Authors: Rita Saladano
Published by Saladano
Copyright 2016 by Rita
Cover Illustration Copyright
Cover Art by Dragan
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are
either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a
fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
If there is anywhere on
earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it,
for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and
rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”
― Julian of Norwich
Set over four weeks in the
brutal winter of 1954,
Father Briar and
is an historical romance unlike
When a beautiful young
woman from the Pacific Northwest falls for a Jesuit priest (and he
for her) who has recently been called to a parish in Northern
Minnesota, she chooses to move halfway across the country to be
Brannaska, Minnesota, way
up North there where the seasons are dramatic and the locals
eccentric, is a frozen place in the winter. But that doesn’t stop
things between amorous folks from heating the place up!
Filled with illicit love,
dramatic twists, a beautiful natural setting, a big cast of
charming and memorable characters, and an action-filled climax
during “the Storm of the Century,”
By turns sweet and
charming, lusty and erotic, nostalgic and forbidden,
Father Briar and the Angel
will delight fans of literary romances, lusty romances,
historical romances, and “man in uniform” romances.
A complex and layered but
easily accessible tale of forbidden love, Rita Saladano’s book is
the must read of the winter, this winter, or any other.
Don’t let the cold get
into your heart today.
Kisses can be
The priest was so pure, so
sweet-hearted, so soft and tender, and yet so masculine. His thick,
deep brown hair was mussed up and a little damp; August in
Minnesota is muggy and the air thick with mosquitoes. He swatted a
few of the naughty little bugs but knew it was futile; they always
won in the end. Plus, he didn’t like to kill any living thing, even
things as irritating as these.
They have as much right
to dinner as I do,” Father Cedric Briar said, deciding not to swat
one that was feeding on his arm.
Such things made Julianna
Warwidge love him even more. He wasn’t just thoughtful and moral;
he put those thoughts and beliefs into action in the most literal
of ways, even doing unthinkable things, like not swatting
They were picnicking on the
banks of the Mississippi River. The massive, cross-continental
waterway had its headwaters a couple of hours south of where they
sat. Father Briar was always inspired by the power of the river and
came down to eat, rest, and pray beside it whenever the state’s
notorious weather allowed it. And the last winter had been so
notorious that he and his love had to come here a lot this healing,
healthy, hot summer.
Kisses can be
Wild like the pine forest
around them. Deer, black bear and timber wolves still roamed those
woods and despite being an animal lover, she always felt a little
unsafe when they walked out to their special, private lunch spot
among the towering trees.
But that unsafe feeling was
thrilling, too. “Isn’t that part of the reason you keep doing
this?” she asked herself, “because of the illicit
It was 1954 and the
Catholic Church was a still one of the most powerful institutions
in America. To be involved with a priest was definitely wild, wild
to the point of being a little bit dangerous. Every time she
contemplated it, the love affair made her titter. Julianna was a
good girl; very good girl, and she didn’t do things that went
against Minnesota’s conservative culture, much less things that
went against God’s command for his priestly representatives on
Earth, so this was most certainly wild.
Kisses can send one up with
the birds and the stars and the other travelers through the
The day was so lovely he
couldn’t help but turn his thoughts to God. A couple of Whooping
Cranes flew overhead, their majesty lifting his thoughts along with
the Latin scholar and rigorously educated cleric
noted. The spring thaw had filled the river with crisp, cold water,
proving that winter didn’t last forever (although it often felt as
though it did) and that life could renew itself
And if life could renew
itself, why couldn’t love? With this smart and dedicated woman,
even that felt possible to Father Briar. Her eyes were pools of
compassion and curiosity, her skin soft and fair and he grace
unparalleled by any woman he’d ever known.
This was not a man who ever
thought he’d be challenging the rules and restrictions of his
church; no, Cedric Briar was a lover of order. He’d joined one,
even. The Society of Jesus, the Jesuit Order.
But love was trumping
She spread out the contents
of their picnic basket. They had rye bread with butter and thick
slices of ham with which to make sandwiches. There were ruddy red
potatoes, first boiled and then sprinkled with dill and lemon juice
before being chilled overnight in the refrigerator. There were
fresh carrots and spring onions. And there was chocolate, a brand
new treat that they both loved, a confection known as
She hummed a poppy little
tune as she prepared their lunch. “Did you bring the mustard,
Forgot to pack it, sorry!
There is more butter in there, though. What is that you are
She was a little
embarrassed. “I heard it on the car radio when I was driving to
pick you up. It is a new song called “Rock Around the Clock” by a
young man named Bill Haley.”
Haley like the comet?”
Father Briar asked.
Yes, exactly. In fact,
that it the name of his backing band. Bill Haley and the
It is a catchy little
It is, but popular music
like that isn’t going anywhere. It’s all a flash in the pan.
Speaking of which, why did you bring a pan?” she asked, lifting the
heavy cast iron thing out of the wicker basket.
I thought I might catch a
fish and fry it up,” he said, motioning to the river.
I never knew you
“Avidly! This is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” after all. Everybody
Julianna was a transplant
for the Pacific Northwest, a place both very much like Northern
Minnesota and very different. But she was a city girl and Brannaska
was a small town in the woods, surrounded by the famous lakes,
German Catholics, and Scandinavian Protestants who were all united
by a love of hockey and a folk hero lumberjack of gigantic
proportions named Paul Bunyon.
So there had been some
culture shock. “An adjustment period,” he’d told her, reassuring.
“You’ll grow to love the quiet and the fresh air. The people will
grow to love you, as I did, and you’ll flourish. “Bloom where you
are planted,” I always say! And, tumultuous as it was, fate has
planted you here. Thank God.”
“Thank God,” she agreed, passing him a sandwich.
He ate greedily. This was
another thing that attracted her to him; he was, as her mother
would’ve said, “a good eater.” Although, had her mother known she
was involved with a priest, well, all hell would’ve broken
Kisses can make liars of
the most honest of men.
They held hands. As a
working person, a lady who’d done noble labor with her hands, her
knuckles were round and her palms calloused, although her nails
were immaculate and painted a space-age color. His seminary ring
was cool as she laced her fingers through his.
Do you ever take this
off?” she asked, spinning it around on his finger.
Sometimes I think I
should,” he said, suddenly serious. A cloud passed over the sun and
he wondered if the mercurial weather wasn’t about to go
Why do you say that?” she
asked, wiggling a bit closer to him, trying to keep the mood light
and summery. The winter had been so harsh. Seattle is rainy, to be
sure, but the snow laid over Minnesota like death blanket, a burial
shroud, for unending months.
But now, like the blooms
around them, their love was flourishing.
Every time I kiss you I
wonder about the vows I took. As joyful as our love is, it is
impossible for me to forget that I am breaking a solemn vow to
As if to prove a point (“or
make a dare to the divine,” she speculated), he kissed her, soft
and sweet but full of longing and desire.
Sweeter than those little
chocolate candies,” he said.
More nourishing than
bread and water,” she agreed, taking a bit of both and enjoying the
view of the river while he held her close.
Thus the afternoon passed.
They ate all the sandwiches but rationed the M&M’s, eating only
three an hour so they’d last through the sunset and into the
They’d rarely had so much
uninterrupted time together. It had been a long time coming,
Julianna’s move to Minnesota. It wasn’t that she wasn’t committed
to him, oh, she very much was! But he was a priest, a working,
wonderful priest, with parish and congregation to worry about and
Life in the Upper-Midwest
was harsh and unpredictable, even when it was beautiful and
bountiful. Father Briar was known throughout the woodsy and
hardscrabble region as a pillar of the community and an organizer
of care and relief for the afflicted and the needy. The church was
a necessary part of the social safety net in a country where the
government had only recently developed one.
She loved to be so close to
it, and therefore to God. And yet so far away! Despite herself, she
too had doubts about the morality of their affair. “What does Jesus
think of me?” she wondered, laying back into the arms of Father
Briar, “how could he find something so pure and so blessed to be
As if reading her mind,
Cedric said, “now is not the time for deep thoughts, my dear heart,
now is the time for enjoying the evening.”
A man and his son drifted
by in a wooden canoe, fishing for bass. They were well up river
from home and he didn’t believe anybody would recognize him, but he
reflexively pulled his hat a little lower over his eyes to shield
them, just in case.
Feeling him tense up, she
asked “do you ever dream of being free from it? Free from the
hiding and the secrets? Free to be ourselves, free to be in love?
Free to think about the future?”
Ah, the future. The first
stumble of many doomed lovers,” he joked, a little darker than he’d
No,” he agreed, “far from
This last winter was a
She lay her head down on
It’ll make a good story,
in the future,” she said, a cold shudder tearing through
It makes a good story for
Chapter One: In the
Beginning, There Was the War, and the War was Not Good.
Julianna’s father, Gordon
Warwidge, had been a lumberjack, a real woodsman. He was the kind
of man they stopped making a long time ago, even long before 1954.
Her father was one of the reasons she’d been able to adjust to life
in frozen Brannaska, way up there in Northern Minnesota, because
the local tall tales about a folk hero named Paul Bunyon reminded
her of her father.
Paul Bunyon was an archetype of masculinity, but exaggerated to
make him memorable. He worked twenty two hours a day in the forests
and could fell trees with only one swing of his ax. He was sixteen
feet tall and eight feet wide. His beard was thicker than steel
wool and his eyes were glacial pools.