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Come along, reader friends! It’s time to take a literary journey to Tuscany, Italy courtesy of Marion Ueckermann and in celebration of her story, That’s Amore (book 1 of the multi-author A Tuscan Legacy series). Plus, there’s a giveaway!
When Autumn Macarthur and I started throwing about ideas for the A Tuscan Legacy series, which of course wasn’t called that at the time, she had a character in a different series that had ties to Italy. Once we’d decided on Tuscany as our storyworld, this image sealed the deal and the villa below became the setting for Villa Rossi.
For the hotel that my heroine stayed in, I used the place we stayed. Why reinvent the wheel?
Here are three storyworld excerpts:
#1 As the orange ball dipped beneath the horizon, Jayne watched the skyline’s palette morph from bursts of burnt umber and gold to the pinks and deep blues of early evening. Her heart swooned at the sight. How quickly she’d fallen in love with these Tuscan sunsets.
#2 Jayne dropped the keycard into the small side pocket of her handbag, and they strolled to the car—the aroma of jasmine permeating the early evening air. The sun still had some way to go before it would dip beneath the horizon, and Jayne was glad its late setting would offer them more time together. Or at least it would feel that way.
The drive to Villa Rossi seemed far quicker in Rafaele’s sleek, silver Lexus than in her little Fiat 500 rental. Perhaps it was because she didn’t want the journey to end, knowing full well the return trip later would happen equally as fast.
The double-story stone villa with its brown, wooden shutters and window boxes sprouting green with smidgeons of color was even more impressive up close. Not because of its size though. It actually appeared to be smaller than she thought it would be, possibly because she kept confusing Rafaele’s sibling count with Joseph’s. Of course, there could be more to the villa than what first met the eye. Regardless, the house’s stature came rather from the history that oozed from its façade. It only took a single look to know that many, many people had lived their lives between its walls. She couldn’t wait to hear some of his family’s stories.
As Rafaele led her through one side of the large arched front door—the faded, wooden panels thirsty for a coat of varnish, the tarnished metal knockers crying for a polish—an elderly woman in an apron hurried toward them. A mouthwatering, meaty aroma trailed her from what Jayne presumed was the kitchen. The woman smiled and bowed, clasping her hands together as if in prayer as she babbled on in Italian. The way she kept looking at Jayne and smiling, one would think Jayne was the first girl Rafaele had brought home.
#3 Holding tight to Rafaele, she strolled beside him into the garden filled with familiar scents of jasmine and wisteria. And something else. Something far more intoxicating than the two familiar blossoms. Something sweet, exotic, enchanting.
“What is that delightful aroma?” she asked.
“That’ll be the tiglio tree. You’ll know it better in England as a lime tree.”
Jayne gazed up as they passed under the large, leafy expanse. Tiny pale-yellow umbrella-shaped flowers dotted the canopy.
“The trees have barely begun to bloom. The scent is only stronger because we’re right beneath the tree. It’ll become far more overpowering as the weeks go by though.” Releasing her hand, Rafaele reached up and plucked a bunch of blossoms. He handed them to Jayne.
She wrapped her fingers around the thin stem. “Thank you.” She would press this between some books once she got back to her apartment—treasure it forever.
Marion: My favorite pizza is a Regina. This topping is made up of Ham and Mushrooms.
Beth: I’ll pass on the mushrooms but I am a big fan of pizza! Hawaiian pizza, chicken alfredo, bacon… not all at once but I like a small variety!
Marion: Chocolate brownies from my favorite tea garden, Afroboer, close to my home in Pretoria East, South Africa.
Beth: Oooohhhh, I love brownies! My daughter just baked us a big pan last night!
Marion: A Good Year set in Provence, France, and starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard.
Beth: I have not heard of this movie, looks good!
Marion: Liz Curtis Higgs (had the pleasure of meeting her in person at a women’s conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.)
Beth: She has such a great sense of humor and writes stories with incredible depth as well.
Favorite country to visit
Marion: Scotland (but I guess I’m biased as I’m of Scottish descent).
Beth: It’s in your blood!
What kind of research did you do for A Tuscan Legacy series?
Marion: I was planning a visit to my son in Finland and brother in England a few months after we started brainstorming on A Tuscan Legacy. When my son heard, he told me, “You should go to Italy too.” So we did. A lot of the places we visited have featured in both books I wrote for this series.
Beth: That’s wonderful to incorporate your stories into your travels and vice versa!
What is something most people don’t know about Tuscany?
Marion: Tuscany, and all regions in Italy, have their own specific pasta. The pasta of Tuscany is Pici, and is a very thick, hand-rolled pasta (like fat spaghetti), originating in the province of Siena in Tuscany, in the Montalcino area. The dough is typically made from flour and water only.
We tried it one night in the hotel restaurant and loved it. I also made it once we were home (see pics below) and it was so much fun to do. My grandsons especially loved rolling the “strings”. For me, it felt like I was a child again playing with Plasticine. I’m surprised I didn’t twirl them up into snakes! 🙂
Beth: You’re right, I did not know that! I’d love to sample all the different pastas!
What is the best time of year to visit Tuscany, Italy?
Marion: We visited at the end of May and it was a perfect time…not too hot, not too many tourists, the fields had just been cut and hay bales could be seen everywhere (probably the image that would stick with me most of depicting Tuscany), and the wildflowers were starting to bloom. One thing we didn’t see unfortunately as it was too early was the sunflower fields.
Beth: Oh I despise traveling in the heat, good call!
about the book
When Rafaele and Jayne meet again two years after dancing the night away together in Tuscany, is it a matter of fate or of faith?
After deciding to take a six-month sabbatical, Italian lawyer Rafaele Rossi moves from Florence back to Villa Rossi in the middle of Tuscany, resigned to managing the family farm for his aging nonna after his father’s passing. Convinced a family get-together is what Nonna needs to lift her spirits, he plans an eightieth birthday party for her, making sure his siblings and cousins attend.
The Keswick jewelry store where Jayne Austin has worked for seven years closes its doors. Jayne takes her generous severance pay and heads off to Italy—Tuscany to be precise. Choosing to leave her fate in God’s hands, she prays she’ll miraculously bump into the handsome best man she’d danced the night away with at a friend’s Tuscan wedding two years ago. She hasn’t been able to forget those smoldering brown eyes and that rich Italian accent.
Jayne’s prayers are answered swiftly and in the most unexpected way. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s a guest not only at Isabella Rossi’s birthday party, but at Villa Rossi too.
When Rafaele receives what appears to be a valuable painting from an unknown benefactor, he’s reminded that he doesn’t want to lose Jayne again. After what he’s done to drive her from the villa, though, what kind of a commitment will it take for her to stay?
The Tuscan Legacy series
about the author
USA Today bestselling author, Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places.
Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest’s no longer so empty.
Marion has generously provided a copy of That’s Amore for one Faithfully Bookish reader friend!
Have you traveled to Tuscany, reader friends?
Stay tuned for more spotlights from the authors of A Tuscan Legacy!