Award-winning author Aubrey Wynne is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas.
Aubrey’s latest holiday romance Dante’s Gift, includes both a present day and WWII love story intertwined. It is included in the box set Christmas Pets and Kisses and sold as a single. Her true love is historical romance and Rolf’s Quest, the first in a medieval fantasy series, will release in 2016. Sammi’s Serenade will debut in the box set Valentine’s Pets and Kisses.
Visit Aubrey at her WEBSITE and Facebook pages.
Looking to a veteran for inspiration...
After doing my research, and finding a battle in Italy that would add some grit to my story, I went to Eric. Lucky for me he had been at that particular battle. He took one look at the name Cassino and shot down my idea like a true fighter pilot. As I crashed and burned, he quickly grabbed a map to find a better setting. His finger pointed to Foggia where he had been stationed at a large air base. I watched him trace a line towards Naples and the coast. Pointing to a place called Benevento, he said, “That’s it. That’s your setting.”
“Why?” I asked, hoping to hear another great adventure from his soldiering days.
“As a messenger traveling back and forth between the air base and Naples, I went through this little town often.” He smiled, as if remembering something or someone pleasant, then coughed and gave a quick glance over his shoulder at my mother. “The Yanks bought sticky buns here. They cost a fortune because food and supplies were so scarce. But a soldier will pay a high price for a reminder of home.”
He helped with many small details that most people would never notice. What did they use to tape up a glass counter or cover broken out windows? Accurate descriptions of the local geography and available food were all great bits of information that I needed to weave into the prose to make it believable. The correct slang for an American versus a British soldier.
My story, of course, contains a scene or two with Eric. Look for the British pilot! I also included a famous liqueur, Strega, that is still made there today. The small church of Santa Sofia, where my characters attend a funeral, is the only church that survived the bombing during the retreat of the Germans and the entry of the Americans. And of course, there are the sticky buns.
Information on Santa Sofia, Benevento
Here is a link to a newsreel showing Benevento during WWII. The Germans had just left and the Americans were moving in. The destruction was terrible and the main cathedral had been bombed to pieces. But Santa Sofia, the smaller church, remains standing today.
Information on Strega and the legend of the Witches: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strega_(liqueur)
About DANTE'S GIFT
Dominic Lawrence has planned this marriage proposal for six months. Nothing can go wrong—until his Nonna calls from Italy. Now he must interrupt the tenderest night of Katie’s life with the news that another woman will be under their roof.
Nonna, a wartime bride from the ‘40s, knows how precious love can be. Can her own love story of an American soldier and a very special collie once again bring two hearts together at Christmas?
Read an excerpt...
“But you are not home, soldier. You are here, in Benevento, and a sticky bun is 100 lire.” She meant to be rude but his soft brown gaze made her heart race as if she’d just chased Dante across the field. His smile went to his eyes, adding crinkles to the corners, and made her own lips turn up. “The cost of supplies is very expensive these days, as you know.”
“So I’ve heard. Give me five,” he said with a wink. “Maybe I can sweet talk the captain into putting me back into a plane.”
“Save your money, Ken. Your ears obviously ain’t got any better in the last ten minutes,” he answered, rubber-necking over the counter. “Get a load of that landing gear.”
Dante growled again but this time showed sharp, white teeth. “I don’t think he likes you much, Bob.”
“Well I don’t care for him, neither. Give me two of those, and we’ll get out of your hair.”
The men paid for the rolls and walked outside. She headed into the kitchen when that quiet, deep voice stopped her. “I’d like to apologize for my friend. He’s not a bad Joe once you get to know him.”
“I don’t think I care to,” she said without turning around.
“It looks like I may be making regular trips through your town. Do you work here often?” His tone dripped like honey from a ladle and poured over her; she felt her body turn toward him even as her brain told her “no.”
“My family owns it. I am here every day.”
“So your father is Guido?” He had resumed his place at the counter, balanced on his elbows again, inviting her back without a word.
She found herself leaning on the counter from the other side. “How do you know my father?”
“The sign says Guido’s Café.”
She laughed. “Yes, it does. So you are no private eye, eh?”
He whistled then. “You’d make Betty Grable green with envy when you smile. It makes those blue eyes sparkle like a fresh-cut diamond. You should do that more often.”
Her eyes lowered, embarrassed at the compliment and the image of the American pinup girl in a bathing suit. “You should go catch up with your friends.”
“My name is Ken Lawrence,” he said and held out his hand.
“Antonia Capriotti,” she replied and took his hand. A tingle shot down her center and curled her toes. “It is nice to meet you.”
“You’re blushing. Mmm, beautiful and modest. That’s a rare find, you know.” He held firmly onto her hand. “And who is this?”
She looked down at the silent collie. He hadn’t made a noise when this man reached across the counter and touched her. Odd. “Dante, our protector.”
“You need one, with mugs like Bob.” He made a kissing noise in the dog’s direction and slapped the counter. Dante jumped up, feet on the edge and barked. Ken reached over and scratched the dog behind his ears. “Good boy, you look like my old Schotzie.”
“You have a dog?”
“I did. Old man hit fourteen just before I left. Mom sent me his collar when he passed.”
“I’m sorry, they are just like one of the family, si?”
“Yes they are,” he agreed, giving Dante one more pat before he tipped his hat. “I hope to see you again soon, Antonia.”
She hugged the collie as the Yank left, a swagger to his walk. “What do you know that I don’t, hmm? I trust your instincts better than mine. Perhaps we’ll consider more conversation with this Americano if he returns.”