Author Archive: Elizabeth Keysian

I’m delighted to share with you an excerpt from Barbara Greig’s “Discovery”: An epic tale of love, loss and courage.

Here’s what this marvellous book is all about-

When Elizabeth Gharsia’s headstrong nephew, Gabriel, joins Samuel Champlain’s 1608 expedition to establish a settlement at Quebec, he soon becomes embroiled in a complicated tribal conflict. As months turn into years, Gabriel appears lost to his family.

 Meanwhile at home in France the death of her father, Luis, adds to Elizabeth’s anguish. Devastated by her loss, she struggles to make sense of his final words. Could her mother’s journals, found hidden among Luis’s possessions, provide the key to the mystery?

The arrival of Pedro Torres disrupts Elizabeth’s world even further. Rescued from starvation on the streets of Marseille by her brother, Pedro is a victim of the brutal expulsion of his people from Spain. Initially antagonistic, will Elizabeth come to appreciate Pedro’s qualities and to understand the complexity of her family?

Here is an enticing excerpt-

The sun, ablaze with orange light, slipped towards the horizon but the heat, fierce for early summer, continued to linger in the narrow streets and crowded houses of the city. Feeling stifled by the heavy air, Elizabeth made her way across the courtyard, her soft leather shoes making little sound on the beaten earth. The gate creaked as she pushed it open, disturbing the small rodents who rustled among the undergrowth at the side of the track. A few steps took her to the riverbank where she paused. Leaning forward and inhaling deeply, she filled her lungs with the verdant dampness, so characteristic of the Olt, hoping for some respite from the heat. Although the water level was low, the river was still navigable and a late barge, its lanterns casting an eerie glow, sailed sedately past her.

Loath to return to the house, Elizabeth watched the vessel until it was out of sight. She wrapped her arms around herself, not for warmth on such a hot night but for comfort. Her father was dying; of that, she was sure. He had suddenly become less interested in the process of living: he had appeared to have given up all hope of seeing Gabriel again, and the death of the king had affected him badly. The last couple of weeks had seen him keeping to his bed more often, which was so out of character. The thought of losing him tightened her chest, threatened to suffocate her, and consumed her so completely that the horsemen were upon her without her realising.

One of the horses shied, as startled by Elizabeth as she was by him. She glanced up to be greeted by an achingly familiar silhouette. Her elder brother, Thomas, towered above her, etched against the night sky, while behind him, a smaller horse and rider almost hid in the shadows. Thomas spoke sharply. “What are you doing skulking around outside? You frightened the horses.”

Elizabeth bit back her retort and moved to see her brother’s companion more easily. As she did so, the man seemed to sink further into the saddle. She returned her attention to Thomas. “It is a long time since we last saw you.”

Thomas acknowledged her comment with a slight movement of his head. She waited for him to speak but she could not elicit an apology for his lengthy absence. It seemed that they would remain on the riverside with only the sigh of the water, and the breathing of the horses, to break the silence when Elizabeth capitulated first. “You had better come in.”

As Thomas strode across the hall, after he had stabled the horses, Elizabeth had the uncanny feeling that she was a small child once more and that the man before her was her father. She could see the same height and broad shoulders, although Thomas’s complexion was not so dark. His eyes lighted on the food she had hastily brought from the kitchen and then shifted to his companion.

“Are all the shutters closed?”

“The shutters?”

“It is a simple enough question, Bess.”

Elizabeth ignored his use of the hated derivative. “Yes, of course,” she replied tartly. “How else would we keep the house cool?”

Thomas appraised her, a glimmer of a smile playing around his lips. He admitted, “I had forgotten how forthright you can be.”

In the blink of an eye, Elizabeth responded, “I have not forgotten how rude you can be.”

Thomas’s expression hardened, all trace of amusement gone. “We do not want the neighbours to see.” He turned to his companion, who appeared to be lurking on the dark edge of the cavernous room. “Pedro, come and meet my little sister, who has spent all her life in comfort and warmth, hiding behind the popish religion.”

Elizabeth, refusing to be riled and with a benign expression planted on her face, stepped forward to greet the stranger. He remained where he was, anxious about his welcome, his hands firmly clasped together. Nobody moved. Elizabeth spoke softly. “Please come into the light. You must eat and then rest.”

Thomas’s loud voice echoed up to the rafters. “This is Pedro Torres. A man without a country.”

Elizabeth ignored him and addressed Pedro Torres. “Come, eat some bread and cheese.”

The man walked towards the large table set along one side of the wall. The family usually ate in the parlour but Elizabeth felt the cosy room to be inappropriate for two men who had obviously been on the road for some time. The acrid odour of unwashed bodies caught at the back of Elizabeth’s throat and she had the great urge to pinch her nose but instead she pointed to the bowl of water, and the towel, next to the food. “Please, wash your hands.”

The stranger spoke for the first time, his French thickened by a strong Spanish accent. “Thank you.”

She watched as he carefully soaped his hands, noting his slight frame, bordering on emaciation, and his profile, which possessed the haunted, hungry look of a man who had survived on too little food for too long. Thomas, as contrary as ever, grabbed the nearest chunk of bread with a large, dirty hand and bit down heartily. “You will find, Pedro, that the occupants of this house are very good at washing.”

*

The silence was dragging out but Elizabeth lacked the energy to keep trying to be civil. Her eyes wandered to the far end of the hall where the stranger had immediately fallen asleep on a bed of rushes and blankets. She almost envied him. Thomas followed her glance.

“Not the guest chamber for this traveller?”

Experiencing a touch of guilt, Elizabeth defended her decision. “I will make up the guest bed tomorrow. He could not sleep there as he is.”

“What about me?” challenged Thomas.

“What stink you take into your own room is up to you.”

He studied her for a while, then he shrugged. “I will swim in the morning so that no stench offends your delicate nostrils.”

“It is only as it should be.”

Thomas was about to retaliate but changed his mind. “How is the old man? Is he abed?”

Elizabeth stiffened, always saddened and annoyed, in equal measure, when he spoke of their father in such a way. She moved on quickly to more neutral ground.

“What is his story?” she asked, nodding towards the recumbent figure breathing steadily on the other side of the room.

“He is a Morisco.”

“I gathered as much.” To Elizabeth, the stranger’s ancestry was clear in his features and colouring.

“Where did you meet him?”

“In Marsilha. Pedro was destitute. Did you know that within two weeks of King Henri’s assassination, the Moriscos, who had taken refuge in that port, were no longer welcome? Suddenly they were spies for Spain and the authorities confiscated their money!”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened in surprise. “Spies for Spain, that is ridiculous. I thought they might be safe in France.”

“No, most of the Moriscos who came to the Mediterranean coast are now sailing to Algiers, following the thousands already expelled from Spain last year.”

“Why does Pedro not want to go with them?”

“He has no family, no ties. He wants to make his way to the Netherlands but he is in no state to do so.”

“You are helping him?”

“It is the least I can do.” Thomas’s gaze was intent. “I do have some awareness of my heritage.”

Elizabeth smiled at him with genuine warmth. “You will stay here awhile? Father will be pleased.”

He did not return her smile. “I plan to leave Pedro here to recover but I must go to Montauban immediately. Storm clouds are gathering now that we Huguenots have lost our protector.”

Want to read more? You can get the book from any of the retailers below-

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Discovery-Barbara-Greig-ebook/dp/B08B8Q4FMV

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Barbara-Greig-ebook/dp/B08B8Q4FMV

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Discovery-Barbara-Greig-ebook/dp/B08B8Q4FMV

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Discovery-Barbara-Greig-ebook/dp/B08B8Q4FMV

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/discovery/barbara-greig/9781838594268

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/search?query=discovery+barbara+greig

Troubador: https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/historical/discovery/

WHSmith: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/discovery/barbara-greig/paperback/9781838594268.html

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/discovery/id1518775106?mt=11&app=itunes

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Barbara_Greig_Discovery?id=Ja3rDwAAQBAJ

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Discovery-Barbara-Greig/9781838594268

Want to connect with the author, Barbara Greig? You certainly can!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbaraGreig_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Barbara-Greig-107844424330933

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Greig/e/B08CB6LZHC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6567192.Barbara_Greig

Free for just two more days

FREE! Get this gripping historical romance, set in dazzling Tudor England, FREE for a limited time. LORD OF DECEPTION is your gateway into the ground-breaking TRYSTS & TREACHERY series.

“What a page turner!”

“I can’t wait for more in this series!”

Grab your copy HERE.

This is the story-

Despised by the cousin with whom she’s forced to live, the lonely but determined Alys craves escape. The most dangerous thing she could do is fall in love. Especially when the man who tempts her is Kit Ludlow, an exiled nobleman in disguise. Becoming involved in his secret mission proves more perilous than Alys could possibly have imagined.

Kit has been banished from Queen Elizabeth’s court, and the last thing he wants is to entangle Alys in his web of treachery and deception. It would also be folly to fall in love with her when he can’t be sure where her loyalties lie.

After helping Kit foil a plot against the queen, Alys’ life is at risk from her cousin’s nefarious schemes. Estranged from Kit, she’s forced to make a desperate decision.

Should she protect her family, or follow the demands of her heart?

Don’t hang about. Get your copy today for FREE!

You are invited to a party

Huzzah! Another party is in the offing, this time in The Rose Room Rogues group. You can join the group HERE. Starts tomorrow, JULY 1st, at 12.00 pm EST which (I think!) is 5 pm BST. I’ve got special prizes for both UK and worldwide winners in my contest, as well as a freebie for everyone, and there’s a host of super authors with loads more to offer you. Join the group at the address above and pop over when you can- we’d love to see you. HERE’S the address again.

A FREE full-length series starter! But it won’t be free for long…

Fancy a FREE series starter? Then grab your copy of gripping historical romance, LORD OF DECEPTION, HERE. It’s your gateway into my ground-breaking TRYSTS AND TREACHERY series, set in the dazzling Tudor era.

Here’s the story-

He thinks she’s a traitor to her queen. She thinks he’s just a gardener.

Despised by the cousin with whom she’s forced to live, the lonely but determined Alys craves escape. The most dangerous thing she could do is fall in love. Especially when the man who tempts her is Kit Ludlow, an exiled nobleman in disguise. Becoming involved in his secret mission proves more perilous than Alys could possibly have imagined.

Kit has been banished from Queen Elizabeth’s court, and the last thing he wants is to entangle Alys in his web of treachery and deception. It would also be folly to fall in love with her when he can’t be sure where her loyalties lie.

After helping Kit foil a plot against the queen, Alys’ life is at risk from her cousin’s nefarious schemes. Estranged from Kit, she’s forced to make a desperate decision. Should she protect her family, or follow the demands of her heart?

This is what readers are saying about LORD OF DECEPTION

“Amazing!”

“A real page turner!”

“A fast-paced Elizabethan romance that keeps the reader enthralled from the beginning to the entertaining conclusion…”

So, don’t miss out, and get your copy TODAY!

I love providing sneak peeks into other writers’ books!

Fancy an excerpt from Mercedes Rochelle’s latest exciting novel, The Usurper King? Then look no futher.

Here’s the story.

From Outlaw to Usurper, Henry Bolingbroke fought one rebellion after another.

First, he led his own uprising. Gathering support the day he returned from exile, Henry marched across the country and vanquished the forsaken Richard II. Little did he realize that his problems were only just beginning. How does a usurper prove his legitimacy? What to do with the deposed king? Only three months after he took the crown, Henry IV had to face a rebellion led by Richard’s disgruntled favorites. Worse yet, he was harassed by rumors of Richard’s return to claim the throne. His own supporters were turning against him. How to control the overweening Percies, who were already demanding more than he could give? What to do with the rebellious Welsh? After only three years, the horrific Battle of Shrewsbury nearly cost him the throne—and his life. It didn’t take long for Henry to discover that that having the kingship was much less rewarding than striving for it.

Here’s the excerpt.

“His mouth suddenly dry, Henry wished he had some wine. “I’m told that after Richard learned about the rebellion and the death of his supporters, he stopped eating.” He paused, waiting for Hal’s reaction. So far there was none. “My constable sent in a priest to convince Richard that starving himself to death was a mortal sin. After that, he tried to eat, but he had gone so far his throat constricted and he couldn’t swallow. He died shortly after.”

Hal looked down at his hands; he was clasping them too tightly. When he raised his head, his face was drawn.

“I’m supposed to believe this?” he said.

Henry held his breath. If his own son didn’t accept this story, how was he going to convince his detractors?

“You know King Richard,” Thomas said scornfully. “He was always one for immoderate behavior.”

“How do you know?” Hal shot back. “You know nothing about him.”

“I know he was vindictive, selfish, and spiteful.”

“That’s a lie!” Hal lunged at his brother, grabbing him by the tunic. Thomas tried to push him away, but his brother pulled him out of the chair and fell on top of him, pinning him to the floor.

Henry was appalled. “Stop it! Both of you!” Hal was about to punch his brother in the face when Henry grasped his arm and yanked him away. “How dare you fight in my presence!”

Breathing heavily, Hal broke loose from his grasp. He glared at his father. “You starved him to death!”

Shaking his head, Henry stretched out a hand. His son turned away. “No, Hal. I swear it was none of my doing.”

Still on the floor, Thomas wiped his mouth. “You’re a disgrace!”

“Stop it, Thomas,” Henry growled. “Don’t make things worse.” He took a step toward Hal. “Sit down, son.”

Hal was about to refuse, but a little bit of common sense reasserted itself. Sullenly, he walked over to a chair and dropped onto it. Thomas got off the floor and went to the other side of the room.

“Listen to me,” Henry said. “Do you really think I would have Richard killed so soon after the rebellion? I’m not a fool. We still have many enemies, and this is one disturbance I didn’t need, on top of everything else.”

Breathing heavily, Hal stared at the floor.

“I was as shocked as you to hear about this,” Henry added. “You must believe me. There were many times I was urged by others to execute him, and I always refused. Why would I resort to such a terrible crime?”

The logic in this argument wasn’t lost on Hal. He didn’t want to believe his father was capable of such an act. It was too terrible to contemplate. Slowly he nodded and Henry let out his breath.

“I am sorry, father.”

“It’s all right. I’m afraid you won’t be the only one to accuse me of his death.”

“We must prepare a proper funeral, to reassure the people.”

“I’ve already given the orders. He will be brought back to London from…Pontefract.”

Pontefract. Hal hadn’t been told where King Richard was kept. It was just one more indignity he had been forced to swallow. “He died, all alone. Abandoned. Poor man,” he mumbled.

Henry heard him but decided it was better to pretend not to. Besides, he needed a drink.”

You can get your copy of The Usurper King HERE-

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08YLFMVPZ

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08YLFMVPZ

Here’s a bit more information about the talented author of this fascinating novel, Mercedes Rochelle.

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

Why not connect with Mercedes on social media?

Website: https://mercedesrochelle.com/

Blog: https://mercedesrochelle.com/wordpress/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mercedesrochelle.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorRochelle

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mercedes-rochelle

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-Rochelle/e/B001KMG5P6?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1696491.Mercedes_Rochelle

Espionage can be a deadly game…

You are REALLY going to want to find out more about The Assassins by Alan Bardos. Especially now that it is available as an audiobook narrated by Jack Bennett!

1914.

Tensions are reaching boiling point in Europe and the threat of war is imminent.

Johnny Swift, a young and brash diplomatic clerk employed by the British embassy is sent to infiltrate the ‘Young Bosnians’, a group of idealistic conspirators planning to murder Franz Ferdinand. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in a bid to liberate their country from the monarchy’s grip.

Swift has been having an affair with his employer’s wife, Lady Elizabeth Smyth. Sir George Smyth dispatches the agent on the dangerous mission, believing that it will be the last he will see of his young rival.

The agent manages to infiltrate the Young Bosnian conspirators’ cell, helped by Lazlo Breitner, a Hungarian Civil Servant.

However, Swift soon realises that he may be in over his head. His gambling debts and taste for beautiful women prove the least of his problems as he struggles to survive on his wits in the increasingly complex – and perilous – world of politics and espionage.

Desperate to advance himself and with the lives of a royal couple unexpectedly in his hands, Swift tries to avert catastrophe.

Praise for Assassins

‘A cracking read, highly recommended’ – Roger A Price 

‘Written with polished panache, it kept me gripped from the first to last. Five stars from me!’ – A.A. Chaudhuri

‘Part historical fiction, part thriller and part love story, this is a compelling and entertaining read’ – Gary Haynes

This book is available to read for free with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

You can get it in the UK HERE, and in the US HERE.

Find out more about the author

Alan Bardos is a graduate of the MA in TV Script Writing at De Montfort University, he also has a degree in Politics and History from Brunel University. Writing historical fiction combines the first great love of his life, making up stories, with the second, researching historical events and characters. Alan currently live in Oxfordshire with his wife… the other great love of his life.

Despite the amount of material that has been written about the twentieth century there is still a great deal of mystery and debate surrounding many of its events, which Alan explores in his historical fiction series using a certain amount of artistic license to fill in the gaps, while remaining historically accurate. The series will chronicle the first half of the twentieth century from the perspective of Johnny Swift, a disgraced and degenerate diplomat and soldier; starting with the pivotal event of the twentieth century, the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in ‘The Assassins’.

Connect with the author on-

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Bookbub

Goodreads

How to get your audiobook

Click HERE for Audible UK

Click HERE for Audible US

It’s time to meet the Cotillion Brigade!

Georgia burns.

Sherman’s Yankees are closing in.

Will the women of LaGrange run or fight?

Based on the true story of the celebrated Nancy Hart Rifles, The Cotillion Brigade is an epic novel of the Civil War’s ravages on family and love, the resilient bonds of sisterhood in devastation, and the miracle of reconciliation between bitter enemies.

“Gone With The Wind meets A League Of Their Own.”

— John Jeter, The Plunder Room

1856. Sixteen-year-old Nannie Colquitt Hill makes her debut in the antebellum society of the Chattahoochee River plantations. A thousand miles north, a Wisconsin farm boy, Hugh LaGrange, joins an Abolitionist crusade to ban slavery in Bleeding Kansas.

Five years later, secession and war against the homefront hurl them toward a confrontation unrivaled in American history.

Fancy an excerpt from this exciting book? Then read on…

Lagrange, Georgia
May 1856

“Nannie, come sit with me,” said Senator Ben Hill.

Thrilled to be offered the chair next to the most admired man in western Georgia, Nancy accepted the assistance out of the carriage from her elder cousin, who had been elected to the state senate earlier that year. She held onto his arm as he walked her to the grandstands built for the occasion. Shaded by a canvas panoply, the podium for dignitaries overlooked the finish line at the county’s horse racing track in Mountville, a few miles east of LaGrange. Hundreds of conveyances arrived carrying ladies and gentlemen from as far away as Savannah and Selma for the faddish spectacle sweeping the South: The Tournament of the Rings.

Continue reading →

How a cruel English folk song inspired my latest story

My new release, NEVER TEMPT A WIDOW, took as its starting point a traditional song that originated in the Hampshire area of England.

In “Pretty Polly”, which I first heard sung by Sandy Denny, Polly is taken deep into the woods by her lover, Willie. When she gets frightened “of his ways”, he tells her she’s guessed correctly- he DOES intend to do her harm. He shows her a newly-dug grave, announcing almost proudly that he worked on it most of the previous night. He then stabs her in the heart.

This is a cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder that freezes the blood. But one of the most chilling lines for me is, “He threw a little dirt over her and started for home.” This is a man with no conscience whatsoever, who gets an innocent girl into trouble after promising to marry her, then slaughters her and doesn’t even bother to cover her body properly, leaving her to the mercies of the forest animals.

What, I wondered, would have happened had Polly and her child survived? How would she feel about love after that? What lengths would a ruined woman go to in order to survive?

I renamed Polly Seraphina, made her a duke’s daughter, and had her survive a drowning attempt. The story takes off from that point. Below is a brief overview.

NEVER TEMPT A WIDOW

The Duke of Wolfingham’s scapegrace daughter Seraphina is convinced her lover tried to kill her. Alone, penniless, and desperate, there’s nothing she can do to save the life of her beloved baby daughter, Adelina. Sir Rowland Cavendish offers an escape from her grief, but how can Seraphina ever trust a man again?

Rowland has just lost his wife, and his baby boy needs feeding. The beautiful young widow from the village would make the perfect wet nurse, but the conditions she sets in exchange for her compliance are not at all what he expects.

Seraphina refuses to share her secrets with Rowland, but her past returns to haunt her, threatening her new-found security. Her future hangs on a knife-edge as the game turns deadly, and a web of kidnapping, blackmail, and lies is uncovered.

She loves Rowland deeply, but if she doesn’t leave him, he may lose what he values above all else. His baby son.

If you fancy taking a look at NEVER TEMPT A WIDOW, it is currently at its pre-order discount price of $0.99 for a couple more days, or you can now read it for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

If you want to find out the full history of this folk song, why not take a look at Paul Slade’s website? It’s fascinating!

An exclusive extract from an amazing story!

It’s a dangerous time to be a dissident…

1938. Northern Italy. Since saving Angelo Grimani’s life 18 years earlier, Katharina is grappling with how their lives have since been entwined. Construction on the Reschen Lake reservoir begins and the Reschen Valley community is torn apart into two fronts – those who want to stay no matter what comes, and those who hold out hope that Hitler will bring Tyrol back into the fold.

Back in Bolzano, Angelo finds one fascist politician who may have the power to help Katharina and her community, but there is a group of corrupt players eager to have a piece of him. When they realise that Angelo and Katharina are joining forces, they turn to a strategy of conquering and dividing to weaken both the community and Angelo’s efforts.

Meanwhile, the daughter Angelo shares with Katharina – Annamarie – has fled to Austria to pursue her acting career but the past she is running away from lands her directly into the arms of a new adversary: the Nazis. She goes as far as Berlin, and as far as Goebbels, to pursue her dreams, only to realise that Germany is darker than any place she’s been before.

Angelo puts aside his prejudices and seeks alliances with old enemies; Katharina finds ingenious ways to preserve what is left of her community, and Annamarie wrests herself from the black forces of Nazism with plans to return home. But when Hitler and Mussolini present the Tyroleans with “The Option”, the residents are forced to choose between Italian and German nationhood with no guarantee that they will be able to stay in Tyrol at all!

Out of the ruins of war, will they be able to find their way back to one another and pick up the pieces?

This blockbuster finale will keep readers glued to the pages. Early readers are calling it, “…engrossing”, “…enlightening” and “…both a heartbreaking and uplifting end to this incredible series!”

Here is an extract from this absorbing book.

Chapter 9

Bolzano, November 1938

The maître d’ showed them to a corner lounge in the bar, and Angelo ordered two coffees with Strega and instructed the waiter to put them on his tab.

Mastromattei crossed his legs and seemed to finally relax. “Tell me how this Reschen Valley project is coming along, Angelo.”

Unsure whether the question was just polite chitchat or whether this was the magistrate’s agenda, Angelo started with the simple facts. “The electrical society has given MFE permission to dam up the Reschen and Graun Lakes—”

“Is the Colonel still running things with that group?”

Angelo confirmed he was, sensing that Mastromattei was smirking inwardly.

“There will be a smaller inflow into Haider Lake,” Angelo added, his way of sharing how he had prevented the third lake from being integrated into the general reservoir.

“How much power is this project going to bring?”

Of course Mastromattei would be interested. It was the electricity they needed for the industrial zone. “Over thirty-three thousand kilowatts to the first plant in Sluderno.”

“We’re going to need that power,” Mastromattei said.

Their coffee arrived, and the magistrate beckoned the waiter to him and whispered something into his ear. The waiter nodded and hurried away towards the main lobby.

Angelo picked up where they’d left off. “Plans are to finish expropriating all the necessary land by next spring.”

Mastromattei leaned forward to stir the whipped cream on his coffee. It curdled beneath the alcohol.

“Germany is gearing up for war,” he said. “They’re shitting on the Versailles Treaty. Ciano says that Britain has proven too weak with the infighting taking place in parliament. They and France could have put a stop to Germany’s sufferings years ago. Instead, together with the United States, they are now trying to outbid each other on who can sell the most aeroplane engines and parts to the one country determined to win back its former glory.” Mastromattei gazed at Angelo, his spoon tapping on the rim of the glass. “Hitler’s army will require bodies. Soldiers. And they will pull Italy into this.”

Angelo nodded.

Mastromattei made a regretful noise before taking another drink. “The Nazis will try to recruit the Tyroleans northwards first. We must crush those organizing against us if we’re to net our most valuable commodity.”

“White gold,” Angelo muttered. It was the new term. Italy, poor in natural resources such as oil and metal, had gained, with the annexation of South Tyrol, the one thing that other countries needed, namely energy. Energy that came from the province’s alpine rivers and lakes.

Mastromattei looked appreciatively at Angelo. “Yes, white gold and our citizens.”

Angelo leaned forward, his coffee still untouched. “What are you suggesting?”

Mastromattei suddenly looked up. “Ah! There you are.”

It was the waiter. He held out a newspaper to Mastromattei, who then gave the waiter a few coins. “Good man.”

He placed the copy of the day’s Archivio per l’Alto Adige on the table. “Angelo, what do you think about the Libyan resettlement project?”

Angelo’s pulse quickened. “The one that Tolomei says we should all celebrate?” He pictured the distinguished and arrogant senator, the self-proclaimed designer of the Italianisation programme. “His plan is to transplant twenty thousand settlers to our colony in North Africa.”

“We’ve taken many Italians from the south into Bolzano, as many as we can accommodate,” Mastromattei said. “The new settlement will take another year before we can move anyone in, and we’ll be planning another one right afterward. But what Tolomei and his other hardliners have failed to see is the opportunity to have integration work the other way around.” Mastromattei rubbed his chin. “You are still mediating the expropriated lands and the restitutions for the Reschen Valley population, right?”

Angelo picked up his coffee, pushed the whipped cream aside with the spoon, and took a long sip. The Strega warmed him. He nodded. “Problem is the veterans’ administration is stalling with their offers.”

“As is MFE.”

To avoid scoffing, Angelo took another long drink before answering. “There’s not enough land to relocate the hundreds of families. They can’t very well make their living off the side of a mountain slope.”

“I have a solution,” Mastromattei said. “You know the twelve hamlets I allotted between Bolzano and Merano—”

“The Italian settlements. Are they proving prosperous?”

“They’re doing well, yes,” the magistrate said. “Yet our esteemed senator claims the borderlands are still—after almost twenty years—tenuous at best.”

Because, Angelo thought, the people living there are not self-evidently Italian.

“What is the goal of Italianisation?” Mastromattei propped his elbow on the arm of his chair and leaned his temple against his index finger. His square chin rested on his thumb.

Angelo played along. “Italianisation means integrating the two cultures so that we can’t tell who is who. Especially those living in the community. It might take a couple of generations, but soon enough they’ll all feel Italian.”

“Exactly. This reservoir is massive. If we push the citizens—Italian citizens!—off their land and north into Hitler’s arms, we’ll be losing a lot to the efforts I have taken great pains to establish here. Our economic base. Our productivity.” He pointed to the wall behind him—the direction of the industrial zone beyond. “We’ll lose the consumers for those goods we’re producing over there.”

Angelo’s skin prickled. By God, for a price the Tyroleans and he could finally move forward. “You’re suggesting moving the locals out of their valley and into the new hamlets south. If the restitution is fair—”

“They’ll find any expropriation unfair.” Mastromattei looked amused. “I want them all out. All of them. As far south of the border as possible.”

Angelo winced inside. “And if they don’t want to go? What other choices can we offer them?”

Mastromattei’s look darted to the newspaper between them. He released his index finger from his temple and pointed at it, the amusement gone. “They’re Italian citizens. We could resettle them to Libya.”

He couldn’t be serious. “That’s an…extreme move. Can we not explore all our alternatives before we do that?”

Mastromattei leaned back in the plush chair, the leather creaking beneath him. “Then call a meeting with everyone involved.”

Now they were onto something. Open discussions. “Good. It will take some time to get the representatives from the Reschen Valley—”

“No. Call a meeting with your father’s company, the electrical society, and the veterans’ administration. The people in the Reschen Valley will get offers for their land and get instructions for resettlement after the stakeholders agree on a procedure. There is no need to involve the population in this yet. It’s only one idea of how we could proceed, correct?”

“Surely the residents could stay in the valley if they choose to. All they want is a fair offer. What is the worst they can do? Tie us up in legal battles?” Angelo laughed drily. “There isn’t a lawyer around who would take up that fight.”

Mastromattei leaned forward, eyes narrowed. “There is no court in the nation that would accept the case.” He slapped his thigh and straightened. “They can do what they want. But perhaps you should inform them of the consequences. These days Rome is coming down hard on those who revolt.” He drained his glass and stood. “I’d prefer to save those bullets for the war we’ll be dragged into and not defending ourselves against a bunch of farmers who still haven’t accepted the fact that they are Italians first.”

Find out more about the author here-

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an American author living in Austria. Her focus is on historical fiction. She has been a managing editor for a magazine publishing house, has worked as an editor, and has won several awards for her travel narrative, flash fiction and short stories. She lives with her husband in a “Grizzly Adams” hut in the Alps, just as she’d always dreamt she would when she was a child.

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Some much-needed good cheer!

Regency romance, DISTRACTING THE DUKE, is now out as “Her Forbidden Duke” on Radish via @radish_fiction
https://radishfiction.com/stories/12281
You can read the first 10 chapters for free right now!