Excerpt Monday -- 3rd Edition

Author: Jax Cassidy // Category: , ,
It's Excerpt Monday again and feel free to learn more about it HERE! This idea was created by two members of Romance Divas, Bria Quinlan and Mel Berthier. "Excerpt Mondays" is the chance to showcase an author's work by making it available for readers. There are authors of all different genres and heat level ratings from G to NC-17. Be sure to check out the guidelines and calendar for future dates!

Well, I am providing an excerpt of one of my Work In Progress (WIP) that I started several months ago...I love Europe and I love focusing on the romantic elements that are found in these gorgeous destinations. Now add in my obsession with wine and Italian cuisine--combined with my desire to write about the beautiful Tuscany countryside--this was a delicious project that had to be written...unfortunately, I had to put this project on the back burner until I finish my current proposal set in sexy Seattle....

Hope you enjoy the first look!

by Jax Cassidy
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: PG excerpt rating (Complete manuscript will be R rating)


When talented architect Darcy Nguyen travels to Tuscany, she expects to find the bright, idyllic villa of her late friend’s childhood, tucked away in a historic Italian vineyard. Instead, a pall has fallen over the valley and its residents, and the handsome Luca di Ponti risks losing the winery his family has owned for generations. Despite herself, Darcy becomes drawn to the proud, stubborn Italian, and finds herself leading a crusade to save the vineyard while breathing life back into the valley.


The arched bridge that connected the abundant di Ponti vineyards to the modest Villa Campo reminded her of an old and weary traveler daring her closer, as if eager to relay the tales of its existence. Wild vines snaked out between the cracks and crevices of the irregular square stones, spreading across the surface to hide the true beauty of the once magnificent structure.

Sadness washed over Darcy Nguyen at seeing the lack of upkeep—yet, there was so much potential...

She frowned at her inability to disconnect from work to vacation mode. For Heaven’s sakes, it’s Tuscany! At least try to feel excited. How could she? She had always envisioned visiting the Campo home with her dearest friend Vinessa at her side. Not like this, not under these circumstances.

Darcy heaved a heavy sigh and re-positioned the leather Louis Vuitton travel bag in her hand. Okay, so things didn’t get off on the right footing with the airline losing her luggage and the driver not speaking a lick of English, but she finally made it here. That’s all that mattered. Right?

“Yes. It can’t get any worse.” She felt suddenly better, walking purposely across the uneven bridge to reach her destination.

She froze upon seeing the solid umber and white-washed stone construction with its Mediterranean terra-cotta roof tiles, and sandstone columns. Could see the wilted and deadened flowers mixed with weeds springing up from the soil, could see the dreary streaming tears of dirt and soil leaking from the walls from months of neglect. With every step, every click of her heels, she felt the sorrow seep through her bones, coating her with the memories of loss. Yet her conscience quickly reminded her that death was not the end.

In fact—as she scanned the panoramic view of the lush rolling hills and inhaled the crisp morning air that smelled sweet with ripened grapes—by being here, Vinessa was alive and leading her here, to this place, to live out the dream that was painted into her head since a teenager.

Darcy blew a loose tendril of hair from her face, eying the overgrowth of shrubbery and feral foliage growing along the walls of the Campo villa, which left her itching to do some much-needed landscaping. This wasn’t the picture she had imagined in her mind’s eye.

She took the steep steps up to the main door and gave the wooden door a good knock. She waited patiently without receiving a response. Strange. She tried again, pounding loudly for good measure. The seconds stretched on so she hummed a popular tune she had heard on her iPod and tapped her feet to the rhythm.

Where were they? Growing impatient, she hoped their wires weren’t crossed regarding her arrival date. Mistakes happened all the time even if the Campo’s had assured her they would be home. Perhaps they couldn’t hear her from out back. She decided to poke around the property in an off chance they were working and lost track of time.

Darcy dropped her travel bag and matching LV purse on the wide steps before heading around to the back of the villa. She stopped short of the dried vine covered pergola and frowned. Seeing the state of the residence tore her up inside.

Vinessa’s death had slowly killed her parent’s will to continue on. What a damn shame! Villa Campo was all that her friend had ever talked about and if she closed her eyes, she could almost hear the whispers of youthful laughter as children played nearby, could smell the aroma of lavish Italian home cooking, taste the excess of rich Chianti offered at the festivities.

Darcy licked her dry lips as an overwhelming thirst assaulted her. The sun was rising higher and the temperature was soaring alongside. She couldn’t wait to rid herself of the thick jacket and sink into a cool, relaxing bath.

She cleared her throat, speaking loudly, “Good morning! Buongiorno!”

Silence greeted her in return.

“Anyone here?”

Still no reponse.

Well, hell! She assured herself that the couple must be held up in town and were running late. How could she explain their lack of hospitality? Since this situation was out of her control, she needed a distraction. What could she do to pass the time?

Her eyes swept over the depressing surroundings and an idea formed in her workaholic’s mind. “Fine. I’ll just make myself comfortable. I’m sure they won’t mind.”

Darcy made her way back to the front door and unknotted the bright striped Burberry scarf, slipping it into her purse. She proceeded to roll up the sleeves of her crisp white blouse, all the way to her elbows. Her eyes made a quick sweep of the parameters and locked on a row of lackluster potted flowers that hung on the wrought iron hooks along the sloped stairs. Aha!

She wasn’t one to waste time and tackled the project with enthusiasm, much like everything she did in her life. As she replaced the once lifeless plants with the new ones she had carefully plucked from a nearby garden, a soft breeze blew through. She shivered as a sensation spread across her flesh. Turning her head, she almost believed someone was watching her. When she hadn’t spotted anyone, she relaxed. A smile crept across her lips and she had a feeling Vinessa approved of her task.

Luca di Ponti stepped back further into the foliage and watched in fascination as the exotic woman wiped the sweat beads across her forehead with the back of her delicate hand. She appeared to be skilled, meticulous at her task. Sometime during her efforts to re-pot the deadened flowers, he had gotten an eyeful of her toned calves underneath the conservative pencil skirt as she stretched and flexed.

She must be the one.

His brows knitted together in annoyance. Mostly at himself for enjoying the view. He would telephone the potential American buyers to remind them that the villa was to be left alone. Was this woman not informed of the explicit details of the terms?

He realized how absurd his disposition was, hiding like a schoolboy afraid to be detected by a pretty girl. Luca untangled himself out of the hiding spot and straightened up. He tugged at the end of his lightweight dress shirt and ran a hand through his hair, stopping in mid-action. As if he should be concerned about his appearance! She was the one trespassing on his property.

Luca puffed out his chest ready to speak his mind when he was silenced by her actions. The woman slowly unbuttoned the top few buttons of her blouse and fisted the collar, flapping it in and out as she tried to cool down. Her movements were innocent yet so sensual...so mesmerizing.

He shifted in place, his sleeve soon caught in the branches and he let out a loud curse. The woman's head whipped up, her caramel eyes connected with his for a brief second before she shrieked and lost her balance. He rushed toward her in an effort to break her fall, only to witness the magnificent way her rump firmly landed on the wide step with a loud 'thump'! A part of him felt guilty for contributing to this mishap, but the other masculine part was suddenly wishing he had been that step caressing her buttocks, easing her pains.

“Signora. Are you well?” His hands darted out to pull her into a standing position.

She quickly slapped his hands away and rubbed at her bum. “No thanks to you, I might possibly have a bruise or two.”

The nerve of her! Instead of a grazi, she scowled and chastised him.

His lips twitched and he tried another approached. “You're welcome. I—“

“How dare you! You gave me a fright and now you expect me to thank you. I’ll have you know you're trespassing on private property," she spat out.

Did she just make him feel unwelcome on his own land? He should be shocked at her comment yet he couldn't help being captured by her beauty, the way her cheeks grew a deep rosy color, the way her voice sounded husky and delicate all at once.

Who was this American and what was she doing at Gaspari Campo's villa?

This woman with her elegant visage and frigid demeanor very much intrigued him and he soon found himself weaving an unstoppable lie even before he said the words, "Excusi, but I work the grounds. My apologies for the scare, Signora." He paused, his eyes locking on her as he asked, "How could I make it up to you?"

For more free excerpts, visit:

Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)

Joining us this week:

Kinsey W. Holley, Paranormal (PG)
Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG)
Dara Sorensen, Paranormal (PG)

Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Nika Dixon, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Kaige, Historic Romance (PG-13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG13)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG13)
Rebecca Savage, romantic suspense (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG 13)

Jax Cassidy, Contemporary Romance (R)
Maya Doyle, Paranormal Romance (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal (R)
Ali Katz, Historical Erotic Romance (R)
Inez Kelley, Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal Romance (R)
Elise Logan, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Paranormal Romance (R)
Alina Morgan, Urban Fantasy (R)
Vivienne Westlake, Erotic Historical (R)

Stephanie Adkins, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Evie Byrne, Medieval Paranormal Romance (NC 17)
Kim Knox, Erotic SF Romance (NC17)
Lauren Murphy, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic Romance (NC 17)

7 Responses to "Excerpt Monday -- 3rd Edition"

Kim Knox Says :
6:44 AM

oh, very nice, Jax :)

Jeannie Lin Says :
12:34 PM

Wonderful setting details here! Makes me want to go to Italy, find an old villa, and write for a summer. :)

Maya Doyle Says :
12:49 PM

I like it, Jax. Very interesting!

Luca definitely has something up his sleeve, lol.

Jax Cassidy Says :
2:11 PM

Thanks everyone. It's such a sexy book and very funny and emotional. I love Italy so it was a perfect time to write something exotic and dreamy.

Stephanie Adkins Says :
2:17 PM

Wonderful excerpt, Jax!

Bryn Says :
3:37 PM

Jax, I just love this! The whole storyline sounds intriguing and your descriptions are great.

Anonymous Says :
2:07 PM

Ooh, that's luscious! Everything about it is very Italian. I love the opening paragraph.

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