The Rules in Rome by A.L. Sowards
With Hitler’s forces firmly entrenched in Europe, countless heroes seek to end the madman’s reign. Bastien Ley is one of the best. Working in Italy for the Office of Strategic Services, he’s been tasked with sabotaging German convoys. When his team kills an officer headed for Rome, the man’s similarity to Bastien is undeniable, and seeing an opportunity to turn the tide of the war, Bastien makes a bold decision: he will assume the dead officer’s identity. He becomes Dietrich, an Iron Cross–wearing German officer—an ideal position from which to infiltrate the Nazi ranks in Rome. To help with his stressful assignment, his superiors send him a reinforcement in the form of the lovely Gracie Begni, an intelligent and eager radio operator with absolutely no undercover experience.
With a gulf of resentment between them, these two agents must find a way to portray a couple in love. Soon their reluctant alliance becomes much more as Bastien and Gracie find themselves getting lost in their feelings for each other. But as they engage in battle against the deadliest foe the world has ever known, the pair quickly realizes their love may be doomed. As the Rome Gestapo threatens to destroy all they’ve worked for, will Bastien and Gracie survive their charade?
A.L. Sowards has always been fascinated by the 1940s, but she’s grateful she didn’t live back then. She doesn’t think she could have written a novel on a typewriter, and no one would be able to read her handwriting if she wrote her books out longhand. She does, however, think they had the right idea when they rationed nylon and women went barelegged.
Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. She graduated from BYU and ended up staying in Utah, where she enjoys spending time with her husband and children or with her laptop. She does not own a typewriter. She does own several pairs of nylons.
Sowards’ novels include a little mystery, a little history, a little romance, and a lot of action, adventure, and suspense. Primarily, Sowards writes to entertain. She also hopes her books will teach readers something new about history or about life. Most of her novels are set during wartime, so there is some violence, but it’s not gory or excessive. She keeps the language and romance family-friendly, wanting her writing to be thrilling, clean, and uplifting.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’m always working on something, usually with a dozen other ideas just waiting until I have the time to write them. My next project is a historical novel set during the Great War. After that, I’m planning to write a part spy thriller, part coming-of-age story about Bastien’s younger brother (Bastien is one of the protagonists in The Rules in Rome).
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes. I loved learning about the events leading up to the American Revolution and I loved the characters.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I wanted to an author and a mom—so I guess I got my wish!
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Alistair MacLean, Jack Higgins, Dick Francis, Cornelius Ryan, Alex Kershaw, J.K. Rowling, Megan Whalen Turner, and Eugene B. Sledge
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
The ability to stop time, so I could take a nap, or finish those last few chapters in the book I’m reading, or finish writing the scene I’m working on before I have to start dinner.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Hash Browns. I did, after all, grow up in the top potato-producing county in the US. (Nope, not in Idaho. Grant County, Washington.) But I don’t have them that often because I’m a really lazy cook in the mornings (and sometimes the rest of the day too).
What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
I’m eager to see the new Star Wars movie. I grew up watching the original three, and I’ve got good memories of them. One Thanksgiving break shortly after the updated versions came out (on VHS), our family watched the old version on a small screen TV while we watched the new version on the larger TV. I thought it would be impossible to synchronize them (there were some added bits to throw off the timing), but I proved myself wrong and managed to do it. It was fun to see which special effects were new or changed in some way.
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
I would pay off the mortgage and buy my house. Then plan a vacation to Europe.
What do you do in your free time?
I have twin four-year-olds and a newborn, so free time is very rare. When I have it, I use it to write (or do research for a writing project).
What’s your favorite season/weather?
Autumn. I love the cooler weather after the hot summer. When I was younger I liked the “back to school” thing, and I love using things fresh from the garden for dinner. I also love the first snow fall, which often seems to happen in the fall, even though I usually get sick of the snow by January.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My husband’s deodorant and my kids’ bath soap. I guess I like clean smells. But I also love the smell of freshly-baked cookies.
I swam competitively for sixteen years, including college, so I’ll say swimming. But I managed to survive the last two Olympics without normal TV, so I guess I’m not as obsessed as I used to be.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
The book is fast-paced with great characters, sigh-worthy romance, heart-stopping action, and the best epilogue ever.
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