Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Dive #2: FOREVER AMORE


We're continuing my backlist book dive with a deeper peek into LASR "Best Book of 2009" Nominee Forever Amore....

Title: Forever Amore
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Black Lyon Publishing
Release Date: September 2009
Available in: Ebook and paperback

Inspiration: I've always had an interest in World War II and wanted to set a story there, but it wasn't until the early 2000's that my focus shifted in Italy's direction. It was while watching another Italy-set, WWII love story entitled In Love and War on the Hallmark channel (based on the true story of the Newbys and the book Love and War in the Apennines) that the story of American fighter pilot Charles Tyler and sheltered, Italian heroine Lucille Renaldi began to form.

Manuscript Details: FA was my first completed romance manuscript. The original draft rounded out to 140,000 words. After six revisions over a five year period, I managed to wheedle it down to 75,000.

Why "Forever Amore"? The original title of this story, "Love Among the Ruins", is derived from a painting of the same name by artist Edward Burne-Jones. When I first began blogging, I used the painting as a heading here at The Cozy Page. I first discovered the painting in my a literature textbook. I was first struck by the likeness of my characters and their predicament. The name "Love Among the Ruins" helped weave a deeper theme throughout the text. From the story's completion in 2004 to the time it was contracted with Black Lyon Publishing, "Love Among the Ruins" remained the working title of Lucille and Charles' story. Because of similar names of other published novels, the title was changed to "Forever Amore." Amore (an Italian endearment meaning "love") is used throughout the story by both Lucille and Charles.

Cover Facts: Since Black Lyon Publishing, based in Oregon, likes to use local photography instead of stock photos on its covers, the model on the cover of Forever Amore is an Oregon-based woman named Mihaela Panciuc. The back cover of FA also featured my first cover quote from Lisa Britton Jacoby of The Baker City Herald: "A beautiful love story woven with suspense to make you race through the pages!" (Thank you to BLP, Mihaela, and Lisa!)

Awards: FA received a rare "Best Book" review from Long & Short Reviews. In a LASR poll, readers and peers voted FA "Best Book of the Week." In January 2010, LASR also nominated FA for "Best Book of 2009."
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Hero Name: Charles Tyler

Hero Occupation: United States Air Force Lieutenant (In the beginning of the story, he pilots a P-38 fighter. He also briefly flies a B-17 bomber later in the story.)

Hero Description:

Lucille carefully cleaned the soldier’s features with a damp rag, swiping blood and grime from his skin as meticulously as a scientist sweeping dust from bone. What she revealed with each pass of the rag made her heart drum all the harder—the face of a man who rivaled David, strongboned and strong-willed. He moaned a bit, head tilting away from the cool touch of the rag.
“Sh,” she soothed, leaning close so the others couldn’t see as she wiped the thick chords of his neck and unbuttoned the top of his jacket and shirt to clean the skin at the hollow of his throat. His jacket was torn, but she saw the patch on the arm. The sight of the American flag brought her instant calm. His shoulders were broader than Debray’s, but he looked fit under the USAF uniform with a body built for fighting.
The kind of body one could push to the limit.
Hero's Stunt Double: Since FA took half a decade to revise and sell, my inspiration for Charles shifted quite a bit from Hayden Christensen to Shawn Ashmore to James Franco and even Chad Michael Murray. But in my final two revisions, I realized that I had to take Charles's character a step further. The actor with the physicality and overall charisma of the Charles that readers know today is funny-man/bad boy Bradley Cooper.

Hero's Greatest Strength: His code of honor
Hero's Greatest Weakness: Not at all afraid to risk his own life, even under the most dangerous circumstances.
Hero's Astrological Sign: Scorpio (This sign is: The most profound and outwardly impressive sign of the zodiac... Truly magnetic, yet they can be aggressive and unpredictable, like a volcano... Scorpios have the power to cause a lot of harm, most of all to themselves.... Their passion is overwhelming. Scorpio is known for having a very strong imagination and keen intuition, but this is a very jealous sign as well, and sometimes cannot forget or forgive...)
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Heroine Name: Lucille Renaldi
Heroine Occupation: Aristocratic daughter of a renowned winemaking family. Her duty (according to her family and society) is to find a suitable husband, which is made difficult by wartime tension. Even as late as the 1940's, arranged marriages weren't uncommon in Italy.
Heroine Description:
Two figures swam through the smoky haze and Charles had to squint to make them out. One long, rangy man with a mop of black hair growing into his fierce eyes and … an angel.
His heart thudded.
I’m dead. He could find no other explanation for the vision that drifted hesitantly toward him in a long, cream-colored gown and hair the color of angel wings falling in gilded glory down her shoulders.
As he went to his knees, the woman rushed forward, snatching out of her companion’s grasp to catch Charles before he could hit the dirt again. She looked even better up close. A pixie’s face more than an angel’s, her big green eyes yawned in concern in front of his. “You are wounded?” she asked in English thick with regional inflection but not at all broken.
Heroine's Stunt Double: This one is hard, too, but I remember seeing a magazine article on Sienna Miller in Instyle. One photo featured her in a blue gown with long, cascading curls and I automatically thought "Lucille!"
Heroine's Greatest Strength: Her loyalty and tendency to weigh the consequences of her actions on those she loves.
Heroine's Greatest Weakness: Too often sets her own needs aside for duty to her family.
Heroine's Astrological Sign: Virgo (This sign is: The only zodiac sign represented by a female.... Delicate and sensitive, yet, at the same time, they can be very critical.... The Virgin may appear cold as there is a tendency to hide emotions.... Reliable and very helpful, which this makes sign an excellent friend and mate.)
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What Sets This Book Apart: It has everything - primarily the central love story as well as action, danger, high stakes, sex, politcal intrigue, espionage, culture, and history!
Favorite Scene: First love scene - a forbidden rendezvous in a forgotten, underground cellar with a party going on in the courtyard above. Through all the revisions, this scene stayed. I couldn't cut it.
Blurb:
Was their love destined to last forever …Engaged in a brutal dogfight, dashing American Lieutenant Charles Tyler crashes his broken plane into the Italian countryside. He prays for divine intervention—and is certain he’s found an angel from the very moment he looks up at Lucille Renaldi’s lovely face. Yet how can he be with her when his sense of duty tells him to stay away?
… or become another casualty of war?
Lucille’s attraction to the American is forbidden, her obligation to her family’s safety overwhelming. At great peril the Renaldis carry Charles from the crash site and disguise him as just another worker in their vineyard. Hidden there inside the ugliness of World War II is the beauty of a growing love, and a danger that could end their lives any day—when all they want is … forever.
What People Are Saying:
"This is a wonderfully written story of a forbidden love during wartime... The setting of Italy during World War II is an exciting one filled with political intrigue and danger from all sides. The author has brought the era to life and filled it with some memorable characters...The descriptions of the Renaldi’s lives during wartime are quite detailed, from their personal lives to their social lives... Lucille’s trials and tribulations and her love for Charles will keep the reader riveted from the first page to the last one."
- Coffee Time Romance

"Amber Leigh Williams’ FOREVER AMORE is a dynamic war-time romance novel. The love of the two main characters, Lieutenant Charles Tyler and Lucille Renaldi is wonderful, frank, and exciting. Perhaps, most touching is the efforts of everyday people – and the risks they take – to protect someone who is not even their own. There is both desperation, and determination. We feel very clearly the terror of invasion, the potential loss of family or home. The events here make the people who lived and struggled in World War II seem a finer sort than ordinary humanity. This makes this story, this lovely romance, all the more moving. There are so many scenes worth noting, that I fear this would become novel in its discussion. Suffice to say this features everything From dogfights to intimacy, love to desperation. Williams has a particularly poetic turn of phrase and has brought the romantic back to romance. The wonderful visuals her words create and pace of the story give this an overall aura that is heartwarming. Our sympathies are engaged at once, and if feels as if we have stepped back in time and see these events first hand. I must give this a best book, as the rating sheet goes no higher. Mark this a must-read."
- Long & Short Reviews
Tune in tomorrow for more never-before-seen info and excerpts from Forever Amore. And don't forget that FA is now available in Kindle!

2 comments:

Mary Ricksen said...

What great ideas you came up with. They all sound wonderful!!Good luck!

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Thank you, Mary! Thanks for stopping by :)

Amber