Sunday, October 4, 2015

Destiny's Plan by Victoria Saccenti ♥ Spotlight & GIVEAWAY ♥ (Historical Romance)



When Raquelita Muro and Matthew Buchanan meet by chance on a Greyhound bus between Texas and Tallahassee, neither suspects Fate is about to take over.

Raquelita, a gentle girl under the heel of her abusive mother, finds this kind young man a miracle. Matthew, an idealistic young soldier, discovers this sweet-natured girl is an angel in need of a guardian. However, the next stop on Matthew’s journey is Fort Benning to report for deployment to Vietnam, while Raquelita’s destination is set at her mother’s whim. Regardless of the forces tearing them apart, they discover a way to secretly span the distance, to end up closer than ever. But Fate is rarely kind. The vagaries of war—and the unstable tempers of Raquelita’s mother—intervene, leaving both ill-fated lovers feeling there is no hope for their love.

Set in the turbulent era of the Vietnam War, Raquelita’s and Matthew’s story is one of love, loss, lost faith, shattered memories, deferred dreams and broken promises. Will Fate tear apart these two damaged souls, leaving them desperately alone forever, or will they finally overcome Fate, their bond stronger than they ever thought possible?






June 1st, 1967 – Houston – Greyhound Bus Station

The image of Papá waving good-bye still scorched Raquelita Muro’s mind. She tried to swallow, but it was impossible. After last night’s tears, her mouth was dry and raw. Desperate to erase the painful memory, she stared around the unkempt waiting hall, her gaze hopscotching from person to person, reading the emotions of her fellow travelers: excitement, fear, exhaustion. Marité, her younger sister, was lost in her comic book. But Mamá’s irritation, intensified with every grating heel tap on the tiled floor. The wooden benches, the incessant crisscrossing of travelers, and the jarring noise of the loudspeakers did nothing to ease Mamá’s tense disposition.

The two-hour connection seemed endless, and all destinations had been announced except theirs. Not that she was eager for her bus to arrive; given the chance, she would turn back to her father in San Antonio immediately. Their farewell had been rushed and ultimately ruined by another volcanic quarrel between her parents. Papá had wanted to take them to the station, but Mamá refused, arguing it was best to say good-bye at the horse farm. They’d still be arguing if the ranch workers hadn’t stopped to listen in.
“Raquelita, I’m so sick of the pathetic face. Take this,” Mamá said, waving a tissue.

Raquelita took it in silence. As she dabbed her eyes, her attention returned to the activity in the room. The traveling frenzy had slowed, and the evening light filtered through the windows, splashing a curious tint on the distressed walls. Outside, tired golden rays had dimmed into hues of rose and light fuchsia, foreshadowing what waited ahead: a dark, lonely road. As if on cue, a green light above Gate 5 blinked. Bus 5570 was docking. Her fate had arrived.

***

Thirty yards from Raquelita, the transport opened its door, and a crowd of people dashed out in all directions like crazed ants. A lone soldier considered disembarking, but at the last minute opted to stay, enjoying the silence before the next array of whimpering children, admonishing parents, and grumpy passengers boarded. He needed peace from his memories and the mocking caption under his yearbook photo: Matthew J. Buchanan, Honor Society, Football Star, Most Likely to Succeed.

He should have enrolled in college to earn a student deferment. Instead, he’d allowed his youthful passions to overwhelm his judgment and delay his decision while he mooned after Kathy like a lovesick puppy. Now he was paying the price.

Any other man his age would’ve been terrified by such a cavalier throw of the dice, as thousands scrambled to dodge military service any way possible. But Matthew suffered no such fear. He was raised to believe serving his country was an honorable duty and a source of pride. When the Selective Service called, he enlisted.

And Kathy dumped him.

She’d expected a stellar life with a successful career man, a power broker, a shaker and a mover, not a rancher or a military man. In her opinion, hesitation equaled worthlessness. Matthew Buchanan was found lacking. His last recollection of Kathy Miles had been a lengthy tirade: “How’d you let the scholarship offer run out, Matthew? Well, don’t think I’m gonna sit at home waitin’ for ya…”

Thumps and shuffling of feet ended his brooding, and he was back in the present, staring at a man built like a linebacker, blocking the aisle. Luckily, the man spotted an empty seat away from the one beside Matthew, and with the incongruous lightness of a ballet dancer, twirled and sat down. His immensity now gone, the passage was cleared to reveal three beautiful females, a mother with her two daughters, waiting patiently.

The youngest almost made him laugh. In her short-sleeved blouse, plaid Bermuda shorts, and summer sandals, she shuffled along in happy, preadolescent innocence. A pace behind, the other young woman walked with hunched shoulders and a hesitant step. He couldn’t discern her features, but her pale yellow dress highlighted the golden color of her skin and her mahogany ponytail. The mother was a handsome woman, yet her features were distorted by a deep scowl as she scanned the length of the aisle in search of seats. Other than the empty spot next to him and one vacant row at the back, the bus was full.

When the women reached his row, the mother murmured in the oldest daughter’s ear. The young woman nodded, and for the next second or two, she barely moved. But then she took a decisive step forward, stood under the cone of his reading light, and her face emerged out of the shadows. Through a veil of dark lashes, a wondrous pair of caramel irises gleamed at him. It was a three-way punch: belly, solar plexus, and lungs. Matthew was suddenly mute.

“Is the seat taken?”

Her melodious words jolted him out of his stupor, and he jumped to his feet. “No, ma’am. The seat is available.” In seconds, Matthew had removed his hat and duffle bag to the overhead rack.


      
     



Victoria Saccenti is a writer of Women’s Fiction and Generational Sagas. Her debut novel Destiny’s Plan, takes place during the 1960’s and the Vietnam War, a turbulent era, when the nation lost its innocence, and established traditions tumbled under the pressure of political upheaval and social rebellion. In Destiny’s Plan, Raquelita and Matthew, two young people from very different cultures, meet and fall in love at first sight, but the obstacles ahead promise a difficult journey and Destiny will always have the final word.



        

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