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Ballroom decorations for the Royal Wedding
Last preview installment for "Where the Lion Dwells"
We continue the preview of "Where the Lion Dwells"


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Ballroom decorations for the Royal Wedding

Post holiday blahs affect us all and we think of ways to combat eating turkey sandwiches to prolong the festive atmosphere.  At least, I tell myself that's what those dry, stick in the throat offerings do.  Instead, how about attending a wedding?  Here's an offer you can't refuse!
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     His Majesty Vittorio Emanuele wished to have no delay in the wedding of Prince Umberto and Princess Margherita.  On April 21, the Crown Prince and his chosen bride signed the marriage contract in the Palazzo Reale in Turin.  The Piedmontese aristocracy, the official representatives of the new government, members of the diplomatic corps with their wives, and the delegates charged by foreign Sovereigns with their congratulations on the happy event thronged the ballroom.

    An army of designers and servants had transformed the normal décor of the great ballroom into a rich five thousand square foot conservatory.  Large jardinières filled with mature Italian Cypress trees, profusions of flowers, fruit trees, and ornate water features vied for attention with the gilt and white interior.  The fluted Cararra marble columns with their gold Corinthian capitals framed mirrored alcoves that reflected back the scenes of nature watched over by classical maidens who danced in the frieze that circled the room above the windows and arches. 

     Overhead, coffers separated by heavily carved gilt moldings and set with neoclassical motifs made from paper-mache centered into each box provided a rectangular frame for the center panel with its bright colored mural showing the Hours dancing around the allegory of time in the presences of Apollo and the Muses at a feast of the gods.  The loggia on the second level above the thrones glimmered with gold railings.  An orchestra would play musical selections for the guests who remained after the ceremony. (Read the full account of the wedding in Chapter Five)
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Available in Print and Electronic Downloads from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

Last preview installment for "Where the Lion Dwells"

Happy Sunday afternoon to all from a Florida cool autumn day.  That means its 71 degrees here heading for 74 later today--balmy for those of you up north. Here, folks tend to bundle up.

Today I'm giving you the last preview installment (for now) of "Where the Lion Dwells."  Enjoy the short segment and if you're curious about where the story goes from here, you can download an electronic copy or buy it in print and have an entertaining read for Turkey Day.
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            Joanna watched him vanish into the dark night before heading back to the house and preparing for bed. As she slipped between the cool sheets, her thoughts returned to her conversation with Shahin’s uncle. Distraction my Aunt Fanny. Who the hell does he think he is? Dictating who I can and cannot spend time with is way outside of insulting. If the good doctor calls me again for anything whether it’s social or has to do with Shahin, al-Najid’s dictates have guaranteed I’ll accept. She rolled over on her side, pillowed her head on her cocked arm, and tried to get comfortable. Europe? Why not the Middle East?

We continue the preview of "Where the Lion Dwells"

Two weeks ago, Joanna returned from a dinner engagement with Mick Riliuni who gave her an update on her favorite student's medical condition.  She found the student's arrogant uncle waiting for her in the barn when she returned. 

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            Joanna pushed open the stall door to check the automatic watering system. She glanced over her shoulder at her visitor. “The Prince will not take kindly to the information that Shahin won’t return to the Institute.”
            The Middle Eastern doctor shrugged his shoulders with a dismissive movement that indicated he believed her comment not worthy of note. “I will meet with Prince Talib in the morning before his classes begin. Like royal princes the world over, he is spoiled and accustomed to getting his own way.”
            Joanna kept her expression neutral with difficulty as she shot him a wide-eyed stare. Spoiled and accustomed to getting one’s own way aren’t qualities limited to royal princes, my fine friend. I could say the same for you.
            “His affection for his cousin is genuine and he will see the necessity, I assure you.”
            “Yes, I can imagine you will guarantee he will. Well, Tuscan is set for the night, so my work here is done.” She gave him a wintry smile. “May I offer you a cup of tea or coffee before you leave?”
            “Thank you, but no. I won’t trouble you further. As soon as I have more details, I will inform you.” He nodded his covered head in her direction and indicated she should precede him from the stable.
            “Perhaps Doctor Riliuni as Shahin’s attending physician would take over —”
            “Sayyida, I will keep you informed.” No one could mistake his emphasis on the personal pronoun in either language. “We do not want the good doctor distracted from his duties, and forgive me for again stating the obvious, but you are a distraction.”
            Joanna bristled at his words. “I assure you, Doctor al-Najid, I have no intention of providing a distraction. Tonight, that is, I’m sure tonight is an example of your promise to allay my concerns.”
            “Yes, I will be your informant. And now I will bid you a restful night’s repose.” He bowed once again in her direction, turned on his heel, and disappeared into the darkness. (Preview concludes next week.)
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    Can't wait to find out what happens?  Download the electronic version or purchase a print copy from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other online retailers.

Support our Troops this Veterans Day

In honor of the Veterans Day memorial this week, I encourage you to support our troops by making a donation to the veteran's group of your choice. If you would consider purchasing a copy of "Once A Soldier," you will enjoy a good read while supporting The Wounded Warrior Project.  All my author's royalties benefit the project.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

Joanna has a surprise visitor waiting for her in the barn

This week I'd like to continue with a preview from Where the Lion Dwells.  We'll pick up the scene when Joanna returns home from a dinner engagement with Doctor Riliuni to find Tabib al-Najid waiting for her in the barn.  Enjoy the teaser!
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           “Masa alkhair. You are late tonight, Sayyida. What irregular hours you keep.” Tonight, he dressed all in black with the trailing edge of his ghutrah pulled across his lower face. The shaded glasses again hid his eyes.
            He then proceeded to repeat some of the same information that Doctor Riliuni had related over dinner ending with the news that once Shahin had recovered enough to travel, they would move him to a private clinic.
            “Private clinic? Where?” A puzzled frown pulled down the corners of her lips.
            “In Europe. Shahin’s family places its full support and confidence in the doctor’s abilities and will comply with his decisions concerning Shahin’s welfare and recovery.” He placed a hand on his chest near his heart as though pledging that support.
            “If this is the case, why are you here in Virginia? I thought your presence indicated a lack of confidence in… Oh, never mind.” She brushed away her statement with a wave of her right hand.
            “I’m lending the encouragement of my presence and standing by to ensure the transfer goes smoothly. We will use my private jet to transport Shahin once he has recovered sufficiently to travel.” (To be continued)
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A rainy Sunday Afternoon

      The dog and I awakened to the patter of rain this morning...a harbinger of a rainy Sunday afternoon--or so I thought.  The sun is now shining with temps hovering at the 80 degree mark, but the air feels like autumn in Florida.  No complaints, however.  Whatever the weather, I never have to shovel it!
           This Sunday Afternoon, I thought we'd start the preview of "Where the Lion Dwells" and give you all a glimpse of the book, which is available in print and electronic formats from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other online retailers.  Enjoy!
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            Joanna changed into her jeans and boots when she arrived home, and then let Santino out for a short run in the yard. “Will you hurry up and do your work. You know you don’t go to the stable with me at night. Come on.” Her encouragement didn’t impress the poodle and he took his own sweet time sniffing all the bushes he had already sniffed earlier in the day. Finally, he deigned to do his duty and return to the house. She put a compact disk in the sound system that ran throughout the house, flipped on the power switch, and then headed for the stable. Low music played through the speakers in the background and the stallion stood hipshot in his stall dozing in the dim glow of the overhead light. At his head, Doctor al-Najid stood murmuring to him in Arabic. He turned as she joined him and spoke to her once again in the same language.
            “Masa alkhair. You are late tonight, Sayyida. What irregular hours you keep.” Tonight, he dressed all in black with the trailing edge of his ghutrah pulled across his lower face. The shaded glasses again hid his eyes. (To be continued)
* * * *

Joanna knew if she didn’t clear this hurdle, Mick would leave, never to return, and then the rest of her life would remain in the grave with Renzo.

A lovely Fall afternoon here in central Florida...a lazy Sunday afternoon that is a good time to settle in with a good book.  Here's the first preview of my latest release.
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           Joanna sighed and turned away to encounter the intent gaze from a pair of brilliant blue-green eyes that dominated the face of the handsomest man she’d ever seen. Awareness of her surroundings faded and a slight hum filled her ears. A thread of physical attraction stretched between them like a fine silver thread.
            “What are you doing here?” His baritone voice with its hint of the broad “a” common among the speech patterns of Bostonians held an overt note of challenge.
            His hostility jolted her attention back to the here and now, and she studied him for a minute longer. Her eyes flicked to the nametag pinned above the pocket on his white lab coat. “Doctor Riliuni, how do you do? We haven’t met. I am Joanna Sansone, Registrar at the Virginia Institute. Since Shahin is one of our students, I’ve made it a point to visit as often as I can to check on his progress.”
            “As you say, we haven’t met, and there hasn’t been much progress. I’ve ordered additional tests and started a new protocol today.”
            Joanna hitched the strap of her soft-sided briefcase higher on her left shoulder. “Has the desert healer shown up yet?”
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Available in print and electronic formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

Autographed copies available from Robbi

New book release - Where the Lion Dwells

Muse It Up Publishing released my ninth book in print and download formats.  I'm pleased to share a preview with you today.  I hope you enjoy it.
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Joanna Sansone returns home following her civilian deployment in Iraq as a political advisor. A disfigured left forearm and the loss of her fiancé, Renzo Moretti, are the scars she carries from the experience. Now, she asks for nothing more than the peace of her new home, Quintessence, but the U.S. government has other ideas. A large defense contractor calls on her services. A new English language training facility in northern Virginia’s horse country needs a registrar.  Then, one of the students, the son of an important tribal sheikh, becomes seriously ill.
Mick Riliuni is a brilliant physician renowned for his work in tropical diseases and the student’s family engages to consult on the case. When he meets Joanna, he accuses her of prejudice when she questions the need for the expertise of the student’s mysterious uncle. The arrogant Doctor al-Najid is a painful reminder of her losses and an irritating presence in her life.
Caught in the crossfire between two strong personalities, Joanna’s passions reawaken, but she has questions. A trip to a mountain fortress in Sicily may yield the answers. Will they give her a future or will her heart remain buried in the grave with Renzo?
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Once a Soldier - Traditional Memorial Day Weekend

Once upon a time, we celebrated Memorial Day on May 30.  Now, the date moves to the first Monday of the last weekend in May, a device that gives everyone a three day weekend holiday.  Our troops don't usually get three day weekends.  They don't often get weekends off...period.  Today on the Sunday of the traditional Memorial Day commemoration, I'm giving you a bonus preview from "Once a Soldier."  Please help me support our Wounded Warriors by purchasing a copy.  All my royalties support The Wounded Warrior Project.
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“I’m going to swim?” Shocked dismay mixed with a glimmer of hope spread over Marco’s face.

“No, not exactly, although you’ll swim laps again before long. I’m going to show you how to use the water for some additional exercises. This particular exercise is beneficial because the water supports most of your body weight and takes the stress off your joints. I need you to think about a few things. If you submerge to neck level, the water supports ninety percent of your weight, but if you’re only comfortable in water chest deep at this point, the support will drop to seventy-five percent. I’d really like you to try the deeper water. You’ll use a flotation belt to give your form more stability.” Rafe wrote some comments on the yellow pad on which James had made notations all morning.

“The resistance of the water makes the muscles work harder to perform any movement, so it will allow you to increase their workload without stressing the joints, or in this case—the hip bones, and the bruising still left in your lower back.

“The warm water will loosen you up, reduce the pain, and make the exercises easier to do. As you progress, you’ll start water walking across the width of the pool. The water will hold you upright and give you the support for which you now use the canes.” Rafe sipped his iced tea.

“Your problem is two-fold, Marco: the neck of the femur broke close to the pelvis and the hardware inserted to put you back together, and the bruising to the vertebrae in your lower back, both place continual stress on the spine. Since you are still in considerable pain, you’re not performing up to your usual physical standard and as a result, your core muscles have weakened. It’s a vicious circle, but the broken hip has healed well, the bruising will disappear, and the proper exercises will strength those core muscles. You will walk unassisted again, Marco.”

“Yes, I will.” His jaw jutted out with determination. “Let me rest for a while and give the food time to settle. I don’t need to add stomach cramps to the equation. We’ll go over to the clubhouse pool, say in an hour.”

By the end of the day, Marco wanted nothing more than a light dinner before making an early night of it. When he awakened the next morning, he soaked out his soreness in the tub before he and James left for the clinic.

He maintained his regimen non-stop for the next ten days, and it appeared even to him, his progress showed noticeable improvement. However, sleepless nights spent deep in thought convinced him no matter how much improvement he made, his Army career would never be what it was before the chopper when down. He’d never be a Delta operative again. What am I going to do? What if I have to retire? What will happen if the Army doesn’t give me a choice? How will I make a living, worse yet, what kind of life could I offer any woman I might meet? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life as the Sugar Bears’ bachelor uncle. He must come up with some plan for the rest of his life.
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Available from, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend we again have an opportunity to remember those who protect our freedoms, many times at the expense of their lives or severe injuries.  In honor of those who serve, I'll ask you again to help me support The Wounded Warrior Project.  All of my royalties from the sale of Once a Soldier benefit the project.  Here is another short except from the story, which is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Muse It Up Publishing, as well as other fine online retailers.
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            “As reassuring as such visits and information was I imagine you felt a little overwhelmed.  How did you sort it all out?”  Marco waited for the answer.  The programs and assistance the VA offers are great—and I won’t need them …I hope, but Larry can tell me what I need to know before it comes to decision time.
            “Oh, yeah, big time.  Everyday someone came to give me information about benefits, entitlements, and health care.  Overwhelming amounts of information yeah, but you know what was most impressive.  I always received an answer to my questions.  They had a simple and effective way of passing the information to me so I understood it.  When I left the hospital, I knew what to do and where to begin after I returned home to Colorado.”  He broke off his recital and rose awkwardly to help Marco shift his position on the bed.  “Is there anything I can get you, sir, water or…”
            “Thanks, Larry, I’m good, and my name is Marco.  You’re retired now and we’re both Norwich grads so there isn’t any need to address me by my rank.  I don’t know yet what’s going to happen so the information you have is good to hear.  I know I’ll walk again, but at this point, the docs won’t give me an opinion about the chances for regaining one hundred percent mobility.”
            “Well, ah …Marco, the process for most of the benefits and entitlements starts right here at Reed.  The VA process is quick and effective, but I'll warn you, the medical boarding procedure will drive you nuts.  Mine took awhile, not a big issue for me as I don’t have a wife or kids, but sitting around my parents’ house waiting for the process to work, well, it really tried my patience.  After everything settled down, the VA offered me this job so I came back to the East Coast.  I’m in the Vet IT program at the regional VA office here in DC.  This program offers returning disabled Vets the opportunity at the hard-to-get GS positions within the VA IT office.  This program and the vocational rehab offer many more opportunities than you could imagine.” 
            “Good information to know.  I’m happy you’ve settled into a career path and have the opportunity.  We’re the lucky ones, Larry.  The real heroes—”
            “Yeah, I know.  I lost a couple of classmates.”  He fell silent as both men remembered those brothers and sisters in arms who had fallen to the enemy.  “Well, I’d better let you rest.  I’ll leave my card.  Call me if you need anything…and I don’t mean in the professional sense.  I’ll be happy to run errands or whatever you need.”
            “Thanks, I appreciate it.  My sister is here, but there are some things…”  Marco broke off and shrugged.  The younger man snapped off a smart salute and then waved as he left the room.