Title: Song of Cigale
Author: Mark Perretta
Genre: Historical Romance
France - 1940 -
Life for siblings Arthur and Caroline Lambert is ideal. But when Nazi Germany invades, the fates of five people go disastrously off course. Caroline remains in La Ciotat with her parents to gather vital information and collaborate with the Maquis (French Resistance). Caro's older brother, Arthur, flees France to train in England and return someday to fight German occupation.
Hanz Lambrecht lives peacefully in the small country of Liechtenstein surrounded by the breathtaking mountain ranges of the Alps. When Hanz and his father are called to war by Germany, they have no choice. Hanz is stationed in France with the sole objective of hunting the Maquis. These rebels threaten German victory, and Lambrecht must often choose between honor and orders he knows are unjust and inhumane.
With the balance of world power in doubt, American paratroopers are plunged into battle. Brothers Frank and Michael Taylor must deal with a surprisingly different set of circumstances to not only reunite but survive the conclusion of the war. Sergeant Frank Taylor and his men are armed for the worst, but nothing has prepared his heart for this...the love of a nineteen-year-old Maquis fighter.
In an effort to reassure, Frank slid a hand to hers. “The best of times will return, Caro, I promise. War brings out the worst in humanity. But I believe it can also reveal what is best in life.”
“Such as?” she asked, violet eyes wide.
“Well, there is the ocean and the sun.” Frank paused. “Flowers and mountains and the sky.”
Caro nodded, inviting him to continue.
“And sunrises and sunsets. There is kindness, truth, and hope.” He swallowed hard, unable to look away from her. “There is laughter…and cicadas.”
“And beauty.” For a moment, Frank lost himself. A warm flush and sense of boldness filtered through his body from the wine drunk earlier. “And most of all, there is love, Caro. There is always love.”
Both stared at each other, their soft breath the only sound.
“And what do you know of love?”
“I know it’s pure and honest. I know that when it finds you, it wraps itself around your heart with an iron grip and won’t let go. And it’s the only thing that makes this damn war worth fighting.”
Any trace of nervousness between them vanished.
Caro tilted her head and searched the twilight sky through the aperture. Her hair fell carelessly around her shoulders. Pale light shimmered off each strand like misty drops hovering above a moonlit waterfall.
Frank breathed in, and in a little more than a whisper, spoke. “Times like these teach us not to take anything for granted, for what is here today may be gone tomorrow. Sometimes, it forces us to live faster than we’d like, to make the most of the time we have.”
“You’ve a way with words, Frank Taylor.” Caro paused, and her voice trailed into a whisper. “I need to tell you something. I want to tell you.”
He shrugged. “What?”
“With all my heart, merci.”
Frank’s eyes narrowed.
She grabbed a single piece of straw from the loft’s bed. “For bringing my brother home. It means more to me than you could ever know.”
“It was nothing.”
Their gazes met, held. “It is everything.” She rolled the straw between her fingers. “Now, what would you like to do?”
He snared a piece and plucked at it. “I like open spaces, no walls. After the war, I’ve thought of finding some land. I’ve always wanted to own my own mountain. Maybe have some horses, perhaps my own ranch.” The straw bounced between his rolling fingers. “But that seems like another life from this one. And I still have this crazy war to think about. The thing about the future is we spend so much time looking for it, but we never see it coming.”
“I mean…” Caro asked with the playfulness of a child, yet the words emerged from the inviting lips of an unquestionable woman. “What would you like to do now?”
Despite the dim light, her youthful skin illuminated with an intoxicating glow. Everything “war” was forgotten, of another lifetime.
Frank no longer held back. “I want to kiss you. I’ve always wanted to kiss you.”
Leaning in, the warmth of her cheeks and neck radiated through his fingers. Ever so delicate, their mouths met. This was not the imaginary moment he’d longed for. It was real, and he savored every second. Frank pulled slowly away and let his fingers slip through her dark hair like a comb. His fingertips dropped to her shoulders, her silky skin warmly inviting. Then, he extended a single finger, tracing the length of her tanned arm before returning to her ebony hair.
Caro’s skin shook in excitement. She nuzzled his neck, and he caught a hint of perfume. It was like breathing fire. Every pore burned in passion. Both their bodies sank into the straw bed. Soft kisses met with soft kisses, and then their tongues met.
Passion exploded. Tender kisses turned from delicacy and excitement to something else. Mouths became hungry and searching.
Licking the lobe of her ear, he breathed into it. “From the moment I saw you…” He raised his leg over hers and rolled next to her. “I knew.”
Caro’s fingers fumbled with buttons on Frank’s shirt then his pants. He helped her dress slide off. Each gripped the other, and a rising heat consumed every thought but one. Caro bit his lower lip playfully, kissed his neck, and pulled him on top. Neither held back.
She clung to him with legs and arms and pulled him in. His chest to her breasts, his naval to hers, his face buried in her hair.
Warmth surged throughout their bodies. Their eyes found each other. Pleasure and elation rolled into one giant wave.
The feeling swelled and rose until, finally, both shuddered and collapsed. Sweat-soaked bodies intertwined, exhausted.
For an instant, they caught each other’s glance and smiled.
He slung his arm over her chest. With each of her panting breaths, his arm moved in unison with her body. Caro quivered one final time. The madness dissipated.
Finally, their breathing slowed and became one. A cone of moonlight poured through the opening, causing part of her form to glow a diffused pale. With his lightest touch, Frank raised a hand, extended a single finger, and traced her profile. It was a profile that could break any man’s heart. So beautiful…
She whispered, eyes closed, “What did you know?”
His fingertip slid down the slope of her petite nose, outlined gentle lips, fell to her chin, and started over.
“What did you know?” she repeated. “When you saw me?”
Leaning his lips to hers, he hovered just out of reach. The warmth of her exhale blanketed his cheeks. “Of all I know in this world, you are what is best and good and right.”
Her mouth rounded into a smile. “Je m’endors sur ces douces paroles.”
“I sleep on these sweet words.”
Lying by her side, he watched her breathe. How precious! How wonderful!
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What’s your favorite part about being a romance author?
Love never ages. Relationships never stale. There is always the first precious kiss preceded by the first casual glance, the first knowing smile and ultimately the first nervous words spoken to each other.
Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
At least once a month, revisit old photographs and videos of all those happy moments. Take time to do sweet things for each other. But the key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.
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Born on Thanksgiving Day, Mark earned his B.A. in Communications, Journalism, and English from John Carroll University. He would become a teacher and coach at the high school level, instructing a wide variety of English courses over the years. His love of literature and great respect for those who serve their country led him to writing.
Mark likes to write stories that deal with family, honor, and sacrifice. His debut novel, "Song of Cigale," is a historical fiction that opens in 1944 France. Mark’s first book, "Heaven Above, Earth Below," is a heart-warming novella that honors his former student, Naval Flight Officer Jason Manse, and the men who served aboard the USS Indianapolis in WW II. Mark had the great honor of attending several reunions for the survivors of the USS Indianapolis.
Mark currently works as an English teacher for incarcerated youth in Canton, Ohio. When Mark isn't writing or reading, he can be found working outside, playing chess, or traveling with his family.
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