#Extract Until We Meet by Camille Di Maio @CamilleDiMaio

I’m delighted today to bring you an extract from a book I’m hoping to read very soon, Until We Meet by Camille Di Maio. My thanks to Ellen at Books Forward for my digital review copy.

Until We MeetAbout the Book

New York City, 1943.

Can one small act change the course of a life? Margaret‘s job at the Navy Yard brings her freedoms she never dared imagine, but she wants to do something more personal to help the war effort. Knitting socks for soldiers is a way to occupy her quiet nights and provide comfort to the boys abroad. But when a note she tucks inside one of her socks sparks a relationship with a long-distance pen pal, she finds herself drawn to a man she’s never even met.

Can a woman hold on to her independence if she gives away her heart?  Gladys has been waiting her whole life for the kinds of opportunities available to her now that so many men are fighting overseas. She’s not going to waste a single one. And she’s not going to let her two best friends waste them either. Then she meets someone who values her opinions as much as she likes giving them, and suddenly she is questioning everything she once held dear.

Can an unwed mother survive on her own? Dottie is in a dire situation – she’s pregnant, her fiancé is off fighting the war, and if her parents find out about the baby, they’ll send her away and make her give up her child. Knitting helps take her mind off her uncertain future-until the worst happens and she must lean on her friends like never before.

With their worlds changing in unimaginable ways, Margaret, Gladys, and Dottie will learn that the unbreakable bond of friendship between them is what matters most of all.

Format: Paperback (384 pages)    Publisher: Forever
Publication date: 1st March 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction

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 Amazon UK | Amazon US
Links provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme


Extract from Until We Meet

Distracted by the music and the twittering of their conversation, Margaret was surprised that an hour later, she had produced the base of a sock that, while not storefront-perfect, was something to be proud of. Gladys was about as far along as she was while Dottie was well on her way to finishing the matched sock that would complete the pair. At this rate, they could clothe the whole army in a short time. Dottie leaned in and showed them how to change the pattern in order to create the ribbed part that would hug the shin. Knit two, purl two.

As she continued, Margaret thought about the boys who would wear them and about a special request that John had asked of her. Could you write a note to my buddy William? He hasn’t received any letters yet, and I don’t know why. But I think it would mean an awful lot to him. Something cheery. You’re just the girl to do it.

She paused to glide a finger along her nearly done piece and thought about who this William was. Would he put the pair on right away? Or would he stash it in his rucksack for later? But most important, would he smile at the thought that some girl in Brooklyn had spent a Saturday evening making this for him? She was grateful her brother had enlisted her help. It gave her the kind of purpose that she felt working at the Navy Yard. That in some little way, she was contributing to the war effort.

“Margaret, watch out!”

Dottie was pointing to the pocket of the red sweater that Margaret’s grandmother had made for her many Christmases ago. It had seen better days – Margaret wore it frequently to the Navy Yard, and it had caught on her work more times than she cared to count. She missed her grandmother, having lost her two years ago to pneumonia, and the sweater was a warm reminder of the woman she’d loved. Margaret still felt the void at the dinner table every night as her grandmother’s seat remained empty. And now John’s.

She saw the problem that Dottie was pointing to. A piece of the yarn had come loose and had wound its way around the gray wool skein. The last row of Margaret’s stitching had the beginnings of an unintentional red border. “Looks kind of nice, if you ask me,” offered Gladys.

Dottie stood up to inspect the work. “I think she’s right, Mags. It dresses it up a little bit. Makes it stand out.” She dug through her bag. “I don’t have a red skein, but I have a yellow one if you want to make a border on purpose.” She held it up.

Margaret took it from her hand but wasn’t convinced as she put it next to the sock. There was something dull about it. Yellow on gray. Whereas the red reminded her of some of the flashiest dancing shoes her parents used to make. She shook her head and gave the yellow back to Dottie. Then she tugged on her sweater, loosening the yarn even more. “I’m going to stick with the red. For all the socks I make. It will be like having my signature on it.”

“Oh, Margaret!” exclaimed Dottie. “What do you mean? That’s your favorite sweater!”

Margaret’s heart beat faster as she doubted herself, but she knew deep down that this was something she had to do. “That’s why. It’s because it’s my favorite. What if this little sacrifice means something? Like the amount of our effort somehow elevates theirs?”

Gladys set her project down on her lap. “Like it’s in the stars. The more good you put out there, the more comes down to them.”

“Or” – Dottie seemed enthusiastic about the idea now – “it’s like sending them a bit of your grandmother’s goodwill. Letting her be their guardian angel too.”

Margaret smiled. “Yes. Exactly like that.”

“I like it. And so would John.”

Margaret stifled a yawn. It was only nine o’clock, but she still felt tired from the sleep she’d missed from the early shift yesterday. This work was too important, though, and this evening with her friends was too dear to wrap up early. Another Glenn Miller song came on – “Knit One, Purl Two.” The girls fell into another fit of giggles. The song had dominated radio stations last year, and its appearance at this moment felt like it was all meant to be.

“You know what?” said Gladys. “I think I’d like to do this every Saturday night after all.”

Margaret smiled at Gladys’s response to the silent wish of her heart. She whispered a prayer for the boys who would receive the socks and went back to work. Tomorrow, she would write a letter to William and slip it into the box before shipping it out.

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Camille Di MaioAbout the Author

Camille Di Maio left an award-winning real estate career to become a bestselling author. She has a bucket list that is never ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai‘i and Maine to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and hopes to get to all of them someday. Camille studied political science in college. She loves to spend Saturdays at farmers’ markets and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. She lives with her husband of twenty-four years in coastal Virginia, has two kiddos grown and flown, and two still at home. Rescue pets have been a long-term passion for her, the most recent addition being a German shepherd puppy. (Photo/Bio: Publisher author page)

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#Extract Ranger by Timothy Ashby

I really enjoyed Timothy Ashby’s book In Shadowland, the second in his series featuring Special Agent Seth Armitage, when I read it back in 2017. You can read my review of In Shadowland here and also my earlier Q&A with Timothy about the book.

He’s now back with a new book, Ranger, an adventure novel set in the 18th century featuring a mixed-raced hero who overcomes overwhelming obstacles to succeed as a British military officer. The author describes him as ‘a black Sharpe, a la Bernard Cornwell´s famous series’.

I’m delighted to be able to bring you an extract from Ranger but before that let’s find out a bit more  about the book.

Ranger CoverWest Indies, 1796. Alexander Charteris – the mixed-race son of an aristocratic planter and a slave mother – is raised as a gentleman amidst the country houses and London drawing rooms of Georgian England. Tricked out of his inheritance by his cousin Pemberton – Chart is kidnapped and transported to the island of Grenada where he endures the hell of slavery on a sugar plantation. When Pemberton arrives at the plantation, accompanied by Chart’s former lover, Lady Arabella, he orders Chart’s torture and execution.

A slave revolt ensues, before the order can be carried out. Chart initially joins the revolutionaries but is sentenced to death for refusing to take part in a massacre of British colonists. Aided by the beautiful daughter of the rebel general, Julian Fédon, Chart escapes. He is recruited into a new British unit called the Loyal Black Rangers and promised freedom if he fights against the French.

Chart confronts conflicting loyalties as he leads his men in vicious bush-fighting. He rises through the ranks and plays a pivotal role in the bloody battle that crushes the rebellion. But the soldier must confront one more enemy, that of his treacherous cousin, before he can find peace.

If you like the sound of Ranger as much as I do it’s available to purchase now either as an ebook or in paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon US. Look out for my review of the book just as soon as I can find the time to read it.


Extract from Ranger by Timothy Ashby

Julien Fédon had not slept. His entire being was suffused with bitter disappointment that had long since swept away the vestiges of defiance. He had stood by the battery below the guillotine for most of the night after drafting his final manifesto under the brooding eyes of his officers. Just before midnight his daughter Céleste had begged him in choking sobs to go to the side of her dying mother who was asking for him. But he ignored her and sent her back to the family’s simple hut under guard.

Now he watched hundreds of bivouac fires dotting the dark valley around his former home, seeing how they flickered like fireflies as troops moved past them. Abercromby’s army was massing at the foot of the mountain and he knew the redcoats would attack at dawn. The Brigands could delay the infantrymen as they struggled up the slope but would be unable to repel them. He was especially fearful of the Black Rangers and their German comrades in arms, who he expected to be in the vanguard. But the rebel general had an escape plan; it was risky but needed to bolster his men’s spirits so they would not feel trapped.

A last act of revolutionary bravado was needed. When Abercromby trained his telescope on Camp de la Mort as the sun rose, he would see the quartered pieces of the English milord dangling from the top of the guillotine, and his aristocratic head would be the final missile launched from the mortar.

Fédon turned to the renegade French captain Noguet. “Fetch the English colonel here. Take two men in case he must be carried.”

******

Chart’s fingers scrabbled across the side of the rough-hewn stock until he found the crude dowels securing Hugh’s arms and legs. Both were hammered too tightly into the holes to extract with his fingers.

“Is anyone else here with you?” he rasped.

“I’m the only living one left,” Hugh answered in a barely perceptible voice. “Couple of bodies in the far corner, I think.”

“Are you injured? Can you walk?”

“No and hopefully. Need water.”

“Need to get you out of here,” said Chart, coming to a decision. He took the mallet from his belt, felt for the bottom of the lowest dowel, and began gently tapping to loosen it. As he finished the upper pin a light appeared outside the doorway accompanied by voices speaking in guttural patois.

Chart leaned close to Hugh’s ear. “Keep still!” he hissed, then moved swiftly to the side of the doorway with a cutlass in one hand and sword bayonet in the other.

******

“You hear that?” the man carrying a rushlight torch said in a tremulous voice. “Coming from inside.”

“Lot of jumbies here round this place,” another Brigand said. “They make tapping sound like that!”

“Primitive nonsense!” snarled Noguet, who had failed to hear the noise which had now ended. “Ghosts do not exist!”

As the two ragged soldiers with slung muskets hesitated fearfully at the prison entrance, the French captain thrust forward, seized the torch and opened the door.

“Follow me,” he ordered, sweeping the torch over Hugh’s inert form as the men hesitantly followed.

“You see, no ‘jumbies’ here,” Noguet sneered, “just the milord, although he does look dead.”

Chart sprang from the darkness, whirling like the dervishes he had seen in Bengal. He swung the cutlass, nearly scalping Noguet, who screamed and let the torch fly into a heap of rags and dried thatch. Simultaneously, Chart stabbed the bayonet into the chest of one of the soldiers. Pivoting, he hacked and stabbed with an almost superhuman fury at the other man. Both Brigand soldiers were dead in seconds.

“Behind you, Chart!” Hugh gasped.

Chart spun to see Noguet, face twisted in a rictus of agony, fumbling for a pistol in his belt. Despite his blood-curtained face, in the light of the spreading flames Chart recognised him as the French officer who had ordered the killing of his friend Titus, the murderer of the concubine at La Sagesse and the commander of the firing squad that had massacred the British prisoners. Teeth bared in rage bordering on madness, Chart slashed open the Frenchman’s belly spewing his entrails like purplish serpents down his waist. Chart was on the verge of beheading Noguet as he dropped the pistol and doubled over, but halted the cutlass in mid-swing.

“Non,” he hissed in French, “you die slowly.”

Hooking the bloody cutlass to his cross belt, he dragged Noguet to the fire consuming the bamboo walls of the prison and hurled him into the flames, where the Frenchman convulsed and screamed weakly. Panting, he returned to Hugh, pulled out the loosened dowels and flipped open the heavy wood stocks.

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Timothy AshbyAbout the Author

Timothy writes: I explore the nuances of history through fiction and non-fiction.

I’ve always had a passion for history… and adventure. My formative years were spent on the Caribbean island of Grenada, where I rarely attended school, spending my days indulging in archaeology, sailing, diving and exploring. I spent my 21st birthday partying at the British Army’s Jungle Warfare Training camp – “Hummingbird Cottage” in Belize – and later I held a Top Secret security clearance while working throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations with the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

To the surprise of family and friends (not to mention myself), I eventually added the alphabet soup of PhD, JD and MBA after my name, became a senior official in the US government, and spent the following years as an international lawyer and entrepreneur, during which time I rose early and spent weekends to indulge another passion – writing. During that time, I published four books and over 100 articles including scholarly pieces on Caribbean colonial history – “Fedon’s Rebellion” (Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 1984) – and Scottish history – “Walsingham and the Witch: England´s Failed Attempt to Pacify King James VI” (History Scotland, August-September 2021). I also wrote for the Harvard International Review, The New York Times, US Naval Institute Proceedings and the RUSI Journal.

I’m now devoting 100 percent of my time to building my literary career. My narrative non-fiction biography, Elizabethan Secret Agent: The Untold Story of William Ashby (1536-1593) will be released in hardback on 30 March 2022 by Scotland Street Press, Edinburgh.

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