Welcome Jannine Corti-Petska to Writerly Wednesday. For previous Writerly Wednesday posts go to http://writerlywednesday.com .
Jannine Corti Petska was born in New York but raised in Southern California. Her parents’ first language was Italian, and Jannine was raised in an Old World environment. She began writing romance novels when her three daughters were young and she was a stay-at-home mom. In-between writing and caring for her family, she tutored Italian, Spanish, German, and English as a Second Language at a local college. Although she loves placing her stories in medieval Italy, she has also written romantic tales of the cowboy in the American West. To find out more about Jannine, her website offers a host of information. www.jcortipetska.com
MINE TO KEEP
Lady Elizabella Aldrich receives notice of an inheritance in Padua, Italy. Arriving from England, she discovers another heir lays claim to the castle. An unreasonably handsome Italian rogue stands between her and the castle she’s inherited.
Leonardo Da Mitri never met the noble who included him in his will. But after one look at Lady Eliza he relishes the challenge of defeating the beauty to make the castle his own.
Astonished to learn they must wed and remain married for a year, it soon becomes apparent someone does not want the nuptials to take place. As Eliza fights her growing desire for Leo, he fights for his life. Will he walk away from his inheritance—and Eliza? Or is he willing to risk everything to stay married to the woman who has claimed his heart as hers… to keep?
It’s morning, and Leonardo greets Eliza at the bottom of the stairs.
Signor Da Mitri nodded then held his hand out
toward the table. “It has been left up until you ate
your first meal. Do sit.”
“The table has been set up since I arrived.”
Couldn’t he see she wasn’t easy to sweet talk or
sway? “I shall accept your offer, for I am ravenous.”
His eyes twinkled. “Sì, I too am ravenous.”
Eliza wasn’t stupid. She knew exactly what he
was hungry for. More pointedly who. She sat on the
bench with grace and slid close to the end, away
from the Italian. “Did you not partake of the
“My appetite has suddenly returned.”
Eliza couldn’t help the frown turning down the
corners of her mouth. When he had the audacity to
sit beside her, she wanted to scream. “There is
plenty of bench for you to move to the opposite end.”
“How will we converse? I fear I am in no mood to
And in no mood to be truthful either, she might
have chastised, had he not given her a stunning
smile. Her frown deepened, and she held herself
back. Having no other recourse—except taking her
meal in her bedchamber—Eliza turned away from
him and tried to concentrate on the hearth. She
might have succeeded if the signore hadn’t brushed
against her arm. She scooted to the very end of the
bench. Any farther, she’d land on the floor. She’d
had more than enough of that particular
The servant chuckled, rattling Eliza’s
forbearance. Why did men find annoying a lady
“Your food will be out shortly,” the servant said
with a bow of his head.
He walked away, his upper body slightly bent
forward. Eliza upheld her silence and reinforced the
protective wall she’d erected. She hoped Signor Da
Mitri understood that she wanted no part of his
menial conversation. The cretin didn’t take the hint.
“Where in England do you live?”
She searched his face to decide if he was serious
or being playful. “I would rather not say.” A modest
smile drew her attention to his lips. “Where in Italy
do you live?”
“Here,” came his quick response, along with a
“What did you just say?”
“I know that,” she spit out. He really did think
she was stupid. “Carina. What does that mean?”
He answered with another smile. His head drew
nearer. His mouth moved closer. His lips floated, she
was sure of it. Eliza held her breath, afraid to speak
without stuttering from apprehension. The moment
his smooth lips dusted hers, she shivered. Never
mind the indecency of what he was doing. Her heart
raced, and heat bloomed over her entire body. She
had no control, it seemed, because her own lips
accepted his in an explosion of unfamiliar
sensations. She gripped the bench with one hand
and the table with the other. He rested his hand on
her waist. Eliza squirmed, but naught she did
stopped her from losing her senses to Signor Da
Mitri’s kiss. It was heavenly, and she pouted when
he lifted his head away.
“Ah, signorina,” he whispered. “A kiss beyond all
Beyond all others? She’d best retain a sharp
mind, else the rogue would steel her inheritance
away. She crossed her arms. “I am sure you have
tasted the lips of many ladies, but you are lying,
signore. That was my first kiss, and doubtless it is to
be above all the other women you have kissed.”
“I beg to differ. I spoke the truth.”
Entranced by the huskiness in his voice, Eliza
gasped when he kissed her again, this one bolder,
more forceful. His hands framed her face as if to
make certain she didn’t end the kiss prematurely.
Slapping him crossed her mind…until he folded her
into his embrace, tilting her head back and bracing
it with his hand. The heat she’d felt before was mild
compared to the fire consuming her from head to
leather-bottomed shoes. She gripped his waist,
afraid the flames were real and she’d perish. Never
had she experienced such wonderful shivers
marching up and down her back. Gooseflesh
attacked her arms. Her head spun out of control.
The tip of his tongue slipped out and traced her
lips. It was wrong. Yet it was right. A voice of
decency spoke up and filled her head with the
reasons she shouldn’t allow the signore to kiss her,
to caress her body.
“He is molesting milady,” Leticia shouted from
across the hall.
Their kiss ended abruptly. Both turned to find
the maidservant running toward them, a broom
raised in her hands. Eliza had no time to cool her
body’s unwanted desire. She jumped to her feet, but
with Signor Da Mitri’s weight, the bench didn’t
budge. She tipped backward, desperately grasping
for the table. He reached out to save her, instead
closing his fingers over her breasts.
“You dishonorable beast,” Leticia screeched.
The last thing Eliza remembered was her
maidservant whacking the signore with her broom.
1. In three days, all power will go off, everywhere for a very long time. What will you include in your author survival kit?
I’d have note pads, pens, reading glasses, flashlights and lots of batteries, Thesaurus, dictionary, sugar-free chocolate, and some kind of battery-operated device that will heat water and keep it warm for my (instant) coffee.
2. Where did the idea for the work you are promoting arise?
I’m not sure, lol. I was invited to write a short story for the Love Letters series at The Wild Rose Press. The hero or heroine must receive a letter that changes their life. Setting the story in Italy was the first thing that came to mind. Then I decided to have both hero and heroine each receive a letter instead of just one of them. I thought that if they came from different countries and from different social bearing, that might make a good conflict.
Since I’m a male-oriented writer (writing strongly from the male POV), I made the hero Italian, a heritage I know very well. To offset him, the heroine had to come from a stiff-upper lip country like England. She’s from nobility; he’s street-wise and goes through life taking one day at a time. Then the rest fell into place. With one exception—the short story turned into a novella, lol.
3. What do you like to read?
Historical romances (medieval, westerns, Viking, Victorian, ancient), romantic suspense and autobiographies or biographies about Golden Era movie stars as well as Italian soccer players.
4. Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited?
That’s a toss up between the Coliseum and Ponza, an island off the coast of Italy where my father was born. I was only 18 at the time, but that didn’t stop my mind from conjuring up stories as I stood in the Coliseum. Just the idea that I was standing on spots that other people from ancient history stood on was a remarkable feeling. I think that’s when I got into the historical aspect of story-telling.
The Island of Ponza was exciting for me because I got to see the house where my father was born, the grocery store his parents owned, and the short wall that he constantly kicked a brick out of and got into trouble for. And I got to meet his girlfriend before he left Italy in his 20s. LOL, she was still waiting for him.
5. What is the most mundane, day to day, thing you can share about yourself?
Getting dressed. Yeah, I could wear my PJs all day, lol.
I thought wearing Jammies had become a trend. I see young people over at the Wal-Mart wearing them all the time….
6. What scares you the most?
Fire is my biggest fear. Something happened when I was a child, and to this day, I cannot light a match or start a lighter of any kind. I’m terrified to be near fire.
What scares me the most is losing my husband. I cannot imagine me without him and him without me. I worry more now that we’re in our 60s and have numerous medical problems. We have always been two halves that completed a whole—one heart, one soul. After 40 years of marriage, that still holds true.
7. Tell us anything but keep it G rated.
That’s no fun!When I was in junior high, I was about 4’10”. The lockers were stacked in two rows and each was a good 3 feet tall. One day, friends threw me into one and closed the door. I think that’s where my claustrophobia began. Oh, they did let me out immediately, but it was traumatizing, to say the least.
Medieval, Italy, Renaissance, The Wild Rose Press, Jannine Corti Petska, Mine to Keep, historical, romance, Love Letters, Padua