Saturday, October 19, 2013

Excerpt From The Rosetti Curse by Tina Russo

A Romantic Comedy of Italian Proportions...

"The Sopranos Meets Fried Green Tomatoes. Loved this book!" - Sharon Sala, author of Going Once--Mira Books--October 2013

She may look good in black, but Tessa Rosetti is not testing the family curse again. Three generations of women buried the men they love and confirmed Tessa’s belief in the Rosetti Curse.

Los Angeles cop, Thomas Riley, arrives back home in Silver Ridge, Colorado, to settle his grandmother’s estate, but while he's there he stumbles into trouble in the night. If his suspicions are correct, someone's cooking up more than biscotti at the local cookie factory.

Together, Riley and Tessa renew their old bond and battle a curse that leads them on a journey of destiny to the love of a lifetime.

EXCERPT: Chapter 1

“Mrs. Riley?”

Tessa Rosetti glanced around the empty hospital corridor. The nurse was speaking to her?

“I’m not—”

“Dear, you can go in now.”

She tossed the dregs of her coffee and followed the nurse’s squeaky footsteps down the hall.

An IV pump winked, its green light pulsing as Tessa entered the dimly lit room. She sank into a chair at the foot of the bed and watched him sleep. Dark and tan against white sheets, he rested on his back. A butterfly bandage stood out above his right brow, and most of his right cheekbone was puffed, sporting a violet bruise. Abrasions decorated both arms. His hands were folded as if in prayer.

Behind her, the wall clock ticked a solemn accompaniment to the background noise of a hospital room at four in the morning.

Tessa inhaled. The familiar perfume of antiseptic mingled with disinfectant tickled her nose. Sometimes she thought the scent was infused permanently into her skin. She released a small smile at the bitter irony. Two months ago she had come home to Silver Ridge, Colorado to escape hospitals.

He shifted, drawing her attention back to him.

“It’s not polite to stare,” he said. His eyelids flickered open to reveal the intense green eyes of Thomas Joseph Riley. With one cocky grin, the years melted away.

“I was not staring.” She stood and crossed her arms, the only defense against the confusing tumble of emotions.


Nothing had changed. All he had to do was utter her name and she was lost. “Riley, what happened?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Doesn’t matter? Of course it matters. And why does the hospital think I’m your wife?”

He released a half laugh, raising his head enough to assess her from head to toe. “You look good, Tessa. Really good. I like the dress.” With a grimace, he fell back against the pillows.

Tessa glanced down at the rumpled coral linen. The sheath had been crisply pressed for her mother’s wedding yesterday afternoon, but by the time the reception had wound down, the fabric looked as limp as she felt.

She inched toward the head of the bed, reining in her irritation. After all these years, why did Riley’s opinion still matter?

“Look, I’ve been up for nearly twenty-four hours,” Tessa said. “Perhaps you could humor me and tell me what’s going on.”

“Cranky, huh?”

“Cranky?” She sucked in her breath. “That’s it, pal. This marriage is over.”

No sooner had she turned from the bed than she was tugged back by his hand on her wrist. Solid strength from a man who looked like he’d been kicked into next Tuesday. “Hey, hey. Not so fast. I’m sorry.”

Tessa softened a fraction. “Riley, what happened to you? Is this another one of your escapades gone wrong?”

“No. This time it wasn’t my fault.”

She narrowed her eyes.

“Honest.” He paused. “I need your help to get discharged.”

“Discharged? What are you thinking? I mean look at you.”

“Hey, I only look half-dead.”

Tessa slipped her wrist from his grip, unable to concentrate while his thumb made slow forays across her skin. “I haven’t talked to you in what, twelve years? Suddenly, you show up on a gurney in the middle of the night, and I’m the gal you pick to get you discharged?” She stood back, distancing herself from his touch.

“Come on, Tess. Please. I hate hospitals. Nothing good ever happens in a hospital.”

“Stop that.”

“Stop what?” he asked.

“You know what. Do not flash those puppy dog eyes at me. It didn’t work when we were sixteen, and it’s not going to work now.”

He chuckled. “Oh, it worked when we were sixteen.”

Tessa could only glare in response. His teasing smile didn’t fool her.

They’d known each other most of their lives, but Tessa Rosetti would always be the girl across the street to Riley. There had never been anything but friendship between them.

She had never forgiven him for that.

“How about we start at the beginning?”

“Sure, but hurry. The leg’s starting to throb.”

Tessa assessed the cast peeking out from under the covers. Without thinking she shifted the ice pack and rearranged the pillows beneath his right leg.

“Thanks,” Riley said.

“Maybe you could tell me what you’re doing in town?”

“I was invited to the wedding.”

“You’re late.”

“Fuel pump issues.” He shook his head. “Anyhow, I figured as long as I’m in town I’ll take care of my grandmother’s house.”

Tessa cringed, immediately repentant. After all, she had been nearly as close to Nana Marconi as he was. Her sudden death six months ago took them all by surprise. “Oh, Riley. I’m so sorry about your grandmother.”

“She got to see the old country. We talked the day she died.” He stared at the ceiling, avoiding eye contact. “Never heard her so happy.”

“You should be proud. It was your grandmother’s dream to go to back to Sicily, and you made it happen.”

He shrugged off the compliment. “You know, I did tell Grandma Rosetti I was going to be late.”

“You spoke with my grandmother?”

“Well, yeah. She didn’t tell you?” Shifting in the bed again, Riley winced.

“No, she didn’t.” Tessa paused. “So are you going to tell me what happened?”

“I got into town around midnight and drove out by that new biscotti factory. There was an explosion.” He cleared his throat. “I got in the way.”

“An explosion?” Tessa finally got the words out. Her stomach took an immediate hit, and her legs began to buckle. She reached out to grab the bed rail.

The curse.

Only twelve hours ago her mother had married Frank Lorenza, the biscotti king of Silver Ridge. The man who owned that factory.

Riley turned his head a fraction and frowned. “I can’t believe you didn’t hear the explosion.”

“The reception was at the Knights of Columbus, between Silver Ridge and Fairville. It was the only place large enough to hold most of the town.”

“The entire town was there?”

“Our bakery has been in Silver Ridge for over seventy years. We pretty much had to invite the whole town to the reception.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. “Around midnight we were singing and dancing the Tarantella to a stirring performance by Joey and the Dough Boys.”

“Some party.”

“You have no idea. The champagne fountain was sucked completely dry, and we went through fifty-four of my grandmother’s cheesecakes.”

He released a mournful sigh. “I missed cheesecake.”

“I’ll get you a cheesecake. Just tell me how you ended up in the middle of an explosion.”

“That part is still sort of fuzzy.”

Tessa nibbled her lip as she tried to put the pieces of what he’d told her together. She walked to the window and back, and then looked up.

Riley raised a brow.

“We’ve got to notify the police,” Tessa said.

“They were here. Apparently this is the most excitement the Silver Ridge Police Department has had in years.”

“Chickie was here?” She tried to focus, her mind still reeling. “I didn’t see him in the waiting room.”

“He came right into x-ray. Said he’d be back for an official report tomorrow.” Riley shook his head. “I’ve spent the last few hours trying to understand how Chick Pollero could have ended up as sheriff.”

“He’s not really sheriff,” she said.

“I’m not following.”

“We’re temporarily without a sheriff. Chickie happens to be senior deputy.”

“Does he always wear those goofy suspenders with his uniform?”

“Good old Chick.” Tessa gave a weak laugh. “Always on the cutting edge.”

“The guys back at the precinct are not going to believe this one.”

Tessa tried to keep up with the thread of the conversation while her mind remained fixed on the factory. “That’s right. You’re a cop now.”

“Detective. I’m a detective. Big surprise, huh?”

“Well, I...” Heat infused her face.

“It’s okay,” Riley said. “You aren’t the first person to guess I’d be on the other side of the bars.”

“It’s not like I thought you were going to end up a career criminal.”


“You’re so wrong. I believed in you, Riley.”

“That makes two of you.”

“Two of us?”

“Yeah, you and my grandmother.”

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Tina Russo Radcliffe writes inspirational romance for Harlequin Love Inspired and writes sweet romantic comedy as an indie author under her other persona, Tina Russo.

Do stop by her new Tina Russo website and look around, sign up for her newsletter to enter in a drawing for a 25$ Amazon gift card each month, beginning November 1.

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  1. Loved it! Sounds like a great story.

  2. Awe, thanks, Cheryl!!

  3. Great story, Tina! I laughed the whole way through it.

    Got any more Italian characters for us? It seems a very natural voice for you : )

  4. Thanks, Audra! I have an entire family of them.

  5. Great stuff, Tina!! You've got me hooked! :)