Budapest Romance: a “thoughtful romance.”—Publishers Weekly
Budapest Romance: A “tasty smorgasbord of love and faith.”—AudioFile Magazine
Chapter Six of Budapest Romance is all about taking the plunge. As in plunge bath. As in an experience you will never forget and should repeat whenever the opportunity presents itself. Why? You will prolong your life span. Your skin will sparkle and glow. Your state of mind will too. What’s it all about?
Contrast. Rather like the city of Budapest. Let’s not get into the hows and whys, as Hungary always manages to find itself historically in hot water. We will confine this discussion to the warm thermal waters of Budapest’s leading bath spas, the Széchenyi baths, Gellért Baths, and Rudyas Turkish Baths. Much more fun to dip into mineral-laden hot baths than into geopolitics …
Excerpt from Budapest Romance
Have you ever taken a plunge bath?” Jan asked at the entrance to the Gellért Baths.
Kati shook her head.
“Then you’re taking the plunge today.”
“What is it?” She loved the fact that Jan was so full of surprises.
“This will be my turn to find out if I can trust you. The plunge baths are located in the men’s and women’s locker rooms. I can’t go in yours with you, but I’ll know if you did it or not when you come out.”
“How will you know?” she asked, baffled.
“Let’s just say, I’ll hear about it one way or another.”
“What does it do for you?” she probed.
“It revs up your circulation and makes every cell in your body come alive. You can’t do anything better for your skin or circulation.” His eyes danced. “Well, maybe you can do one thing that would have the same benefit, but in your case, this is a way to experience heaven and maintain your virtue at the same time.”
“Hmmm,” she hesitated. “How long will it take?”
“A matter of seconds. No one stays in a plunge pool for longer than the time it takes a rocket to shoot off a launch pad.”
“What if I don’t want to do it?” she asked, her curiosity piqued.
“I want you to do it, so you know what it feels like. And I want to know if you’re brave enough to do it. Your skin will tingle and glow for hours afterwards. I promise you.”
“There’s the entrance to the women’s locker room. Tell the attendant you want to use the plunge bath. She speaks English; she’ll show you what to do. It’ll all be over in less than five minutes, then I’ll meet you right over there in the Jacuzzi pool. You’ll need some Jacuzzi jets to take the edge off once you’re done.”
“And my reward for this?” She gave him a saucy look.
“You’ll find out when you’re done.” His eyes narrowed, but gleamed. “And don’t cheat. I’ll know if you didn’t go in.”
She got out of the main pool and sauntered over to the women’s locker room, tossing an impish grin back at him. She wasn’t sure of what was going to happen, but after the night before, she was ready to trust him. Her time in Budapest was turning out to be the adventure of a lifetime.
As she entered the women’s locker room, an attendant in a white coat greeted her in English.
“Could you tell me where the plunge bath is?” Kati nervously asked.
“Have you taken a plunge bath before?” the woman asked, pointing toward an inner room.
Kati shook her head.
The attendant smile broadly and handed her a large towel. “First, take off everything and go into the steam room for a few minutes. When you’ve had enough, come out and I’ll take you into the plunge room.”
Kati undid her bikini and wrapped herself in the plush towel. Once inside the steam room, she reclined on the upper ledge and laid on her back with her feet up against the wall. In moments the steam began to open her pores, bathing her in hot moisture. She anticipated the plunge bath to be some similarly agreeable sensation.
Eager to report back to Jan, she hurried out of the steam room, where the attendant led her through another door into a small room. She was the only one there. In front of her was a circular opening in the tile floor with a ladder leading down to a small body of water.
“What do I do now?” Kati asked the attendant.
“That depends on how brave you are,” the attendant replied. “If you are very brave, you jump into the water. If you are not so brave, use the ladder, but in either case, go all the way in and make sure you put your head underwater. Otherwise, you won’t get the full benefit.”
“How long should I stay in?” Kati asked.
“Your body will let you know. But remember to go all the way in. Immersing your head is an important part of the treatment.”
What an odd ritual. She desperately wanted to run back into the locker room, pull on her bikini and go find Jan. But he had made it clear he would know if she hadn’t taken the plunge. She couldn’t lie to him; even if she could, she didn’t want to.
Eyeballing the ladder, she moved slowly toward it. If she eased herself into the cylinder of water, she would have time to back out. She didn’t want to chicken out; jumping in was the only alternative.
“I’ll jump. Just tell me one thing. Has anyone ever died from jumping into this tank?” Of course she sounded ridiculous, but she had no idea what she was getting into.
“No, darling,” the attendant chuckled. “No one has died. Many have screamed, but no one has died. Go ahead, you’ll feel wonderful afterwards.”
Kati liked the way Hungarians called each other “darling.” It suited their warm, interactive culture. Encouraged by the attendant, she shuffled to the edge of the tank, crossed herself, tightly closed her eyes, and jumped.
It was as if she’d leapt into the Antarctic Ocean. Shooting up to the surface, she screamed loudly as she scrambled up the ladder out of the tank. Her entire body felt as if it were being stabbed by tiny ice shards.
“Aarghh!” she screamed again.
“You are brave, Madame.” The attendant beamed approvingly. “Not many jump. You will feel the reward for the rest of the day.” The woman opened the door to the locker room, where some of the female guests looked at Kati and smiled or laughed. Apparently, the walls of the plunge room weren’t soundproof.
Kati wanted to kill Jan. Putting on her bikini in what seemed like less than half a second, she marched out the women’s locker room exit. She felt as if she had just been plugged into a wall socket and was glowing like a lamp.
In the Jacuzzi pool, lounging, Jan looked up at her, his expression wry. “I had no idea you could scream so loudly.” He chuckled.
Her face flamed. Wading into the Jacuzzi pool, she paddled over to him and splashed a large wave of water straight into his face.
“How dare you do that to me?” she hissed at him.
Other bathers looked on amusedly. The plunge bath was an exciting introduction to spa therapy for many foreigners who visited the Gellért Spa Baths.
Still chuckling, Jan grabbed her arms. Smart move or she would have surely slapped him.
“Do you have any idea how good that was for your skin?” he asked her.
“Do you have any idea what I’m going to do to you later in revenge for this?” she fumed.
“Do you have any idea how beautiful you are right now?”
“Shut up. I’ll never listen to another one of your ideas again. Someone get me a fire extinguisher.”
The contrast of the icy cold plunge bath of a moment before and the warm Jacuzzi jets on her muscles right now was having its effect. Like silly putty, her body went limp in Jan’s arms. It wasn’t a bad way to feel. Instead of slapping him, she gave him as vicious a pinch as she could manage on one of his cheeks. She could kill him, but she was starting to feel like a million dollars.
“A little pain, a lot of gain…” he philosophized.
She sighed. Life was good.
To read more, find Budapest Romance here in paperback, eBook, or audio book editions.
Anne of Brittany, book, daughters versus sons, European culture, French history, French queen, History, hot, Kindle Scout, Louis XII, medieval French history, publishing campaign, Renaissance, ruler, Salic Law, trending, women of history
Sense of Touch is burning up the Hot & Trending list of Kindle Scout nominations for the second week of its one month campaign to receive a publishing contract. Why?
Readers want to know more about Anne of Brittany.
Anne of Brittany is a fascinating historical figure about whom almost nothing has been written in English. Her dates? 1477-1514. She reigned as Queen of France after Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) and before Catherine de Medici (1519-1589).
This week I uncovered a poignant painting of her with husband Louis VII by court painter Jean Pichore. The name of the painting says it all: Douleur du Roi sans Fils. Translation: Sorrow of the King without Sons.
Before you feel sorry for Anne of Brittany, don’t.
She may not have brought a son to adulthood, but she succeeded with two daughters, Claude of France, and Renée of France. Claude of France married Francis I, known as the Renaissance King, and produced Henry II, another important Renaissance king and husband of Catherine de Medici.
Anne’s Breton blood found its way into the French royal bloodline through her daughter, not her sons. Her leadership skills, authority and self-confidence have informed French women ever since. Long live Anne of Brittany, vive Anne de Bretagne!
Speaking of sons, she had many. All of them either stillborn, dead hours after birth, weeks after birth, or by age three.
Let’s take a look at the full Jean Pichore painting of Anne of Brittany with second husband Louis XII.
We see Louis XII, King of France, looking sad. The man behind him looks at the queen with a recriminating expression, as if to say, “Why can’t you produce a son for France?”
We see Anne of Brittany, Queen of France looking regal, confident, not sad at all. Defiant, in fact. Why?
Sadness of the King without Sons, Jean Pichore, c. 1503
Who’s in the hot seat here? Anne.
Who’s the power on the throne? Anne.
Who’s appealing to whom? Louis and his court are appealing to Anne.
Who’s the boss? Anne. She was also a loving and deeply beloved wife to both of her husbands, Charles VIII of France before Louis, and Louis XII of France.
The more I learn about this French Renaissance queen, the more I fall in love with her.
Anne of Brittany is an amazing historical role model for girls. She invited young girls to her court where she educated them, taught them household and estate management skills, arranged marriages for them and paid for their dowries. More about this in my next blog post. Please nominate my book about her here.
Keep Sense of Touch on Kindle Scout’s Hot & Trending list until campaign ends Oct. 20. It’s FREE to vote and if Sense of Touch is selected for publication you will receive the eBook free.
I can’t wait to share more with you about Anne of Brittany, one of the Renaissance’s most important queens.
Author Rozsa Gaston
Amazon, Anne of Brittany, Brittany, Charles VIII, Claude of France, Duchess of Brittany, Europe, European history, France, French Queens, Kindle Scout, Louis XII, Medieval rulers, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Salic Law, Sense of Touch, women of history, women's issues, women's self-identity
Sense of Touch is coming soon. My seventh and latest novel is based on the life of Anne of Brittany, twice Queen of France. Her dates? 1477-1514.
Sense of Touch has been chosen by Kindle Scout for a 30-day pilot program to see if readers get interested in this story. If the book receives enough nominations by Oct. 19, 2015, it will be chosen for publication by Kindle Press. That’s a very big deal. Why? Worldwide distribution.
Here’s the link to nominate Sense of Touch for publication. It’s free, and if Sense of Touch gets picked up for publication, you will receive a complimentary advance copy. I will include your name on my acknowledgments page if you let me know you voted. Thank you.
Why am I excited about Anne of Brittany? This remarkable woman, Duchess of Brittany in her own right, and twice Queen of France due to marrying well, lived exactly at the convergence of the Middle Ages with the Renaissance. What does that mean?
Quick answer: Goodbye, Middle Ages. Hello, Renaissance.
To put it in a nutshell, it means goodbye to collective identity and hello to self-identity. My writing platform is all about self-identity, as in how do women achieve their own? Then, how do they hone it through the years as professional and family obligations conspire to obliterate their special je ne sais quoi?
Anne of Brittany did a great job of maintaining her own sense of self. Her motto? A ma vie, to my life. It takes a confident woman to have a motto like that.
Here’s the gist of Sense of Touch.
NICOLE SAINT SYLVAIN serves at the court of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France, in 1497, at age fifteen. Working with horse trainer Philippe de Bois to heal the Queen’s stallion, she shows an aptitude for diagnosing horses’ ailments through her sense of touch. Soon she has fallen in love, but not with the man her father has chosen for her. Duty pulls Nicole and Philippe in different directions and Nicole becomes a wife, mother, then widow while immersing herself in the healing arts. When Anne of Brittany begs her to save her infant daughter, Nicole works alongside a physician from the South whose reputation for healing began with his work with horses. Will Nicole succeed in saving the Queen’s daughter? And if she does, will the Queen reward her with the greatest desire of her heart—marriage to the only man she has ever loved?
ANNE OF BRITTANY inherited the Duchy of Brittany at age eleven upon her father’s death in 1488. Three years later she married Charles VIII and became Queen consort of France. Instrumental in introducing new techniques of architecture and craftsmanship from Milan to France, Anne of Brittany ushered in the Italian Renaissance to France. By age twenty-one she had buried her husband and all four of her children. Within nine months she became wife of the new king, Louis XII. Pregnant fourteen times, seven times by either king, she raised two children to adulthood. Both were daughters.
She is known as the first female ruler of France to bring together young women of noble birth at court, where she educated and trained them, then arranged appropriate marriage matches. A ruler of influence, refinement, and resources, she rose above personal loss with dignity and grace while espousing the cause of women’s advancement. Her story is for women everywhere.
I would be delighted if you would click here to nominate Sense of Touch for publication. You’ll find an excerpt from Sense of Touch too. Enjoy and thank you.
Author Rozsa Gaston, be here now, Budapest, career, career and romance conflicts, contemporary romance, dating, Dutchman, Hungarian American woman, Publishers Weekly review, Szechenyi Baths, thermal bath spas, thoughtful romance
Publishers Weekly weighs in on my Dec. 2014 latest release Budapest Romance in its June 22, 2015 issue:
“The traditional healing properties and beauty of the thermal spa baths still enjoyed throughout Budapest are the true stars of this thoughtful romance.”—Publishers Weekly
Budapest Romance is now available on all major online retail sites. Thank you, Publishers Weekly, for this greatest of all honors, a review in the publishing industry’s most respected news magazine.
Readers—for those of you who read and post a short review of my tender romance set in Budapest’s thermal bath spas, I will be delighted to send you an eBook thank you gift of your choice of any of my other books.
Enjoy and stay playful. —Rozsa Gaston