I love books that feature more than one generation of people, getting to see what life is like in each of those time periods… Here’s an excerpt from Renee Ryan’s THE WIDOWS OF CHAMPAGNE, featuring three generations of women fighting to save their family’s vineyard during WWII.
Available in paperback at Walmart, or online from your favorite audio or ebook retailer!
The Widows of Champagne – Excerpt
Twenty thousand bottles were a mere drop in their stock, but enough to start over if the worst happened and the Nazis—
She did not let her mind finish the thought.
She went to work instead, constructing one horizontal row of stone at a time, bottom to top. Last week she’d instructed her vineyard manager to place the stones in this part of the cellar. He’d given her no argument. His loyalty had encouraged her to confess her intent. But he’d stopped her, hand on her arm, and said, “What is left unspoken can never be repeated.”
Pierre was not wrong, but Gabrielle could have used his help tonight. Her unschooled methods proved full of error. And wasted precious time. Beads of sweat trickled into her eyes. She wiped at her face with her sleeve, hardly noticing how the dirt coated her hands and dug under her cracked fingernails.
Her muscles cried out from fatigue.
One hour turned into two, two into three. Then, she stepped back and her stomach swooped from satisfaction to despair in an instant. Her construction was faulty at best.
Someone will notice the wall. Only if she let them in this part of the cellar.
She kept building. Until one gruesome task remained. Teeth gritted, she retrieved the jar she’d left hidden in a nearby wine barrel. Dozens of spiders crawled over their fellow prisoners, each attempt at escape a miserable failure. Gabrielle could not feel sorry for their plight. She hated spiders. Nevertheless, they would serve their purpose.
Hands shaking, she released the little devils. They scattered across the wall, invading their new home with focused, frightening precision. The creatures would spin their webs. They would capture their prey, eventually creating an archaic façade over the freshly laid stone.
Feeling as old as the champagne house, Gabrielle exited the cave and stepped into the dark nothingness before dawn. A moment of utter aloneness laid siege on her tired brain. She nearly stumbled under the weight of it but managed to keep moving toward shelter, toward home. The rain still fell, slow and steady, stippling the puddles at her feet.
Back in her room, she tossed her clothing in the basket with the other muddied garments she’d worn in the vineyard the previous day and the one before that.
Promising herself she would take a short rest—a few minutes, nothing more—Gabrielle collapsed atop her bed. She fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of crumbling walls and giant spiders. The grotesque bodies marched across a bloodred field, their eight legs becoming four then morphing into Nazi swastikas. They circled around her, round and round, spinning, spinning until her arms and legs were trapped and she could no longer move. No longer breathe.
She woke gasping for air, her heart battering against her ribs. Only a dream, she told herself, not real. She blinked into the predawn light, again and again.
But the terrifying images of spiders remained. From that day forward, the eight-legged little monsters would remind Gabrielle of war.
About THE WIDOWS OF CHAMPAGNE
On Sale: July 27, 2021; Love Inspired
For readers of Lilac Girls and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a captivating novel of resilience, as three generations of women battle to save their family’s vineyard during WWII.
Gabrielle Leblanc Dupree is taking her family’s future into her hands. While she should be preparing for a lavish party to celebrate two centuries of champagne making, she secretly hides Chateau Fouché-Leblanc’s most precious vintages behind a fake wall in the cellar in preparation for the looming war. But when she joins the resistance, the coveted champagne isn’t the most dangerous secret her cellar must conceal…
A former Parisian socialite, Gabrielle’s mother, Hélène, lost her husband to another war. Now her home has been requisitioned by the Germans, who pillage vineyards to satisfy the Third Reich’s thirst for the finest champagne. There’s even more at stake than Hélène dares admit. She has kept her heritage a secret…and no one is safe in Nazi-occupied France.
Josephine, the family matriarch, watches as her beloved vineyard faces its most difficult harvest yet. As her daughter-in-law and granddaughters contend with the enemies and unexpected allies in their midst, Josephine’s deep faith leads to her own path of resistance.
Across years and continents, the Leblanc women will draw on their courage and wits, determined against all odds to preserve their lives, their freedom and their legacy…
Find THE WIDOWS OF CHAMPAGNE
About Renee Ryan
Renee Ryan grew up in a Florida beach town where she learned how to surf and skateboard very poorly. As a teenager, she gave up on both pursuits and began entertaining herself during countless hours of “laying-out” by reading all the classics.
After graduating college, with a degree in Economics and Religion, she explored various career opportunities at a Florida theme park and a modeling agency. She moved on to teach high school Economics, American Government and Latin while coaching award-winning cheerleading teams.
Connect with Renee Ryan
Renee Ryan’s TLC Book Tours stops for THE WIDOWS OF CHAMPAGNE:
Reviews and excerpts:
Monday, July 19th: Susan Loves Books – review
Tuesday, July 20th: Books & Benches – excerpt
Wednesday, July 21st: @hannah_reads – review
Wednesday, July 21st: @olivias.bookish.world – review
Wednesday, July 21st: Bewitched Bookworms – excerpt
Thursday, July 22nd: @travelerswife4life – review
Thursday, July 22nd: A Baker’s Perspective – review & excerpt
Saturday, July 24th: @girl_loves_dogs_books_wine – review
Sunday, July 25th: @thebookscript – review
Monday, July 26th: @arrow_reads – review
Tuesday, July 27th: @lovelyplacebooks – review
Wednesday, July 28th: Kahakai Kitchen – excerpt
Wednesday, July 28th: @booksloveandunderstanding – review
Thursday, July 29th: @falling4romance – review
Thursday, July 29th: Books Cooks Looks – excerpt
Friday, July 30th: @andrea.c.lowry.reads – review
Friday, July 30th: Kahakai Kitchen – review
Saturday, July 31st: @bookscoffeephotography – review
Monday, August 2nd: Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama – excerpt