Grand Prize Winner of the Chatelaine Prize
Ecstasy is the only thing on Clio’s mind. Specifically, ecstasy as portrayed in the Renaissance art of Italy. Clio is a shy art history doctoral student, clinging to her last chance at achieving the college degree of her father’s dreams, when she meets fast-living, sexy Italian architect Guillermo. They come from two different worlds, but share a deep passion for history and beauty.
Clio can’t resist being drawn into Guillermo’s problems when his family’s beautiful ancestral villa is at risk of being sold to an American rap star who will carelessly destroy it’s rich culture, history and artistry.
She tries to keep it professional and fights the urge to surrender to his smoldering seduction. Guillermo is exactly the type of man Clio’s experience has taught her to avoid, and by getting involved with him and his villa, she stands to lose much more than her precious Ph.D.
Can Clio juggle her PhD thesis, a too-hot-to-handle romance, and rescue a priceless piece of history or will everything end in disaster?
Targeted Age Group:: NA, Adult
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love to travel, and especially love visiting my favourite places in Europe. The Life is a Journey series is inspired by my own travel experiences. The Art of Enchantment was born on a family trip to Tuscany a few years ago. I knew the musician Sting had an old villa somewhere nearby, and as we drove through the beautiful countryside, I began to ponder the circumstances of the old families who owned them, and were often forced to sell them to the Nouveau Riche, British Rock stars and American actors, and the like.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
In this case, I had a location and scenario first, and then dreamt up an unlikely pairing, a shy, bookish art history student from America, and a brash, sexy Italian architect. The fun came from the clash of their personality types, and from giving them both reasons to not want what the other did, despite their shared goal of saving the historic villa.
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Copyright © 2017 by: Mary Ann F Clarke Scott
Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.
Now a soft kiss – Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss.
Religion. Rebellion. Sex. It had the makings of a best-seller. Clio hummed and danced her fingers on the steering wheel of her new Fiat 500 as she zoomed along Strada Provinciale 88. Everything in her dreary, fettered life was about to change.
A line of twisted cypress trees stood at attention along the crest of a nearby ridge. Like the statues of her beloved Italian saints, they kept watch over the neatly mown fields that rolled down the slope toward her. Maybe they were watching over her, too.
Clio was tortured by doubts that her ideas would gel in time for the critical meeting tonight, at which she must, she must, persuade Dr. Jovi that she was ready. If she failed, he would refuse to extend her deadline in the morning – again. If he did that, she would find herself cut loose, without an advisor, without an office or a sponsor, without a Ph.D., and forever without the approval of her patient but demanding academic parents.
Some people would be critical of Clio's need, at twenty-seven years of age, to please her mother and father. Those people had never met her parents.
She was out of time.
Until she'd seen the little statue of Saint Clare of the Cross at the Franciscan Monastery this afternoon, Clio despaired of ever having the clarity of vision to complete her thesis. Oh – she'd come up with a half-baked theory that had sustained her research for the past three years. But Saint Clare had convinced her that she really was onto something, and that would give her the passion and drive to write her final dissertation. Passion. Ecstasy. Bliss.
She laughed out loud. How ironic. She needed passion to complete her thesis about passion.
Long shadows snaked across the green hillside as the early evening sun dipped lower in the Tuscan sky. She would be back in the city within the hour, and still have time to freshen up and go over her notes and sketches before her eight o'clock dinner appointment with Dr. Jovi.
Nevertheless, Clio pressed a little harder on the gas pedal, and leaned into a long curve in the road, thrilled at how smooth and responsive her new car was to her command. The gift from Father was clearly meant as an incentive, and she would make sure he received her long overdue thanks – in the form of graduation, at long last.
Then, free from his prescriptions for her education and her career, she could finally decide how she wanted to live her life.
A pair of headlights flashed over the rise in the dimming light up ahead, and Clio slowed a little, prepared to pass another vehicle on the narrow winding road. The other car took shape suddenly in the gloom, larger than hers. Waves of loud music rolled toward her, punctuated by sharp shouts and laughter. Her pulse kicked. They weren't slowing or pulling to the side, the maniacs. Some young idiots, probably drinking.
Clio gripped the steering wheel tighter, and seconds later they were upon her, hogging the centre of the road. There was no room.
She veered sharply to the right as the car hurtled past with inches to spare. Violent grinding and metallic screeching ripped the air as her wheels slammed into the low barrier at the side of the road. The steering wheel tore from her grip. Her car was hurled up like a stone from a catapult.
Everything blurred. Light and dark flashed. The seatbelt jerked her hard against the seat. Air whooshed from her lungs. Squeals. Crunches. Thuds. The world quaked. Sharp pain shot through her head. Dark and silence enveloped her. Music and shouts echoed in her head, a sickening counterpoint to the terrible drumbeat of her heart.
Guillermo didn't mind riding out to Pia's farm for the weekend, though he was certain he'd have more fun if he'd stayed in Florence and taken Teresa or Patrizia out for wining and dining, followed by a little after-dark gymnastics. Or Teresa and Patrizia. Now there was a thought that warmed him. He shimmied on his seat to adjust his suddenly tight bike leathers, the powerful engine of his Ducati Multistrada vibrating between his legs.
A dark car whizzed past him on the empty road, nearly knocking him over with the sheer turbulence of its draft, loud music blaring. Faccia di merda.
He was positive he'd have more fun if he were at liberty to ride for the sheer joy of it, with no destination. There was nothing he loved more than a fast ride on his bike through the rolling Tuscan countryside, or failing that, in his Alpha Romeo convertible, the wind in his face, his blood thrumming. Nothing made him feel more free and alive.
But duty called. Bianca was uncharacteristically hysterical when she'd called this afternoon, and he was genuinely concerned about his little sister. She was also nearly incoherent, sobbing and ranting something about their eldest brother Jacopo. His calls to Jacopo went unanswered, not surprisingly, since his big-shot politician of a brother was always in a meeting or press conference.
A phone call to his older sister Pia for answers resulted only in an invitation to join her and Paulo for the weekend. She'd been evasive, and said she'd explain when he arrived. And so he'd dropped everything and raced out of the city after work.
For as much as he loved freedom and speed and good times, he loved his family more. And though the knowledge often felt like a heavy yoke around his neck, he knew he'd do anything for them, even if it killed him.
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