Tag Archives: Camille Di Maio

Review & Giveaway: The First Emma by Camille Di Maio

THE FIRST EMMA
by

Camille Di MaioHistorical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

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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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Review

It was love at first sight when I saw the cover of The First Emma by Camille Di Maio. The young woman in a pretty dress gazing out of a window promised me a lovely historical fiction, while the blurb teased me with a thrilling tale of infidelity, murder, and power. If any of those things appeal to you as a reader, then you will devour this book like I did.

The words “inspired by true events” always give me a little rush. I don’t know why that is, especially when you take into account that many fiction books and movies are usually based (perhaps quite loosely) on someone’s real life. But those four words seem to whisper a promise that the story you are about to hear will be that more shocking or inspiring because they are based on real life. I don’t know if I should be embarrassed to admit that I have never heard of the Koehlers or of their Pearl beer, but this book has stoked my interest to the point that I intend to read the newspaper clippings for myself at a later time.

Di Maio transports the reader into two timelines: back to 1914, before the United States joined the fight and prohibition loomed on the horizon, to nearly 30 years later, with the second world war that took most of the young men in our country, along with necessities like fuel and metal. Maybe because I have lived a sheltered life, I am truly fascinated by stories of hardship. I have never had to walk through slushy streets; I have never lived alone. I like to think that if I were ever tested, I would have strength like Mabel from Baltimore.

My warm affection for Mabel came about quickly but it was Emma’s observations that solidified that attachment into something more. Di Maio’s fluid writing style and emotional depth allowed me to connect with characters that I was a little wounded to find out later did not really exist. And working from very little source material, the author spins a plausible version of these events with an intimacy that I have never encountered in any other historical fiction or romance book that I have read.

Most historical fictions, while entertaining to read, often have a scene or two, or perhaps a character, that rings false. The First Emma does not have either of these flaws. You will be shocked to later find out just how much of this story was Di Maio’s imagination and how much was based on research. I really appreciate that the author’s note at the end of the book shares where the inspiration came from and her writing process.

There are harsh moments in this book, some completely true and some fictional, but I love everything about it. It is a seamless story of feminine intellect, strength, and great lessons on self worth and loyalty.

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. 
 

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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

 
THE WAY OF BEAUTY
by
Camille Di Maio
Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

  
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Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.
Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.
Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.
Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

PRAISE FOR THE WAY OF BEAUTY:

The Way of Beauty is a thing of beauty. The writing is gorgeous, the story is engaging, the characters are amazing. The amount of research that goes into historical fiction just astounds me. Add this to your TBR!”

“If you want to be swept away by a love story set in a fascinating and meticulously researched past, Camille Di Maio is the author for you. Don’t miss this one.”

“A captivating story of love and family that spans several generations.”

“The writing transports you to the time, not so long ago when women had to choose between love and their rights. Camille Di Maio’s dialogue, descriptions, and relationships create a complete picture of the era and struggles. Great book club book.” 

 

GuestPost

What’s in a Title?

Guest Post by Author Camille Di Maio

 

When I was first writing THE WAY OF BEAUTY, my working title was A PARADE OF EAGLES. I still like that one – the book starts with the demolition of Penn Station and the magnificent eagles that are taken down and carted to a swamp in New Jersey. The image of these beautiful granite birds processing down the streets of New York City was so stunning to me.

 

But it was suggested to me that the title sounded more like literary fiction than the historical fiction/romance that it is. And that it would not resonate with my primary audience: women.

 

So, it was back to the drawing board. One of my characters, Angelo, is an Italian immigrant. As I thought through good surnames for him, I remembered the name of a girl I used to do high school theater with – Bellavia. That was her first name, but I thought it could work for Angelo, too. It means beautiful way. Angelo is one of my favorite characters, and his friendship provides a beautiful new way for Vera to look at life when she needs it the most.

 

And then it struck me that I could play with that word as the title. It reflects the arc of the train station – the building, the heyday, and the deconstruction. Much the same path we travel as people – our beginning, our middle, and our end. But each part is necessary and beautiful in its own way – the way of beauty.

 

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!

 

~Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee~

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far) and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol,

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