Sunday, May 24, 2020

Lone Star Book Blog Tour: THE FIRST EMMA by Camille Di Maio ***EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY***

Camille Di Maio
  Historical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women's Fiction
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

***Scroll down for the giveaway!***

The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler. Whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses – both also named Emma – and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.

PRAISE for The First Emma
“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus “A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel Cleeton, NYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana
“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

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(To read Part One of the Prologue, visit All the Ups and Downs)

San Antonio, Texas
November 12, 1914
Emma’s eyes adjusted to the light peeking in from the kitchen, and she could barely make out the wild look on Otto’s face as he crumpled a paper in his hand. She didn’t have to see the type print on the thin, yellow page it to recognize what it was. She’d known it would upset him and had anticipated this moment.
He tossed his bowler hat on a table and took a deep breath.
Emma clenched her fists under the blankets and felt the quickening of her pulse in her fingers.
“What do you mean by this?” he asked, throwing the receipt at her with surprising force. Otto Koehler was not a violent man. Just a headstrong one. But Emma Daschiel’s recent marriage along with Emma Burgemeister’s refusal of Otto’s proposal had unhinged him of late.
“It is for the new wheelchair for Mrs. Koehler.”
“The old one is perfectly good. She hasn’t complained.”
“Not to you, but I noticed that the turns around your house are difficult for her to maneuver and the thick rugs slow her down. This new model has smoother bearings and larger wheels. She’s been quite excited for it to arrive.”
He slumped into the cushioned chair across from Emma’s bed and ran his fingers through thinning gray hair. There was something pitiful in his sigh that almost moved her to change her mind.
She knew he loved his wife. Had loved her ever since he came over from Germany so many years ago to start a new life in St. Louis. He’d met her when he was a young man and after they’d married, he convinced her to move to Texas with the wild idea of starting his own brewery. Until her car accident four years ago, she’d been quite spritely, Emma had been told, and her convalescence had been his undoing.
Yes, he loved his wife. To the degree, at least, that Otto could love someone beyond himself.
Emma softened her voice, not wanting to argue with him as he had with the other Emma. He didn’t take well to being challenged by a woman and conciliation was a trait he prized.
“I should have asked you. But this wheelchair will be good for her, Otto. It’s not as if you can’t afford it.”
In fact, Otto Koehler was one of the richest men in San Antonio—and in the country. With business and real estate holdings so vast that even his lawyers and accountants could barely keep up. But maybe his miserly ways had been the very thing that built his wealth. He didn’t spend a penny that wasn’t necessary or that wasn’t an investment of some kind.
As proven by purchasing the one house for the two Emmas.
The less expensive automobile.
His harried breathing calmed as it always did after his quick rebukes. He stood up and walked to Emma’s bed, rubbing his hand gently across her aching forehead.
“How are you feeling today, my love? Any better?”
Otto’s fingers moved down her face in a familiar journey, brushing her cheek, her neck, her jawline. His rough skin had earned its abrasive texture from decades of sifting through the shipments of barley, crushing their pale brown pods between his fingers to release their scent and deem them worthy—or not—of being used in Pearl Beer.
He always had a faint smell of sweetness attached to his tweed jackets as well: the pure scent of fresh hops before boiling water and yeast and spices were added in the vast steel barrels. Not that she had ever been invited to see them in person. A recent newspaper article had lauded his magnificent building on Avenue A and showed many pictures of the operation. The black ink residue on her fingers was the closest she had ever come to that part of his life.
It was an article commissioned, no doubt, by Otto, who’d grown more and more anxious of late over dry activists who campaigned for the prohibition of his beloved industry. Of his Pearl Brewery.
Otto had always counted on his mistresses to distract him from such troubles. And now he was losing even that.
Emma bit her lower lip as his hand continued downward and rested against the side of her breast. For all his faults, Otto knew how to elicit a response that could make her forget the unusual nature of their relationship.
He was an excellent lover.
She curled her toes and tried to steel herself against the temptation to lose herself in his touch and escape, even briefly, from the damnable headaches.
But she had to put an end to this. What small affection she’d once had for him changed when he announced that he was going to leave his wife.
It was one thing to keep up this affair, almost an hour’s ride from the opulent home he lived in with Mrs. Koehler in the Laurel Heights section of the city. To share the comforts of a warm bed with a man who’d been robbed of that particular pleasure when his wife was no longer able to be that kind of companion to him. But the thought of replacing her patient was repugnant. Mrs. Koehler was a formidable woman. Kind but firm. Smart as anyone Emma had ever met. An excellent employer who had given her no reason to pursue this betrayal to that extent.
Mrs. Koehler had given her husband enough slack in the reins to pursue the necessary manly endeavors. But leave her? She was not likely to be so pliable. She protected the reputation of Pearl with the ferocity of a mother to a child and the scandal would have made headlines across the country.

To continue reading, please visit The Page Unbound
on Tuesday, May 26 for Part Three

Camille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain Falls, The Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers' markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach. 

ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma  May 19-29, 2020

Author Video
Excerpt Part 1
Excerpt Part 2
Excerpt Part 3
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