Friday, November 10, 2017

Marriage before Death: the audiobook is here! Take a listen

Doing the happy dance! The audiobook edition of my WWII spy thriller Marriage before Death, narrated by Don Warrick, has just been released! 
This is volume V of my series, Still Life with Memories, but like the previous volumes it can be read as a standalone novel. 
In designing the cover I was inspired by Lenny’s impression of the girl with the red beret: “a slender girl whose hair was covered. It was tucked into a red beret, which was tilted, a bit whimsically, over her head.”  Because this cover depicts a later scene in the story, some of her hair has slinked out of her beret. 
In another scene, where he is about to be selected to die, he describes her coming into the selection court. “I had never known her to paint her lips and was astonished at how brightly they were outlined, how red. Oh, how seductive she looked! How different from the girl I used to know!” 
In the background is a dark forest, into which she has parachuted shortly before D-Day. A faint, subtle texture of branches appears also inside the word Death in the title. The forest is where she meets with bands of French Resistance Fighters, and where she promises to “make the sky rain weapons” for them.
Here is an excerpt:

Her smack set me back on my heels. My sweetheart had always kept her emotions in check. She never shouted, let alone raised her hand on anyone. This was not only vulgar, it was far beneath her! Even for a diva, this was much too theatrical! Why was she behaving with such blatant lack of restraint?
I got the answer at once and hoped no one else did. Quicker than anyone could take note, she placed something, a little soft thing into my hand. My fingers clasped it of their own, before I realized what she was doing. 
The next second—to distract the others—she threw the glass she was holding, threw it at my feet with a dramatic, spectacular flair. There was an awful noise as it hit the floor and broke to pieces, shards pinging against the floor.
Without uttering a sound I gave her a look, begging her to leave. Rochelle—no, Natasha—gave one to me, begging me to play along. 
Out loud she said, “Oh how I hate you! I hate you now more than I ever loved you!”
At that, the SS officer burst out  laughing. It lasted quite a while, or so it seemed to me, and by the time it finally ended, a cruel smile was left across his face, stretching from one pointy ear to the other. 
Ach,” he hissed. “What a woman! Cold one minute—hot the next!”
Rochelle hung her eyes on me one more time. 
“At the very least,” she implored, “you should say you are sorry, so sorry to have left me in such a difficult situation!”
The SS officer cut in. 
“Didn’t I tell you?” he asked her. “His kind, they have no morals! Worse than animals is what they are.”
She turned away and went back to his side. From there she said, in a tone of regret, “Right you are. I was naive, up to now, to hope for anything different from him.”
Over her sorrow, the SS officer went on to say, “How could you ever let yourself be seduced by such a man?”
She shook her head. “How silly of me! How foolish it is to hope! I was sure he would confirm to everyone here his desire to marry me.”
To which the SS officer said, “Now, mademoiselle, you have learned your lesson.”
She gave him a tearful smile, but then could not help crying out to me, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, don’t you get it? I’m expecting your child!”
At that I had a change of heart. Why? First, because I was moved to tears by her plea, no matter if it was a fake one or not; and second, because what had I got to lose? 
So I uttered, “Forgive me, Rochelle.” 
“What?” she asked. “What did you say?”
“Forgive me,” I said, with a catch in my throat. “If I were a free man I would gladly keep my promise to you.”
A triumphant smile played on her red lips. Yet, for just a moment, she was silent.
I thought she might make peace with me, now that I relented. Instead, she turned to the SS officer.
“Herr Müller,” she said. “I’m not here to beg for mercy for this man.”
In surprise, “You’re not?” he asked, raising a thick eyebrow. 
And from the other side of the table, his French collaborator echoed, “You’re not?”
My face was still burning, still stinging from that slap of hers. I bit my lips to overcome the pain. If I could muster the nerve to speak up once more, I would ask her the very same thing. 
Really? You’re not?
“No,” she stressed.
The toothbrush mustache under Herr Müller’s nose started to twitch. Perhaps he was becoming suspicious of her. 
“I thought,” he said, “that you had a big favor to ask of me.”
And she said, “I do.”
And he said, “Well? What is it, then?”
“For the sake of my family,” said Rochelle, “for the pride of my father, for my own honor, and for the future of this baby, I cannot be an unwed mother! I’d rather die!”
Becoming somewhat impatient, “Ach!” he said. “You should have thought of that earlier, before you got involved with the likes of him.”
It was then that she said, “I promise, Herr Müller, giving me what I ask for is sure to give you the greatest pleasure, because it is just what this man deserves.”
“Which is what?”
“Marriage before death.”

★ Love suspense? Treat yourself to a thrill ★

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