Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Explorers: Tides Across the Sea

Manuela Perez couldn’t stop the perspiration pouring across her brow. The azure sky was crisp and clear above the piazza where the sun radiated from the cobblestones, making the day seem hotter. But it was more than the heat making her feel drained. The words coming from the mouth of the boy she hoped to one day marry brought her great worry.

“A New World. Just saying the words brings a fire to my belly,” Felipe Marco said, reading from one of the many notices posted in the village. Felipe’s fists rested on his hips and he pulled his shoulders back, his lean torso enhanced by the muscles bulging from the sleeve above his almond-colored arms. “To travel to a new continent across the Caribbean. This—this would prove to your father that I am a man. Old enough to own a bull and a piece of land, old enough to travel beyond the southern shores of Santiago de Cuba, and to marry his daughter.”

“Oh, Felipe,” Manuela said, sighing. Her tiny frame was almost hidden beneath the orange, yellow, and green ruffles that decorated her skirt and blouse. “What if you never return from this voyage with Cortés? Who would I marry?” She placed her head against the woven fabric of his tunic and touched her creamy palm against his dark curls. The noise of the market swirled around them, but she paid no attention.

A smile played at Felipe’s lips as he embraced her. “A child as lovely as you need not worry about marriage.”

Set against the background of the exploration of the Aztec civilization, Tides Across the Sea, opens in the year 1519, where the passion for adventure and the lust for gold reign in the hearts of both young and old. Fifteen-year-old Felipe is no exception, though his yearning for adventure is tempered by his love for the beautiful Manuela. She wants to marry Felipe, but she must first rid herself of the betrothal bands her papa has accepted on her behalf to the local bully, who threatens the life of the one she loves. When Felipe ends up on Cortés’ ship bound for the New World, the young couple is pulled apart.

Felipe and Manuela each must find a way to overcome the odds stacked against them if they want to someday reunite. But the New World is filled with danger, and Felipe may not escape the human sacrifices being made to the Great White God, unless the young slave girl, Tia, who also yearns for home, can help him escape and return to Manuela.

Tides Across the Sea, a young adult novel from The Explorers series, is historical fiction with a touch of romance in the style of Carolyn Meyer (Loving Will Shakespeare) and Ann Rinaldi (The Coffin Quilt). Tides Across the Sea will take readers on a journey to the New World with Cortés and into the palace of Moctezuma (Montezuma) that will satisfy their own lust for adventure.

Author Lu Ann Brobst Staheli is a three-time Utah Best of State Medal recipient for Literary Arts and Education, winner of Utah’s Original Writing Competition and the League of Utah Writer’s Diamond Quill for Youth Fiction, and Christa McAuliffe Fellow. “My fascination with Cortés and the Aztec people began years ago as my husband shared legends about Montezuma’s gold,” Staheli says. “What began as an adult thriller about the search for riches ended up as a young adult adventure with a hint of romance. Since I spend most of my time immersed in children’s fiction, this change turned out to be a perfect fit for me as an author.”

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