[ Epub ] ➝ The Black Madonna Author Stella Riley – Thomashillier.co.uk

The Black Madonna By The Summer Of , England Is Sliding Inexorably Towards Civil War, And The Havoc Of The Times Is Reflected In The Lives Of The Maxwells Of Thorne AshRed Haired And Independent Of Spirit, Kate Maxwell Is Determined Not To Let The Coming Conflict Disrupt The Lives Of Those She Loves During Her Father S Forced Absence She Vows To Hold Their Home Against Marauding Forces From Both CampsMore Threatening To Her Peace Of Mind Than The Actions Of Either The Parliamentarians Or The Royalists Is Her Growing Attraction To The Diabolically Clever And Irresistibly Magnetic Goldsmith And Usurer, Luciano Del SantiHampered By The Battling English, Luciano Is Fighting A Fierce Campaign Close To His Own Heart To Avenge His Father S Execution At The Hands Of False Accusers And To Repay The Loan Which Has Financed The Venture Failure Will Result In Ruin, Perhaps Even Death But Success Will Allow Him To Reclaim The Black Madonna The Carved Obsidian Symbol Of His Heritage And His Vendetta


10 thoughts on “The Black Madonna

  1. says:

    Originally published in 1993, this title has now been republished in ebook form by the author My review of the hardback version was originally posted on 13 Feb 2013 and has been updated in May 2013, to reflect revisions incorporated into the new ebook edition.It s no secret that I m a big fan of Stella Riley s work, so anyone reading this could be forgiven for thinking that the five star rating was a foregone conclusion And perhaps it was I ve always found her writing, characterisation and Originally published in 1993, this title has now been republished in ebook form by the author My review of the hardback version was originally posted on 13 Feb 2013 and has been updated in May 2013, to reflect revisions incorporated into the new ebook edition.It s no secret that I m a big fan of Stella Riley s work, so anyone reading this could be forgiven for thinking that the five star rating was a foregone conclusion And perhaps it was I ve always found her writing, characterisation and storytelling to be of consistently high quality, and The Black Madonna is no exception But in fact, I d venture to say that she s set an even higher bar with this book because it is, without doubt, a really superb example of how to craft a compelling piece of historical fiction.The events of The Black Madonna take place between 1639 and 1646, in the run up to and during the events of the first English Civil War In it, we follow events as seen through the eyes of the members of the Maxwell family and their friends and acquaintances and along the way take in romance, politics, family dilemmas and a years old mystery and quest for vengeance.Richard Maxwell and his wife, Dorothy are a happily married couple with five children and how lovely it is to read about an older couple who are still very much in love and attracted to each other Richard is a member of the Commons, and while he is frustrated by the King s actions in among other things levying taxes to fill his coffers without the support of Parliament, he does not adopt an anti royalist stance either Rather, Richard is a good, honest man who wants the best for his family and his country and who doesn t want to take sides, but eventually finds he cannot do otherwise.Running alongside the momentous political events of the time, we are drawn into the life of the Maxwells and all the ups and downs that family life entails Eden, the eldest son, falls in love with a woman who is completely wrong for him Amy the middle daughter is an inveterate flirt who is going to get herself into trouble if she s not careful and Kate, the eldest daughter is sometimes far too forthright and clever for her own good.Add in to all that the mysterious Italian goldsmith and usurer, Luciano Falcieri del Santi a man with the face of an angel, a mind like a steel trap and a tongue like a razor blade and the stage is set for a truly gripping read.The fate of the Maxwells becomes bound up with that of del Santi when Richard and Eden Maxwell rescue Luciano from a severe beating one night in the murky backwaters of the City of London Thereafter, Richard and Luciano strike up an unexpected, yet very genuine friendship, which is one of the joys of the book and which brings the latter into closer contact with Richard s family The youngest son, previously Felix, but now renamed Toby, is riveted by the goldsmiths art and wants to be apprenticed to del Santi, while Kate, finding herself utterly fascinated and reluctantly drawn to him, is trying desperately to resist what she thinks can only be a stupid, girlish infatuation.Luciano, however, is not the man for her as he tells her several times he has no room for emotional entanglements in his life He is, of necessity, focused on his business and, as we later discover, on finding the person responsible for his father s execution for treason several years earlier He knows his quest is a dangerous one and is therefore reluctant to involve anyone else in it, although he eventually admits to himself that he needs help and therefore confides in Richard.It is, however, impossible for Luciano to avoid the growing unrest in England and the tensions between King and Parliament erupt into Civil War.Stella Riley handles her large cast of characters with aplomb onceand again skilfully integrates her fictional storylines and characters with actual events and historical figures.Her research is impeccable and although I will admit that, especially in the first few chapters, I felt a bit overloaded with background detail to the extent I felt the need to go and look up a few things once the setting has been established and we have been introduced to the Maxwells, the Langleys, del Santi and assorted other characters, things take off and the book became hard to put down.The multiple plot strands are woven very skilfully together The war progresses, initially in the King s favour, but inescapably, the tide begins to turn Luciano begins to close in on his quarry and becomes a target and the Maxwells are plunged into danger and tragedy Amid all this is the slow burning romance between Kate and Luciano, an attraction they are both desperate to deny Their exchanges throughout the first part of the book are ascerbic and sometimes deliberately hurtful as Kate, desperate to hide her feelings, tries to repel him and Luciano, who isn t the least bit fooled, tries to warn her off But the thing is thethe reader sees of them apart and together theit becomes apparent that these two are a matched pair intelligent, quick witted, passionate and in their own ways unique.Luciano s reluctance to become involved with Kate is as much due to the fact that he has to focus all his attention on his business in order to repay a massive loan from his uncle as it is about his fears for her safety In the original version, there are hints that he feelsfor Kate than he lets on, but for the most part, he plays his cards very close to his chest In the ebook version, the author has made a number of small changes and added some new scenes which give the readerof an insight into how Luciano is thinking and feeling that I think are a truly valuable addition to the romance and to the story as a whole.On a side note, I particularly enjoyed seeing glimpses of some of the characters featured in Ms Riley s earlier novel A Splendid Defiance the thirteen year old Abigail Radford near the beginning, and later, members of the Banbury garrison and Captain Justin Ambrose As the Maxwells story continues, the war escalates and the King s fortunes begin to worsen and things come to a head for Luciano and Kate at the ill fated siege of Basing House The Black Madonna has it all adventure, romance, heartbreak I don t mind admitting that there were a couple of real lump in throat moments , tenderness and humour It s a real page turner and I honestly didn t guess the identity of the bad guy until fairly close to the end.I ll finish by saying that I ve waited over twenty years to get my hands on a copy of this book, and it was every bit as good as I d hoped.Brava


  2. says:

    Orphaned when his father is convicted and hanged for treason against Charles I, Luciano Falcieri Del Santi and his sister Gianetta leave England and return to their uncle s household in Genoa Gianetta is raised as a pampered daughter while Luciano is apprenticed to learn the gold trade When older, Luciano is still bent on vengeance against those who lead to his father s death and he returns to London as a master goldsmith and money lender His path eventually crosses with that of Richard Maxwe Orphaned when his father is convicted and hanged for treason against Charles I, Luciano Falcieri Del Santi and his sister Gianetta leave England and return to their uncle s household in Genoa Gianetta is raised as a pampered daughter while Luciano is apprenticed to learn the gold trade When older, Luciano is still bent on vengeance against those who lead to his father s death and he returns to London as a master goldsmith and money lender His path eventually crosses with that of Richard Maxwell of Thorne Ash, his wife Dorothy and their brood of children including the not quite mature Kate As Civil War between King and Parliament begins Luciano and Kate find them in the midst of war, treachery, and conspiracies everywhere Can Luciano keep Kate safe from those desperate to destroy him before he can uncover the truth Luciano s search for the truth culminates in a final showdown with his prey in a nail biting finish as Cromwell besieges Basing House Will Luciano and Kate make it out alive Or will his search for the truth destroy them all Hate to say it, but I am not telling.Luciano was one of the best flawed hero I ve come across in quite a while I think I m in love , his knife wielding Turk bodyguard Selim was a hoot and as for Kate she was a perfect foil intelligent, independent but without being so OTT with it that she s grating on your nerves as well No TSTL heroine here I loved the Maxwell family and their brood of children, and my heart just broke for eldest son Eden and what the witch of a Royalist wife put him through It was also fun catching a glimpse of Justin Ambrose from A Splendid Defiance, the second in Riley s Civil War trilogy.Riley s books are quite rare and virtually impossible to find without paying an arm and a leg but don t give up hope Scour your used book stores and keep watch on the online sellers especially over at the UK Don t bother for an ILL, I already tried it and not one to be had in the US and I only lucked out by a very generous friend offering me the loan of her copy a very big thank you As best as I can ascertain the series order is,The Black MadonnaA Splendid DefianceGarland of Straw


  3. says:

    You believe it s the King s right to command Parliament I don t You ll fight to preserve His Majesty s prerogative I won t And we could argue till kingdom come without it making a blind bit of difference You want His Majesty turned into a puppet No I want Parliament turned into somethingthan a cipher, came the swift reply And then, A balance has to be struck The King stands for stability and tradition and no one wants to see him safely back on his thronethan I do You believe it s the King s right to command Parliament I don t You ll fight to preserve His Majesty s prerogative I won t And we could argue till kingdom come without it making a blind bit of difference You want His Majesty turned into a puppet No I want Parliament turned into somethingthan a cipher, came the swift reply And then, A balance has to be struck The King stands for stability and tradition and no one wants to see him safely back on his thronethan I do But Parliament represents the people and must be allowed to act in their interests without fear of being dissolved on a royal whim Tis to preserve His Majesty that we against him fight, sang Francis. For quotes and comments as I read Buddy Read The Black MadonnaHistorical Fiction with a romance element, if you enjoy Donna Thorland s books, you want to put this on your list.This follows the Maxwell family Roundheads , the daughter Kate is highlighted, the Langley family Cavaliers , small glimpses of the Cliffords, Luciano del Santi, and the English Civil War There is a lot of history in here, you get a good look at the players, circumstances, and events that lead to the war and then how it affects the family and friendships Luciano and Kate are the romantic element but they do spendtime apart than together Luciano is on a revenge justice mission to find out who orchestrated his father s death This worked to keep Luciano away from Kate and some added angst, but for me, it felt unnecessary and clogged up the story, we have a whole Civil War lead up and beginning to deal with.The author does an amazing job with her characters, their relationships, and development of story with historical persons and events weaved in The last thirty percent was tension filled with a focus on the Basing House siege and Luciano finally meeting his enemy I was totally sucked into these characters and their stories, there is a wide cast with even secondary characters stealing your attention Since Luciano really doesn t have a side in the war, besides the mentioned Basing House and some Powick Bridge, direct contact with battles, blood, and death isn t focused on The feel of the war is through Kate s father Richard you ll fall in love with him and his wife Dorothy and their relationship and the political dealings he navigates in the parliament, the emotional dividing it causes for our characters, and nightly news feeling updates The beginning was a little difficult to navigate as a lot is thrown at you, the middle you grow to love the characters, and the ending was a crescendo of the building tension Kate and Luciano have biting banter and oodles of chemistry when they manage to get together but like I said, the whole little Civil War thing and Luciano s search for justice, keep them apartthan not Definitely sticking with the series as there are many characters I need to know what happens to


  4. says:

    The Black Madonna is a sweeping, epic tale of love, betrayal, loyalty, intrigue, and a family s determination to support each other throughout the bloody ravages of a civil war, into which their country has been plunged.I loved every minute of this truly sumptuous and scintillating saga of triumph over adversity firstly in the written word, and now inthan twenty two glorious hours of audio, performed by the highly talented actor, Alex Wyndham.As is usual with this author, her characters The Black Madonna is a sweeping, epic tale of love, betrayal, loyalty, intrigue, and a family s determination to support each other throughout the bloody ravages of a civil war, into which their country has been plunged.I loved every minute of this truly sumptuous and scintillating saga of triumph over adversity firstly in the written word, and now inthan twenty two glorious hours of audio, performed by the highly talented actor, Alex Wyndham.As is usual with this author, her characters are quite unique Luciano Falcieri del Santi is an Italian master goldsmith and usurer money lender he has imperfectly matched shoulders and a burning ambition to find out, not only the truth, but also to punish the men who, when he was only a boy of twelve, had perjured themselves in order to have his innocent father executed for treason in England.He has worked hard to succeed at his craft and also has a natural flair for finance, which has enabled him to persuade his uncle to loan him a large amount of money Luciano offers The Black Madonna as surety a simple but serenely beautiful figurine, much treasured by Luciano s family It is all he has to bargain with, but such is the reverence with which the figurine is held that his uncle agrees.Luciano s occupation as a much despised money lender, his slight, but nevertheless fairly obvious, physical deformity, and his single minded and determined quest for revenge and justice would not immediately conjure up a romantic figure But, somehow, in her usual inimitable way, Stella Riley has created just that an enigmatic, brilliant and quite dazzlingly beautiful young man whom Kate Maxwell, much to her own initial disgust, is secretly in thrall to from their first meeting She is fascinated to realise that he is the epitome of a painting of Lucifer, the fallen Angel, on the ceiling of her family s chapel Luciano dominates the story from the first page and eventually earns the friendship and trust of Richard Maxwell, an honourable and well respected member of Charles the first s doomed parliament, and the father of Kate and Eden, the two eldest Maxwell siblings, who figure predominately in this story.It s unnecessary to go into the politics and tragedies of the English Civil Wars in great depth in the review, because this talented historian and writer has done the hard work for us to enjoy In fact, I am in awe of the daunting task she set herself when she began researching and writing this seriesthan twenty five years ago without the benefit of the internet Suffice to say that not only The Black Madonna but every book in this series, plus its companion A Splendid Defiance and The Marigold Chain, set in the Restoration period, are all masterpieces in their own right Many of Stella Riley s fictitious characters throughout the series make repeat appearances some with stories of their own such as Gabriel Brandon, Venetia Clifford, Eden Maxwell, Francis Langley and Justin Ambrose So well drawn and developed are these characters that they are almost indistinguishable from the nonfictional, historical military and political characters with whom they interact Under the author s clever hand, these nonfictional personalities are no longer just figures on canvases in art galleries or names in dusty archived records Seen through the eyes of the author, they are living, breathing men who had difficult decisions to make and worries to contend with.One thing Ms Riley does particularly well is to show both sides of the argument in a fair and unbiased way There was one particular conversation between two friends that jumped out at me It clearly and succinctly explained how and why families and friends found themselves on opposing sides, and highlighted the sheer futility and difficulties faced by such families and friends in this situation Eden Maxwell and Francis Langley have been friends since boyhood and discuss their differing beliefs on Parliament versus King Neither allows their opinions to affect their long standing friendship but simply agree to differ Obviously, once the first war begins in earnest, they do not actively pursue their friendship, although throughout the series, they occasionally meet up and continue to be friends The two are also inextricably linked by Eden s marriage to Francis s sister, Celia, which in itself has its own problems, because she, like her brother, is a royalist The tension in the Maxwell household, as the war gathers momentum, is tangible and has long reaching consequences for all of them.The waters are further muddied by the differing religions of political leaders, officers and soldiers fighting on both sides Complicated and difficult it may be to understand, but the author again explains the different reasons and factions in a way that can be understood by the layman All in all, a mix of differing religious beliefs and fears only added to the almost impossible task of uniting a country and increased the problems of an already hopeless war which tore families and communities asunder.Luciano relentlessly pursues his quarry, finding and dealing with each culprit in turn, until only one is left At the same time, he is fighting a losing battle against his obvious love for Kate aka Caterina Maxwell, until eventually he can no longer deny his feelings, even though he fears his love may place her in danger The story hurtles towards its emotional and heart rending culmination, an ending the author has plucked, in part, from the historic archives the final falling of the long besieged Cavalier stronghold, Basing House merciless, bloody and horrific she cleverly intertwines it with the last piece of Luciano s puzzle In fact, the final 25% of the book, as all the threads come together, is truly nail biting stuff Stella Riley ratchets up the tension and emotion, drawing graphic pictures of the horrors of war to the point where one can almost smell the gunpowder and witness the horror and terror of the participants At its centre is Luciano, his formidable Turkish man servant, Selim, his beloved Caterina, and the last man who must face Luciano s reckoning Here I must add that, as much as I loved reading it, the narration by master of his craft, Alex Wyndham, adds another dimension to an already fabulous book which, were it a play, would certainly earn a standing ovation.Surely The Black Madonna must be an actor s dream to perform for perform it Mr Wyndham does, with quite outstanding success I can only imagine the challenges he faced with such a huge cast of characters of both sexes Knowing this story well, having read it at least three times, I had pre conceived ideas on how I thought the characters would sound, and I wasn t disappointed Luciano s voice is like warm silk , to quote the author, and it s at its silkiest best when he talks to his Caterina Luciano has a multifaceted nature, one side of which his inherent aloneness I felt very keenly and Mr Wyndham portrays this facet of his character with sensitivity Okay, Luciano deliberately cultivates it in order to stay safe, and of course as a money lender was reviled by the very people who were in debt to him, and he had learnt to trust very few people Nevertheless, at times, I felt sad for him He shrouds himself in an aloofness and, on occasions, adopts a quiet, deadly insolence, which is reserved for those people he holds in contempt Alex Wyndham captures the many facets of Luciano s character to perfection the subtle nuances of his moods silky smooth, deadly dangerous and insolence.There are far too many individuals to mention separately, but a few characters really stand out for me in Alex Wyndham s portrayal of them.Richard Maxwell a quiet likeable man with oodles of integrityEden Maxwell a no nonsense career soldier who begins by being quietly happy with his lot but, as a result of betrayal, becomes embittered and morose, which shows in his voiceCelia Maxwell, Eden s wife a querulous and waspish woman who is easy to dislikeFrancis Langley the languid, long haired, elegantly attired, devil may care, Cavalier officer, who would rather read poetry than go to warGianetta, Luciano s little sister highly strung, excitable and volatileFinally the Irish Catholic patriot, Liam Aherne quiet and stern but with a delightful, lilting Irish accentThese are only a handful of the diverse cast Alex Wyndham juggles with.Each time I hear this performer, I wonder anew how on earth he ll do it, but I m never disappointed with his performance A consummate and professional actor with a voice like warm silk , to quote the author again in her description of Luciano, but which also fits Alex Wyndham to a tee.The Black Madonna is another triumph for Stella Riley and her narrator, Alex Wyndham A magnificent blend of historical fiction and historical romance, with the emphasis on the thoroughly and accurately researched history The plotting is first rate intriguing and plausible, and the romance is slow developing deep and abiding.MY VERDICT A heart warming and romantic saga of family, love and war Simply not to be missed We can only hold our breath and hope that Ms Riley is able to have the rest of the series recorded


  5. says:

    WOW I don t know this historical period very well, but it seemed sooo complicated Almost like today s politics I like the way SR writes and her ability to describe and incorporate the arid historical facts in an interesting, comprehensive and somewaht funny way But being I an lazy reader, I freely admit that i skipped parts where the politics were heavily discussed shame on me, I know I loved the complexity of the story and all the characters too They became for me like real person WOW I don t know this historical period very well, but it seemed sooo complicated Almost like today s politics I like the way SR writes and her ability to describe and incorporate the arid historical facts in an interesting, comprehensive and somewaht funny way But being I an lazy reader, I freely admit that i skipped parts where the politics were heavily discussed shame on me, I know I loved the complexity of the story and all the characters too They became for me like real persons with real feelings and reactions It s really amazing when the author can do that The story is cleverly complicated and there are several sub plots besides the story of Kate and Luciano And even their relationship develops well into the book Thank God, it s NOT love at first sight LOLThe only thing that make me cringe is the inexact use of Italian language, but, being everything else, so good, I ll gladly ignore Lovely, lovely, lovely


  6. says:

    This story opens with an aging and filthily rich Genoese businessman wearily assessing the petition a young man he s cause to both admire and faintly resent has brought to him Money lending wouldn t be an unusual petition, he s been hearing these petitions all his life, but this one isn t usual.The young man wants a jaw droppingly large loan to hunt down the man who sent his father to the scaffold on trumped up charges eight years prior in England To be granted the desired loan he offers pawni This story opens with an aging and filthily rich Genoese businessman wearily assessing the petition a young man he s cause to both admire and faintly resent has brought to him Money lending wouldn t be an unusual petition, he s been hearing these petitions all his life, but this one isn t usual.The young man wants a jaw droppingly large loan to hunt down the man who sent his father to the scaffold on trumped up charges eight years prior in England To be granted the desired loan he offers pawning the sole object the old man, who happens to be his paternal uncle, would ever wish a very old figure carved wholly from obsidian called the Black Madonna, which s been in the Falcieri family for centuries and is passed only from elder son to elder son With the necessary gold obtained, the young man goes back to England with the single minded purpose to use it to find out who the real culprit is, learn the true motives behind, and then mete out his own brand of justice, as the lawful route was out of the question given the circumstances.Such revenge plots tend to progress exactly towards the end the reader hopes for after all, the quest for justice for an unfairly murdered father by the now grown up child is old as dirt, and popular for a good reason in the hands of a good writer, I d add Luciano Falcieri del Santi is able to find his man, learn what he needed to, and deliver a memorable speech of damnation So what makes this ages old Inigo Montoya like plot stand out and command one s attention for the span of a fairly long book In short, the overarching plot of which this book is just Act I and the fairly large yet manageable cast of characters, each of them with their distinct personalities and political leanings The period this is set in, the English Civil War, was in reality three conflicts fought one after the other in succession with hardly time enough in between for each faction to catch their breath until next round and the long timespan has played in favour of Riley s plot, as she was astute in not limiting her story to just a defined number of years or just a couple of characters propped up by secondaries Instead, although this is Luciano s book and his story is the central plotline, it s by no means isolated but cast into a larger canvas in which the story of the Maxwell family is just as important.Which brings me to a point I particularly liked and I m sure other readers, chiefly those who ve had issues with the all too common preeminence of the Royalist faction in Civil War novels over any other faction, will like as well Riley doesn t restrict herself to just one side To the contrary, she depicts both sides of this war Both Cavaliers and Roundheads are represented by sympathetic and very human characters On the Parliamentarian side, we have the seven members of the Maxwell family the males are actively involved in politics and war, with the father as a House of Commons member, and the eldest son an officer of the Roundhead army, and of the females, all of them not lacking in opinionated opinions of their own either, the one that stands out most and whom I liked a fair deal is the eldest daughter, Kate, a resourceful and book loving girl that ll catch Luciano s eye and aid him in his quest albeitthrough meddling, guesswork and happy accidents than anything else, as well as command the defence of her home during a brief siege with hilarious occurrences And on the Royalist side, we have the Langley and Clifford families with their host of acquaintances and friends, that will play a pivotal role all throughout this series just as their neighbours the Maxwells In this book, the most prominent for now are the former The parents are the typical dissolute nobles, and very deep in debt, and their daughter Celia is a rather flighty and selfish beauty that torments Eden Maxwell, but their son Francis is a likable and conscientious young man that ll land in the opposite side to his childhood friend Eden as he joins the Cavaliers With such an epic saga type of scope and storytelling, well constructed characters, a warm love story, gut punches and surprises, and a satisfying ending, there wasn t anything I didn t like On the contrary, I d say that it did what good historical fiction is supposed to do pique your curiosity about a period Me, my knowledge of 17th century English wars registers at several points below zero in the Knowledge o Meter, and as I am loath to be in the dark about something that appeals to me, I had to get my eager hands on a non fiction book that d explain to me what was going on during that time, the battles, the politics, as well as having to look up for drawings and illustrations of Cavalier and Roundhead uniforms and weaponry, because I was having trouble visualising how they were supposed to look like, what with me only being aware of the everyday and court dress and lovelocks through portraiture mostly So, I emerged from reading this a miteknowledgeable This effect is what I love most about historical fiction, and why it is and will always be my favourite genre.Although it s only the beginning, it was enough for me to see that this is shaping up to be one of my favourite series Why not It has everything I most like to read about realistic war with all the blood and spilt guts, politicking from all sides till diziness, villains you want to put a bullet through yourself, characters to sigh over and root for and slap and throttle Oh, and there s a certain delicious someone whose appearance was the most delightful surprise


  7. says:

    5 STARSI just cannot seem to get enough of Stella Riley and her tales of love, war, betrayal and intrigue This one takes us back to 1639, and the English civil war The conflict of the Roundheads and the Cavaliers, orspecifically, the Royalists and the Parliamentarians But history is not what the story is about The story of is about a family, the Maxwell s of Thorne Ashe and a quest, to uncover the truth of a decade s old vendetta against a Genoese money lender who was wrongly accused o 5 STARSI just cannot seem to get enough of Stella Riley and her tales of love, war, betrayal and intrigue This one takes us back to 1639, and the English civil war The conflict of the Roundheads and the Cavaliers, orspecifically, the Royalists and the Parliamentarians But history is not what the story is about The story of is about a family, the Maxwell s of Thorne Ashe and a quest, to uncover the truth of a decade s old vendetta against a Genoese money lender who was wrongly accused of a crime in order to protect a mysterious purpose And caught in the middle of this tumultuous battle, Kate Maxwell finds herself irresistibly drawn to the elusive and wickedly handsome Italian money lender and usurer, Luciano del Santi As her feelings grow stronger towards him, so does the danger to herself and everyone she loves.Such a clever and intriguing plot And the history so effortlessly entwined in the story I enjoyed every minute Looking forward tobooks from the series I ve become a big fan of SR I ll read anything she writes


  8. says:

    As I wait for new Stella Riley releases, I go back to reading some of her older novels This one, in particular, from 1992, the first in her Roundheads and Cavaliers series, is perhaps my personal favorite.This begins in the 1640s, when Charles I and Parliament aren t getting on so well, there are problems with regard to religion Catholic v Protestant , Ireland and Scotland, taxeswell, you name it as an issue and there are two orvociferous sides to the problem Riley manages to get her As I wait for new Stella Riley releases, I go back to reading some of her older novels This one, in particular, from 1992, the first in her Roundheads and Cavaliers series, is perhaps my personal favorite.This begins in the 1640s, when Charles I and Parliament aren t getting on so well, there are problems with regard to religion Catholic v Protestant , Ireland and Scotland, taxeswell, you name it as an issue and there are two orvociferous sides to the problem Riley manages to get her readers informed about the unrest without being boring Sometimes confusing, what with all the references to historical persons and places, so I had to get out my trusty British History For Dummies at the beginning to get myself better oriented The historical time of this civil unrest serves as an excellent backdrop for the personal stories of Riley s fictitious characters, in particular heroine Kate Maxwell, her parents, siblings and friends, and hero Luciano del Santi, goldsmith and moneylender transplanted to England from Genoa and those around him in his life, such as a spoiled sister and Selim, his exotic bodyguard.Oh, what a story There s the civil war, a mystery, and the personal romances of the Maxwell siblings A standout romance is that of brother Eden and his wife Celia, who is not only spoiled and self centered but a Royalist on top of that, a big problem since the Maxwell household tended towards favoring the Parliamentarians with some reservations.And of course there s the difficult romance of Kate and Luciano, somewhat star crossed by the disparity in their social situations but also by the fact that Luciano is obsessed with avenging his father s unjust death years ago and can t be sidetracked by any feelings of love This particular plot line, his trying to solve the mystery of who masterminded his father s downfall, is particularly interesting.And the romance is satisfying I love both the H and h The H is quite flawed but with an inner nobility, and the h is both intelligent and mature for her age There are lots of great characters in this in addition to the H and h This book is well worth the read for history buffs who like a little romance and mystery thrown into a historical timeline


  9. says:

    Without a buddy read with my dears Whiskey Kyra and Joanna I might have DNFed I m so glad I didn t I also don t really have the energy to write about this it was a hugely intricatehistorical fiction than romance novel with so many threads the first 20 30% was hard to keep straight, and POVs switched often , but after the styling and set up was there, there was wonderful interactions, family dynamics etc.And Kate And Luc, and Luc and Kate Who get all the stars After Richard and Without a buddy read with my dears Whiskey Kyra and Joanna I might have DNFed I m so glad I didn t I also don t really have the energy to write about this it was a hugely intricatehistorical fiction than romance novel with so many threads the first 20 30% was hard to keep straight, and POVs switched often , but after the styling and set up was there, there was wonderful interactions, family dynamics etc.And Kate And Luc, and Luc and Kate Who get all the stars After Richard and Dorothy anyway The middle 40% was mostly about the historical, family and dramatic intrigue, and the final bit was so exciting and paced so nimbly it was near impossible to put down If you like your romance with a heavy historical bend, not to mention another interesting subplot or six, rich nuanced characters and a perfectly matched couplethis is well worth a read.I have a bunch of highlights, but I m feeling drainedlike I said before I started babbling


  10. says:

    Oh my gosh I just loved this one Stella Riley is a fabulous author Her stories are always captivating and she presents the reader with wonderful characters This was an audiobook and while it was rather long, I enjoyed listening to every minute of it And let s be honest ladies it is never a hardship to listen to Alex Wyndam How I adored Kate and her strength and determination And Luciano Del Santi was perfectly flawed and simply dreamy LOVED THESE TWO The Maxwell family was amazing too Oh my gosh I just loved this one Stella Riley is a fabulous author Her stories are always captivating and she presents the reader with wonderful characters This was an audiobook and while it was rather long, I enjoyed listening to every minute of it And let s be honest ladies it is never a hardship to listen to Alex Wyndam How I adored Kate and her strength and determination And Luciano Del Santi was perfectly flawed and simply dreamy LOVED THESE TWO The Maxwell family was amazing too At the head of the family you have Richard and Dorothy and what a couple they were I am intrigued by Eden and wonder if he will get his own story I must check out the other books.I highly recommend this one


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