THE WIDOWS OF CHAMPAGNE by Renee Ryan - Excerpt - "Engaging"
We're pleased to welcome Renee Ryan, author of The Widows of Champagne, a story of "danger, secrets, and love" set against the backdrop of WWII.
The Widows of Champagne
For readers of Lilac Girls and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a captivating novel of resilience, as three generations of women battle to save their family’s vineyard during WWII.
Gabrielle Leblanc Dupree is taking her family’s future into her hands. While she should be preparing for a lavish party to celebrate two centuries of champagne making, she secretly hides Chateau Fouché-Leblanc’s most precious vintages behind a fake wall in the cellar in preparation for the looming war. But when she joins the resistance, the coveted champagne isn’t the most dangerous secret her cellar must conceal…
A former Parisian socialite, Gabrielle’s mother, Hélène, lost her husband to another war. Now her home has been requisitioned by the Germans, who pillage vineyards to satisfy the Third Reich’s thirst for the finest champagne. There’s even more at stake than Hélène dares admit. She has kept her heritage a secret…and no one is safe in Nazi-occupied France.
Josephine, the family matriarch, watches as her beloved vineyard faces its most difficult harvest yet. As her daughter-in-law and granddaughters contend with the enemies and unexpected allies in their midst, Josephine’s deep faith leads to her own path of resistance.
Across years and continents, the Leblanc women will draw on their courage and wits, determined against all odds to preserve their lives, their freedom and their legacy…
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Enjoy an excerpt from . . .
The Widows of Champagne
Beneath the creaking bones of the ancient château, clocks chimed from room to room, speaking to one another in a secret language all their own. Gabrielle LeBlanc-Dupree moved quickly through the darkened corridors, counting off each peal as she went. Twelve in total.
Not enough time. It had to be enough. Evil lurked on the horizon, prowling like a hungry lion. Tonight, Gabrielle would prepare for the unthinkable. That she had to act alone only heightened her sense of urgency. And pushed her feet faster. Faster.
Wrapped inside the thick folds of her cloak, she exited the house as soundless as a wraith. She’d taken this path hundreds of times, thousands, down the twenty-one stone steps, through the vineyard, past the champagne house, and into the miles of limestone caves cut beneath the chalky earth.
The frigid wind blew over her face, carrying the scent of rain and decay, a stark reminder that the Lord had taken His hand off her family long ago. History haunted the LeBlanc vineyard like an uninvited ghost at a christening. We are people marked by war, her grandmother said. The soil is drenched in blood and death. More was coming.
Gabrielle kept moving, never faltering, never stopping to wail against the unfairness of two enemies bearing down on her. The rain let loose, waging its relentless war on the vines her family had tended for two hundred years. The weather was proving a more immediate threat than the evil lurking on the other side of the Maginot Line.
One bad harvest would not ruin them.
The other enemy very well could. Hitler and his ravenous henchmen showed no mercy. They conquered. They invaded. And then, they looted. If France fell into Nazi hands, they would not get the best of the LeBlanc treasures. Not if Gabrielle succeeded tonight.
All but running now, she unlocked the heavy door and plunged into the wine cellar cut into the stone beneath the vineyard. She hurried past the racks of upturned bottles maturing under the 24-volt lights. This young wine, not yet champagne, was her family’s legacy. Their future.
The bottles at the back of the cellar represented their past. Gabrielle had personally selected the most valuable blends from the last two decades. She’d also chosen from the previous century. Most notably the single-vintage 1867, and the infamous 1811, rumored to be of remarkable quality because a comet had crossed over Champagne that year. Finally, and not without much internal debate, she’d added five hundred bottles of the celebrated 1928.
When she’d first come up with her plan, she’d considered confiding in her grandmother and perhaps, in that moment, she would have, if the rain hadn’t started up again and pulled her attention to the vines. Now, she was glad for the interruption. What her grandmother didn’t know, she couldn’t worry over. Gabrielle alone would carry this secret, this burden.
End of Excerpt
Excerpt © Renee Ryan. Shared with permission.
Renee Ryan grew up in a Florida beach town where she learned how to surf and skateboard very poorly. As a teenager, she gave up on both pursuits and began entertaining herself during countless hours of “laying-out” by reading all the classics.
After graduating college, with a degree in Economics and Religion, she explored various career opportunities at a Florida theme park and a modeling agency. She moved on to teach high school Economics, American Government and Latin while coaching award-winning cheerleading teams.
For further information about Renee, check out www.ReneeRyan.com.
Genre: Historical Fiction/WWII
Publisher: Love Inspired Trade
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Content Rating: PG
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