Cheryl Stewart: I’m worried about my mentor, Professor Howard. He went to lunch with a prospective graduate student, a man from Malaysia, but became sick during the lunch and was rushed to the hospital for food poisoning or heart attack.
Professor Howard asked me to go to France on his behalf and help a French count with the restoration of a chapel and the search for a valuable statue that had been missing since World War II.
What could be more exciting than spending a couple of months working in the plush Loire Valley, in France? I will have to live in the count’s chateau. The same count I saw at Harvard three years ago. The handsome playboy was so busy entertaining gorgeous women he didn’t give me the time of the day back then. I bet he won’t remember me.
François de Valroux: I am searching for an invaluable statue of the Virgin Mary that used to adorn the chapel of my château. The statue disappeared during the war bombardments. Was it destroyed? Did my grandfather hide it?
I have been impatiently waiting for Professor Howard who did a lot of research on the subject. I can’t believe he skipped our appointment and sent his graduate student. On the other hand, Cheryl is such a lovely young woman I can’t say I am too disappointed. Between you and me, I can’t resist a pretty woman. What can I say, it’s in my genes. I come from a long line of glorious adulterers and fabulous lovers.
When the Boston Hospital calls to announce Cheryl’s mentor died, I do my best to console her with a hug and a kiss, and pledge to protect her. It’s my pleasure. Huh…I mean my duty.
For her own safety, I ask her to keep the search for my statue secret from the five other students training on the chapel reconstruction.
Edith Blaise: I consider myself François’ current girlfriend. I want him badly but I also have a weakness for his title, his fortune, his château and its treasures. I won’t let anyone interfere with my goal of becoming the next Countess of Valroux. Certainly not, the American student, a nerd who lives in a pair of blue jeans and finds her happiness in old stones and computers.
Adriaan Van Deem: I come from Amsterdam. I’m studying archeology and I can’t resist the appeal of old stones. Especially if they have a high monetary value. It wouldn’t hurt to befriend the American student who seems to know a lot about the missing statue.
Juan-Pablo Rodriguez: My correct title is Don Juan-Pablo. I hail from the Universidad de Madrid and I am preparing a doctorate in the history of Romanesque churches. I’m a gallant man who always compliments a beautiful woman. Of course, I also like artistic treasures.
Roberto Cantari: I live in Milan, but I was born in Sicily. Women love my dark looks and I love women. People often ask me if I have mafia blood in my veins. Who knows? My Nonna raised me and she doesn’t stop praying that I remain an honest man. I respect my Nonno, the most powerful and richest man in Palermo. I would do anything to please my grandparents. Anything…
Chuck Minho: I was born in London. I am a quiet man who doesn’t talk much, but I don’t miss anything going on around me. I don’t like the looks the American girl gives me. Dirty looks. As if she suspects me of killing someone, just because I look Chinese.
Karl Boderman: I’m studying art, painting and sculpting at the University of Berlin. I can’t believe the show these young studs put when a pretty face shows up. I don’t trust any of them. If you want my opinion, I don’t think they are who they say they are. But then…I’m not too.
Bernard: I am the old butler. I was raised in the château. My father served François’ grandfather. I love François as if he was my own son and I want to see him married with a good French woman. Mademoiselle Edith seems to love him. She’s always visiting and staying in the château , in the room next to his. But I think François is attracted to the American student. He asked me to put her in the room next to him, on the other side. I don’t like that. François sandwiched between the women’s rooms. I don’t like it at all. Especially when the rooms of this old château have secret communication doors.
My fondest dream is to find the statue and put it back on the altar of the reconstructed chapel. But someone hit me in the dark and asked me questions about the statue.
Cheryl: I pledge to go after Professor Howard’s killer and find the statue to honor my mentor’s memory. Things would be easier if I wasn’t so attracted to François.
François: Cheryl is careless and exposing herself to danger all the time. I’m constantly worried about her. She has turned my life upside down with her determination and bubbly laughter. I’m ready to give up the search for the statue to ensure Cheryl’s safety, but she won’t let me.
Together we need to find out:
HER FRENCH COUNT is a full-length romantic suspense published as part of the FOREIGN LOVERS box
and my contribution to the Book Boyfriends Cafe Summer Lovin’ Anthology 2015.
Box released on May 19 for 99 cents for a limited time.
RELEASE PARTY on Tuesday, May 19, at: