The Renaissance Club, a Time Travel Love Story

For fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon, an enchanting, romantic new time travel story …

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Would you give up everything, even the time in which you live, to be with your soul mate? That’s what young art historian and teacher May Gold must decide when she slips through time’s folds to meet the man of her dreams and the subject of her master’s thesis — fiery 17th century genius artist Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies May is in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who steered Renaissance art into the Baroque. In reality, she has just landed in Rome with her stodgy boyfriend and teaching colleagues for a tour of Italy. She yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit.

When the floor under the gilded dome of St Peter’s basilica rocks under her feet, she finds herself in the year 1624, staring straight into Bernini’s eyes. Their immediate and powerful attraction grows every time she meets him during the tour. Passion blossoms, but history says they have no future. Can May thread her way through time, and will she take a perilous risk to begin a magical, exciting new life?

An Excerpt  – May & Bernini Meet

A distant clang. The Swiss Guards were closing the outer doors and tourists were scurrying. Where was The Renaissance Club? In a panic, May dashed toward the Baldacchino and nearly collided with a man who stepped out from behind a pillar.

The young man in black frowned and didn’t apologize. With his long, dark hair and white sleeves rolled up on muscular forearms, he looked like an art restorer. A black jacket was draped over his shoulders. He held a long wooden measuring rod, the kind used by architects centuries ago. Maybe he was rehearsing for some sort of pageant.

“Ladies are not allowed here while I’m working,” he said stiffly. He aimed the rod at the nearest column and sighted up along it.

“I know you!” she exclaimed. She knew him well.

He straightened his jacket and bowed. “Everyone in Rome knows Cavaliere Bernini. But you may not be here. I need silence. I have a very big work to complete.”

His finger pointed up at the four twisted bronze columns, where May was astonished to see no bronze canopy on top. Tons of bronze had simply vanished. She looked back at him. Bernini lifted the instrument and peered up at the nearest column. Her living, breathing idol moved to one side to get a better angle. Lean and strong, he was even more handsome than in his self-portrait.

Now he was so intent on his investigation that he seemed unaware of her and the fact that her pulse was pounding. How had she come here, and where exactly was she?

He lowered the measuring rod, framed the air with his hands, and used his fingers to make rapid computations. He stared at her so intensely that she shivered. She remembered that searing gaze in his self-portrait.

“You’re disturbing me, signorina.” He turned away, clearly expecting her to leave.

How could she possibly move? Here was her genius, his hair curled with wiry energy, materializing the restless mind under it. His prominent cheekbones gave him the Neapolitan look that had embarrassed him and made him fabricate a Florentine heritage. He made a few quick calculations and looked at her again, eyes narrowed.

“I won’t say a word,” she promised.

He lowered the rod and at last, smiled. Historians had written that his smile could charm anyone, but he had never been painted smiling. What a shame.

“Why are you, a woman, studying my art?” His voice wasn’t deep but it was vibrant, with an Italian lilt. “Women only study languages, lute playing, babies, and needle work.”

“I’m a different kind of woman.” She remembered what a range of women he had known, from models to noblemen’s wives. In his era, women’s decent occupations could be listed in five lines.

“I do not wish to be rude, but because of your sex you cannot study art.”

“I’m an exception.” She enjoyed the way that startled him.

“What are you called?” he demanded.

“My name is May Gold.”

He bowed. “Signorina May Gold, Cavaliere Bernini is at your service! Your golden skin makes me think you are perhaps from Egypt, where women aren’t properly schooled in manners.”

She smiled at what he thought would be an insult. “I’m half Italian and half Jewish. And I am a student of your work, despite my sex.”

“How can that be?”

His superior certainty made the sarcasm pinch, but she knew he couldn’t easily understand. She might as well tell him what he would find unbelievable. “I’m a historian studying Baroque art, and you’re the focus of my study.”

He laughed loudly. “A woman historian? Impossible! And I know nothing of your Baroque. I am merely—” he bowed insincerely “—a genius of sculpture and architecture.”

 

Praise for The Renaissance Club:

“Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time. In The Renaissance Club, passion, art, and history come together in this captivating tale of one woman’s quest to discover her true self and the life she’s meant to lead. Rachel Dacus deftly crafts a unique and spellbinding twist to the time-traveling adventure that’s perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon.” — Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

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TRC banner add wine glass Kerry's quote

You can see more of Rachel’s writing on Italy in the wonderful anthology, Italy: A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience (Seal Press).

Explore More Bernini, Renaissance, and Baroque Art & History

To learn more about my story’s real historical hero, Gianlorenzo Bernini, you should read Franco Mormando’s definitive biography, Bernini: His Life and His Rome.

Another fascinating source on the tempestuous genius is Sarah McPhee’s new biography of Costanza piccolomini, Bernini’s Beloved.

The Culture Trip has some stunning images of the best of Bernini’s sculptures. Browse online if you can’t make it to Rome just yet.