Destiny's Series Book 1
By Victoria Saccenti
Genre: Historical Romance
When Raquelita Muro’s overbearing mother rips her and her little sister away from their beloved Papa, one tiny, rebellious corner of Raquelita’s heart is grateful that the bus is crowded, and the only seat left is out of Mama’s sight. Next to a handsome young man.
Matthew Buchanan’s beautiful traveling companion is more than something pretty to look at before he ships out for Viet Nam. Deep in her sad, whisky-colored eyes he glimpses a new dream to replace the ones he’s leaving behind. It breaks his heart to leave Raquelita in her tyrannical mother’s hands, but she gifts him with a token of love and a tender promise to exchange letters in secret.
But their first, shy “hello” has reached the ears of Fate. Fate is in the mood to see how far it can push two lonely hearts—to the brink of temptation, desperation, and despair—before they break. Perhaps beyond any hope of healing…
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“Let’s forget about everyone on the bus,” he said. “Tell me more about you. Where were you born?”
“San Antonio. My parents are from Spain, born on the outskirts of Jerez de la Frontera.”
“The land of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza,” he said. “A legendary country full of history and romance. I’ve seen pictures and read a ton of books. I hope to visit one day.”
“Gracious, you’ve heard of El Ingenioso?”
“You bet. Don Quixote was a reading elective in school. Darned difficult, but I managed.” Matthew paused for a moment. “Jerez isn’t close to La Mancha, is it?”
“Not at all. Jerez is near the coast in the province of Andalucía, south and west of La Mancha,” she explained, adopting a cute tutorial attitude. “The region is known for its music, historical monuments, its prized sherry wine, and majestic horses.”
“Mysterious Andalucía. The Moors fought so hard to hold it.” His eyebrows gathered as he spoke. “Lorca was from Granada. His poetry was musical and raw in one breath, like The Sleepwalking Ballad, or La Guitarra. It’s a pity he died so young.”
“Yes, a tragic casualty of the Spanish Civil War.” Speaking to Matthew was like sifting through a treasure chest full of surprises, one more enticing than the last. She had the oddest desire to touch him, ensure he was real. “So you know La Guitarra?”
“Oh no. I’m not going to embarrass myself by reciting Spanish.” A faint flush rose on his face. “It’s bad enough I mix up my locations.”
“My father and I used to recite it together.” In her softest voice, she spoke:
Empieza el llanto de la guitarra.
Se rompen las copas de la madrugada.
Empieza el llanto de la guitarra.
Es inútil callarla
Es imposible callarla.
Words flowed out of her lips, her fingertips flitted like butterflies, and notes filled Matthew’s ears, full, vibrant, and warm. “You have it, el duende comes to you,” he said.
“Yes. You. I know Lorca’s poems, but I’ve never heard them in Spanish. The genie glimmers on your face and moves through your hands. The music comes to you. He comes to you.”
“How do you know so much? Very few people outside Spain know about the genie, much less feel or hear it.”
“The teacher who helped me survive Don Quixote knew my appreciation of Lorca’s works and lent me several books. One had a lecture Lorca gave in Buenos Aires. It was outstanding. The images Lorca presented inspired the reader’s imagination. He spoke of dark sounds. According to him, el duende is the hidden spirit of a doleful Spain. Please, please say more.”
Raquelita smiled and continued:
Useless to silence it
Impossible to silence it.
“That was lovely,” he whispered. “You are enchanting.”
“Oh.” She blushed.
“Lita.” The stern sound sliced the air. Isabel and her deep scowl stood next to their seats. Her gaze shifted suspiciously from her daughter to Matthew. “Is everything all right, Lita?”
“Y-yes, everything’s fine. Mamá…this is Matthew. We’ve been talking for a while. I’ve told him a little about us and our family.”
“Lita. Do not pester people with your little stories and inane fancies. Travelers like privacy. Uh…nice to meet you…Matthew, is it? I hope Lita doesn’t annoy you too much.” Isabel arched an eyebrow at Raquelita, and before Matthew could speak, she pivoted and headed to her seat.
Matthew watched the angry woman go. Why would a mother humiliate her daughter in public? If her purpose was to smother her daughter’s spirit, she’d managed to do so. He’d spent the past few hundred miles relishing Lita’s joie de vivre; he didn’t wish to sit through the next hundred without it. He blurted the first thing that came to his mind. “Lita, you can say anything you want. I love your voice.”
“Yes, and I love our conversations. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I discussed music, geography, and poetry in a single exchange.”
“If I bore you, will you tell me?” Her expression was serene, but her earlier mirth had disappeared.
“Impossible. You could never bore me,” he murmured, hoping his sweet girl would return. “How far are you traveling? Where’s your last stop?” Matthew continued, but seconds after he asked, he knew the subject was trouble.
“We…we are going to Ocala.”
“Are you meeting your father there?” Her grimace deepened, and he wanted to kick himself. “Raquelita, if you don’t wish to talk…”
“Please, don’t think… I really like talking to you… He’s not coming. My parents are divorced. We’re moving to another state.” She choked out the three statements, and turned to the aisle.
He murmured reassurances to no avail. She still looked away. He placed two fingers under her trembling chin, and she did not resist when he turned her face toward his. Her cheeks were damp, her irises sparkled like gems, and her lashes were heavy with moisture. She looked at him with undiluted trust and an emotion he couldn’t identify.
This guileless young woman with her soulful eyes, shimmering brown locks, and golden skin had captured him. The pull was inescapable. Matthew slipped his hand under hers. “I would give half my soul to take your pain away.” He lifted the delicate fingertips for a feathery kiss.
Raquelita stared in fascination. The strong hands she’d admired earlier had grasped her hand as if she were a fragile porcelain doll. She felt safe. She felt protected. She felt secure. Other than for rare moments with her father, Lita lived in a cold, affectionless wasteland, under the strict rule and discipline of a rigid mother. With a simple brush of his lips, Matthew had infused her soul with life-giving warmth. She knew then, to the marrow in her bones, she was bound to him. She would never feel this close to anyone in life again.
“Talk to me, Lita. I’m on your side.”
Their gazes locked.
“I believe you, Matthew.”
Hovering above, the ancient women watched.
Destiny's Series Book 2
As a naïve young woman, Marité Muro nearly drowned in a maelstrom of confusing emotions stirred by two very different men. One whose tortured soul tugged at her heart, another whose scorching touch made her innocent body want…more.
Four years in a Spanish prep school gave her time to gain perspective, and now she’s come home to Florida knowing what she wants. The one man she’s never been able to forget, and she’s ready to prove their age difference is no obstacle.
Viet Nam left scars on Brian MacKay, some visible, some invisible—and infinitely more dangerous. His war buddy’s little sister has ripened into a tempting, irresistible woman, but she is forbidden fruit. Yet she challenges his resolve until, in a moment of weakness, his demons slip free.
Marité isn’t sure why the man who held her closer than skin is suddenly holding her at arm’s length, but she isn’t afraid to fight for what she wants. Even when someone returns from the past who could destroy everything. Her home. Her family. And Brian’s love.
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Destiny's Series Book 3
Brian MacKay’s love for Marité Muro burns with the heat of an eternal flame. But when he catches her cousin, Michael, forcing an unwanted kiss upon her, Brian’s jealousy comes dangerously close to flaring out of control.
In a moment of despair, he packs his bags and boards a plane for Round Rock, convinced Marité will be better off with anyone else. Someone younger. Someone who isn’t dragging around a crippling load of baggage—and PTSD-fueled demons.
Anger tears at Marité’s heart as she flees to her Abuela’s home. Anger at Brian for abandoning her so easily. At Michael for trying to reignite their past infatuation. Mostly, anger at herself for realizing too late that it’s past time to grow up, take responsibility for her own part in the debacle, and fight for the only man she’ll ever love.
But Fate has a few more tricks to play before Brian and Marité find the strength to reconcile. Some that haunt Brian’s war-torn mind. Another threatening from Michael’s dangerous ambitions. And one tiny, fragile miracle growing under Marité’s heart, with the power to heal their past and seal their future. If it lives long enough to draw its first breath…
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First and foremost, I want to thank you for inviting me to chat with you and your wonderful readers about my works. Truly, this is an honor.
My writing journey began many decades ago. I grew up in a home of avid readers. My parents had an extensive library, from Greek mythology, to the classics to modern works. I used to stare at the gorgeous leather bound books wondering when I’d be allowed to peruse the edge-gilded pages. Mom must have been watching, because the moment I learned to read, she placed in my anxious hands my own copy of The Mystery of the Black Jungle. The first volume of the Tigers of Malaysia Series, written by Emilio Salgari, Italy’s beloved writer of adventure fiction. There I was at the age of six, exploring the jungles of the Sundarbans in British India, my exhilarated imagination working at top speed. Subsequently, I wrote fantasies and fairytales to use during playtime with my sister and cousins.
Growing up I kept a diary and a book under my arm at all times. When I was stationed in London with an international carrier, I returned to writing short stories, my favorite pastime. Some I sent to my mother included in weekly letters, others I’ve kept, and the rest I have lost during multiple moves.
Then years later, I was driving home from work at 2:00 in the morning, when the main character of my first book materialized—in my head, of course—demanding I write his story. I’m convinced most writers have a touch of schizophrenia. The next day, and completely out of the blue, a dear friend came up with a similar question. Since you love reading so much, why don’t you write a book? Kismet? Coincidence? Destiny? Maybe all three, and the rest is history, as they say.
For readers who aren’t familiar with your writing, what can they expect from the Destiny series?
They can expect a bit history, adventure, and romance. The series covers a period of nine years, from June 1967 through May 1976, with a backward jump to 1936.
Destiny’s Plan begins in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War, the Hippie counterculture, free love and drug revolution, and the struggle for Civil Rights. A tumultuous period in the history of the United States, when established mores and traditions were shattered and new ones created. With books two and three, other conflicts surfaced, including mental and spiritual wounds, the consequences of an unpopular war, and abrupt societal changes.
Tell us a little about the characters who inhabit the Destiny series and do you have a favourite character?
Even though the series is advertised as romance, it’s truly a family saga. The series narrates the life of the Muro sisters—born in the United States from Spanish parents—their family, and close friends. The sisters’ stories are at the forefront. Secondary characters are also developed, including their mother, Isabel, who grew up in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.
I don’t have a ‘favourite’ character, I love them all and for different reasons. They’re like my siblings or my dearest friends. We have lived together for years. Each has brought something unique to the narrative. But if I had to choose, I would go for Xavier Manel Repulles, aka, Xavi. He surprised me the most. I thought I had him all figured out. He basically said, “You don’t know me at all.” He forced me to go back to the drawing board.
Your books are very atmospheric – how do you ‘set the scene’ in your novels and how much research did you have do in order to bring the place and people to life.
Research. Wow. I spent months doing research. I first hit the jackpot when I discovered several TV news reports from that era. They were absolutely riveting. Before I wrote the Vietnam scenes I read five books and watched a film, a dramatization of an actual battle, which helped with visualization.
I studied habits. People used to read. Books were entertainment. The school curriculum was by far more extensive. I also researched what existed and didn’t. Something as simple as a coffee maker or the wrong color in home appliances could ruin the authenticity of the storyline. In 1967, Neil Armstrong had not yet set foot on the Moon. Most of the technical advances we enjoy today have come out of the Space Age.
All of the above helped me ‘set the scene’, feel the mood, understand the motivation, see the characters and their surroundings. I’m deeply grateful for the years I spent in Drama and Acting class, a minor interest. I had no idea that at some point in the future, exercises in the Stanislavsky’s method, where the actor inhabits a part would help with writing.
When you started writing – did you always intend it to be a trilogy? And if so, did you know at the start where the story eventually finish?
I started out thinking of one book. I was halfway through Destiny’s Plan when the next story popped before my eyes. I discussed the possibility with my dear friend, as I was a little hesitant. The story line is not perfect and tidy. The human condition can be a surprising rollercoaster. She encouraged me and I went for it.
Your stories are very much ‘from the heart’. Does this take its toll on you emotionally, and if so, how do you overcome it?
Yes, it does take a toll. I cried three times with the first book. I wrote a scene in Destiny’s Plan that left me depressed for a full week. In the end, I chickened out and deleted it. I thought it would be too much for the readers. I’ve kept it. Perhaps one day I will write it back in.
My remedy for the emotional upheaval is to pick up a book from a favorite author. I’m an immersive reader and going into someone else’s world pulls me out of mine.
Now that the trilogy is complete, can we look forward to more stories from you?
Yes. And I’m pretty excited about this one. My current ‘work-in-progress’ is the story of a minor character from Destiny’s Plan. I liked him so much I ‘couldn’t’ leave him hanging. The book is completely stand-alone. However, the character appeared in 1968, which means I have to follow through with the timeline.
The story is set in North Carolina’s Wake County, four years after the first high school was integrated and weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am involved in serious research, again. I guess my personal Calliope, she is the closest, gravitates to that sort of story. (wink)
A million thanks for this opportunity. I hope your readers will be attracted to the themes I’ve explored. Traveling to the past on the pages of the Destiny series could be fun.
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