In a haze of blood and death, Morena Monterossa, daughter of the Count of Portovenere, enters the world. As her mother Vittoria's lifeblood ebbs, she wills her daughter a precious keepsake; a bloodstone pendant passed from mother to daughter. The pendant is the key to an ancient Roman treasure, buried somewhere in the count's castle.
So begins Mirella Patzer's recent release, Bloodstone Castle. Ms. Patzer transports her readers to the medieval Italian states, where Amoro Dragone vows to fulfill a deathbed promise he's sworn to his murdered father. But there's a problem with his plan - his intended bride Morena Monterossa is the daughter of a long-time rival, betrothed from childhood to Ernesto Boccanera, the Duke of Savona. Despite Amoro's determination, Morena is very clear about her unwillingness to break the betrothal pact. But her suitor isn't so easily swayed. He lays siege to her castle and her heart.
Morena must choose between the duty which binds her to the past and the promise of love that beckons in Amoro's eyes. She travels with him to Genoa, to the safety and comfort of Amoro's familial estate. But the continued presence of Amoro's spurned lover, Laria, threatens her hope of life with Amoro. And while Morena and Amoro make their bid for happiness, Ernesto of Savona plots to have his way. He has not forgotten his betrothal contract. Desperate and determined, he'll do anything to have Morena and the famed hidden treasure beneath her father's castle.
Morena is not immune to Amoro's confident charm and he is enthralled by her beauty and daring. His seductive kisses and touch tempt her to surrender but she chafes against his protective nature. She defies him in an act of rebellion and finds herself the prisoner of Ernesto. Amoro and Ernesto challenge in each other in a contest of wills, where Amoro risks his very life for honor's sake and his love of Morena. Cruel Ernesto keeps the lovers apart, until an unlikely ally changes all their fortunes.
In an enduring tale, filled with intrigue and greed, love and lust, Susan Higginbotham enthralls the reader with her work, The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II. Her heroine Eleanor de Clare, granddaughter of England's first King Edward, is a remarkable woman who lived in tumultuous times.
Teen-aged Eleanor weds Hugh le Despenser, a minor noble who is only a few years older than her. They share a happy beginning and have several children together. Her pride is a perfect match for his ambition. Throughout their lives, Hugh's incessant scheming endangers their future. In a bold bid for power, he becomes the lover of the English king Edward II, his wife's uncle. Eleanor seems a pawn in the presence of her willful uncle, and her rakish husband. But in her interactions with England's long-suffering and vengeful queen, her power-hungry sisters and her numerous detractors, Eleanor's inner strength shines through.
When her husband's maneuvers lead to a tragic end for the Despensers and the royal family, Eleanor's fortitude and wisdom protects her young children. While she cannot prevent the deaths of her husband and the king, or the forced veiling of her daughters as nuns, she secures the best possible future. With daring and boldness akin to her husband, she thwarts the enemies who seek to destroy her. She also finds love again and enjoys a happy home at the end of her days.
From the towering majesty of medieval English castles, to the wild and romantic Welsh countryside, Ms. Higginbotham takes her readers on an engrossing journey to the past. Her detailed accounts of the period, a myriad of characters and the settings are well-researched and engaging. Her heroine is an inspiration, proving that medieval women were not wilting wallflowers. Eleanor de Clare loved passionately and loyally but she fought against all odds to protect her family. This book is a must-read for all those who love authentic medieval tales. I highly recommend The Traitor's Wife.