Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Have a sneak peek between the covers of Jules Larimore's evocative novel — Find Me in the Stars #HistoricalFiction #RenaissanceFiction #BlogTour @jules_larimore @cathiedunn

Find Me in the Stars

a Cévenoles Sagas novel

by Jules Larimore

“Larimore's ability to engulf a reader into a tale... is brilliantly done.”
5-star Highly Recommended Award of Excellence 
~ Historical Fiction Company

Separated by miles, connected by the stars, two healers forge their destinies in a quest for a brighter tomorrow.

Inspired by a true story, this refugee's tale of sacrifice, separation, and abiding love unfolds in the Cévennes Mountains of Languedoc, France, 1697. A sweeping adventure during the time of Louis XIV's oppressive rule and persecutions, this compelling narrative follows the intertwined destinies of two remarkable protagonists, Amelia Auvrey, a mystic holy-woman healer, and Jehan BonDurant, an apothecary from a noble Huguenot family, in a riveting tale of enduring love, faith, and the search for light in the darkest of times.

Amelia and Jehan are fierce champions of tolerance and compassion in their cherished Cévenole homeland, a region plagued by renewed persecution of Huguenots. The escalated danger forces their paths to diverge, each embarking on their own dangerous journey toward survival and freedom. The Knights Hospitaller provide protection and refuge for Amelia and her ailing sage-femme grandmother, even as they come under suspicion of practicing witchcraft. And, to avoid entanglement in a brewing rebellion, Jehan joins a troupe of refugees who flee to the Swiss Cantons seeking sanctuary—a journey that challenges his faith and perseverance. Jehan arrives to find things are not as he expected; the Swiss have their own form of intolerance, and soon immigrants are no longer welcome. The utopian Eden he seeks remains elusive until he learns of a resettlement project in the New World.

During their time apart, Amelia and Jehan rely on a network of booksellers to smuggle secret letters to each other—until the letters mysteriously cease, casting doubt on their future together. Jehan is unclear if Amelia will commit to joining him, or if she will hold fast to her vow of celibacy and remain in the Cévennes. Seemingly ill-fated from the start, their love is tested to its limits as they are forced to navigate a world where uncertainty and fear threaten to eclipse their unwavering bond.

As a stand-alone sequel to the award-winning The Muse of Freedom, a bestseller in Renaissance Fiction, Find Me in the Stars is based on true events in the life of Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac--an unforgettable adventure where love and light endure against all odds.

From Chapter 5:
On the Threshold

30 September 1697
Hospitaller Commandery, Mont Lauzère, France
As Amelia climbed the rise toward the commandery’s threshing grange, she pinned her veil to secure it against the wind. Then, retrieving Jehan’s cravate from her pocket, she draped it around her shoulders, ensuring it was tucked securely into her bodice. She leaned her head toward her shoulder and inhaled deeply, taking in his scent. The rousing musk that lingered on the soft linen set her heart to beating like the wings of a hummingbird in search of nectar, and it quickened her pace as she strode. 
Up the dusty road ahead, the sound of clanking chains and creaky wheels filled the air as a team of oxen toiled to pull a cart laden with sheaves of wheat. The boy leading them motioned her around. She lifted her skirts, dug her toes into the soil, and sprung forward, making haste to pass. Dodging several squawking chickens, she darted up the ramp to the grange.
Immense doors on each end of the building had been propped open to welcome in the wind and sun. Just inside, other boys were unbinding sheaves and spreading them about the floor, while several men and women flailed the stalks to separate grain from husk.
The miller stood by at the opposite end of the grange, overseeing the workers as they sang out a time-honored harvest song. It was a beautiful ritual to behold; flails rhythmically swinging up then whistling down with a blow, all in rapid succession, the older women moving in with pitchforks and brooms to rake up the grain and load it into the winnowers’ baskets.
Amelia’s face lit into a smile when she saw how the winnowers worked those enormous baskets—woven into a flat roundish form with handles, enabling them to master the strong wind to do their bidding as it blew through the grange. Generations of ingenuity had been handed down from their Gabali Celtae ancestors into this mesmerizing dance that had shaped their culture for centuries.
She took joy in the harmony of it all—their voices and their movements—but she couldn’t just stand by and watch without aiding them in some way. Surely the miller had a task for her. Yet, if she entered from this side, she risked interrupting the work, or worse, getting caught in the swing of a flail. It would be easier to reach him by circling the outside of the grange, so she retraced her steps back out the front door and ran around the great stone edifice. 
When she stopped at the foot of the rear ramp to catch her breath, someone in the distance shouted out her name. She turned but, with the bright sun in the midday sky, she could not make out the group downhill near the Hospitallers’ manoir house. As she shaded her eyes with her hands, she could see it was Commandeur Timoleon with three young women she did not recognize. So she swept up her skirts and took off running toward them.
It was a wonderful sensation of freedom. Flying, soaring down the hillside through the golden late summer grass and heather. She sorely needed the release. If she couldn’t scamper safely through her beloved forest near Castelbouc, at least the grounds of the commandery were hers to roam unrestrained.
She slowed her pace as she grew nearer, taking long, deep breaths to still her wild soul and present herself with more composure.
“Mademoiselle Amelia. I am pleased for you to meet our new novices.” The Commandeur motioned to the dark-haired girl on his right. “Mademoiselle Griselle from Causse de Sauveterre.”
Amelia nodded to the girl, a woeful sight with matted raven hair, threadbare clothing, and skin darkened by many days in the sun. She seemed close to fourteen years of age, the time of womanhood and quite late to be joining as a novice. But by the grim, brooding expression on her face, perhaps she was still under her age of emancipation, and her consignment was not of her own volition.
“You come from far away, Griselle. Welcome.” 
“And Henriette.” Timoleon held a hand toward the tall, slender, burgeoning woman near the same age as Griselle, with bright blue eyes and flaxen hair neatly pinned under a white coif.
Henriette rested her hand on the shoulder of the small girl next to her. “And this is my sister Jacquette. We are from Pont-de-Montvert.”
There was no mistaking that the two were sisters. Were it not for the difference in their height and shape, and the six or seven years difference in age, Amelia would not be able to tell them apart.
“They lost their mother a few years ago and have been pleading with their father to join our order.” Commandeur Timoleon raised his brows and rolled his eyes toward Jacquette with a chortle. “Most especially Mademoiselle Jacquette here.”
The tiny girl stepped one foot forward and raised her arm high. “Yes, so I can be a chevalière! My père is gathering papers to show we are noblesse. I want to ride like the wind into the Holy Land and be a great protector,“ she exclaimed. 
Amelia smiled, thinking of the joy this strong-minded, brave girl would bring to the community. “Are you ladies ready to take a vow of chastity, as have I? Perhaps one day the women here will outnumber the men and, perhaps, the good Commandeur will let you take on some of their roles.” Amelia gave Timoleon a congenial grin as he stood silent, holding back his amusement at her proposal, eyes wide and smiling.
“What I would like the ladies to concentrate on first . . . before we discover the roles they are destined for . . . is perfecting their skills in the kitchen, and spinning and weaving. These are the most vital and revered tasks any Hospitaller can take on, second only to our devotion to God.”
Griselle stepped closer to Amelia. “I don’t know if I want to take the vow. I only know I want to heal people.” The look in her dark eyes was almost one of desperation as she reached out toward Amelia. “Commandeur Timoleon says you possess much knowledge on herbs and medicinals. I want to be the best healer in all of Gévaudan.” 
“We cannot keep Amelia much longer,” said Timoleon. “She has a guest waiting in the Great Hall.”
Amelia could not imagine who it would be. “A guest?”
“Our friend, Monsieur Cavalier.”  
“Cavalier! Does he have word from Jehan? It has been barely a week. Could he have made it to the Swiss cantons already?”
“No. ‘Tis too soon to hear any news. Yet he brings us word on what is going on outside of the safety of our commandery. From what he speaks of, it is more important than ever that you young women only leave the commandery on assigned errands. And that you are escorted by at least one of my knights at all times.”
“Of course,” said Henriette.
Little Jacquette stood at attention. “Yes, most certainly!”
As Amelia turned to leave, Griselle clutched at her sleeve as though grasping for her last hope, a mere tadpole struggling to pull itself up onto the shore. “Wait . . . promise me you will be back soon. I want to learn your secrets.”
Amelia pulled her arm gently away. “Yes, later. I must go for now. Cavalier and I have much to discuss.”

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Jules Larimore

Jules Larimore is the author of emotive, literary-leaning historical fiction with a dose of magic, myth, and romance to bring to life hopeful human stories and inspire positive change.

She is a member of France’s Splendid Centuries authors’ collaborative, a board member of the Historical Novel Society of Southern California, and lives primarily in Ojai with time spent around the U.S. and Europe gathering a rich repository of historical research in a continued search for authenticity.

Connect with Jules:
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