on November 29th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
To most people, princes, princesses, counts and dukes are found only in the pages of the most famous of fairytales. Crowns, priceless jewels and gilded thrones belong only in childhood dreams.
But for some, these frivolous fancies are truth.
For some, they are real life.
On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, people have always treated me as someone special. All because of my ancestral name and legacy. All because of a connection I share to our home country’s most important family of all.
I am Caresa Acardi, the Duchessa di Parma. A blue blood of Italy. I was born to marry well. And now the marriage date is set.
I am to marry into House Savona. The family that would have been the royals had Italy not abolished the monarchy in 1946. But to the aristocrats of my home, the abolition means nothing at all.
The Savonas still hold power where it counts most.
In our tight-knit world of money, status and masked balls, they are everything and more.
And I am soon to become one of them.
I am soon to become Prince Zeno Savona’s wife…
… or at least I was, until I met Achille.
And then everything changed.
A Veil of Veins sold me, before even reading the synopsis, simply based on the gorgeous cover (I know that is horrible to say, but it really is a fabulous cover) and the author. As I have said so many other times, Author Tillie Cole is one of the select authors that I don’t even hesitate to one-click. She is an amazing story-teller and such a versatile writer.
Caresa Acardi comes from a distinguished family, where she has known for years that her marriage would be arranged to Prince Zeno Savona, although she has always wanted to find true love and fantasies about getting married to the man of her dreams. But, her marriage is important to her family’s business, so she travels to Italy to court and marry her betrothed prince. Prince Zeno seems pretty aloof and not too interested in getting to know Caresa. He drops her off at one of his properties and leaves her to attend to business. This is where she meets Achilles, who is the son of a wine maker and a very simple man, and everything changes.
“Arranged marriages sounded positively medieval, even barbaric. For a blue blood it was simply part of life. Marriages have always been based on social bonds and securing family ties in Europe, since the beginning of time. Nothing has changed.”
This is truly a story about star-crossed lovers and complete soul mates. From the start I was rooting for Caresa and Achille. Achilles was such an easy character to fall in love with. He was always so absorbed in the simple day-to-day things around him, that he didn’t really realize how lonely he was until Caresa came into his life. There were plenty of twists and turns to this story to keep you reading. Plus Tillie did a phenomenal job of describing Italy and the entire wine making process. I felt as if I was transported to the rolling hills of Italy and was right there stomping grapes with Caresa and Achille.
“We were destined for different paths. We were both from such different worlds, yet shared the same soul.”
This book is definitely a departure from Tillie’s latest dark and gritty books. However, as I said above she truly can write any genre and I believe that this is just a softer side to her story telling.
I opened the window beside me and stared at the illuminated entrance. I swallowed hard and placed my empty glass on the bar. Metal groaned, breaking through the twilight, as the massive black wrought-iron gates began to open. The limo slowly pulled onto the property’s lane, and I drank in the thick forest that shielded the estate. I inhaled the freshness of the lush green trees. The unpolluted sky was thick with stars—not a single cloud in sight.
A few minutes later, the thick woods cleared, and I gasped. Acres and acres of gold and green vineyards covered the landscape. The scents of plump grapes and damp soil permeated the warm air. I closed my eyes. It reminded me of being a child. It brought me back to the days before I was taken to New York. I could still feel the heat of the Emilia-Romagna sun on my face, the deep smell of olives, grapes and flowers drifting in the breeze as I ran around our Parma estate.
I smiled a nostalgic smile and allowed my eyes to drift open again. I rested my arms on the window and leaned my chin on them as the limo drove on. There were several small villas peppered over the landscape, their lights twinkling in the distance. They must have been the winemakers’ residences. It was not only the Bella Collina merlot that was made on this land; other reds were too—particularly the Chianti from the region’s finest Sangiovese grapes. The Bella Collina olive oil was also up there with the best. But nothing compared to the famed merlot.
The limo turned right, and my breath caught in my throat. I lifted my head and stared disbelievingly at the property ahead. Bella Collina was a veritable Palace of Versailles tucked away in the Umbrian wilderness.
“Mio Dio,” I whispered as I took in the imposing stone structure, the sweeping steps and the vast number of windows set in the building’s walls. Large pillars of red-veined marble flanked the entrance. Cypress trees framed the estate as if it were the shining star of a fine Renaissance painting. Sculptures of famed Savona monarchs of old stood proudly on the manicured lawns, and strategically placed lighting illuminated the sheer perfection of every piece of topiary.
As a child, I had been to the Palazzo Savona in Florence. It was widely regarded to be one of the finest estates in all of Italy, if not western Europe. But this . . . this . . . there were no words. It was perfectly placed, as if it had always been there. As if it had grown naturally from the Umbrian earth just as sure as the vines and woods that kept this architectural treasure hidden from view.