Thursday, February 1, 2018

Excerpt & Tour: The Renaissance Club by Rachel Dacus

Title: The Renaissance Club
Author: Rachel Daucus
Genre/Age: Fantasy Romance/Adult
Series: None
Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing
SynopsisMay Gold, college adjunct, often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis - Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who invented the Baroque.

But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend who is paying her way. She yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit, and when the floor under the gilded dome of St Peter’s basilica rocks under her feet, she gets her chance. Walking through the veil that appears, she finds herself in the year 1624, staring straight into Bernini’s eyes. Their immediate and powerful attraction grows throughout May’s tour of Italy. And as she continues to meet her ethereal partner, even for brief snatches of time, her creativity and confidence blossom. All the doorways to happiness seem blocked for May-all except the shimmering doorway to Bernini’s world.

May has to choose: stay in her safe but stagnant existence, or take a risk. Will May’s adventure in time ruin her life or lead to a magical new one?

~ Praise for The Renaissance Club ~

Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time. In THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, passion, art, and history come together in this captivating tale of one woman’s quest to discover her true self and the life she’s meant to lead. Rachel Dacus deftly crafts a unique and spellbinding twist to the time-traveling adventure that’s perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon. — Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

The Renaissance Club is a beautifully written story about a woman torn between two worlds—the present and the distant past. This time-travel adventure kept me guessing until the end about which world May would choose, and if that choice would be the right one. Highly recommended for lovers of time travel fiction or anyone looking for a compelling story about a woman trying to find happiness. — Annabelle Costa, Author of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend

The Renaissance Club shimmers with beauty, poetry, and art. Author Rachel Dacus sweeps her readers away to Italy with her, lifting the senses with the sights, sounds, and tastes of that stunning country; imparting her deep knowledge of Renaissance and Baroque art while immersing the reader in a gorgeously romantic story. This book is time travel at its best! — Georgina Young-Ellis, author of The Time Mistress Series

He lowered the rod and at last, smiled. Historians had written that his smile could charm anyone, but he had never been painted smiling. What a shame.

“Why are you, a woman, studying my art?” His voice wasn’t deep but it was vibrant, with an Italian lilt. “Women only study languages, lute playing, babies, and needlework.”

“I’m a different kind of woman.” She remembered what a range of women he had known, from models to noblemen’s wives. In his era, women’s decent occupations could be listed in five lines.

“I do not wish to be rude, but because of your sex you cannot study art.”

“I’m an exception.” She enjoyed the way that startled him.

“What are you called?” he demanded.

“My name is May Gold.”

He bowed. “Signorina May Gold, Cavaliere Bernini is at your service! Your golden skin makes me think you are perhaps from Egypt, where women aren’t properly schooled in manners.”

She smiled at what he thought would be an insult. “I’m half Italian and half Jewish. And I am a student of your work, despite my sex.”

“How can that be?”

His superior certainty made the sarcasm pinch, but she knew he couldn’t easily understand. She might as well tell him what he would find unbelievable. “I’m a historian studying Baroque art, and you’re the focus of my study.”

He laughed loudly. “A woman historian? Impossible! And I know nothing of your Baroque. I am merely—” he bowed insincerely “—a genius of sculpture and architecture.”

“You invented the style called Baroque, and I know all about your art.”

“If you know so much, define for me the Golden Section!”

He was so sure of himself, but she was sure too. She answered, “The Golden Section is the division of a unit of length in two, so that the ratio of the shorter part to the longer part equals the ratio of the longer to the whole.”

He stared. Suddenly, he laughed uproariously. “Nicely recited! I cannot imagine what strange country you have come from.”

He walked around her, and she caught his scent, a mingling of wine, lavender, and sweat. Sniffing her too, he said, “You have no smell and your clothes are clean. You know the Golden Section. You can become my biographer.”

“Yes, I will be.”

“Good! Signorina May, your being a woman makes it much more interesting.”

His glance swept up and down, as if she were a block of marble to be tackled.

“Well? Do I pass inspection?”

He didn’t answer, but he took a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it. It was covered with sketches of faces. He took out a stump of charcoal and began to draw. She imagined her face emerging among the other faces. She pulled herself up, aware that her breathing was short, and that it was evident, given her low-cut neckline. “You’re sketching me?”

His glances hurried back and forth. “I see shapes everywhere. You have some good ones. I want to capture them.”

Her portrait, drawn by Bernini! Her curly hair captured by his rhythmic lines, the waves and flowing forms he always put into his art.

“Your beauty is interrupted by your brows, which are too thick,” he observed.

Standards of beauty were different in his century. She remembered the delicate eyebrows on Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, giving her an ethereal grace echoed in all of Botticelli’s models. Such fine eyebrows must be rare.

“You must see lots of heavy eyebrows,” she said.

“Yes, they are common in Rome,” he said. “For a long nose, yours is very fine.”

With a definitive stroke, he finished. He held up the sketch.

She beheld her image as drawn by her favorite artist. Delighted, she said, “It’s beautiful! But you made me look so serious.”

“You are serious. Your face has important flaws, and they combine to suggest a deeper truth of your spirit.”

He had echoed her eyebrow’s arch in the curves of her braid, and repeated those curves in her lips and shoulders. In his sketch, she was something between ethereal and sensuous, as well as idealized.

“You have pleased Bernini with your well-shaped eye,” he said. “Now go and use it to study another artist.” He folded up the paper and tucked it into his shirt.

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Rachel Dacus is the daughter of a bipolar rocket engineer who blew up a number of missiles during the race-to-space 1950’s. He was also an accomplished painter. Rachel studied at UC Berkeley and has remained in the San Francisco area. Her most recent book, Gods of Water and Air, combines poetry, prose, and a short play on the afterlife of dogs. Other poetry books are Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau.

Her interest in Italy was ignited by a course and tour on the Italian Renaissance. She’s been hooked on Italy ever since. Her essay “Venice and the Passion to Nurture” was anthologized in Italy, A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience. When not writing, she raises funds for nonprofit causes and takes walks with her Silky Terrier. She blogs at Rocket Kid Writing.

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