Title: The Renaissance Club
Author: Rachel Dacus
Genre: Time Travel Romance
Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing
Release Date: January 23rd 2018
* BLURB *
May 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?
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EXCERPT from Chapter 16
“Where are we?” she asked Bernini.
“This is the tavern of my friend Ruffino.”
“Why are you penitent?” May asked.
“My great patron Cardinal Scipione Borghese has died. We are penitent of course at any death, knowing its nearness can take hold at any time.”
She saw that he was sad. She remembered that this was one of his life’s big losses, and he confirmed it. “I have lost my great patron and my friend.”
Although this event would change his life, and it would be a helpful change, she felt sorry for him.
He leaned forward. “Let me show you something. It will please you.”
He took out his paper, unfolded it, and laid it on the table. It held several sketches, views of her elephant bearing the obelisk he had added. In these new sketches, the little elephant that carried an obelisk was smiling. His trunk was upraised playfully.
“I have made him more charming for you.”
“I love it!” She couldn’t resist putting her hand on Bernini’s, where it held the corner of the paper.
They stared at each other as he said, “Eternity is an elephant and also a butterfly.”
He gestured to a short, muscular man, who came over. The tavern keeper’s stink of alcohol and bad breath was overwhelming. May’s nose, barely adjusted to the tavern’s smell, smarted from this new assault. His left eye was covered with a brown patch and his apron looked as if it had been dug out of the earth this morning and put on with hardly a shake. But Ruffino had a pleasant smile, and Bernini was happy to see him. He ordered wine for two. Ruffino said it would be his gift as their host, but Bernini insisted on giving Ruffino a gold coin.
“It’s far too much, Cavaliere!” Ruffino complained. But when Bernini smiled and waved him away, he bowed and grinned, pocketing the coin.
“What happened to his eye?” May asked after he left.
“A duel. He is excellent with pasta, but not very good with a sword. You must try some of his fettucine with ragu.”
“Ruffino smells like he has never bathed,” she said.
She surprised him. “He is a healthy man. Why would he bathe? Everyone knows bathing opens the pores to disease.”
It was May’s turn to be surprised. The idea that bathing could cause disease reminded her how primitive the medical ideas in Bernini’s time were. Two painted ceramic wine cups arrived. She sipped hers. It was spicy, strong and simply rank. But she didn’t want to show Bernini she didn’t like it.
He lifted it in a toast. “To my Poet, biographer, and model.”
“I don’t know about model,” she said, sipping as well as she could. “But thank you, Cavaliere.”
“Not Cavaliere. To you, I am Gianlorenzo. Your poetic lines remain deep in my heart. You played your part well when we watched the pope come upon my silver model.”
As soon as she set down her wine glass, he took her hand, squeezed it, and then let go. She felt disappointed that he hadn’t kissed it.
She said, “Tell me what happened after the cardinal’s death.”
“Months of sadness. Thanks to him, the world has grown to admire my creations. But how will I ever again find such a patron? Scipione gave me complete freedom, within his chosen subjects. He loved the way my figures sprang into life, showing their strongest feelings. He was like a father to me!”
“I’m sorry. You must feel his loss very much.”
“He was the friend of many artists and a savior of our city. Did you know he rode out on a mule during the great flood to give aid to the people?”
“I didn’t know that.”
She thought of the young half-dressed boy who had run past them at Borghese’s villa, and the cardinal’s reputation for dissolution and possibly even murder. But she didn’t want to bring up the subject when he was grieving for his patron.
Instead, she said gently, “But you have your work at St. Peter’s.”
He nodded and sipped. Enthusiasm suddenly flared in his expression. “I have been asked to improve the church’s façade, and I have a magnificent idea. Twin bell towers. To contribute the grandeur the church has lacked.”
She frowned, knowing those bell towers of his would be erected on unstable ground. He didn’t know, and they had no soil engineers in his time. His first tower would be built, and a crack would appear. The crack would take down Bernini’s career as Architect of St. Peter’s.
At this moment, he was deciding, and his enemies were circling. His pope would die and a new pope would be elected, one who disliked Bernini’s extravagance. The opposition would break over him in a tidal wave.
“You know, working on St. Peter’s isn’t everything,” she said. “After your work there, you’ll create your greatest sculptures.”
“But why should I not continue in my sacred role?”
She knew the failure would nearly kill him. His highly emotional nature and ambition would combine in a life-threatening explosion of despair.
He looked down. He gulped the rest of the wine, looking slightly worried, as if her lack of enthusiasm troubled him. But then he smiled.
“You will see my next great triumph!” he declared, the Bernini bravado taking charge of him.
“You must follow your inspiration, of course.”
She smiled at him, thinking that there must be some way to change the course of his future. At the same time, she was thinking how absurd that thought was.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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Erika is a freelance content writer and illustrator from the Philippines. She used to hate writing in high school, but later discovered that it is something that she’d enjoy doing. Asides from books. she also enjoys the presence of few art materials, camera for bookstagram, and other bookish merchandise, on her own fantasy realm.