, although he would never agree. No matter how hard she tried, he always furrowed his brow and directed her attention to a shortcoming on her part. Josefina stretched her small frame as tall as possible, her silence thickening the air.
"If that is your mind," Father rasped, "I can accommodate such defiance by withdrawing permission for you to attend François’s banquet this evening." His eyes flashed, "And, for your furtive shopping trip in two days. Rid us all of the gloating you bandy about with such relish."
Josefina waited quietly.
"I should never have allowed Mother to convince me you had earned that foolish coming-of-age gala François orchestrated." Josef slapped his newspaper on the breakfast table. Accompanied by the clatter of nested china, the unfurled print announced BANKERS GATHER.
Josefina jabbed at the dark banner. "After this charade, I will be thought a fool, lacking the sense to make an everyday decision. Any other woman could portray the submissiveness you demand--and to your satisfaction. You know I choke on every word."
Josef rose, scowling, his stocky body forbidding.
"You brought in tutors from outside our community," Josefina reasoned, "to teach me law, history, finance. Pressed me to excel at my studies." Her words tumbled out in rapid fire, sharp and shrill. "Why now, when I stand on the brink of womanhood, do you demand I appear foolish and unschooled before your peers?"
Josefina knew she pressed too hard, and worse, with Father’s least appreciated reasoning. In step with their patriarchal society, Father disapproved of women exhibiting ambition and ignored their competency. Josefina had given up her lifelong dream of serving in Father’s bank after he killed her aspiration with one declaration. "No woman will ever be granted a chair at the table in my board room, nor on any other bank seat--unless she comes seeking mastery of her inheritance."
Despite Father’s feelings, Josefina had no choice but to rely on his investment in her; she had exhausted every other reason to be freed of this pending humiliation.
Father growled, "I indulged your education solely to protect Mother, judging your brothers poorly inclined to protect the family’s interests should I fall into decline. For that lapse, never prove me wrong."
He cleared his throat noisily. "As for this ‘charade’ as you refer to it, a widowed Austrian of title and an Elder of The Church seeks a permanent alliance with Worldwide Bank," Josef shrugged, "obtainable within the rights of a marriage contract." His voice calmed; his gaze appeared preoccupied. "There are children near your age. They will provide you with company."
The hard edge of the chair seat struck Josefina’s backside before she realized her knees had buckled. Widower? Elder? Father had said "provide you with company".
Josef ignored his daughter’s near collapse. "The gossips ruminate over your willfulness and aired ambitions. They warn The Elders I allow you too much privilege. You must prove them just that, rumormongers, without foundation." Josef grabbed up the newspaper and strode across the room. "As for this marriage offer," he declared, "I, too, wish to bind our interests."
"I have a right to choose
Born in Illinois and relocated to Arizona, Nancy uses this background as the settings for the Taylor family trilogy. “I live to write,” Nancy says. “If I were told the end of the world is near, I would type faster.”
Her debut novel, THE PAWN, Book I, released by Wings Press in August, 2005, follows the trials of Josefina Taylor when she’s banished from her family and becomes the pawn in a plot for revenge. The strict society portrayed before Josefina escapes is based on Nancy’s upbringing and stories related by her Grandmother. BELONGING, Book II released by Wings in February, 2006, carries on with the second generation and a young mother’s tested desire to survive and to provide a future for her children. Nancy faced some of the same challenges as a divorcee with two children. SEPARATE WORLDS brings new horizons to Nancy’s storytelling, but still relies on the need for family bonds, no matter how withered or tested, to provide the sustenance of life.
“The intrigue, suspense, and challenges of the characters spice up my life, too. With only the barest outline, normally a timeline, the heroes and heroines of my stories tell me of their heartbreaks and triumphs as we go. Sometimes I’m as surprised as the reader--what fun.”
Celebrating thirty years in a second marriage, with a blended family of one husband, six children scattered throughout the states, fifteen grandchildren, one ferret, one iguana and numerous cats and dogs, Nancy tempers her passion to write with Mah Jong, Canasta, casino runs and a passel of great friends. Besides visiting family and friends, she travels between the healing hot sun of the Arizona desert and the cool canyon breezes of the green Utah mountains.
On her website, www.nancydamto.com, Nancy invites you to send an email with your thoughts about the series. Please do, she enjoys hearing from her fans--and the helpful input of those not-so fans.
Her current novel in progress, TEARS OF A WOMAN, tells of a second chance for a woman who lost the only man she could ever love.
Richly written, The Pawn is a compelling story of intrigue, danger and fame. Peggy P. Parsons w/as Evanell--Glimpse of Eternity, Glimpse of Forever, Glimpse of Never-Ending Love
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 386
Paper Weight (lb): 16.0
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