Tuesday, March 10, 2015

City of Illusions Blog Tour! (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: City of Illusions
Author: Judith Works
Series: N/A
Pages: 201
Date Published: November 2014
Publisher: Booktrope
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
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Laura longs for warmth and excitement in her marriage and her life. Her impulsive response to a job posting in Italy leads her to cook Jake’s favorite Italian dinner to persuade him to take the leap from the comfortable confines of Seattle to unknown Rome. But the move turns out to be anything but a holiday. Behind the fountains, trattorias, and facades of ancient buildings lurk scheming art dealers and a Machiavellian co-worker who impact Laura’s marriage in ways she never imagined.
Will Laura find love among the ruins? Or will her dreams turn out to be illusions?
~Guest Post!~
City of Illusions is a story of a young woman who wants a change. And, after struggles and adventures, she finds what she wants.

Some people have asked me why it is set in Rome.The epigraph for the book is from Giotto, that great painter who set Italian art on its path to the Renaissance: “Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.” Although these words were written sometime between 1266 and 1337, they perfectly reflect the Rome I know, my home for ten years and still a city that pulls me back time and time again. A city where I heard echoes of the past follow every footstep in the ancient city center, where change seems elusive when the streets are those the Romans designed or were originally footpaths between ruins, and where I yearned to know more about the past.

Both my characters depart Seattle on their journey carrying personal baggage like all of us, consciously or unconsciously, along with their high expectations. Laura, who sees her dull and childless marriage as stifling, hopes life and her marriage will be revved up by the change in scene. Passive Jake, who has drifted along for years after a difficult childhood, is willing to go along for the ride. He visualizes escape from a job for which he is ill-suited, and plans to take up painting, a vocation long unrealized. Both Laura and Jake find that Rome does not have la dolce vita waiting for them, nor do they find a life characterized by that delightful Italian expression, dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. How they react forms the plot.

Both the plot and characters are based my own experience as well as observation of some who have struggled with the joys and sorrows inherent in being an expatriate. The expatriate life, suspended between two worlds is both a blessing and a curse – you are neither a citizen of the host country nor an active participant of your native country. Basically, expats are on-lookers, free to take in as much of the host country as they wish. I knew people who cowered in their apartments in Rome, too overwhelmed to venture out beyond grocery shopping, declining to interact with Italians and longing to go home. I knew a few others who behaved badly, succumbing to impulses which might have been kept in check at home; and some who experienced family crises because of bored spouses or office temptations – activities that take place everywhere but are sometimes heightened in a foreign setting.

The novel is not a memoir like Coins in the Fountain, my earlier book where the narrative was intended solely as a tale about two bumbling innocents abroad. But City of Illusions has many scenes and locations from my personal experiences, like apartment-hunting, much of the wonderful Italian food and wine, and favorite locations such as the Borghese Gallery and the Appia Antica. My two favorite fountains, The Trevi and the Fountain of the Four Rivers, serve as a backdrop to important events as do the enigmatic obelisks that pierce the Roman sky. And I know well the common feeling of too much of everything: food, art and history in the often chaotic city.

The element of antiquity theft, a problem that plagues Italy and other countries blessed with the remains of ancient civilizations, is not part of the “write what you know” rule. However, I did know some people with “interesting” artifacts, including pots, and rumors were rife about the infamous flea market, Porta Portese, where you purportedly can get anything you want if you know whom to ask. Newspapers and television reports frequently highlighted the problem of tomb robbing with photos of the Carabinieri art theft squad displaying recovered objects. There are many books and websites about the problem for those that want to dig further.

City of Illusions could have been set in a different location but I wanted to convey something of the singular complexities of an ancient city with its many layers of history that affect all those who choose to live among ruins and relics. And Rome, a city that was my center of gravity and one that still exerts a pull to return, is a city like no other. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
“I think I’ll just try the spaghetti with rag├╣ sauce and the salad. Sorry we’re a bit late. Jake tried to show me those old ruins across the street, but what I’m really interested in is the food.”

“Well, we’re fascinated with the history here,” Helena said. “It’s what makes Rome our Rome. And if you’re talking about the pyramid, it was built by someone called Gaius Cestia around 12 B.C.”

Embarrassed, Laura squirmed.

Helena decided to take pity on Doug’s new recruit. “Are you a food writer?”

“I’m thinking about writing my own blog about life here as soon as I can get organized. And when I learn more I could add about the food.”

A waiter put bottles of white and red wine, along with still and fizzy water on the table. The bubbly kind was “con gas,” Laura recalled one of her Seattle friends telling her, using the term to show she knew all about how to order water in Rome. When the waiter returned with baskets of hot flatbread perfumed with resinous rosemary and olive oil, they ordered their main courses.

The talk grew even more animated as they competed with other diners to make themselves heard above the noise. But Jake, always reserved, inspected the contents of his wineglass as if he expected the liquid to carry on the conversation for him.

Questions were beamed Laura’s way: “Do you like living in Rome?” “Have you found an apartment?” “Do you have children?”

Raj interrupted. “Well, if you haven’t already found out, you’ll find that living in Rome is either a one or two, or a nine or ten. Not much in between. And some days it’s both.”

“Oh, I’m sure it will be on the high end of the scale.” Laura tried to smile as she responded, but she was taken aback at this piece of news.
~Meet Judith!~ 
Life was routine until the author decided to get a law degree. Then a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office next door – where she worked as an attorney in the HR department and entered the world of expat life in Rome. The ten years of happy and sometimes fraught experiences are the subject of her memoir, Coins in the Fountain. She continues to travel, having visited over 100 countries in between many journeys to Italy where she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return to Rome. 

Judith has a BS in Psychology, M Public Administration, JD from Lewis & Clark School of Law.  She has spent most of her career in Human Resources administration.  Judith is a member of Northwest Women Writers, past President of Edmonds Friends of the Library, board member for Edmonds Center of the Arts, vice-president EPIC Group Writers, and a member of PNWA and Willamette Writers.

Judith and her husband now live near Seattle where she is working on her second novel. Check out the book trailer below or her blog!
Judith will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.


  1. Thank you for the excerpt, i enjoyed reading it :)

  2. Thanks so much!!! I hope readers enjoy the story.

  3. Enjoyed reading your guest post and the excerpt today.


  5. I enjoyed the excerpt thank you.

  6. I really enjoyed the book trailer!

  7. I like the intriguing excerpt!

  8. The video trailer was really fun!

  9. Thanks again to all for your comments. I hope you enjoy reading the book.

  10. I am hooked by the different approach to Rome. All the other books I've read with Rome have depicted only the touristy lovely settings. Thanks!

  11. I always love the excerpts....best part of the post!

  12. The author bio is my favorite part of the post. She sure has a fantastic resume and who wouldn't want to run away to join the circus.