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Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "The Sand Vines"

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Book Title: The Sand Vines

Series: The Vine Saga

Author: Michèle CALLARD

Publication Date: 01 May 2024

Publisher: Millefeuille Press

Page Length: 400

Genre: Historical fiction

The Sand Vines book cover

The Sand Vines

By Michèle Callard




Bordeaux 1870 – Life is hard on the moor.


If Flore, a shepherd’s daughter, is not married by autumn, she must go into service and lose everything she holds dear.


Back form the French army, the dashing Ricar has set her heart and body on fire. Will he propose to her before it is too late?


Martial the viscount’s son adores Flore from afar. Aware that she can never be his. When a betrayal and a forest fire put Flore in danger, Martial seizes his chance, grabs her hand and takes her to safety far away in the north of France, hoping they might start afresh, but war looms. . .


Will it bring them together or tear them apart?


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Author Bio:


Michele Callard author photo

Michèle Callard grew up in France. A country girl at heart, she swapped her Paris flat for a cottage in rural England where she lives with her Irish husband and the youngest of her three sons.


She writes fast-paced novels set in different regions of France, bursting with authentic characters, colours, flavours and history.


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Book Excerpt:

Life on the moor.


They had reached Noirac. In the shade of the common barn, women were threshing wheat to the slow rhythm of a song, hitting the ears over a cloth spread on the ground. Dripping with sweat under the midday sun, two men held winnowing fans at head height, rhythmically shaking the grain against the wind and pouring it at their feet in a steady trickle while the chaff naturally settled a few feet away.

            ‘They never get to eat any of that wheat.’ Martial could not keep the bitterness from his voice. ‘It just goes to us. They stick to rye.’

            Hugo shook his head. ‘Father’s right. This world is too harsh for the likes of you.’

‘You can’t have it both ways, Hugo. We talk of the future, and yet here in Les Landes we still have serfs.’ Martial reined in his mare. ‘The problem with Father is that he won’t stand dissent. If you’re not with him, you’re against him. He’ll force me to buy plots of common land, and damn me if I refuse.’

‘But why would you refuse? The emperor made the land available by law in 1857, Martial. That was years ago. We’re not actually stealing it.’

They led their mounts to the little church set in a far corner of the airial, its thick walls of whitewashed cob and gingerbread stone a cool refuge.

Flore stepped out of an outbuilding, slender and proud, an oblong basket resting against her hip.

Martial’s mouth went dry.

She curtsied and cast them a shy glance from beneath the sun hat she wore over her bonnet.

A shower of stars burst inside Martial’s chest.

‘Adishatz, Father. Would you like some grapes? They are from our sand vines.’ She tore a piece from a cluster and handed it to him.

            ‘Thank you.’ He swallowed hard. ‘Flore, meet Hugo, my brother.’

            Hugo pointed to her basket. ‘Your family makes the sacramental wine, am I right?’

            She nodded and handed him a bunch of grapes. ‘We’ll be harvesting soon.’

‘I might come around and help.’

Flore blushed, curtsied and walked away, taking Martial’s heart with her.

Hugo’s gaze remained glued to the basket swaying against her hip. ‘The Esmeralda of Noirac. What a beauty! She has more poise than our empress.’ His eyes crinkled. ‘How do you cope with your vows of chastity?’

             ‘Some days are easier than others,’ Martial said honestly. ‘Don’t get ideas now; the girl is spoken for.’

            ‘I’m sure she is.’ Hugo popped a grape into his mouth. ‘Who’s the lucky fellow?’

            ‘The tallest of the brutes you saw winnowing the wheat. He’s the one our engineer is proposing to take as his assistant.’ Martial said in a growl, ‘I hope he stands by her.’

            His brother’s laugh rang out in the morning air. ‘Uncle is right. It’s high time he found you a plush little parish in Bordeaux. We can’t have a Boyer de Pagny siding with the serfs, upsetting the system that has served us so well for centuries.’

            ‘But that’s just it. We’re in 1870. The Revolution eradicated serfdom eighty years ago, and yet for some reason we have kept it going! I preach poverty and dine on wild boar and white bread, while those people make do with corn gruel every single day of their miserable lives.’ Martial gathered his reins and prepared to dismount. ‘I just can’t understand why Uncle doesn’t abolish the tithe once and for all. He’s a bishop, isn’t he? All he has to do is—’

            ‘Ah, Uncle loves foie gras. Why would he stop his parishioners from giving him fattened geese?’


‘A disciple of Epicurus as well as Lord Jesus, our good uncle loves everything life has to offer. He even has a mistress tucked away in Bordeaux.’

            ‘A mistress!’ Mouth open, Martial slid down from his mare in slow motion.

            ‘Oh, Martial.’ Hugo chortled. ‘What an innocent you are.’


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10. Juni

Thank you so much for hosting Michèle Callard on your fabulous blog.

Take care,

Cathie xo

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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