The Renaissance Club, a novel

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A great artist of the 17th century meets his superfan from another time in a tale of passion becoming true love …
Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time. – Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and #1 Amazon Kindle bestselling author Kerry Lonsdale

Young art historian May Gold is trapped in a dead-end college teaching job and a slowly failing love affair with an older professor. Yearning to fly free of job and dead-end relationship, she feels like a precocious failure. When the floor under the gilded dome of St Peter’s basilica rocks under her feet, May finds herself in the year 1624, staring straight into the eyes of her idol. But can she make a relationship with a man five hundred years in the past, in a brief hour or two at a time? And how do the folds of time part for her—is it simply by wishing to see him again, and does she leave him by doubting her ability to stay? Meanwhile, her elderly department head finds her own answers to the grief of losing a grown daughter when time unfolds for conversations with her artistic hero, Michelangelo, who recommends she adopt a mentee, and Eva considers her previously despised employee, May Gold. As the tour proceeds, May and Gianlorenzo grab brief, passionate moments together, but history says they have no future. Eva offer May the career path she has wished for, but perhaps too late. Can May find a way—and the courage—to give up everything, even the time in which she lives, to be with her soulmate?

A CAPTIVATING STORY about holding onto your dreams. Perfect for lovers of art, Italy, and time travel romance. “Highly recommended for lovers of time travel fiction or anyone looking for a compelling story about a woman trying to find happiness.” – Annabelle Costa, Author of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend.

PRAISE for The Renaissance Club

Highly recommended for lovers of time travel fiction or anyone looking for a compelling story about a woman trying to find happiness.” – Annabelle Costa, Author of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend.
 
“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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Excerpt

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, her pulse throbbing so loudly she wondered if he could hear it.

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.

 

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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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.