- N. N. Light
Love on the Mall: a Tale of the National Mall by Ann Beltran is a KU Event pick #romance #giveaway
Title: Love on the Mall, a Tale of the National Mall
Author: Ann Beltran
Genre: Historical Romance
Meet Estela the anthropologist, a flirty young woman moving into the Roaring 20’s, and Nikos, an architect, vulnerable and struggling to put the Great War and Spanish flu behind him. Soulmates? Perhaps. Yet for twenty years their romance never leaves the National Mall. What keeps them apart lies within. Enter their time/space bubble where they negotiate tipping points and choose to change – or not. Only time will tell if a real lace exists for them to be together.
Early February 1922
He closed his eyes as though he were Brahmin going to sleep for millions of years before reinventing the universe. His breath was moving deeply and slowly, pausing to appreciate a waft of spring in the chill air. The hopeful breeze cleared his mind for a moment, only for the taint of self-interest to rush in and fill the void: as a fledgling architect, how might he distinguish himself? What final attention to the Memorial and reflecting pool would propel him forward to new work? With his eyelids opening deliberately in slow motion, he exhaled fully to face the fullness of the soon-to-be-dedicated Lincoln Memorial.
Only to be perturbed.
The back of a woman in an outlandish orange coat had inserted itself in his perspective and marred the classical image. This interruption to his daily ritual of fresh observation drew a pout. Annoyance poised itself, about to pounce – only to drop away as the woman, a young woman, turned her head to the left and then smiled. Her look drew his attention to the architecture of her face. The focus that he commanded as an artist, a draftsman of blueprints, a model maker, he directed to observe methodically the ever so slight downward slope of her cheek from her eye. The upward curve of her wide lips. The elegant downturn of her nose forming a compliment to her cheek. A jaw of uncommon integrity. This, the revelatory side of her cloche hat, contoured into the curve of the upturned burnt red fox collar that increased the glow of her fair complexion. This woman was worthy of a painting. Or to be the face of a classical sculpture.
“Reminds me of the Parthenon.” The thickly accented soft voice positioned behind him to his left made him turn abruptly to take in a bearded, greying, spectacled face under a tweed cap. “Pardon me for interrupting your meditation, but I saw the long roll of papers in your hand, and thought, ‘Aha, perhaps this man knows something about this building.’” The architect’s dark eyes probed from beneath the cover of his fedora, assessing the formal looking man and his curious expression as he spoke again. “Was I mistaken? If so, my apology for disturbing you.”
Nikos, not one to smile easily, and still uncertain whether to adjust his stance to acknowledge the intrusion, turned to the woman again, and then lowered his gaze. He settled on courtesy. After all, he did represent Henry Bacon, the designer of the Memorial. “No, you’re not mistaken. I do know a great deal about this structure.” Owning his role, he shifted his shoulders back to stand taller and faced the man directly. “I work for the man who designed this.” Raising his arm, “…and worked on these blueprints myself.”
“Splendid! I hoped as much. Estela, come and greet Mr. – I’m sorry, your name is?”
“Kalkos. Nikos Kalkos.” His voice had gravitas, punctuated by full tribute to consonants.
Professor Curris extended his gloved hand in a greeting that Nikos met half-heartedly, his attention riveted to Estela, the perfection of her oval face now fully revealed.
“Father, you are always so bold, approaching strangers like this.” The benevolence of her smile competed with the kindness emanating from her soft brown eyes. “I apologize for my father, Mr. Kalkos. He’s so used to talking to young, eager students, he forgets the world is not his campus.” She spoke as though she were a singer, with a light voice that explored the range of highs to lows.
“Let me properly introduce myself then. Professor Petros Curris of Georgetown University. I’m in history. And my daughter Estela, she’s recently graduated from Barnard College and taken a post at the National Museum. I came to have lunch with her, and we couldn’t resist coming down this way to see the completed monument.”
Nikos, nodding an acknowledgement, returned his attention to Estela’s face. The look of it seduced him. He was so bored with women who painted their pointed lips and puckered them, as though they were a child’s doll. He detested the appearance of bleached hair as a lack of integrity. His meditative artistry strove towards art in perpetuity, where the transiency of fashion yielded to true beauty. As before him now.
What makes your featured book a must-read?
If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you’ll love a romance that covers 20 years and the would-be lovers’ psychology.
If you’re an American history fan, this roaring twenties’ feminist and vulnerable war hero stroll you through the years of our National Mall – America’s front yard – becoming what it is today.
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Runs November 15 – November 24, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on November 25, 2022.
Ann’s career in government, business, and the nonprofit sectors, as a lawyer, executive, and professor, provide a broad array of human experience upon which she draws to create character-driven, engaging stories. Her prior novels, The Nonprofit Girl Trilogy, www.annbeltran.com, span 15 years from Seattle to India and continents in-between, as the mother/daughter coming-of-age, family saga plays out. Love on the Mall, a Tale of the National Mall is her first venture into historical fiction.
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