The Renaissance Club - Review and Launch

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About the Book:

The Renaissance Club    By Rachel Dacus     Fiery Seas Publishing

Released: January 23, 2018     Time Travel Romance

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?

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.

Rachel's Social Media:

Website     Facebook     Twitter

Jenn's Review:
I love doing ARC reviews for Fiery Seas Publishing, and their most recent release of The Renaissance Club was no exception. Another stellar story and subtle romance! Rachel Dacus' story weaves the past and the present together in a seamless blend of prose and poetry, with subtle undertones reminiscent of a fine Italian culinary dish. 
This was not my first time-travel romance, but Ms. Dacus is easily on par with my literary heroine, Diana Gabaldon. While the heroine travels back and forth through time, she tries to keep her present-day, dead-on-arrival, relationship with Darren together; but each trip through the portal of Time, each liason with her artistic hero, Bernini, she finds herself comparing past and present in more ways than one.
The romance between May and Bernini sizzles, and the love scenes are subtle, but pack a punch and the author moves deftly through the full range of human emotions with style and sensitivity. All the while, Dacus is describing art and Italy with a deftness that leaves even the least-experienced art historian with a clear mental image of what the characters are seeing and studying.
Her characters step in and out of time seamlessly, and it would seem that all of our intrepid travelers on this particular three-week academic tour find themselves somehow changed by the magic of Italy; its pull an irresistible dare to be something more, fly higher, try something new, inspired by the innovation in artistic styles that Rome, Venice, Florence, and Assisi seethe with. And who wouldn't find themselves forever altered by meeting Masters of their time such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Borromini? 
Even those who aren't romance fans will find something in the pages of this book to pique their imagination. Aspiring authors, poets, painters and sculptors especially, should read at least the first three chapters, and pay special heed Bernini's advice.
You won't find steamy sex scenes in this book, but in this reviewer's opinion, they would have most likely detracted from the overall impact of Rachel's work. Readers will be left with a new appreciation of art, history, love and time itself. A must for every romance reader's book list, especially fans of time-travel romance.
Buy the book:

ISBN: 978-1-946143-41-9  ~  eBook  ~  $6.99

ISBN: 978-1-946143-42-6  ~  Paperback  ~  $16.99

Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  ~  Kobo  ~  iBooks

Excerpt from the book (reprinted w/ permission of the publisher - enjoy!):

THE RENAISSANCE CLUB by Rachel Dacus – EXCERPT from Chapter 23

She switched off her light and lay awake in the dark. She wanted to tell George that Gianlorenzo had taken her hand in a tavern and then taken her to Rome where he had seated her on a modeling stool and used her image to begin creating his fantastic Truth Revealed by Time. She wanted to tell George that Bernini asked her to stay and live with him—to have their child in his century—but she couldn’t.

She could only fill her notebook until it overflowed. After writing for a while, she got up and went to the bathroom. Her period hadn’t come, but now it didn’t matter. Damn Darren. Damn her cowardice. She washed her hands and let the warm water run over them. Her eyes were so bloodshot. Was she tired from spending extra time in the past? Maybe if she wrote about Bernini, she could cancel out this desire. She had gone too far down the path, though. An essay might help objectify Bernini, but all she wanted to write was poetry. A poem about the fact that this might have been their last meeting. She could put down on paper that she might have shared life with her Muse, in an alternate branch of history.

The note that formed in her mind wasn’t an academic one.

I fell through a rip in time, into his studio and onto his modeling stand. He walked around me and took me in, the way he takes everything and consumes it, turning it into art. He warmed me until I was melting, until I fluttered into an explosion. I’m a butterfly who drifted into his life and lived for a day. But I can’t hold eternity in my frail wings.

She had to see him again, but Florence was a Michelangelo town, with no Bernini art. No, that wasn’t true. She remembered one stunning piece of Bernini’s that was in Florence—the marble bust of his mistress, Costanza Bonarelli. It was arguably the most beautiful portrait sculpture of a woman ever made. Like his portrait of Saint Teresa, it had become a voluptuous scandal. Costanza, the woman history called Bernini’s Beloved, had betrayed him in an affair with his own brother. He had gone crazy and tried to kill his brother and then sent his servant to slash Costanza’s face. Bernini, who had made his way to the top through calculated self-restraint, was undone by his jealousy.

Strangely, May found herself jealous of this long-dead woman. Would seeing Costanza’s portrait bring May face-to-face with Bernini, and if so, would he be in the midst of this wild affair and immune to her?

May stared at her red eyes in the mirror. Jealousy was supposed to be the green-eyed monster, but hers were even more bloodshot than last night. She was losing control of herself, letting her emotions flow so fully and continually that she hardly recognized the hopeful scholar of art and history in the mirror. All she saw was a woman falling hopelessly in love, and also a woman falling out of love.

She went back to bed. Darren’s breathing was still steady, like everything about him. Steady and absorbed in himself. She hated the way they were falling apart and the way she could hate him sometimes now.

Sitting gently, so as not to wake him, she swung her legs up and under the covers, hating and then forgiving herself. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the master of beauty? And who, once captivated by him, wouldn’t have lost her bearings in time? The problem was that she hadn’t lost herself enough to stay. Not in either relationship, not in her own wishes, and not in pursuing her career. She was just a woman who was too much afraid, and that made her a failure, unable to surmount the obstacles. Her life felt too often like that bumpy carriage ride with Bernini, all pebbles, ruts, and jolts.

A wild idea came out of that image. Why couldn’t she give Norman her notice, and maybe then she would know which way to leap. Into which place, and into which time.

She fell asleep, both fearful and hopeful about tomorrow’s journey to Florence. Things were speeding forward to a future she didn’t want to think about nearly as much as she wanted to think about the past.


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