About the Books
The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise is the first volume of 5 in the family epic series The Caselli Family Series. It begins in South Dakota in 1975 where eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beers in a bar and loaded guns were kept under the counter. Frankie Valli sang My Eyes Adored You, and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.
It’s within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined – and had been for many years – yet they had no idea.
From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart – and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride’s deception.
These compelling stories are interwoven with Biblical truths and light-hearted, real life events from the author’s own past. Easy to understand and relate to, as well as encouraging.
Pit of Ambition is the second volume of 5 in the family epic series The Caselli Family Series.
Five years have passed since Noah and Tillie’s “chance” meeting. They’ve married other people by now, and are both beginning their families.
In the pursuit of professional and political success, Alex runs headlong into a pit of pride and ambition...and Giuseppe begins to hate the husband he chose for his daughter.
Alex and Noah are doing business on many fronts, which will bring Noah to town for an unintended meeting with Giuseppe. Tension abounds as he attempts to conceal his daughter’s identity from Noah.
Alex strays when Tillie needs him the most, and it’s Noah who will bring him home. But, instead of learning Tillie’s identity, he connects with her brothers, especially Marquette.
Unbeknownst to Noah, his new foreman is a member of the crime family Marquette has sought since 1968.
1) What has drawn you to writing books set in this period of history?
I knew the history really well as I grew up during that time. And I think people don’t realize how differently we did things back then (which really wasn’t that long ago!) and it’s important to me that a little of near history is shared with the next generations. It wasn’t all marijuana and peace-signs. Many of us lived very conservative, traditional lifestyles, and it’s been a difficult transition for those of us who never embraced the ‘freedom’ culture.
2) How does the story relate to your own experiences?
Wow. Where do I even begin? There are so many aspects of the story that I’ve lived, though not identically to the way the characters live it. I think the biggest experience that’s in the story is seeing the stark differences between two particular men: Alex and Noah. One man doesn’t hesitate to “put on his new man,” but the other man fights it, always giving in to his flesh. I think we all struggle with that to a certain degree, but the Bible is clear on the matter. Christ in us gives us the strength to overcome the ‘old man’ and operate within the framework of the ‘new man’ once and for all.
3) What are your plans for the rest of the books in the series?
Book 3 will come out in September, and we haven’t decided when Book 4 will be out…yet. I’m hoping that my readers will only have to wait 9 months instead of a whole year between books.
4) What do you want your readers to gain from reading this series?
When God has placed a great gift at your feet, allow it to come to fruition. Sometimes we get handed things by God but we don’t think it looks ‘godly enough.’ So we pass it by in order to find that ‘more godly’ thing. Sometimes God’s righteous glory looks more like John the Baptist, dressed in crazy looking clothes and living in the wilderness. It doesn’t always look like Saul (before he was Paul)…and don’t forget, Saul was a Pharisee.
5) Do you have any book/series plans beyond the Caselli Family Series?
Yes! I’m working on a fantastic new series right now that is totally different from the Caselli Family Series. It won’t take place in South Dakota or Italy this time, but in a huge American city. And I get to stay in that city for a solid week this summer in order to do research. And that’s all I’d better say about that or I won’t be able to stop!
About the Author
I was born and raised in South Dakota, and I love her people and rich history. For many years I’ve also had a deep love for Italy and her colorful chronology. I was fortunate enough to visit Italy on my 25th wedding anniversary, and I added some of the details of my travels to my fictional series The Caselli Family Series.
My favorite sport is baseball – Detroit Tigers – and I can’t wait until the next time I get to see them play in Comerica Park.
I live for the next family barbeque.
My husband and I own a national pizza franchise in Iowa, where we currently reside. We have three grown children and one grandson. We’ve rescued two cats and one Pomeranian.
I teach AWANA Cubbies and speak at women’s events.
Ta’Mara is generously offering a $50 Amazon gift card! There are many different ways in the Rafflecopter to enter. The more you choose, the better chance you have of winning.
Tillie and Ginger hurried to Sara and Melissa’s booth and stood just close enough to speak with their friends. They maintained what they felt would be a safe distance from the two men sitting with them. “I see you changed your minds,” Melissa slurred, and Sara answered with a very loud giggle.
“We haven’t changed our minds,” Tillie replied. “You guys have been gone for three hours. You have to come back right now.”
“Is this your mother or something?” one of their drunk companions asked.
“No!” Melissa burst into giggles. “These are our friends. Ginger, Tillie, this gentleman next to me is Theo, and the guy beside Sara is Arnie. They’re very nice.”
“I’m sure.” Ginger’s brow knit into a deep furrow. “How much have you two had to drink?”
“Barely a drop,” Sara answered with a giggle.
Ginger shook her head. “Come on. We gotta go right now.” “No,” Sara and Melissa whined in unison, which caused another upset of giggles.
“You’re gonna be in big trouble,” Tillie scolded as she pointed her index finger at the two of them.
“You two look like you could use some funzies.” Theo smiled as he reached out with one of his long arms, grabbed ahold of Tillie, and dragged her onto his lap. Tillie reacted with a slap to his face, and bolted from his confinement. He looked astonished, and the rest of the bar suddenly went silent.
“There’s gonna be trouble,” Maggie muttered to Estelle as she reached for her Remington beneath the counter.
“Oh, brother,” Noah grumbled. He got to his feet while his com- panion, Randy, tried to squelch his laughter. He’d been waiting for someone to do that to Theo.
“Now, young lady,” Theo began as he staggered to his feet, “you didn’t have to go and do that.”
“Stay away from me,” Tillie warned, “or I’ll have you arrested.”
Theo took a step toward her and Tillie took a step back, away from him.
“I’m warning you, buster.” She wagged her index finger once again.
Theo laughed. “Why, you’re just as pretty as a picture, maybe a little too spunky, but I think I’ll just take you home with me.”
“I don’t think so, Theo,” came a voice from behind Tillie, and she jumped and turned around to see a haggard and scruffy young man behind her.
“Mind your own business, Noah,” Theo cautioned, taking another step toward Tillie.
A loud chuc-chuc cleared the air. Maggie had pumped the twelve- gauge, and everyone looked toward the bar where she stood with Estelle. Maggie held her shotgun in steady aim at Theo, while Estelle stood at attention with her arms crossed and a perfect “don’t move or you’re dead” frown on her face.
“I’m gettin’ cranky, boys,” Maggie barked.
Arnie left his place beside Sara and took ahold of Theo’s elbow. “Let go of me,” Theo grumbled, but Randy was soon on Theo’s other side.
“Come on, Theo,” Randy said as he and Arnie each took an elbow. “Let’s go for a ride.” Theo sighed with a frown, and stumbled out the door with Arnie and Randy.
Sara and Melissa squelched their giggles and staggered to their feet beside the booth, hanging on for balance.
“Guess we’d better go back now,” Sara slurred, and Melissa gig- gled in response.
Tillie looked from Noah to Maggie, and then at Ginger.
“We’re lucky to still be alive,” Ginger whispered, and Tillie nodded. Maggie engaged the safety but left the old Remington loaded.
She put it back in its place, and turned around to resume her work as if nothing had happened. Estelle sighed, shook her head, and went into the kitchen. The rest of the customers in the bar resumed their conver- sations, and everything was back in order.
“I’m sorry about that,” Noah apologized, and Tillie gave him a soft frown.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said as she looked away and stepped closer to her friends.
Noah followed her. “I’m not like them.”
“I’ll bet,” Tillie answered, not even casting him a glance. She frowned at Sara and Melissa and scolded, “I hope you two realize you almost died here tonight.”
“Well, can I have your phone number?” Noah asked from behind her. She looked over her shoulder, surprised he was still there.
“Are you serious?” she scowled.
Noah smiled and nodded, waiting patiently for her next reply.
Tillie shook her head in disbelief.
“Come on, baby. How ’bout a ride?” he attempted.
Tillie huffed. “My name is not ‘baby,’ and no, I don’t go for rides with people I don’t know—especially when they’ve been drinking.”
Noah responded with a smile, and Tillie noticed how his blue eyes seemed to dance when he looked at her. “Well, what’s your name?” he asked.
“You’ll never know,” she snapped.
Noah’s expression stopped its twinkling, and the corners of his eyes pulled down.
Tillie saw the change in his countenance. Whoops…I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. She afforded him a polite smile. “By the way, thanks. I really appreciate your standing up to your friend.”
Noah nodded, and his eyes began to dance again. “You’re wel- come. Can you stay a little bit longer?”
Tillie shook her head. “No. I have to get my friends out of here.”
“Well, maybe you can come back tomorrow night,” Noah suggested.
Tillie shook her head again as she and her friends walked toward the door, Noah close on their heels.
“Listen,” he continued as they left the bar, “I get off work at three o’clock tomorrow. Can we meet? Can I take you for a ride then? I promise to be stone sober.”
Tillie paused and looked at him. He was a very handsome man, even with the unkempt beard and ponytail. There was something kind and gentle in his dancing blue eyes, and she felt herself drawn to him. She didn’t want to refuse him, but her upbringing made her shake her head. “I don’t know you. I just can’t.”
“Oh, come on,” Noah pleaded as he reached over and touched her hand.
For some reason, Tillie couldn’t jerk her hand away like she knew she should. The warmth of his skin felt familiar against hers, and the expression in his eyes made her feel something she’d never felt in her life. Who are you, and why do I feel like I should know you? She swal- lowed to find her voice and blurted out, “I’ll pray about it.”
“Sure, no problem. I will, too,” Noah said with a smile as he let go of her hand. Tillie turned and began to walk away with her friends. “Meet me right here,” he called after her happily. “Okay?”
Maggie watched Noah float in through the glass doors and up to the bar.
“I’ve found the love of my life, Maggie May.” He reached for a bottle of whiskey and poured himself a shot.
“You’d better keep your word to that girl,” Maggie growled. She reached for the bottle and put it back in its place. “You promised to be stone sober, and she doesn’t look like the kind of gal who lets you break your word.”
Noah hesitated, the shot glass paused at his lips. “You heard that?” “You were still in the doorway when you made the deal.”
Noah held the shot glass for another second, and then he sighed and set it down. “Better keep my word.”
Maggie nodded, picked up the full shot, and drank it herself.
Blog Tour Schedule
Bookish Orchestration – Introductory post
Rachel Rossano's Words – Author Interview
Adventures in Publishing – Author Interview
Rebekah Lyn Books – Book Review and Character Spotlight
Simply Kelina – Book Review
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Character Spotlight
Little Homeschool on the Prairie – Book Spotlight
Seasons of Opportunities – Book Review
Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting – Book Review
Moments – Book Spotlight
Reader's Cozy Corner – Book Review
Fiction to Ignite Your Faith – Post from the author