Echoes of Love by Gina Ardito Genre: Historical Romance
Royal governess Chesna Dubrow must protect the five-year-old king of Amatia from Napoleon Bonaparte's invading army. To do so, she'll be forced to wed one of the emperor's loyal soldiers. But Pietor Gabris isn't any soldier. Years ago, he broke Chesna's heart, forgetting the vows they'd made to love each other forever.
Pietor's return to Amatia is embroiled in subterfuge. Amidst the deceit surrounding him, he clings to the one truth he cannot ignore: his timeless love for Chesna. Yet confessing what's in his heart would sentence them both to death. To keep Chesna safe, he must portray the role of traitor, ensuring her animosity continues to blow hot and harsh.
As danger and intrigue swirl around the palace, can Chesna place her faith—and heart—with the one man she swore she'd never forgive?
Editorial Review from Entrada Publishing:
The old saying goes, if you love something, set it free, and if it is meant to be, it will return. In Gina Ardito’s historical fiction novel, she explores the idea of lost love, and bitter-sweet homecomings.
Set in the fictional country of Amatia, Chesna is the governess of the young prince Mikhail, as a means to ease her broken heart. Six years prior, her childhood sweetheart, Pietor was sent off to Russia, and soon forgot all about Chesna. However, fate will soon bring the two lost lovers together again, but under dire circumstances. As Napoleon’s armies march upon Amatia, Chesna finds herself caught between loyalty to her country, and what her heart desires.
Ardito does a masterful job blending real-life historical events, with a beautifully crafted love story. She crafts a suspenseful and engaging narrative, taking readers through historical events, and the inner conflicts within Chesna, and Pietor. The storytelling is beautifully done as Ardito explores the concept of long-lost lovers, betrayal, and learning to follow your heart. The narrative flows in an organic way, with tension masterfully woven throughout. The dynamics between Chesna and Pietor is natural, and their relationship is very well written.
Along with a tender love story, the author sets up a mystery that Chensa, and Pietor must unravel before it is too late. Readers will be on the edge of their seats, as they follow along in the race against time. Chesna must figure out who to trust, and who she can place her faith in.
For those looking for a suspenseful, yet tender love story, Echoes of Love is a fantastic historical fiction novel. Gina Ardito is a fantastic writer, and her novel will pull at your heartstrings, as well as leave you breathless.
“I honestly don’t know. If I believe you, someone whom I’ve known all my life wants me dead. I have nowhere to turn and no one whom I can trust. I am surrounded by enemies on all sides. Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?”
Leaving the child under the watchful eyes of the ancient gods, she strode forward to the throne where the usurper still sat. Rage blossomed anew, but she allowed thoughts of Svarila to squelch her violent emotions.
“General, forgive me,” she said, head bowed in obedient penitence. “But I must speak.”
He offered her an imperious wave. “Speak then.”
On a deep inhale, she chose her words carefully. “Your officer told me of your plans for us, and I would beg you to reconsider. I have no wish to wed at this time.”
The general’s eyes narrowed. “Understand this, madam. I am not a patient man. Your former lover may have indulged you due to your position in his bed. And as much as I envy the old man his good fortune, for the sake of your son, I’d prefer you wedded before you’re bedded by another. And since, as I’ve said, I am not a patient man, that wedding will take place now.”
Pietor stole up behind her, wrapping an arm about her waist. As if she were already his possession.
Chesna’s temper soared, drowning out Svarila’s calmer guidance, and she broke from his embrace on a shout of frustration. “I’d rather die than marry this pig!”
“If that is your wish, mademoiselle.” The general shrugged and turned to Major Roucher. “Take her back to the dungeon.”
“No!” Zarek rushed forward and threw himself at Chesna’s feet. “You mustn’t die. You promised me you’d never leave me. Don’t leave me, Mama! Please!”
“Zarek, be silent,” she chastised.
He quieted immediately, but remained on his knees, teary eyes pleading his case.
“Well, mademoiselle?” the general barked. “What is it to be, death or marriage?”
Chesna stole a glance at Pietor, who stood expressionless, then cast her eyes on Zarek draped across her feet. Kneeling, she helped him rise and leaned close to his ear. “Never show such weakness to outsiders, Zarek.”
He shook his head, lips clamped in a grim line.
“Zarek, come now. Stand up.”
His reply came as quietly as her request, but with a lot more steel. “Not until you remember your promise to me, Mama.”
She offered him a sad smile. “You needn’t have bothered to go to such lengths. I can’t make good on my threat. You and I both know that.”
Without her, Zarek might forget his parents and his duties to Amatia. If she chose death, Zarek would become Napoleon Bonaparte’s lackey, much like his cousin Pietor had. Zarek needed her. Amatia needed her. But, still…
Marriage to Pietor? If she chose marriage, she’d be legally bound to Pietor Gabris for the rest of her life. Several years ago, she would have rejoiced at the idea. But that had been before Pietor became the man she didn’t know, the one who stood before her now, loyal to a foreign usurper and intent upon destroying the country she loved.
What if she agreed to marry anyone but Pietor? Would she be executed for making demands? Or would this General de Valmiere choose someone else for her to wed? What if he ordered her to marry that paunchy old man by his side, Major Roucher? The way he leered at her, his fat tongue running over his thin lips, kinked her stomach into knots.
Her papa always said the enemy you knew was easier to manage than the stranger you didn’t know. At least Pietor had been born and raised as a loyal Amatian. His father had been a royal prince. He’d loved his homeland once, had listened to her counsel and heeded her advice. Perhaps, he could do so again. If she married him, she might persuade him to forget about Napoleon and France, especially once de Valmiere and his cohorts left for Russia.
The grand hall remained as silent as a church as Chesna considered the choice set before her. Death or marriage? Death or marriage?
“I’ll marry him,” she finally announced in defeat.
I kill houseplants. There. Now you know one of my greatest shames. I'm not boasting. I just figure that if you're reading this, you're looking for more than how wonderful life is as a writer. You get enough of that elsewhere. Ditto for political rants, how to lose thirty pounds in a week, and creating gorgeous crafts with nothing more than twine and soup cans. My goal is to connect with you, dear reader, even if you're not a writer, not a New Yorker, not a mother, not a female. We're human (unless one of us is a spambot), and what we have in common is flaws. So here are a few more of mine:
I sing all the time. I sing songs most people don't know--jingles from television, crazy stuff I used to listen to on Dr. Demento, Broadway and movie soundtracks, and I can even bum-bum-bum through instrumental music. I sing in the car. In the shower. While I'm grocery shopping. And I headbop while I sing. When I'm not singing, I talk to myself. Just ignore me and move on. You get used to it after a while.
I don't eat my vegetables. Seriously. I only started eating salad about ten years ago, but I'd still rather have a cookie.
Given the option, I would live in a mall where I would never have to worry about freezing temperatures or too much sun. I'm extremely fair-skinned and could burn under a 60-watt light bulb.
I can't sleep without background noise so the television's on all night. If it's too dark and too quiet, all I have are my thoughts. And even *I* don't want to be alone with my thoughts.
Don't ask me to Zumba, line dance, or march in the parade. I have absolutely no rhythm.
I color outside the lines. Not because I'm a rebel, but because I suck as an artist. My artistic ability is limited to being able to draw Snoopy sleeping on his doghouse. And I don't even draw that well.
Regrets. I have more than a few.
My favorite activity is sleep, and I'm pretty good at it. I don't clock a lot of hours, but I can powernap like a Persian cat and rejuvenate within ten minutes.
I consider shopping and dining out excellent therapy for anything wrong in my life.
My feet are always cold. Always. My husband of more than a quarter century claims it's because I'm an alien sent to Earth to destroy him. (He might be right about that.)
Coming to my house for a visit? Unless you've given me plenty of advance notice, be prepared. My floor will not be vacuumed, there will be dishes in my sink, and I only make my bed when I change the sheets once a week (I'm climbing back into it ASAP. Why make it?) Housecleaning is not high on my priority list. Okay, to be totally honest, it's not on the list at all.
I can resist anything...except ice cream.
Since this is our first date, I figure I've revealed enough secrets for now. But if you've read this bio and think I might be the author for you, pick up one of my books or stalk my website: www.ginaardito.com.
In a particular scene in ECHOES OF LOVE, royal governess Chesna considers how she should have been a mother of her own children at this stage in her life, and not just a substitute. It’s a particular moment of weakness for her – not something she constantly regrets. And yet, that was probably a common thought for a governess of the nineteenth century. What these women didn’t know was that they were really trailblazers. The role of governess was pretty much the first career available to women where they could earn their own money while not upsetting the delicate patriarchy. But not every woman could aspire to the position. She had to be fairly well educated in the basics, an expert in societal norms, and come from a good middle-class family. Unlike in the romance novel world, though, most of these ladies never met a man who made their hearts thump under their bodices, and they probably died regretting they didn’t do more with their lives. In actuality, they were vital to world history because they raised the men and women who would eventually impact the future, whether for good or bad.
For Chesna, I wanted to create a woman who understood the role she actually played in shaping the minds of the next generation, someone who realized her power was subtle but there, nonetheless. She’s clever and strong and expects nothing less from her charge. For example, when she’s ordered to marry a member of Napoleon’s army, a man she knows all too well, her quiet fortitude is apparent and she changes the situation into a teachable moment for Zarek, the child she’s raised since infancy:
“I’d rather die than marry this pig!”
“If that is your wish, mademoiselle.” The general shrugged and turned to Major Roucher. “Take her back to the dungeon.”
“No!” Zarek rushed forward and threw himself at Chesna’s feet. “You mustn’t die. You promised me you’d never leave me. Don’t leave me! Please!”
“Zarek, be silent,” she chastised. He quieted immediately, but remained on his knees, teary eyes pleading his case.
“Well, mademoiselle?” the general barked. “What is it to be, death or marriage?” Chesna stole a glance at Pietor, who stood expressionless, then cast her eyes on Zarek draped across her feet. Kneeling, she helped him rise and leaned close to his ear. “Never show such weakness to outsiders, Zarek.”
I think she’s become one of my favorite characters because of her resiliency and her adaptability. I hope you’ll like her too. Please be sure to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know!
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