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Nancy Minnis Damato
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The fulfillment of Taylor Pickett’s dream is lost when she sails for France with her children, Lily, James and Amanda. In 1914,Taylor and the three siblings face the outbreak of WWI separated. Unable to communicate, trapped in Belgium, France and Italy, they each must depend on the only weapon they have to survive--boldness, self-sacrifice, courage, or blind stubbornness.
Tall palms and lush white, pink, and mauve hydrangeas edged the steep streets of Nice. Below, the Ligurian Sea stretched southeast in a glittering azure blue meeting with the Mediterranean Sea. Despite Taylor’s frenzied state of mind, the beauty of white-washed stone buildings banked by the clear cerulean waters took her breath. Boats of all sizes and shapes crowded the busy French seaport.
Taylor rode her mount alongside Mr. Dupaune on his, each of them leading a horse of exquisite beauty. When they left Château Rose barely enough light existed to avoid ruts and roots in the road. Now the ride had whittled away six hours. Because of the summer drought and the unusually heavy August downpours, the tumbling boulders and piles of loose rock from the sporadic white cliffs of the foothills had slowed their speed. They’d wasted hours in Marseille seeking passage.
The friends contacted in Marseille gave them the name of a reputable cargo ferry in Nice that might accept her and the horses. The listing showed an estimated sailing sometime after the market closed, around three o’clock. Little more than two hours. Taylor hardly relished the idea of three days on a packed, lumbering delivery boat, but the valuable horses would not sail without her. In Marseille, historically known as the pirate’s harbor, captains of the freighters would not permit a woman alone to travel aboard their vessel. They had their superstitions. However, shipping her horses had been welcomed and heavily solicited.
Not knowing how long she might be in Italy negotiating with Nick, Taylor decided to first visit the family lawyer in Nice and settle legal matters concerning the workings of the Château in her absence. In particular she itched to authorize documents directing French authorities to pursue and arrest the Count. After that she needed to talk with James about Amanda and convey the urgency of her plans. Her absence would demand that he set aside time for more trips to the Château. Someone must oversee the foaling produced by the seed of the white bulls she had brought from Avignon to augment the Château’s income.
Worry about her daughter made it difficult for Taylor to concentrate on the business at hand. Would Amanda be with Nick by now? Taylor’s gut tightened with fear of what the Contessa might do when Amanda arrived. Had Nick thought of that, or in his obsession neglected to paint his wife into the picture? Amanda would be afraid. She was never alone, always with family or the workers. Taylor held back a sob. I’ve failed again--and I promised not to let this child feel neglected.
At James’ rooming house, the manager chattered excitedly. “The boys have all gone down to the café to celebrate Monsieur Garnier’s send-off. The young man has enlisted.” The squat man placed his hand over his heart. “When the Lieutenant came back to store his belongings, he also ordered James and Stirling’s property sent elsewhere. They might return here, to inspect their room, but I think they left to share quarters with a new roommate. Monsieur Garnier kept babbling about the glorious war, and since the rent was paid ahead, I didn’t ask questions.”
When she reached James’ favorite café, the waiter said, “Everyone has gone to the train station for the send-off. You may find your son there, but with difficulty I assure you. Tens of hundreds have arrived to join in this little war and bask in the admiration of the coveys of girls.
Taylor arrived in time to see a trainload of boisterous young men waving happy good-byes to the cheering throng. She and Dupaune searched among the onlookers for James, but with no luck. “We’ll return to the rooming house. Perhaps the boys have finished celebrating.”
Sitting in the boarding place at the manager’s desk, Taylor dashed off a brief note, then folded and sealed the contents. She handed the paper to the squat man. “Please see that James receives this when he returns.”
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 ePress
No. of Pages: 344
Paper Weight (lb): 14.2
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