Blog Tour: Portrait of a Man by Vicky Adin @VickyAdin @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #HistoricalFiction

We’re celebrating the release of Vicky Adin’s latest historical fiction, Portrait of a Man! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

518bD0tN5FLPortrait of a Man

Publication Date: October 23rd, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

Will the secrets of the past destroy an artist’s legacy?

Matteo Borgoni is a desperate man. He must succeed if he is to free his beloved wife, held captive by her father in Melbourne. His picture framing skills establish him with the artists of Dunedin in 1863, but he has many doubts, and many more obstacles to overcome.

Fifty years on, Luciano, a rakish Italian portrait artist on the run from his past, turns up at the Invercargill branch of Borgoni Picture Framers seeking refuge. As the ravages of World War One escalate, fear is constant, but compassion brings unexpected consequences. A terrifying pandemic is the last thing they need.

Over a century later, a man recognises a portrait in an Auckland gallery, and demands it back. Amid another global pandemic, a marriage on the brink of failure, and a life and death struggle, the portrait exposes generations of family secrets and deceptions with life-changing results.

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Excerpt

January 1863

The Arrival

Matteo Borgoni walked off the ship like a man reprieved. He closed his eyes and inhaled the early morning air, detecting the usual animal dung and the grease and tar of a busy harbour, but also something fresher, more life- giving. Seagulls squawked overhead, searching for tiny fish among the seaweed rippling against the wharf piles for their breakfast. “This,” he sighed with a lighter heart than he’d had in a long time, “this is where life begins again.”

At first glance, Port Chalmers was more makeshift and primitive than he’d expected after Melbourne. Wooden buildings stood haphazardly along the main street and scattered over the hillside. The port hummed with activity, which pleased him. A busy port was good for business, but he hoped the city of Dunedin – some eight miles south-west – would be more prosperous. He heaved his bag onto his shoulder and, dodging horses, carts, trolleys and people laden with goods and baggage, he followed the steady stream moving along the wharf to where the authorities were waiting.

He’d seen the likes of many of his fellow passengers before. Poor miners and prospectors coming from the gold rushes of Victoria hoping for better luck. Most would move on again, empty-handed and defeated. A few had families, dragging them from one rough-and- ready tent town to another in the hope of striking the big one. He’d met a handful of Italians among them. Crazy people, in his opinion.

A voice from behind announced the presence of a toffee-nosed Englishman.

“This way, my dears, follow me.” He pushed his way forward as he escorted his wife and daughters to wherever they were going. “Make way, I say. Make way for the ladies. Coming through.”

Eventually, the queue moved along, and Matteo’s turn came.

“Name!” barked the official, who ticked him off the passenger list and waved him on.

At thirty-five, Matteo had seen a lot of living. He was barely twenty-one when he left his home near Lake Garda in Northern Italy – a tiny hamlet surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the Dolomites, where life was measured from one festival to another filling the square with customs and chatter. On the odd occasion, he’d returned when money allowed. When he didn’t have the funds, he wrote to his sister, Gabriella, who understood him; understood why he needed to leave the traditions and shackles of the small village behind and find a new life; why he had no freedom in their tiny three-storey brick home living the peasant lifestyle. His dreams were too ambitious to be confined.

As he walked towards the village, the sun pleasantly warm on his back, he let his dreams fly free again.

“Hey, Matteo,” a fellow Italian called in heavily accented English. “You come?”

“Si, I come.”

Over the years living in Melbourne, Matteo had learnt to speak English. Now it was his everyday language, even with other Italians. There were too many regional differences to speak his mother tongue to passing strangers.

The younger man clapped him on the back and together they made their way along the dirt road. Trees covered the hillside, and the lush, green countryside appealed to Matteo.

He’d arranged for his packing crates to be transferred directly to Dunedin, but the new paddle steamer, designed for the shallow waters of Otago Harbour, wouldn’t be leaving for a while yet – and he needed a drink.

“Let’s go.”

With a beer in hand, they sat in a crowded barroom of the Royal Hotel, taking in their new surroundings.

“So, tell me, what brings you here?” asked Stefano, his accent far stronger than Matteo’s.

“A new adventure.” Matteo shrugged away thoughts of his past failures.

“Gold. You look for gold. I go look.” The young man’s eyes gleamed at the thought of making his fortune, as many others had yearned to do in the goldfields of Australia and New Zealand.

“No, I’m a businessman; a craftsman. I set up shop here.”

Matteo had soon learnt that life was a case of ‘each man for himself’ when the madness of gold took hold. He’d seen too many fools work themselves to death for a few ounces of the shiny metal hidden in veins in the rock, and had far bigger plans than living the filthy, harsh life of a miner.

“What, no gold? Then why you leave if you have business?”

“Leave where? Home, or Melbourne?” He didn’t want to talk about why he’d left Melbourne. No one here needed to know.

Stefano pulled a face. “I think I know why you left home. My papa say things not the same since Risorgimento. Si? Unification. Phht! He asks how can the north be like the south when our food and our words are different? People fight to keep what is theirs of right; they don’t want change. They don’t need one nation. They want to be Trentino men like you, or Tuscan like me. Friends, but not the same.”

“Si, infatti,” Matteo agreed, wondering how much Stefano had experienced first-hand, given his youth, and how much was his father’s opinion. Nothing was as simple as he made it out to be. “I left during the ’48 revolution – it was that, or fight, and I did not want to fight. Detesto politica. Generation after generation, many revolutions. One side say this; the other that. I don’t want to know.” But if what his cousin Alessandro had written was true, there was much infighting and disagreement still going on. “But it is better to be one people – Italian people – than be ruled by foreigners, si?” He sipped his beer and curled his lip at the bitter taste.

The men continued to chat about the strife still going on at home as the states fought to become a kingdom, or not – depending on which reports came from where – resolving nothing, and agreeing life was better away from it all.

 “Which way you go to Dunedin?” asked Stefano. “By paddle steamer, why?”
“I’m told there’s a new road now, over the hills.” “So I heard, but by all accounts it’s no more than

a bridle path and not suitable for wagons. And I need to transport some goods – belongings I brought from Melbourne. Do you have a horse?”

Stefano shook his head. “No. I use all my money on the ship here and on a licence and tools for mining. I walk.”

“There are many seagoing craft between here and Dunedin; perhaps you could work your way …” Matteo paused before he came to a decision. “But come with me. I could do with some company on our first night. I buy a ticket.”

“Truly? You let me travel with you?”

Matteo nodded, glad to have someone to talk to for a while until he got settled.

They ordered some food and more beer while they waited for the ship’s whistle to alert them to its departure. Within the hour, they were boarding The Golden Age.

“A good omen for me, si?” laughed Stefano on seeing the name.

“Maybe it is,” agreed Matteo as they made their way up the gangplank.

“Welcome aboard this magnificent vessel during her first week of operation in this wonderful harbour,” said the captain. “It is my pleasure to transport you to Dunedin, and I personally guarantee your safety.”

Matteo leant against the rail admiring the new paintwork and studying the intricate construction of the paddle wheels and saloon facilities.

“I hope he’s right,” he said to Stefano in a soft voice. “From what I hear, all is not well. They left one of their owners behind. He was supposed to captain it on its maiden voyage over here. And then they struck a big storm and the ship was damaged.” Matteo wondered how unusual a rough crossing was, given his own less- than-comfortable passage. “They left the cook behind, too. Locked up, they say, for stealing the engineer’s watch. Not a good start.”

“How you know all this?”

Matteo lifted his shoulder. “I ask questions.” He looked around to make sure no one could overhear him. “I heard another story. About a Signor Alexander Leys, the engineer, who disappeared overboard a few days ago. I wonder how the captain can say everyone is safe when he lose someone.”

“Incredible!” said Stefano, agog at Matteo’s words.

“Not so much. Pays to be careful, that’s all,” said Matteo in warning. “But I’ve got better things to worry about. First task, find good vino – if such a thing is possible. I cannot survive on that beer.”

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

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Award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.

After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together in a way that makes the past come alive.

Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories – characters such as Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.

Her 2019 release, The Costumier’s Gift, is the dual-timeline sequel to the family sagas of Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner.

In 2020, Vicky released Portrait of a Man, the soul-searching and heart-warming conclusion to The Cornish Knot.

Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. When not writing you will find her reading – she is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories; travelling – especially caravanning, and cruising with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.

Vicky AdinGoodreads | Facebook

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For a chance to win a print copy of the book, please click the link below!

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PortraitofaMan

Blog Tour Schedule

November 30th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Read & Rated (Spotlight) https://readandrated.com/

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com

December 1st

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

The Wor(l)d of Magic (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

December 2nd

I’m into Books (Spotlight) https://www.imintobooks.com/

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

December 3rd

 @BrendaJeanCombs (Review) https://www.instagram.com/brendajeancombs/

Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

December 4th

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

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Blog Tour: The Costumier’s Gift by Vicky Adin #Excerpt & #Giveaway! @VickyAdin @RRBookTours1 #BlogTour #HistoricalFiction

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Welcome to the blog tour for The Costumier’s Gift by Vicky Adin!

The Costumier’s Gift

Publication Date: May 24, 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction

Why does a stranger hold the key to unlocking Katie’s family secrets?

1903 – Jane is the talented principal costumier at Auckland’s Opera House in its Edwardian heyday. She thrives in this place where she can hide from her pain and keep her skeletons to herself – until the past comes back to haunt her. Brigid, her beloved foster mother, and her best friend Gwenna are anchors in her solitary yet rewarding life. As the decades go by, the burden of carrying secrets becomes too great, and Jane must pass on the hidden truths.

Today – Katie seeks refuge from her crumbling personal life with her grandmother, who lives in past with the people in her cherished photographs. All too soon, Katie learns she must identify the people behind the gentle smiles – including the Edwardian woman to whom she bears a remarkable resemblance – and reveal generations of secrets before she can claim her inheritance. She meets the intriguing Jared, who stirs her interest, but she’s not ready for any sort of romance, so is shocked when she learns that he holds the key to discovering her past.

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Excerpt

Jane 1903

Jane loved the early mornings, when she could move around her top-floor workshop at the Opera House before anyone else arrived. She would compare progress against the numerous sketches pinned to the walls and inspect the elaborate costumes draping the mannequins. She could touch the rich fabrics laid out on the table ready for cutting and check the accessory trays holding the beads, threads and feathers used to adorn the finished outfits.

But the nights, when she let down her silky dark hair and dressed in her richly coloured and beaded silk wrap – making her feel like one of her exotic characters – was when she did her best work. With pencil in hand she would sketch gown after gown, suit after suit: sometimes total fantasy, sometimes glamorous, sometimes whimsical.

Where the ideas came from even Jane couldn’t explain, and she often had no idea which design would work best for which show, but her pile of drawings had not let her down so far. Somewhere deep inside, she held the dream that one day she might become a famous designer for someone like the House of Worth, but meanwhile Jane couldn’t be happier. On occasions, she even had the temerity to sell a few of the more fashionable designs under the name of Bernadette, and particularly during ball season. A secret she kept to herself.

The dress was one of Jane’s fantasy dresses made of multi-coloured gauzes she’d dyed in shades of deep purple, navy and green decorated with silver sparkles. The facemask and headdress she was working on in the quiet of the empty studio would need to be as elaborate. She’d already hand-dyed heavy stockings to match so the dancer would be head-to-toe in underwater colours as Jane imagined them. Her late-night scribbles came to life when a body filled the contours of the design and Jane’s heart lifted at the sight. The concoction was perfect, if a little large for Grace.

“It’s beautiful,” said Grace as she swished and sashayed and danced about the empty workshop. The girl’s excited laughter echoed through the room. A tingle ran down Jane’s spine. She must not let Grace get too involved with the theatre. This was no place for the girl despite her love of music.

Brigid was teaching the girls to make traditional Irish lace and to sew, and Sally was showing them how run a business. Grace’s and Lilly’s futures lay there. And, now Brigid had finally accepted Phillip Harrison-Browne’s invitation to visit his department store in Brisbane, maybe one of them would find a future over there instead. All these thoughts flashed through Jane’s mind in the split second it took for Grace to leap into the air, spin and crash into a rack of costumes being prepared for the next production. Over it went, dragging costumes on the adjacent rack to the floor as Grace rolled amongst the muddle. Behind, other racks rocked precariously as more costumes on their hangers slid to the floor to add to the jumble.

“Are you all right, Grace?” called Jane as she raced across to where Grace now sat nursing her ankle. Lilly nodded, as a tear slid down her cheek.

“It hurts.”

“Oh, my dear girl. I’m sure it does, my sweet. Now let’s get you out of this mess and I’ll go find something to make a cool compress and see if I can borrow a stick to help you walk.”

Jane reached out her hand to help Grace to her feet and almost dropped the girl. Exposed by the disarray, a pair of men’s boots peeked out from under a mound of fabric. An involuntary gasp escaped her lips. Still supporting Grace, balanced on one foot, Jane peered into the gloomy corner.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

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Multi-award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.

After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to weave family stories and history together in a way that brings the past to life.

Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories: characters such as Brigid, the Irish lacemaker and Gwenna, the Welsh confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.

Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. She is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories and enjoys travelling. Her writing has been compared to that Catherine Cookson.

Vicky AdinGoodreads | Facebook

LinkedIn | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter

Giveaway!

For your chance to win a print copy of this book, click the link below!

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TheCostumier

Blog Tour Schedule

July 8th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://readsandreels.com

Wrong Side of Forty (Excerpt) https://wrongsideoffortyuk.wordpress.com/

Tsarina Press (Excerpt) https://www.tsarinapress.com

The Hufflepuff Nerdette (Interview) https://thehufflepuffnerdette.wordpress.com

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

July 9th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

July 10th

Books and SStuff (Excerpt) https://booksenstuff.wordpress.com

Reading Nook (Excerpt)  http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

July 11th

Kim Knight (Review & Interview) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

July 12th

Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

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