Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Heidi Eljarbo’s newly released novel, Brushstrokes from the Past, as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. Brushstrokes from the Past is a Soli Hansen Mystery.
Wolfert did not want to admit he was at death’s door. He never thought of dying as a romantic notion but rather a cruel way to drag him from the life he knew. For he cherished his life, a good meal, and laughing with trusted friends. Too often, he’d overheard soldiers on the battlefield stating an act of fearlessness, something to leave as a legacy of their heroism. But Wolfert was not interested in such outward boldness. He was merely trying to get through the days. If only he had a priest walking alongside him now, one who could steer his thoughts to loftier places and make his journey north less brooding…a priest to remind him of heavenly peace and cherubs playing soothing music on golden harps.
He stopped to stretch his back on a route through the beech forest and turned to scan the area behind him to make certain no one followed. How his whole body cried with pain. What had started as a small scrape to his skin had become an infection-ridden menace. He had himself to blame. First, because he’d picked a fight. Second, because he’d ignored the ever-festering wound and had not taken the time to find an ointment or healing balm. Had he been more watchful, the small cut would not have swelled into a horrid gash. Adjusting the dressing across his breastbone caused him to groan in agony. Only stubbornness kept him going. Shivering with cold, he pushed his hair back under his blue hat and continued along the winding path. Tall spruce and pine trees dotted the woodland up ahead. Yestereve, midnight had come with a starlit sky, but as the morning approached, the early song of birds had diminished, and fog had blurred the trail like an unfinished painting.
He was well acquainted with art. One could say he was a connoisseur—he’d even apprenticed with the great Rembrandt for a season. But Wolfert’s talents and interests lay elsewhere. After stealing his first piece of artwork as a youngster, he’d discovered a way to make money much faster than by wiping a brush back and forth on a canvas. His admiration for the old master painter was deep. It just wasn’t a profession for him.
Once he returned to Amsterdam, things would change. He’d be a well-heeled man with the means to rent a proper townhouse and could finally build up enough courage to ask the fair Catharina to marry him. It was time to settle down with a good woman by his side, have half a dozen children, and find a more respectable profession.
How long until he reached the main road? Wolfert had sold stolen art in the area thrice before, but then, his body had been strong, not filled with throbbing aches tearing at every limb. Several wealthy men of influence showed interest in his wares. Most of them lived in the capital Christiania. This time, the buyer was a nobleman and an avid art collector who had his residence in the country a little farther south. Most importantly, the nobleman never asked where the artwork came from, only cared that each piece was exceptional, authentic work in good condition.
Wolfert adjusted the rope on his shoulder and pushed the wooden tube he carried on his right hip. The wound to his flesh across his lower ribcage was not his major concern now. He had to reach the buyer’s residence by nightfall. First the transaction, then he’d pay a visit to a physician. Excruciating pain told him this was far worse than any bruises or injuries he’d gained previously in tavern brawls and battles. This wound would not heal without proper help. Oh, why had he picked a fight with a musketeer? The Frenchman was in King Louis XIII’s guard, for mercy’s sake. There was nothing wrong with Wolfert’s strength and experience, but Claude Beaulieu had, unfortunately, been better trained.
Then there was the Frenchman’s wife. Wolfert had never thought he’d see the day when a beautiful woman could handle the sword like a musketeer. What was the world coming to?
A Historical Art Mystery
WWII and the mid-seventeenth century are entwined in this fourth dual timeline novel about Nazi art theft, bravery, friendship, and romance.
April 1945. Art historian Soli Hansen and her friend Heddy arrive at an excavation site only to find Soli’s old archeology professor deeply engrossed in an extraordinary find in a marsh. The remains of a man have lain undisturbed for three centuries, but there’s more to this discovery…
As Soli tries to understand who the baroque man was and discovers what he carried in a sealed wooden tube, problems arise. A leak reveals the finds to the notorious Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Walter, and soon, both Nazi elite and the Gestapo are after the treasure.
When Heddy and the professor disappear along with the artwork, Soli and her resistance group must find them before it’s too late.
1641. In Amsterdam, French musketeer Claude Beaulieu has had his portrait done by his close friend and artist Rembrandt van Rijn. When a band of thieves steal the precious painting, Claude and his wife Annarosa Ruber pick up their swords and a few belongings and go after the culprits.
Set in Norway during the tumultuous last days of the second world war, as well as the peak of the glorious baroque art period, these two stories are a must for readers who love historical fiction with adventure, suspense, and true love that conquers all.
Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, Kathleen McGurl, Rhys Bowen, and Katherine Neville.
Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don’t want to go near.
Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.
After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.
Their favourite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.
Heidi’s favourites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.
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Book Title: Brushstrokes from the Past
Series: Soli Hansen Mysteries
Author: Heidi Eljarbo
Publication Date: 20 September 2022
Page Length: 260 pages
Genre: Historical fiction – dual timeline, a bit of mystery and sweet romance