Christina Dodd’s Secrets of Bella Terra: An Excerpt

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Present day California

Tradition.

Tradition had governed the Di Luca family for an eternity.

Tradition had governed Bella Valley for one hundred and twenty years.

Until Brooke Petersson moved to Bella Valley, she’d never seen that kind of tradition at work.

Oh, she understood tradition. Until she was eleven, she was an Air Force brat, and if there was one thing the military did well, it was traditions. But family traditions … not so much.

When her mother divorced her father, that broke every tradition and vow Brooke ever imagined. It broke her life and her heart.

But in Bella Valley, Brooke had learned from the Di Lucas that their kind of family traditions were different. The Di Luca family was American, sure. Ippolito Di Luca had immigrated to California in the late nineteenth century, married an Italian girl whose father owned a swathe of land and vineyards in Bella Valley, and every child born to the family since had been born in the US and spoke English as their native tongue.

But the Di Lucas had hung onto the essence of being Italian. They gestured when they talked. They drank wine and ate Italian. Northern Italian, to be specific. Not that the Di Lucas never got Chinese take-out or made a turkey for Thanksgiving, but everyone of them knew their way around a pot of golden, slowly simmering polenta — and God forbid some well-intentioned fool should mention instant polenta. The Di Lucas flirted … Brooke didn’t understand how flirting could be passed down as an Italian tradition, but it was. Every one of the Di Luca men and women used charm like a condiment, to bring flavor and pleasure to a relationship.

The Di Luca traditions meant that when someone got hurt, cards, flowers and phone calls flooded in and the nearest and dearest gathered close.

So when Rafe Di Luca strode through the door into his grandmother’s hospital room, Brooke had been expecting him. Waiting for him…

But neither knowledge nor foresight could ease the sweet, familiar shock of recognition. That long stride, that stern profile, that carved body displayed so sweetly in blue denim and black leather…

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