Iowa-Based Author Sets Her Latest Novella in the Heart of Arizona bestselling author, Gail Kittleson, is thrilled to unveil her latest romance novella, Love at the Lavender Farm, which released to retail on July 2, 2024 from WordCrafts Press in hardback, trade paperback, and ebook formats.

“This story evolved quite organically when I met a new friend who owned a lavender farm in Arizona,” author Gail Kittleson explains. “I’ve always appreciated lavender’s healing properties, but learning about growing this plant, the essential-oil making process, and the use of lavender in cooking and baking intrigued me. When my friend suggested writing a novella set on her farm, I gladly proceeded.”

From the Novella

I was going on eleven, and that fall the lot of us went to school. Our clothes were shabby, for certain, but we wanted to learn.

On the first day, Gabriel Andretti made himself known, his black curly hair sparkling in the sun, his obsidian eyes a-glimmer with life. With such a small gathering of local children, all of the classes did most everything together, and Gabe drew in everybody. No one could resist his rambunctious nature, like a pint jar of tart plum jelly, sealed with the kindliest of grins.

Time passed, and one by one, all of my brothers and sisters took off on their own. A couple of them headed back to Texas, where our oldest sister, Bea, had stayed. Three more of my siblings veered westward toward California, the land of milk and honey.

The spring Suzie got married, I started working at the Andretti’s fruit and vegetable stand, and Gabe went off to college.

I turned seventeen and had just graduated high school when Gabe returned. He talked about working hard and sacrificing. Then he slid over and took my hand. “Would you consider marrying me, Lyra?

I simply stared at him. Marry Gabe Andretti? Live here in this lovely place? I was moonstruck!

* * * * *

The Lavender Farm was Gabe’s idea. He recalled the lavender fields from his childhood in his native Italy, before he immigrated to America with his parents. “Oh, the fragrance on a morning mist—heaven come to earth,” he had said. “I can’t even describe it to you, Lyra. The scent always seemed to me like the first real breath of dawn.”

Now Gabe was on the battlefield with the 45th Infantry, fighting to free the old country from the fascist dictator, Mussolini. And it was up me to breathe life into Gabe’s vision—to coax the hardy lavender plants to take root in the rocky Arizona soil.

And just when normal had re-established itself in our household, a knock came at the door. My mother-in-law had gone to town that morning, so I picked up baby Luca and clutched him to my chest as I opened the door.

“Telegram, Ma’am. If you would sign right here, please.”

Since Gabe left, I had fervently wished for time to flee faster, and now it had brought me to this juncture. Suspended between what was and what would be, I faltered. A thousand thoughts waged war inside my head. A long breath. Another. The old couch covering, once soft velvet, scratched at my palm. This could not wait forever.

The tearing sounded too loud, as if my soul were being rent in two. I sucked in a breath and read:


“Of course, the plot integrates all things lavender with my own passion, the World War 2 era—quite a satisfying mix, in my humble opinion,” Gail notes. “I hope readers enjoy this tale and learn a bit more about World War 2 Arizona and the nurturing of lavender.”

About Gail Kittleson

Words have always been comfort food for novelist Gail Kittleson. After instructing expository writing and English as a Second Language, she began writing memoir. Now, intrigued by the World War II era, Gail creates women’s historical fiction from her northern Iowa home and also facilitates writing workshops/retreats.

She and her husband, a retired Army chaplain, enjoy their grandchildren and in winter, Arizona’s Mogollon Rim Country. You can count on Gail’s heroines to ask honest questions, act with integrity, grow in faith, and face hardships with spunk.

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