Today, as part of the Lone Star Book blog tour for A RUMORED FORTUNE by Joanna Davidson Politano, I am hosting an exclusive BOOK EXCERPT along with your chance to win an incredible prize pack!
A RUMORED FORTUNE
JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO
Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Date of Publication: July 31, 2018
Number of Pages: 416
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Welcome to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England.
Tressa Harlowe’s father kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Now Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it.
It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune—before someone else finds it first.
PRAISE FOR A RUMORED FORTUNE:
“Everyone loves a treasure hunt—pair it with a heroine you can’t help but love, a hero you can’t help but swoon over, and a family mystery that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, and you end up with A Rumored Fortune. This book is a treasure in itself and one you won’t be able to put down!” ~ Roseanna M. White, bestselling author of the Ladies of the Manor series and Shadows Over England series
“Politano combines romance and mystery with great skill to create plot twists that will keep readers captivated until the very end.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“The author has done a great job, offering up a plot filled with wit, charm, action, and a lot of female strength.” ~ Suspense Magazine
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CHAPTER ONE FROM A RUMORED FORTUNE
BY JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO
USED WITH PERMISSION
Never let common sense stand in the way of a great legend, they say, and there’s wisdom in that. Because on occasion, those great legends turn out to be true.
—Notebook of a viticulturist
“I say Tressa Harlowe’s dead. It’s the only explanation for it.”
I didn’t set out to eavesdrop, but some conversations are simply too interesting to avoid overhearing. Especially when the topic discussed by these strangers is me. In such cases, I had no choice but to absorb every word, for wasn’t it my business even more than theirs?
I gazed from my shadowed corner of the dim room at the greasy little man who spoke these words and thanked my lucky stars I’d lost my way in the rain and wandered into this place.
The brutish man beside him tore off a hunk of bread and
plunged it in his mug. “Dead? Ach, no. She’s too smart for that.”
His mousy little companion hunched over his mug as if his frame couldn’t support its own weight. “Either way, she’s been away from the castle for months. It’s the perfect opportunity, Hamish.”
I could hardly wait to hear what opportunity my absence afforded them. I leaned forward and reached for my tea, drawing it into the folds of my cloak as I listened.
“So what exactly are you asking me to do, Tom Parsons?”
I breathed deeply in anticipation of the response, and my senses were flooded with the putrid scent of the place.
“I’m suggesting we avail ourselves of an abandoned treasure. No different than mining, simply digging for gold.”
Hamish thunked two meaty forearms on the rough counter. “Look, you know how I feel about thieving from the rich. But this is different. I’ll not go stealing from the likes of Tressa Harlowe. Much as I need that new horse, I won’t do it. If that hidden fortune exists, and that’s a mighty big if, well then, she deserves it.”
“It seems everyone loves that little princess of the castle.” Tom Parsons wrinkled his nose as if he could offer no suitable reason for this affection toward me. “Have you even met the girl?”
“Aye, a good many years ago, but you can tell who she is even from afar. Such a lot of life packed into a little mite of a girl.”
“I daresay I’d be full of life if I stood to inherit 10,000 a year.” The man’s narrow lips pinched with resentment. “What does that girl need with a fortune anyway? Won’t she have a hundred rooms all to herself one day? I’ve two up, two down, and ten people to fill them.”
What did he know about rooms? Little good it did to have a hundred rooms or a thousand if they were mostly devoid of life.
Parsons spoke again, sniffing at his drink. “It’d be mad not to take such an opportunity. It’s like a golden egg with no goose to guard it.”
“Ach, you’re a fool.” Hamish threw his head back to down the last of his cider and then thunked the heavy mug back onto the counter. “She’ll be back when she hears what’s happened. Any day that fancy carriage of hers will come rattling down the road, spraying mud on all us common folk as she comes to claim her own.”
I froze, straining to hear the rest. What? What had happened at my home? Father’s summons now seemed ominous rather than exciting.
The proprietor strode through the crowd then and approached me, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “There’s a man willing to take you to Trevelyan’s outer gates, but no further. He’s waiting by the door.”
I stiffened as his direct address lifted my cloak of obscurity. “Thank you, sir.”
“But save yourself the trip. With all the goings-on at Trevelyan, they won’t be looking for help.”
Me, in service? The mud and rain must have done more damage to my appearance than I’d thought.
Both men at the bar pivoted to face me as the man spoke, their two pairs of eyes seeing me for the first time. I fancied a light of recognition glowed from Hamish’s face, but Tom Parsons merely observed me with a hint of annoyance at the interruption.
I rose and pushed back my shoulders, bestowing a gracious
parting smile toward them both. “Good evening, gentlemen.” I moved past them, holding my breath as I squeezed between the tightly packed patrons, and then turned back. “You are most correct, by the way. The fortune does exist. I’ll warn you though, it’s guarded by the princess of the castle, and I suggest that you do not underestimate her.” With a polite smile, I turned again toward the door and sailed through the crowds.
Outside, rain poured off the metal roof of the porch, creating a curtain between me and the waiting cart. I ducked and ran to the vehicle, where a man hoisted me into the dark chamber and slammed the door behind me. We only traveled a mile or two, for our own carriage had been nearly home when it had broken down, but the silent drive seemed endless. Perhaps by the time I reached Trevelyan and found help, the driver who’d stayed behind with Mother would have the carriage repaired.
Looking up at the impressive fortress before us, I wondered how those men could even doubt the existence of Father’s legendary hidden fortune. I’d only glimpsed it once, but I’d always known of it, like one knows of the queen without ever meeting her. The idea of it had long haunted me, and I’d peppered Father with questions about it until one day when he’d given me his most direct answer on it. “I’ll tell you where it is when I’m dying,” he’d said with his usual gruff dismissiveness, and I’d accepted that answer.
At that time in my life, I believed him.
Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears. She freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her.
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GRAND PRIZE: Copy of A Rumored Fortune + Novel Teas (box of 25 tea bags) + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
2ND PRIZE: Copy of A Rumored Fortune
+ $10 Starbucks Gift Card
3RD PRIZE: Copy of A Rumored Fortune
+ $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
September 11-20, 2018
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